Social Networking Sites in Armenia – Facebook for Elites, Odnoklassniki for Everyone Else

(This is a continuation of a post I made in 2010 about this issue. This analysis based on the 2013 Alternative Resources in Media dataset.)

So, the social networking site that one spends time on isn’t arbitrary. Research tells us that generally people go where their friends are, but also that there are demographic differences in site choice. A study of MySpace versus Facebook in 2007 is the classic case of this. For a variety of reasons, wealthier and more educated people were on Facebook and poorer and less educated people were on MySpace. Nowadays in the U.S., Facebook has sort of taken over the social networking space and a lot of those demographic differences have gone away.

In the 2010 analysis posted above, Facebook in Armenia was quite elite while Odnoklassniki was not. Some reasons include that Odnoklassniki was more accessible on for free or cheap on mobile devices, the Russian language interface was more accessible to those without English skills (at the time Facebook was mainly an English language platform), Odnoklassniki was more about fun (and porn), and Facebook wasn’t great on a mobile device.

Fast forward to 2013, and things have changed. Facebook has grown a lot globally. The Facebook mobile platform is very user-friendly. Russian and Armenian versions of Facebook work quite well. More Armenians are online as well.

So I looked once again at use. Let’s first look at the overall picture before going into the demographic differences.

(Note that this is PRIMARY SNS, they could have accounts on the other site.)
First you can see that a third of all Armenian adults are on a social networking site and 70% of all adult Armenian Internet users are on a social networking site. The Odnoklassniki versus Facebook breakdown is that 10% of all Armenian adults are on Facebook, but 20% of all Armenian adults are on Odnoklassniki. Of Internet users, less than a quarter are on Facebook while nearly half (45%) are on Odnoklassniki. The comparative breakdown is a third of SNS users on Facebook and two-thirds on Odnoklassniki.

snschoice

In terms of the time that is spent on the social networking site, there weren’t tremendous differences. About a third are on the SNS several times a day and most of the rest of the users are on the SNS at least once a day.

freq

So who is on each site?

(This is based on an ANOVA):

There is no difference in age between Facebook and Odnoklassniki and other SNS users in AGE. However, non SNS users are much older. It is the same story with ECONOMIC WELLBEING – non SNS users are poorer than SNS users. The same is for RUSSIAN skills – the only difference is with non-SNS users and users.
ENGLISH skills – Facebook users (and other SNS users, but they’re weird, so let’s ignore them) have statistically significantly higher English skills than others.
Facebook users are also statistically significantly higher in EDUCATION than everyone else.
No differences in SEX.

So, we can summarize that Facebook users are more elite – English speaking and better educated. Thus, not a big chance from 2010.

(This is based on a multinominal logistic regression):
Looking at this 2013 data, the determinants of being an Odnoklassniki user are the following. In this analysis, all the different factors consider each other, so for example, the influence of higher education on English language skill is cancelled out, so each variable is really telling its own story.

First, Sex – men are more likely to be on Odnoklassniki than women. Next, Russian language skills – those with better Russian are more likely to be on Odnoklassniki than those with poor Russian. Then English skills matter. Then education.
Determinants of being on Facebook are first English skill. Better English means more likely to be on Facebook. Next, higher education. Russian language skill matters next.

For both Odnoklassniki and Facebook, age and economic status didn’t matter much. However, younger and wealthier people are more likely to be online. So it appears that once you’re online, your choice of social networking site is more about language skills and education.

So, with that, what are people doing on social networking sites?

Remember that Facebook users are more “elite” – so the activities they do will likely be more elite as well.

In terms of communicating with friends, posting photos, and entertainment no big differences between the sites. However, Facebook users are more interested in getting and sharing information. Odnoklassniki users are also playing more games than Facebook users.

snsactivities

When asked what the most important activity on a social networking site, Facebook users were much more likely to say getting information.

mostimportant

When asked about sharing political and social information, Facebook users are much more likely to share than Odnoklassniki users. But the majority of all social networking site users aren’t sharing (they say!).

sharing

Facebookistan.am, Facebookistan.az, Facebookistan.ge in 2012

fb

This is an update to this post about 2011. 2012 overall Internet use here.

All data is from the Caucasus Barometer.

We know that a larger percentage of Armenians (52%) and Georgians (43%) are online than Azerbaijanis (27%) and weekly or more often adult Internet users are 43% of Armenians, 33% of Georgians, and 19% of Azerbaijanis.

Armenia has 3,100,236 people, Azerbaijan 9,168,000 people, and Georgia 4,486,000 people – but that’s total population, we need to look at just adults (since that’s the data we have about Internet use – I fully acknowledge that teenagers are online and may be using social media). According to the World Bank, 20% of Armenians, 21% of Azerbaijanis, and 17% of Georgians are ages 0-14.

So, let’s take them out of the equation – (that’s 620,047 Armenians, 1,925,280 Azerbaijanis, and 762,620 Georgians) – and you have “adult” populations of 2,480,189 AM, 7,242,720 AZ, and 3,723,380 GE. So raw weekly or daily Internet users would be:

744,057 in 2011 and 1,289,698 in 2012 Armenia
941,554 in 2011 and 1,376,117 in 2012 Azerbaijan
1,042,546 in 2011 and 1,228,715 in 2012 Georgia

Thus in 2012, there are about 1.2-1.4 million weekly or daily Internet users in each country, with Azerbaijan having the most in raw numbers, despite the lowest percentage.

map_caucasus

In 2011, 6% of Armenians, 7% of Azerbaijanis, and 9% of Georgians (ADULTS) were on Facebook (let’s leave Odnoklassniki out of this for now). In 2012, 27% of Armenians, 13% of Azerbaijanis, and 30% of Georgians were on a social networking site.

