Facebook removes geographic regions

By removing the ability to search fans by geographic region, Facebook just made it a little bit harder for news organizations to understand whether their Facebook pages are reaching their target audiences.

Facebook explained in June that it was removing the ability to join a regional network:  "If you've ever created a group or event and set it so that only members
of a certain regional network could join, that group or event will now
become open to everyone."

This panics data people.  "Everyone" is like "miscellaneous" or "all other."   It's like putting bunches of important documents in manila file folders, all unmarked.

Ben Parr of Mashable thinks that this is Facebook's "attempt to make [its] platform more open – part of its Twitterification."

This change reinforces the need for news orgs to clearly define the objectives, target audiences and business models for each

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Twitter: the future “pulse of the planet”

“If [Twitter] had a billion users, that will be the pulse of the planet.”

—  from TechCrunch, who received Twitter’s internal documents from a hacker

TechCrunch estimates that Twitter currently has 20 million U.S. users, “and nearly double that worldwide.”

So, Twitter’s got a ways to go, but the document projects it’ll reach that billion in five years, by 2013.

And oh yeah, it says it needs to make more revenue, too.  It wants to work up to “$1 per user per year.”

One formula for evaluating comments

Razorfish, a digital marketing agency, has developed a scoring system for evaluating how a company is discussed in Facebook, YouTube and other social media.

From Online Media Daily:  "The basic formula for deriving a brand's SIM
Score involves dividing "net sentiment" for a brand by the net
sentiment for its industry group. (Net sentiment = positive + neutral
conversations – negative conversations/total conversations.)

If tracked over time, this index can illustrate broad trends in your social media progress.  However, implementation could be difficult and time-intensive.  You have to ensure that "positive," "neutral" and "negative"  are clearly defined and applied consistently – no small task. Also, what's a "conversation?"

This formula weights comments from everyone equally.  This may not be appropriate in social media communities where there are individuals whose comments are more influential than others.

In any case – however you do it – do count and analyze your comments regularly and consistently to track your ability to maintain and grow a social network. 

Using stats from Facebook’s self-serve advertising program

Even Facebook doesn't have demographics and user info. on all of its users, as this ReadWriteWeb story illustrates.  In particular, look at the comments which point out all of the problems with using an incomplete set of data.

Facebook doesn't require users to provide age, geographic location and other basic demographic data when they sign up.  Thus, the user data you get when you go through the self-serve advertising program doesn't include all of those people who didn't submit data.  And you don't know how many, or how these missing people differ.

Also, Facebook doesn't require people to update their data, which causes other problems.  One of the ReadWriteWeb story commenters noted that  students who graduate from a high school or college may or may not be counted as students.

Facebook data should not be used for planning your social media strategies and services.  You're better off guessing than using this data.  Bad data may

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“Value” of a Twitter or Facebook follower

Is a Twitter user worth 10 cents a month; a Facebook user, $2.75 a year?

As reported by the BBC, USocial, an Australian company, is "offering a paid service that finds followers." 

The estimate for a Facebook user comes from a comment from Jonathan W on a Silicon Alley Insider story that reports Facebook's annual revenue at $550 million.  If Facebook has about 200 million members, it works out to $2.75 – a year.

You can quibble with the methodologies, but to me the message is clear:  Social media objectives should be focused on building communities, not revenue.

Measuring social media starts with a simple question

How should you measure the value of social media?  Here's a great answer from Pat LaPointe, a marketing metrics expert, "WHY are you doing them in the first place?  If you can't answer that, you're wasting your time and the company's money….

…if you can't describe in two sentences or less (no semi-colons) WHAT you hope to gain through use of social media, then WHY are you doing it?"

Pat's blog entry in Online Metrics Insider has a great framework for working the thinking needed to define the "whats."  I'll be adapting this framework for news orgs for my talk at the Knight Digital Media Center News Leadership seminar on social media. 

Understanding Facebook audiences just got a little harder

Lori Luechtefeld of iMedia Connection pointed out today that under Facebook's new privacy policies, you might only get to know the most "enthusiastic exhibitionists" who opt to share their feeds.

Simply counting friends and fans of your Facebook groups – and of your competitors – is just not enough to understand the influencers of a particular audience and get, as Luechtefeld says, "any real representative intelligence."

You were already limited in what you could know about Facebook audiences because Facebook doesn't require users to provide even basic demographic information.  All you really have from everyone is just a name and an e-mail address.

Continue reading “Understanding Facebook audiences just got a little harder”

One estimate (guess?) about the value of a social media user

TechCrunch estimates that each U.S. social media user is worth $132.

Its methodology:  It took total U.S. online advertising spending (PriceWaterhouseCooper) and divided it by the number of U.S. online users (comScore).  It then took the number of unique visitors for Facebook, MySpace, etc. and multiplied it by $132 to get a valuation for each company.

Facebook “won” over MySpace.  Last year MySpace “won.”

TechCrunch says that “this model is an effective way to rank various competing social networks. It bumps down networks like Orkut and Friendster who
have tens of millions of users in markets with very little advertising spend, and bumps up networks with lots of users in higher value markets.”

Not sure if I buy this – I will think about whether this is a useful number for news sites…or just a number.