I’m a numbers nerd (shocking revelation, I know). Every now and then it’s interesting to look into the numbers of something like Facebook to see how it’s growing locally, especially when considering it’s place as a social platform for campaigns and non-profits and as an area to invest time and dollars.
So how does Facebook look this year compared to last?
Honestly, about the same.
In April, 2012, Virginia Facebookers stood at 3,899,660 strong. This year they’re at 3,971,440, a growth of only 71,780 or 1.8%. Now, nearly 72k more faces is nothing to sneeze at, but Facebook plateauing is to be expected, especially since nearly half of Virginia’s population of 8,185,000 are now on the platform.
What is interesting is that of those 71,780 new faces, most are actually in the Richmond area (well, Facebook’s definition of the Richmond area).
In April, 2012, 350,900 Facebookers called Richmond home. Today that number stands at 389,740, a nearly 11% jump for the area and almost 39,000 new members. Looking at the demographic breakdown, most of these new members, nearly 25,000, are in the 35+ age range, so Facebook is still growing with the older audiences, just at a much slower clip.
So here’s a breakdown:
|Total Facebook Users In Virginia:||1,794,480||3,899,660||3,971,440|
|Facebook Users In Richmond:||193,240||350,900||389,740|
|In High School -||18,780||8,300||6,840|
|In College -||31,960||19,940||20,860|
||17,300||8,220 (11,360)||8,540 (11,520)|
||2,640||1,480 (2,420)||1,560 (2,300)|
||80||620 (1,140)||560 (1,040)|
||360||320 (3,640)||400 (3,500)|
|College Grad -||22,800||134,520||159,940|
|In A Relationship -||33,500||45,060||47,380|
College numbers in brackets are total numbers for US residents who are marked “In College” at those schools but may not necessarily have Richmond listed as home.
All of these numbers were pulled using Facebook’s ad manager so feel free to jump in and fiddle with the stats yourself to see what data you can pull out.
July’s SMCRVA featured a discussion on how brands can leverage local influencers and also included a taping about what’s up with blogs featuring Ross Catrow of RVANews, Alex Iwashyna of Late Enough, Kate Hall of Richmond Mom, Jennifer Lemons of JenniferLemons.com and yours truly. It’s a great clip showing the variety of voices in blogging and thoughts on where it’s been and where it’s going.
It’s also a great way to celebrate J’s Notes 11th Birthday a day late.
One post that made the cut is a February, 2009 bit that gave a breakdown of Facebook users in Richmond. While it wasn’t so long ago, it wasn’t until April of that year that Facebook would break 200 million active users. By September, 2011 that number would quadruple to over 800 million active users.
So three years later, how does Richmond measure up?
Using the Facebook Ads Creator you can get an interesting snapshot about Facebook users in your area. It’s not an exact science and comparing numbers from today to three years ago is a bit misleading due to the growth of Facebook leading to an increase in the number of cities in Facebook’s database (for example: in Feb 2009 you couldn’t say you were from Fredericksburg, VA – you had to choose either Richmond or Washington, maybe a NOVA locality) and other factors at play. But it’s still a fun exercise with numbers.
|Total Facebook Users In Virginia:||1,794,480||3,899,660|
|Facebook Users In Richmond:||193,240||350,900|
|In High School -||18,780||8,300|
|In College -||31,960||19,940|
|College Grad -||22,800||134,520|
|In A Relationship -||33,500||45,060|
For Colleges, the numbers in the brackets are all Facebook users in the US who are listed as currently attending.
So what can we see here? Well, for starters, Richmond Facebook users are absolutely following the overall trend of having gotten older over the years. Facebook’s growth with the over 35 users certainly can’t be overstated and was clearly visible nationally mere months after I ran the February, 2009 numbers.
Gender numbers appear to be the combination of growth and a change in what information Facebook requires of users.
The shrinking college numbers could just be a shift in how Facebook is used. In 2/09 Facebook was still primarily a college playground and identifying yourself with your school at the time you were there was an integral part of the experience. As it has grown and become more public, keeping tabs on exactly when you are enrolled in what school is less important. Simply list the college in your profile, leave the graduation date for later.
Relationship status appears to just be natural growth: as the audience is larger and older, more relationships and marriages.
