The MAU of Facebook

by JOSH OPINION

I’ve been exploring in detail the Facebook Insights platform and what/how they report figures. One huge item I can not figure out is the definition of what exactly a monthly active user (MAU) is considered on Facebook Insights.

In this post on the Facebook developers forum, moderator Mike  Knoop writes the following in June 2010:

MAU is a summation of your daily count of unique users over 30 days. The best way to show this is on your applications insights page (linked above). Go there and tick the “last 30 days” box and the “past day” box for Active Users (engagement). If you expand the viewbar to see at least 30 days, and sum 30 day data points (the blue ones) you’ll get the MAU count on the 30th day.

(Note: Since that posting in the developers forum, The Next Web reported in September 2010 that the algorithm to quantify MAU had changed.)

Exporting data for 30 days from Insights gave me the following:

DayDaily Active UsersMonthly Active Users
14182
23181
38178
411219
565232
617232
74232
871236
961242
1081244
1110236
1277236
139224
140218
1553222
1610224
1755226
1860227
1955230
207229
210228
2262232
2364235
2471212
2580210
2617208
274208
285207
297211
3077223
Total1048
Screen-shot-2011-01-17-at-9.15.24-PM-211x300

So in this data set from one of my pages, Daily Active Users is about 4.7x overstated compared to MAU.

Monthly Active User (MAU) Definition from Facebook

Trying to dig further, Facebook reports the following in the description for DAU and MAU after exporting the data and opening the spreadsheet:

Daily Active Users (DAU)

Daily 1 day, 7 day, and 30 day counts of users who have engaged with your Page, viewed your Page, or consumed content generated by your Page (Unique Users)

Monthly Active User (MAU)

Monthly 1 day, 7 day, and 30 day counts of users who have engaged with your Page, viewed your Page, or consumed content generated by your Page (Unique Users)

The only thing these definitions make me more clear on is that Facebook is counting unique visitors to a Facebook page. But if this is the case, how is the 30-day summation of DAU grossly larger than MAU? If by Facebook’s 30-day count under MAU, shouldn’t the sum of DAU equal MAU on Day 30?

Any insights on the true definition of Monthly Active User? Leave a comment below if you think you’ve figured it out.

MARIE MURPHY

Marie Murphy owns and runs SafeDataMatters.com where she offers a range of services to help businesses enhance their business reputation through proactively managing their customer data.