A recent RFERL report about social networking site use in rural Azerbaijan got me thinking about doing a blog post about regional differences in Internet activities in the Caucasus. (And whenever we’re talking about Internet and Azerbaijan, gender needs to be looked at as well.)
I have a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Communication that looks at the relative influence of demographics (gender, region, age, education, wealth, English language skill) and device (mobile or PC or both) on Internet activities in Armenia.
Here’s the abstract:
Digital inequality can take many forms. Four studied here are access to Internet, use of different devices, extent of usage, and engagement in different Internet activities. However, it is not clear whether sociodemographic factors, or devices, are more influential in usage and activities. Results from an unfamiliar context show that there are significant sociodemographic influences on access, device, usage and activities, and differences in activities by device type and usage. While sociodemographic differences are more influential, device type can increase likelihood of use for some “capital enhancing” activities, but only for a computer. Thus, although mobile Internet is available for those on the wrong side of the digital divide, these users do not engage in many activities, decreasing potential benefits.
In Armenia, 50% of users are on social networking sites, regardless of region. Skype is much more popular in regional cities and rural areas, and online news is most popular in Yerevan. Notably, 18% of all rural Armenians use social networking sites. 22% of all rural Armenians use Skype.
In Azerbaijan, there is more variance between regions. Over half of all users, regardless of region, are on social networking sites; and the percentages of users of the other activities is fairly consistent between regions. However, there are few rural Azerbaijanis online.
In Georgia, over two-thirds of users, regardless of region, are on social networking sites. Non-Tbilisi Georgians are less likely to read online news. 17% of rural Georgians are on a social networking site.
In terms of gender and activities, there are also some interesting differences.
In Armenia and Georgia there are not many differences between men and women in their Internet activities. But in Azerbaijan, the differences are notable. (More on this here.)
What are the typical Internet users in the Caucasus?
Using factor analysis (a technique where you see what things are related to other things), I’ve created some Caucasus Internet user types. I then used regression to see what demographic characteristics made it more or less likely for someone to be in a particular user type. (All 2012 Caucasus Barometer.)
Armenian Internet user types
Type 1: interactive entertainment
These users engage in a wide variety of activities: forums, blogs, shopping, dating sites, games, download music/videos, IM, skype, SNS
And who are they? They’re online frequently, they’re wealthier, they’re better educated, they’re more urban, they aren’t as proficient in English, and they’re younger.
Type 2: business only
These users engage in email, SNS, not downloading music/video, not news
They’re younger, they’re proficient in English, they’re online frequently, they’re better educated, they’re not as wealthy, they’re more urban, and they’re male.
Type 3: info seekers
These users search for info, news, not games, not SNS
They’re better educated, they’re urban, they’re wealthier, and they have good English.
Type 4: chatters
IM, not skype
They’re rural, they’re male and they’re proficient in English.
Azerbaijani Internet user types
Type 1: interactive entertainment
These users are on blogs, forums, shopping, skype, IM
They’re online more frequently, they’re better educated, they’re more likely to be proficient in English, and they’re not as wealthy.
Type 2: entertainment
download music/videos, online games, dating sites
They’re less educated, they’re less proficient in English, they’re less wealthy, and they’re younger.
Type 3: info seekers
news, search for info, not SNS
They’re older, they’re better educated, they’re not online as frequently.
Georgian Internet user types
Georgian Internet user types:
Type 1: looking for love?
dating sites, skype
They’re wealthier, they’re older, they’re men, and they’re less educated.
Type 2: engaged
blogs, forums, SNS
They’re younger, they’re online frequently, they’re better educated, they’re female, they’re proficient in English.
Type 3: gamers
games, not skype, download music/videos
They’re younger, they’re not online as much, they’re less educated, they’re younger, they have good English.
Type 4: info seekers
search for info, news, not SNS
They’re older, more urban, highly educated, profcieint in English.
Type 5: business only
email, not downloading music/video, not news
They’re highly educated, they’re urban, they’re proficient in English, they’re older.
So what to conclude from this? Well, I’m happy that there are enough users now that I can actually see some differences! But in terms of a takeaway, it gives us a sense of who is online and what they are doing. It is all too easy to assume that “Internet users” are a monolith and that they’re all doing the same things online. This demonstrates that in fact there are differences between users within the Caucasus countries.
I had a request via Twitter for age analysis on social media use in the Caucasus. Ask and you shall receive.
But first, let’s start with Internet frequency.
Certainly, there are a lot more younger people online than there are older people in all 3 countries.
Interestingly, two-thirds of Armenian 18-24 year olds are online daily and only 13% of that age group aren’t online at all. Nearly half of 25-34 year old Armenians are online daily as well, but a third of that age group aren’t online at all. In Georgia it is similar with 61% of 18-24 year olds online daily and 11% never online. 43% of 25-34 year old Georgians are online daily and a little over a quarter are never online. Nearly all Georgians over 65 are not online, while in Armenia only 89% of that age group are not online. Ura to those Tatiks and papiks!