If you wanted you could keep breaking these numbers down and find out exactly how many people with particular interests were in the area. Anyone who’s tried to do targeted advertising on Facebook has already played with this. But anyone wanting to just see some numbers because they’re a total nerd like myself might have some fun with this as well.
Filing this under “brilliant ideas I’m going to trademark but never develop because I’m broke”:
ANOTHER SOCIAL NETWORK!
Yes! You need ONE MORE! Or three more. Hear me out!
I call it Jasonverse. For lack of a better working title.
Think WritersCafe/YouTube/Flickr meets Foursquare meets Klout. You post a story/video/picture and share with your friends and the world. As you post you earn points and badges and the like. But you also earn actual physical REWARDS. For example:
“Congrats on posting your first story. Download Jason Kenney’s ’10 ways to edit your story to wow someone’s pants off’ for free! Normally a $1,000 value!”
“Congrats on posting your fifth sci-fi video. Take your pick of one of the following sound effects to use in your next project! Normally a $10 value.”
Stuff like that. Give people REAL rewards for sharing content. And build it up. The more they add, the bigger the rewards:
“Congrats on sharing your 70,000th word! That’s enough writin’ to make a book! Publish through Lulu and your proof copy is FREE! Normally a value of up to $25″
“Wow, that’s a lotta movies you’ve shared. 100?!?!!! Crazy! Here, use Adobe Movie Awesomeness to make your 101st! FREE! Normally an astronomical value.”
Work with sponsors who are willing to give away tastes of their stuff and sneak in upsells:
“Like this sound effect? Buy the package for only $25. Special deal for Jasonverse members only!”
Yeah, there are still badges to put all over the site to show your awesomeness. But the more you use the site, the more you get to help hone your craft, whether it’s filming or photography or writing.
Then include an evil ToS that makes all the results my property and make TENS OF DOLLARS ON THE RESULTS! MWA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!
But, yes, brilliant idea. I’m seeking venture capital starting NOW.
According to a survey by MRI, Twitter users are not only more active online than average adults but are more than twice as likely to be active in their communities offline:
The survey finds that Twitter users score high on all dimensions of public activity. They are 209% more likely to have written something that’s been published than the average American, 142% more likely to participate in political or environmental causes, 141% more likely to be part of a lobbyist group or similar organization, and 103% more likely to have attended a political rally or even in the past twelve months.
The idea isn’t that far fetched. People who use social media services like Twitter or maintain a blog usually have an opinion they’re trying to express relevant to whatever community they fit themselves into. Whether politics, technology, social justice, or PTA, clearly these people have a dog in whatever race they’re advocating. But it does also lead to a chicken and egg consideration: did Twitter or social media lead to them becoming more socially active or did the activity lead them to Twitter?
When all we had was the stage, every performance was a play. When we got films, a great lot of these stories moved to the screen, where they’d always belonged (they’d been squeezed onto a stage because there was no alternative). When TV came along, those stories that were better suited to the small screen were peeled away from the cinema and relocated to the telly. When YouTube came along, it liberated all those stories that wanted to be 3-8 minutes long, not a 22-minute sitcom or a 48-minute drama. And so on.
What’s left behind at each turn isn’t less, but more: the stories we tell on the stage today are there not because they must be, but because they’re better suited to the stage than they are to any other platform we know about. This is wonderful for all concerned – the audience numbers might be smaller, but the form is much, much better.
Blogging didn’t kill traditional websites, it just provided a new and easier way to push content quickly for those who wanted to. As Facebook and Twitter came along, some found that these services filled the need that blogging had to in the past since that was the best choice available at the time. Future services won’t kill Twitter or FB but will peel away users as these services better fit what users want for their content. Those left behind are those who find the tools best suited to what they need, and those are the people who will use them best.
Let’s say you’re BP. You are nearly fifty days into what could be the worst environmental disaster in United States history. Ouch, that’s going to be a heck of a public relations nightmare, isn’t it? But, wait, here’s an idea! Why not invite all those connected Facebook users who live along the Gulf coast to play a game to raise awareness about the environment!
Volunteers could “check in” at locations via Foursquare and unlock badges for their volunteer efforts. Or they could earn patches of the ocean as rewards — similar to the (Lil) Green Patch game on Facebook that empowers users to fight global warming.
