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Top 5 African cities on Facebook

08 May 2012, 22:31

My most-trusted source for Facebook stats, SocialBakers, states that Top 5 African Cities on Facebook are Accra – Ghana (854 000 users), Dakar – Senekal (441 000), Tripoli – Lybia (305 000), Dar es Salaam – Tanzania (246 000), Luanda – Angola (158 000).

At first glance, I thought this was interesting. However, common sense dictated that something was amiss with the list of cities in Graph 1, thus it need to be validated. The exercise started with ranking of Top 5 African Countries on Facebook by number of accounts – Egypt (10,6 million), South Africa (4,8 million), Nigeria (4,4 million), Morocco (4,3 million) and Algeria (3,4 million) - using the same source, SocialBakers. The result deepened my curiosity. The

Given rapidly growing mobile phone access on the African continent that far outstrips landline access and thus influences Internet access, the Top 5 Countries by Number of Mobile Phones are Nigeria (74,5 million), Egypt (55,4 million), South Africa (46,4 million), Algeria (32,7 million) and Morocco (25,3 million).

The last step was to look at Top 5 African Metropolitan Cities by population size. These are Lagos – Nigeria (7,9 million inhabitants), Cairo – Egypt (7,8 million), Kinshasa – DRC (5,5 million), Johannesburg – South Africa (3,9 million) and Khartoum – North Sudan (2,9 million).  The top 5 African Cities on Facebook are not the most populous in the continent.

The only caution relating to the metropolitan stats is that the population sizes come from Census years that are far apart in some cases - Lagos (2006), Cairo (2006), Kinshasa (1998), Johannesburg (2007) and Khartoum (1993). The worrisome population sizes would be for Kinshasa and Khartoum, and I am not qualified to venture into any speculation about what could have happened to these two metropolises ever since. Being that as it may, these are the official numbers and I am going to work with them as they are.

My analysis shows that the closest stats are found for top 5 African countries on Facebook, and top 5 African countries by number f mobile phones, albeit with a slightly different ranking order. This did not concern me at all given the different metrics that were used. 3 of the 5 countries with most populous cities are also found to be with largest mobile phone penetration.

The “odd man” is the top 5 African cities on Facebook, and this confirmed my common sense that something was indeed amiss.

The analysis above lead me to believe that SocialBakers' ranking of African cities on Facebook is not accurate. But this has not affected the trust I have in this source as the best for Facebook stats. Thus, the only explanation I could find was that this metric was still in Beta version –which means a technical testing phase – at the time of writing this article.

Key insight: Do not use only one source for online stats, where possible. The more reputable the source, the better. At the same time, beware of analysis paralysis. My rule of thumb is minimum 2 and maximum 5 sources, depending on the objective of the analysis. 

Do you use a different rule of thumb when performing online analytics? Share your experience with me by leaving your comment below.

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