Raw numbers then would be:

148,811 in 2011 and 669,651 in 2012 in Armenia
506,990 in 2011 and 941,554 in 2012 in Azerbaijan
335,104 in 2011 and 1,117,014 in 2012 in Georgia

map_caucasus

Socialbakers.com is a website that gives Facebook statistics. I’m not very comfortable using it because of its lack of transparency and because we don’t know where they get any of their data, but let’s see what they say.

ARMENIA
Total Facebook Users     395340 – I have 669,651 adults, so this seems off (although Odnoklassniki could be a factor)
Position in the list     112
Penetration of population     13.32% – I have 27% of adults
Penetration of online population     29.06% – I have 53% of adults

AZERBAIJAN
Total Facebook Users     1013080 – I have 941,554 adults, so this seems reasonable
Position in the list     82
Penetration of population     12.20% – I have 13% of adults, so this seems a little low for total population
Penetration of online population     23.97%I have 50% of adults, so this seems really off

GEORGIA
Total Facebook Users     969840 — 1,117,014 adults, so this seems fairly close
Position in the list     85
Penetration of population     20.95% — I have 30% of adults, so this is off
Penetration of online population     82.84% – I have 70% of adults, so this seems okay

In the future I’ll look at socialbaker’s gender and age breakdown and see if it matches with what comes from the Caucasus Barometer.

(This is a copy and paste from what I wrote about 2011, but I wrote it in winter 2012.)

Okay, so back to my original point — I’ve noticed that the Azerbaijani Facebook and Twitter worlds is substantially more active than the Armenian one. (I acknowledge that I’m not up on what is going on in Georgia, but for reasons explained below, you’ll see that it is probably similar to Armenia). Why is this?

1. The raw numbers noted above — a lot more Azerbaijanis are on Facebook than Armenians. (I’m going to leave these countries’ diasporas out of this, but for what it’s worth, I feel like the Azerbaijani diaspora engages with Republic of Azerbaijan citizens more than Armenian diaspora do with Republic of Armenia citizens).
2. Because of the lack of free expression and assembly in Azerbaijan, most political discussion takes place on Facebook. Armenians can do this fairly freely in cafes or homes. Similarly, Armenians can organize and be political active in ways that Azerbaijanis cannot.
3. Language is a big part of this. As I wrote before, users of the Azerbaijani language are at a serious advantage over users of Armenian or Georgian because Azerbaijani uses the Latin script. This is also a special concern when it comes to Twitter and even more so when it comes to mobile phones (only the most recent Android OS has Armenian and Georgian, iPhone has it, but the others? No way). But my overall point is that there are barriers to Armenians and Georgians using these sites.
4. This is entirely speculative, but I get the sense that Bakuvians are just way more wired than Yerevantsis are. The Baku social media scene, beyond politics, is always jumpin’! There are a ton of Azerbaijani Instagrammers, Pinteresters, and other social media platform users. I just don’t see that same sort of scene in Yerevan. Yes, there is a bit of a FourSquare scene and of course people use these social media sites, but not to the extent that I see in Azerbaijan. (Although this may be a result of the sheer numbers!!)

I’m sure there are other reasons, and I’d love to hear comments…

What do Armenians do on social networking sites?

More from the ArMedia dataset…

With so many Armenians on social networking sites (85% of mobile Internet users, 83% of Armenians that have both mobile and PC-based Internet, and 54% of PC-based Internet users in Armenia, as of a year ago), what are they doing on there?

Mostly communicating with friends! While only a little bit more than a third (37%) of Armenians that access social networking sites via a computer say that they communicate with friends, three-quarters of mobile Internet SNS users and 83% of those with both mobile and PC Internet and use SNSs say they’re communicating with pals.

Some use messaging to communicate with friends (27% of PC SNS users, 23% of mobile SNS users, and 19% that have both mobile and PC for SNS access).

Those PC SNS users are busy with something else — they’re sharing information (well, 37% of them are), but compared to only 13% of those with both and 17% of those with mobile for SNS access, this is a lot!

Those PC users are givers, not takers — they are busy sharing information, but they’re not really seeking information. Only 8% of PC SNS users are seeking information on social networking sites, while a quarter of mobile users and those with both PC and mobile for SNS access do.

What about new people? In my qualitative work I’ve heard a lot about Armenians trying to meet dating partners on social networking sites – and maybe this is the case in this data as well. A quarter to a third of Armenian SNS users are trying to meet new people on social networking sites.

Games are a bit popular too, especially with mobile users — a third of those with both PC and mobile and a quarter of mobile-only SNS users play games. Only 18% of PC SNS users do though.

Photos, videos, and music are posted by 17-27% of SNS users too.

** If anyone is interested, I can do a Facebook versus Odnoklassniki breakdown. **

New data is coming soon (hoorah!), but this gives a pretty good snapshot of Armenian social network site use in January-February 2011.