That’s just the kind of strategy companies and organizations need to be pursuing to win public relations battles in this social-networking era. (Source)
Yes, because while you’re looking out on the shore and see the oil on the horizon threatening your family’s future and your community’s economy and environment FarmVille will solve the problem.
I’m sorry, but if I were living in Louisiana and BP sent me an invite to “check in” and unlock badges or get myself a patch of the ocean as a reward I’d tell them where to virtually stick it.
Social gaming is pretty darn big as anyone with a Facebook account and a million invites to Mafia Wars will tell you. With applications like Foursquare and Gowalla providing virtual merit badges for physically roaming about town, there are opportunities for businesses to really turn online interest into offline activity in new and exciting ways (insert “ooohhhh” and “aaahhhh” here).
Social gaming requires a certain level of buy in and effort by the users, usually for little reward other than bragging points. It is the companies who help create real world reasons to play that capitalize best off of this.
Richmond has already experienced a few local examples of businesses utilizing Foursquare successfully. Westpark Beer & Wine hosted a Foursquare Swarm Badge party in March, filling the store with over 50 customers who enjoyed a wine tasting and received a 10% discount through the end of Spring just by showing their Swarm Badge. Many local businesses are already rewarding Foursquare users all sorts of discounts and freebies not just for Mayors but just for checking in.
National brands such as Starbucks have also started offering rewards. Pepsi has developed it’s own application, Pepsi Loot, that tells you where to find the closest delicious Pepsi and rewards you for checking into Pepsi serving establishments with free music to enjoy while partaking of your delicious cola.
What makes these attempts successful are the REAL rewards given for virtual efforts. Foursquare just gives you badges that look neat on your phone and maybe profile. Foursquare + businesses = free stuff that make you really want to play more because, hey, who doesn’t like free stuff?
Companies aren’t just getting on board with location based games. Zynga, the folks you should blame for FarmVille and Mafia Wars, have teamed up with 7-11to provide packaging for your hot dogs that include codes to get you stuff for Zynga games. Not only that, but 10% of the United States spends their time playing FarmVille. Yes, that’s right, your grandmother and at least two of your cousins are playing FarmVille.
There’s gold in them there virtual hills for businesses and organizations who can wisely invest in the medium.
It’s a matter of finding your niche and utilizing it properly. But also working the measure into your already existing Public Relations strategy (or nightmare depending on what’s happening).
If you’re, say, Roundup and you want to spread your brand’s name, latching onto something like FarmVille might be a smart play:
But Roundup isn’t faced with an environmental disaster that will take years to measure the full results of.
If you’re BP, is this a wise investment? Do you really take your money and personnel and image and buy into a game when public opinion right now is that you aren’t doing enough to stop the spill? That you aren’t taking it seriously?
That’s thousands of dollars BP could and should be putting into clean-up costs, measures to help small businesses in the effected area, local charities that will be directly impacted by the catastrophe. Real world investments that are the kind of public relations BP needs to be “buying” right now.
Look at Nestle, a small chocolate company you may have heard of. They got into a bit of bad publicity that they handled very poorly on Facebook when an organized Greenpeace effort to give them grief over its use of palm oil succeeded mainly because Nestle’s social media presence acted like jerks. What did Nestle do to help their image? They didn’t invite folks to plant virtual trees in their farm. They didn’t ask people to volunteer to go to the rain forest and replant trees they had a hand in cutting down in exchange for virtual badges or plots of forest to claim as their own. No. They partnered with The Forest Trust and began work on changing the way they do business to be more environmentally conscious in the future. They developed a strategy that created real world results for their efforts.
BP’s trying to buy forgiveness. And you don’t get that with virtual rewards that rely upon the efforts of those you are trying to win over. You get that by actually investing in the physical things that play directly into the results you want to see. You spend your time and money focusing on the communities directly impacted by the disaster. Because no matter how bad this spill gets, Facebook, FarmVille, Foursquare? They’ll still be there. But will the Gulf Coast?
Person gets a job at Cisco. Person tweets that they’re not all that excited about job. Person gets tweeted back at by Cisco employee. Person does not get job.
