Use Facebook to see where your customers are

Earlier this year, Facebook Data Science released a map showing where the Facebook fans of the various NFL teams live. Not only did the map spark interest among football fans, but it contains some valuable lessons for your business as well.

The map

Facebook map

The map provided a graphical representation of NFL fandom that both surprises and confirms what fans already suspected. For example, the Dallas Cowboys, who have long billed themselves as “America’s Team,” are indeed just that. Shown in battleship gray above, Dallas has significant domination of not only the Lone Star state, but also surrounding states Arkanas, Oklahoma and New Mexico—and significant chunks of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, California and Virginia.

Likewise, the Pittsburgh Steelers, another of the NFL’s iconic franchises, dominate Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio—but also chunks of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon and pockets elsewhere.

Not so surprising: The preponderance of Seahawks fans are in Washington state, the Vikings are the only game in Minnesota and the north-central US, and the Patriots have a lock on New England.

The question is why, and what does this research mean for your business? Why do the New Orleans Saints’ fans come not just from Louisiana, but also Missisippi and Alabama? What do Alabamians have against Atlanta, whose Falcons play far closer than does the team from the Big Easy? Why do fans in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan root for the Green Bay Packers and not the home-state team, the Detroit Lions?

Understanding the geographic distribution of your customers is important for any business, and Facebook has shown with data like this that social media is a great—and likely very affordable—way to do it. And understanding the geography of your customer base can influence your marketing and your production decisions. If you discover that you don’t have many fans in a certain area, then perhaps it’s time to increase your marketing there and scale it back where you seem to be well-positioned. Is the full-length down coat not well-liked in Florida? Try Maine instead.

Simple examples, yes—but the point is clear: analysis of data like these provided by Facebook can provide detailed, real-world guidance for your business.

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