Socially Networked Cities: Where Does Your City Rank?

Socially Networked Cities: Where Does Your City Rank?

By: Shelly Kramer
March 16, 2011

Men's Health Stats About Social  Cities? Me, I'm a Skeptic.

Men’s Health just came out with a list that it calls “the most socially networked cities in America.” I say that that’s terrific, but I’d like more information about their data sources.

DC, Atlanta, Denver, yup. Austin, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle also in the top 10? Of course —  that makes perfect sense.  Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Orlando – don’t really get those, but I’m open for explanations.

But one of the things that makes me wonder about the veracity of the research done by Men’s Health – this statement:

We started by calculating the number of Facebook and LinkedIn users per capita, followed by overall Twitter usage (NetProspex). Then we looked at traffic generated by the major social networks, including Myspace, Friendster, Reddit and Digg (analyzed by ad network Chitika). Finally, after factoring in the percentage of households that check out chat rooms and blogs (SimplyMap), we had the results you see below. Go ahead, tell a friend.

First of all, “Twitter usage?” What does that mean exactly? I need more information as to what, exactly they use to define Twitter usage before I can buy that one.

Also problematic — when they state that they analyzed major social networks but only name a few, including Myspace, Friendster and Digg … really? When was the last time you (my group of socially savvy friends) even thought about Friendster? Or Myspace? And Digg? They’ve lost massive credibility – and users – over the course of the last year or so, so including them in here without any sort of qualifiers makes me wonder.

Ergo, the question that I can’t help asking is simple:  Do the people writing about socially networked cities even understand what that means? Yes, I’m talking to you, Men’s Health.

I think stories like this are terrific. And of course the headlines are enticing, so they drive traffic (and readership), because everyone wants to know where their city figures into the mix. But for my money, when you come up with a list like this and don’t support it with data, stats – or at least links – to the research that you relied on to make your claim, well, I’m a skeptic.

And, when you refer to “major social networks” and include three of four that are nowhere near the most highly trafficked sites, well, it makes me want to know who oversaw this study. And it makes me wonder how much they really know about social media and social networking, not to mention data collection and analysis.

Oh, and lastly, making a list like this and tossing it out there with a “Go ahead, tell a friend” comment instead of … something like “What have we missed? We’d love to hear your thoughts” seems, well, slightly cockier than this poorly written article deserves.

By the way, in writing this post and actually checking out NetProspex, Chitika and SimplyMap (the sources cited but not linked by Men’s Health), I’m interested in all of these companies and what they do – so I guess there was an upside to the story after all. Not that Men’s Health gave them any credit.

So, in case you want to know, here’s the list of the most socially networked cities, courtesy of Men’s Health. Where does your city end up and do you agree or not? Me, I’d love to know what you think!

Most socially networked

1 Washington, DC     A+
2 Atlanta, GA     A+
3 Denver, CO     A+
4 Minneapolis, MN     A+
5 Seattle, WA     A+
6 San Francisco, CA     A
7 Orlando, FL     A
8 Austin, TX     A
9 Boston, MA     A
10 Salt Lake City, UT     A-