Person then learns a lesson and shares it with others:
Should Tim Levad have backed off? Not necessarily; it was crass of me to say what I did and I take full responsibility for the stupidity of my action. Instead of blaming him, let me use him to illustrate what I have learned: Tim Levad and @timmylevad are two different people. @timmylevad is defined entirely by the number of people listening to it. But whatever @timmylevad says is backed up by the subtle persuasive knowledge that somewhere back there, Tim Levad the person is pulling the strings.
I don’t really mean to use Tim specifically in this allegory, but the point is that people with many Twitter followers can’t afford to be real people on Twitter. Tim Levad would probably never use Twitter to make a flippantly negative remark about his career, because he understands that @timmylevad is more of a mass-media channel than a human being.
It’s important to think about these things as you go about your daily life. How am I using Twitter, really? Do I have the service set up in the right way to support that? Am @I more of a mass-media channel than a human being? Do @I act as such?
I don’t entirely agree with the first point. Too much about how someone acts when observed or unobserved and assuming that Levad acts differently on his Twitter feed because of his audience. It’s a big assumption to make and one that exists more because the author is soul searching and excusing the content of their twitter feed after these events.
That said, the rest is valid in that Twitter or other social networks or even any place where you plop your name and reputation on the web is what you make of it. How you use it is a direct reflection of you and you can either define it or let it define you.
A good portion is also public, and so you are going to have to keep that in mind as you go about and use the services accordingly. But that doesn’t mean you have to change who you are to fit the public nature. You can be selective or say, screw it, I’m going to be me, consequences be damned. And maybe that’ll cost you a job.
F.T. Rea takes the online anonymous support for Baseball In The Bottom to taskand it of course brings the same anonymous voices out of the woodwork to criticize him. Naturally the anonymous FanGuy cites anonymous resistance to tyranny as a justification for his stance, but keeping baseball on Boulevard hardly necessitates a Richmond Tea Party.
That said, Terry is right to question the motives of the anonymous support for the stadium, especially when one blog was recently created last December and has made baseball in The Bottom the major theme of its posts. Too often astroturf is being rolled out on the internet, attempting to create the look and feel of a grassroots movement toward something when it’s really one or two guys potentially paid by moneyed interests making it look like there is a movement. Anyone can anonymously start a blog or four and then talk to themselves in the comments under other false names. This happens in politics, business, heck, even restaurant reviews.
From childhood we are taught to question our sources – especially if one is working in a journalistic or academic capacity. When those sources can not be completely vetted or properly questioned, then the merits of their arguments are thrown into doubt.
F.T. Rea and others are willing to put their names to their questions and stand by them, even opening themselves up to anonymous poo slinging. That tells me more not just about their character but the weight of their words.
It really comes down to this: You do yourself and your cause more justice if you put your name on it. If you don’t have the guts to put your name on something then how can anyone else take you or your points seriously?
If you can’t sign your name to your work then how seriously do you really take it and yourself?
PS – Baseball in Shockoe is a TERRIBLE idea. Access to the area is horrendous and the development of the area is not one currently tailored to a baseball stadium. Boulevard is THE home of baseball in Richmond, there’s plenty of room for growth and little currently existing structures or businesses that would suffer from a coninuation of the theme and efforts there. It’s also right off an I-95 exit and you don’t have to worry about fighting through the I-64 interchange madness to get to it from the north (and it’s always easier to deal with the downtown interstate from the south anyway).
Inside Facebook has some interesting numbers on Facebook’s overall users and growth as of late. What used to be limited to college kids has grown into something much more and it’s interesting to see how Facebook has evolved and will continue to evolve over the next year or so as it goes through these growing pains.
But seeing this made me think to take another peek at Facebook data for Richmond users. I do this once in a while more for personal reference than anything but I figure some other people may be interested in the data as well. All figures come from the Facebook Ad targeting system so they aren’t 100% accurate but do represent a good snapshot for RVA’s Facebook usage.
Total Facebook Users In Virginia: 1,794,480
Facebook Users In Richmond: 193,240
13-17 – 18,620
18-25 – 76,820
26-35 – 50,580
36+ – 43,320
Male – 77,690
Female – 108,520
Unidentified – 7,080
In High School – 18,780
In College – 31,960
- VCU – 17,300
- University of Richmond – 2,640
- Virginia Union – 80
- Virginia State – 360
College Grad – 22,800
Single – 50,800
Relationship – 33,500
Engaged – 6,140
Married – 52,300