A report from Facebook's data team found that the average degree of separation between Facebook users is 4.74 people, and marketers might find this helps them leverage fans to reach a very broad social audience.

On Monday, Facebook’s data team revealed that the average amount of people separating two Facebook users is 4.74. For businesses, this suggests social media marketing brings their companies much closer to a wealth of potential buyers.

Facebook conducted research on its (then) more than 720 million active users and found that people were connected more closely than initially thought. The same analysis conducted in 2008 pegged the number of users between any two Facebook members at 5.28.

The figure represents all Facebook users throughout the world. However, the connection average for people in the same country shrinks to about three, which could be good news for marketers targeting domestic audiences.

According to Facebook, more than half of the company’s users have fewer than 50 friends, so the separation average would likely shrink if these users were as social as other members of the platform.

This data demonstrates the value of social media marketing campaigns. When a user Likes a brand page, their friends will see the action and are more likely to do so themselves. From there, the cycle can continue, which will boost overall brand visibility. Indeed, even before Facebook released these figures, Brafton reported that news feed exposure helps brands exponentially increase their social reach.

At the time of the study, Facebook boasted more than 720 million users. However, Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow said in a presentation that the company now has more than 850 million actives users. This represents substantial growth since September, when Brafton reported that the company surpassed 800 million users.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.