New Data: More than 45% of your customers’ Facebook friends live within shopping distance of your business.

By: Jack Winston

Bozuko is a tool that lets marketers and business owners quickly launch location-aware, facebook-integrated promotions. One of the benefits of a facebook-integrated promotion is the word-of-mouth advertising a business gets when a customer publishes Likes, check-ins, comments, or similar posts to their wall for all their friends to see. As we have spoken to location-based businesses of all kinds, we frequently have been asked how valuable facebook word-of-mouth advertising actually is.

The answer to this is partly subjective, but partly quantitative. A location-based business mostly only cares about getting exposed to the portion of their customers’ facebook friends that live close enough to the business to be potential customers themselves. (Let’s ignore destination venues like Las Vegas or Disneyworld and national chains like McDonalds). We decided to dig into the subject of geographic distribution of Facebook friends.

First, we did a survey of any research already done on the subject. Facebook tracks a huge range of demographics of their users based on the information provided in your account profile. While most Facebook users do not fill out their exact address in the contact information tab of their profile, many do fill out their “Current City” in the Basic information tab. An interesting paper from the Facebook Data Team looked at the number of connections between people in a given geographic region, weighting a greater frequency of connections with brighter colors, yielding this outline of the globe.

Very Cool Picture from Facebook Data Team

A more technical paper from the Facebook Data team went further, digging in to the relationship between friend networks and the distance between friends that had filled out their exact address information. Using the data, they developed an approach for predicting a Facebook user’s approximate address based on the addresses of their friends.

These studies are fascinating, but do not answer the basic question that location based marketers have:

What portion of my customers’ facebook friends are potential customers of mine?

We decided to crunch some statistics of our own, based on the friend networks of a randomly selected group of Bozuko users. All data was kept anonymous and all Facebook privacy rules were enforced. Bozuko users are predominately in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, but otherwise should be representative of the broader Facebook population in urban and suburban areas.

Bozuko Demographics

We compared the “Current City” of each individual in our sample group to the “Current City” of all their friends. We calculated the distance between the Bozuko user’s city and each of their friends’ cities using the Google Maps API. Somewhat arbitrarily, we decided that 25 miles was the cutoff distance that would determine whether someone lived close enough to a Bozuko user to indicate they likely shopped in the same places. For each user in our sample, we determined what portion of each individual’s friends lived within the 25 mile radius. Then looking across the full sample, we were able to calculate the relevant summary statistics. The answer:

On average, at least 45% of your customers’ friends live within 25 miles of your customers.

We think this statistic is pretty re-assuring. Given the average facebook user has 130 friends, every time your customer makes a post related to your business, it hits 58.5 of their friends walls. That seems like a good platform for building word-of-mouth advertising for location based businesses.

That’s enough stats for today. Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

Go Pats!

Step by Step details of our calculation

  1. As discussed in the post, we determined the distance between the current city of the Bozuko user and all of their friends’ current cities, creating an array of distances for everyone in the sample. Our sample size was N=100.
  2. For each individual in the sample, we calculated the % of total friends living 25 miles or less. This measurement is our set of independent variables X1..100
  3. For the entire set of X1..100 we calculated the sample average Xaverage = 52%. The standard deviation Xstd dev = 24%.
  4. Assuming a normal distribution of our observations (which seems reasonable) and taking N=100 and our calculated standard deviation, we can calculate a 99% confidence bound of +/- 6.2%.
  5. We can say with 99% confidence that, on average, greater than 45% (52% – 6.2% = 45.8%) of any individual’s friends will be in the 25 mile radius.

If anyone would like to correct my amateur statistics, please feel free. We will post your feedback and send you a free Bozuko T-shirt.

  • Dan

    This is great, guys.  Thanks for sharing your data!  Very helpful.  I’ll keep my eyes open for more great data from you :-)