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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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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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”