This is the first of a series of posts following a detailed research project looking at how British police use Facebook pages – see more about this and links to other posts here.
Demographics of Fans of Police Facebook Pages
Firstly, it’s clear that British Police Facebook pages attract twice as many females than males. The average split across the forces is 66% female against 34% male.
Nearly a third of all fans of police pages are aged between 25 and 34-years-old. When you compare the age ranges of the fans of British against the overall UK Facebook demographics it shows that police pages attract a high proportion of 25-44 year-old Facebook users.
Police pages attract a lower than expected proportion of younger Facebook users. In fact, only 4.3% of fans are aged 13 to 17 whereas 13% of all UK Facebook users are from the same age range. The force with the highest portion of followers aged 13-17 years is Cambridgeshire with 9% of its followers being under 17.
Police Facebook pages also attracted a high proportion of older Facebook users (55+). Cumbria Police has a significantly higher proportion (nearly 9%) of fans aged 55-64 compared to other forces, which average below 5%.
UK Facebook Demographics taken from http://www.fanalyzer.co.uk/demographics.html
A phrase, which could typify the fans of police pages, is perhaps ‘NetMums’, women with school age children who are Internet literate. However the range of fans is wider than this in reality.
It’s really important to understand the audience of a page to ensure that the content provided for the users is designed to fulfill their requirements. Certainly for some within the service who don’t have a full understanding of social media there is a temptation to believe that Facebook is a ‘young persons thing’. It’s clear that the demographic of the followers of police pages and Facebook users in general is far wider than many expect.
It’s really important that communicators responsible for the management of an organisations social media must firstly understand the audiences using their channels, fulfill the users needs and then build strategies to develop audiences or channels that suit the needs of the user, rather than suit the needs of the organisation.