What's the buzz? A Facebook News Feed Analysis

Posted by HR Analytics on Monday, February 4, 2013

What's the buzz? A Facebook News Feed Analysis

Ever wonder what your friends are buzzing about the most on Facebook? What photos do they like to share the most? Ever thought about putting a number on the top category that is talked about the most? 

For the month of January, being the data geek that I am, I ran an analysis of what my personal social network on Facebook buzzed about as they appeared on my newsfeed. Based on content analysis ran every morning on 30 newsfeed posts per day from January 1st to January 31st, above are some graphs tallying the categories or themes that appeared the most number of times. Thirty posts seemed to be a reasonable number that often covered news feed posts that early morning all the way back to the night before, sometimes even spanning 24 hours back. It, thus, made a very good non-arbitrary number that covered a good representative sample of all the posts showing up on my newsfeed.

So at the top is football. However, this category can be considered an irregularity because January is the peak of the football playoff season and also because of with the unique characteristic of my social network. This data particularly skewed during the days leading up to the Seattle Seahawks-vs-Washington Redskins playoff showdown on January 6th because a huge majority of my social network belonged to either the Seattle area or the Washington DC area and thus posting cheers for the home team.

Eats is the next most common category that includes restaurant check-ins, what’s cooking for dinner, what people are craving, and other food-related posts.  These posts really do have subliminal psychological effects and are very effective in advertising to my cravings.   

The next most common appeared to be in the category of some sports activity which includes running, walking, yoga, spin, etc. And based on personal observation over the years, this category’s average likely holds steady all year long but it may also be at a high around January because of New Year’s resolutions. 

The kids category is always up there daily as one can imagine. Motivation category includes quotes, proverbs, sayings, and other various forms of words of wisdom.

I also did an analysis of the number of pictures that appeared within the 30 newsfeed posts. The most common appeared to be kids pictures. Pictures of foods and drinks came in at close 2nd, followed by travel pictures, poses with friends, special events, and personal achievements/honors. Special events spiked up during the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC, which I had expected considering my network is largely from the DC area.

This was an interesting exercise and I’m sure that some insights can be gained from this. For me, as having a background in psychology, it was not only a numerical assignment to the most popular posts but also an idea of how these posts impact my mood, my psyche, what it means to my cravings, my motivation to work out, and what to be mindful of when reading my newsfeed.  If I was in advertising or marketing, something like this would be valuable and useful insight but I just did it for fun and out of curiosity and because I'm a data geek like that.

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