11 Cincinnati, OH    A-
12 Raleigh, NC    A-
13 Burlington, VT    A-
14 Portland, OR    B+
15 Madison, WI    B+
16 Dallas, TX    B+
17 Portland, ME    B
18 Sacramento, CA    B
19 Aurora, CO    B
20 Boise, ID    B
21 Charlotte, NC    B
22 Wilmington, DE    B
23 Oakland, CA    B
24 St. Louis, MO    B
25 Las Vegas, NV    B
26 Columbus, OH    B
27 San Diego, CA    B
28 San Jose, CA    B
29 St. Paul, MN    B-
30 Plano, TX    B-
31 Tampa, FL    B-
32 Nashville, TN    B-
33 Los Angeles, CA    B-
34 Phoenix, AZ    B-
35 Newark, NJ    B-
36 Miami, FL    B-
37 Norfolk, VA    C+
38 Richmond, VA    C+
39 Chicago, IL    C+
40 Durham, NC    C+
41 Colorado Springs, CO    C+
42 Des Moines, IA    C+
43 Jersey City, NJ    C+
44 Indianapolis, IN    C+
45 Milwaukee, WI    C+
46 Fargo, ND    C+
47 Columbia, SC    C+
48 Houston, TX    C+
49 Philadelphia, PA    C+
50 Birmingham, AL    C+
51 Cleveland, OH    C+
52 Kansas City, MO    C
53 New York, NY    C
54 Greensboro, NC    C
55 Reno, NV    C
56 Manchester, NH    C
57 Providence, RI    C
58 Baltimore, MD    C
59 Little Rock, AR    C
60 Louisville, KY    C
61 Sioux Falls, SD    C-
62 Omaha, NE    C-
63 Pittsburgh, PA    C-
64 Baton Rouge, LA    C-
65 Lexington, KY    C
66 Wichita, KS    C-
67 Anchorage, AK    C-
68 Lincoln, NE    C-
69 Cheyenne, WY    D+
70 New Orleans, LA    D+
71 Tucson, AZ    D+
72 Buffalo, NY    D+
73 Honolulu, HI    D+
74 Santa Ana, CA    D+
75 Charleston, WV    D+
76 Oklahoma City, OK    D+
77 Virginia Beach, VA    D+
78 Winston-Salem, NC    D+
79 Tulsa, OK    D+
80 Albuquerque, NM    D
81 Fort Worth, TX    D
82 San Antonio, TX    D
83 Jackson, MS    D
84 Chesapeake, VA    D
85 Jacksonville, FL    D
86 Riverside, CA    D
87 Memphis, TN    D-
88 St. Petersburg, FL    D-
89 Toledo, OH    D-
90 Corpus Christi, TX    D-

Least socially networked

91 Billings, MT    D-
92 Fort Wayne, IN    D-
93 Bridgeport, CT    D-
94 Detroit, MI    D-
95 Fresno, CA    F
96 Bakersfield, CA    F
97 Lubbock, TX    F
98 Stockton, CA    F
99 Laredo, TX    F
100 El Paso, TX    F

El Paso, I’m sorry. But someone’s gotta be last!

*Image Credit: Men’s Health Magazine
  • Shane Rhyne

    In addition to the data problems and questionable network choices you’ve mentioned, I’m trying to make heads or tails of the choice of cities listed itself. For instance, my home market of Knoxville, TN doesn’t seem to be represented at all. While you may think Knoxville may logically be overlooked as a small market (73rd largest DMSA according to federal rankings), it is noteable that Charleston, WV (133rd largest market), for example, is included in the listing.

    Maybe I’m biased or overly optimistic, but I find it difficult to believe that a market that is home to media industry such as Scripps Networks (HGTV, Food Channel, etc.), a major university, and substantial federal government science & engineering projects (Oak Ridge National Labs, TVA, etc.) among other factors doesn’t generate enough activity to at least merit an F in a list of top 100 markets.

    But, then again, maybe we aren’t using Myspace to it’s fullest potential.

    Great observations on the value of good data, by the way. Thanks for a fun post to read & think about.

  • 34th?!? Damn! For being the 5th or so largest city in the nation, we here in Phoenix are getting our asses handed to us for not hanging out on myspace, Digg and Friendster enough.

    Or…wait a second here.

    Does this criteria used to create this list mean that we’re smarter than the average bear for spending less time on decaying sites? I think so. Yeah, I’mma run and tell that to any and everybody who’ll listen! Hahaha

    Great point you’ve made here Shelly and I’m so grateful to Erika Napoletano for turning me onto your unique voice here! I’m looking forward to you keeping the wisdom you lay down here raw, on point, and insightful!

  • Anonymous

    Shane, I’m completely with you. There’s just too much here that doesn’t jive for me to take it seriously.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Lewis,

    Getting asses handed for not hanging out on Myspace is so harsh, isn’t it?

    Thanks for coming by (and thanks to Erika for pointing you here – she’s one of my besties).

    So, I take it that you’re with me … skeptical about just about everything IN this article, huh? Good call!

  • Business-centric metropolitans on the top, agrarian communities towards the bottom. Makes perfect sense to me.

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