One of the great things about Facebook is that you can find the nichest of niche groups of like-minded people. It has an advertising package to match. You can, for example, upload an ad banner that will appear 10,000 times to female twenty-somethings who live in York and enjoy listening to jazz. This kind of micro-targeting has got to be the next stage of the Party's online advertising campaign. The advertising package has other uses...
BBC employees went Facebook mad earlier this year with 10,580 now having profiles on the social networking site. Many of them chose to specify their political views as either liberal, moderate or conservative (there isn't a socialist option available to the chagrin of many). An advanced search reveals that more than 11 times the number of BBC employees on Facebook list themselves as liberal than conservative:
Former BBC journalist Robin Aitken, who has still yet to be properly interviewed by any of his many former colleagues about his whistle-blowing on its institutional biases, said you couldn't make a cricket team out of the number of Tories at the corporation. He wasn't far wrong!
To show that these proportions don't merely reflect the fact that the student-dominated Facebook is full of young liberal trendies anyway, a search of the UK-wide Facebook population reveals a liberal to conservative ratio of just 2.5 to 1, that's four times less liberal than those on the BBC network:
UK - 6,407,580
UK liberals - 545,240
UK moderates - 251,320
UK conservatives - 216,660
Narrowing it down to the London network where most BBC employees reside, the ratio is still just nigh of 3 to 1 at 147,340 to 51,760.
Although 10,480 BBC employees is as big a sample as you're ever going to get in a survey, this isn't a definitive analysis. Facebook is more likely to attract younger employees and many of them wouldn't be comfortable publicly listing themselves as conservatives (they have their careers to think about!). It is, however, a pretty good guide to the political perspectives of those who work for our monolithic national broadcaster, and a worrying one at that.
p.s. We recently created a second Facebook group for ConservativeHome readers, when we reached a thousand members of the first one we lost the ability to mass-message them.
12pm update: There are tonnes of stats out there waiting to be found, go to the Flyers Pro section of the Advertising section of Facebook to find out the proportion of conservatives in your university or city. Other observations from me...
- The Lib-Con ratio is fairly even throughout the demographics of BBC employees, with men having a very slightly better ratio than women and over thirties slightly better than twenty-somethings.
- It's difficult to find other organisations that have a large enough sample as most people don't choose to declare their political views on their profile, but another one is the UK Civil Service network which has 5.6 liberals to each conservative.
- You can search for any keyword that is in the sections of people's profiles that describe what they are interested in, Open Europe's Neil O'Brien for example got a search result that said "there are less than 20 people in UK who like euro"