Who does the most social media? Some data. Maybe.

I keep hearing how great Birmingham is at blogging and social media. That’s a subjective thing and anyone can say it but I also keep hearing people saying or suggesting we do it the best, we do it the most, and that we’re at the centre of it. That’s a bit more problematic and I keep saying we need data.

Jason Navon tweeted me about this:

@jonhickman re claim the we do more social media in Brum – evidence in this report doesn’t support it: http://bit.ly/1U4e4L #bigdebate

I’ve only skimmed the report so far (embedded below from scribd), but I’m sure some keen eyes will have concerns over the overall design of their survey and will want to ask what measures are being used to determine if a blog “is highly regarded by other, relevant influential sites”. Scholars of network theory might like to ask if the personal networks of the London-based authors lead to a skew of influence to London. We might be concerned too about unevidenced assertions such as:

Consumers who originally used forums and chatrooms as discussion shops in the early days of online communities have graduated seamlessly to writing or consuming blogs on issues close to their hearts (p.6)

I’m pretty sure I’ve read literature and seen conference papers that suggest the forum is alive and well, so this doesn’t make sense. If there’s some evidence I’d love to see it. We might also wonder what the value is of a stat such as “London has the highest share of Twitter users in
the UK with 11%”. What does that mean relative to city size?

Inevitably my main concerns about the whole thing will be about not the data, but the discourse. This is written from a marketing and communications position, and is measuring things relevant to that audience. That is fine, but it is presented as empircal and conclusive data about social media. In fact it’s an interesting attempt to explain the blogging ecosystem for predominantly London based PR and marketing organisations. It’s done that job pretty well, so it should be pleased with itself. It shouldn’t pretend to be something else.

I still need to get my data.

Social Media Insight 2009 Low-res

(obtained from http://socialmedialibrary.co.uk/index.php?option=com_report_left&Itemid=57 – there is no copyright notice on the document so Im assuming it’s OK to embed)

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org