But then there is Azerbaijan. Over half of 18-24 year olds in Azerbaijan aren’t online. 60% of 25-34 year olds aren’t online. And pretty low percentages in the older age categories are online. But, as always with Azerbaijan, you have to look at gender. So, here are the breakdowns for the 18-24 and 25-34 categories where you can see tremendous gender differences.
Social networking site use is quite popular in all three countries, but let’s examine the age distributions.
In Armenia, 63% of 18-24 year olds are on a social networking site and 44% of 25-34 year olds are. In Georgia 72% of 18-24 year olds are on a social networking site and 58% of 25-34 year olds are. Wow! Then we come to Azerbaijan where only 28% of 18-24 year olds and 23% of 25-34 year olds are on a social networking site. Again, the gender dimension certainly is an issue here.
The website socialbakers.com has age distribution information for Facebook for every country. I don’t put a lot of weight into it, but I also did these pie charts to resemble socialbakers’, as that was what was requested via Twitter.
In honor (?) of March 8, a blog post on gender…
Last year I did quite a bit of work on gender and Internet in Azerbaijan. Here are two blog posts  . Like in 2011, in 2012, there are almost no gender differences in Armenia or Georgia, so there is no need to write about it.
First, looking at frequency.
While 14% of Azerbaijani men are online every day, only 8% of women are. While 58% of Azerbaijani men never go online (even though they are aware of the Internet), 65% of Azerbaijani women never go online (although they are aware of the Internet), and 17% of Azerbaijani women and only 6% of Azerbaijani men do not know what the Internet is.
61% of daily Internet users in Azerbaijan are men. Last year this was 73% to 27%, so this is an improvement in equality.
54% of male Internet users in Azerbaijan are on a social networking site and 43% of female Internet users in Azerbaijan are on a social networking site. However, because of the low percentage of women online, only 15% of all female Azerbaijanis are on a social networking site, while 35% of all male Azerbaijanis are.
Men make up 70% of social networking site users in Azerbaijan in 2012. In 2011, men were 72% of Facebook users in Azerbaijan, so this is not a major change.
This demonstrates the percent of Internet users and percent from the total adult population that are engaging in particular online activities. To see more on general Internet, check this out.
Music and videos seem to be especially popular in Azerbaijan.
Most Georgian Internet users are on a social networking site.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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…
Hoorah! It is finally time to release the new Caucasus Internet statistics from the Caucasus Barometer. The data is publicly released on March 1.
I have a TON of posts ready to share. I’ll cover activities, regions, gender, means of access, but let’s start with the basics…
As always, I welcome comments and questions.
As usual, let’s recall that this is merely for adults (certainly there are a lot of teenage users!), but the ownership statistics do reflect households, so it is more inclusive of young people.
Also, as I discussed here, survey data is better than ITU or industry data.
So, let’s get on with it!!
First, let’s look at how many people ever use the Internet. This is not as important as frequent Internet use (because who cares if someone used the Internet once last year, right? That’s not the same as someone that uses it every day.) However, people seem to really care about this.
As of 2012, over half of Armenians, 43% of Georgians, and over a quarter of Azerbaijanis have ever used the Internet. Armenia made quite the jump this year. Notably, there was no increase in Azerbaijan.
Daily Internet use is a more important category – these are people that are potentially getting a lot out of the Internet.
As you can see, a third of Armenians, a quarter of Georgians, and 11% of Azerbaijanis use the Internet daily. Armenia has been making quite large jumps each year since 2009.
I also like to do a combination of weekly and daily users that I call “frequent Internet users” — while a weekly user isn’t reaping the benefits that a daily user could, certainly a weekly user is different from a monthly user! A monthly user is much more like someone that never uses, in my opinion.
43% of Armenians, a third of Georgians, and nearly 20% of Azerbaijanis are online at least weekly. This means that most Internet users are using a lot, which is a bit of a change from the past.
Now, looking at frequency distributions for just 2012.
As I mentioned above, the less-than-weekly users are fairly insignificant this year. But more importantly, the “never” used (which in this illustration I added the “I don’t know what the Internet is”), is still quite high in some countries.
Let’s look more closely at Azerbaijan’s frequency distribution over the past few years.
While there has been about a 10% drop in those that never use the Internet between 2009 and 2012 (and the bulk of that drop was between 2011 and 2012) and the percentage of daily users has doubled between 2009 and 2012, this is still fairly slow growth. (I get into some of the reasons for this in this article.)
What about ownership? Let’s look at some trends.
Household Internet connection ownership (this does not include mobile Internet – I’ll deal with that in a forthcoming blog post) grew in all 3 countries this year.
Nearly half of Armenian homes have an Internet connection with some major growth this year! (I’ll look at regional differences in a forthcoming blog post as well.) A third of Georgian homes have Internet and 17% of Azerbaijani homes have Internet.
Unsurprisingly then, these homes have a personal computer.
Elsewhere I argue that since 2008 when netbooks became available for a fairly cheap price, access to a computer is greater. Over half of Armenian homes, 40% of Georgian homes, and 21% of Azerbaijani homes have a computer. In all 3 countries, there was a pretty large jump from 2011.
And mobile phone ownership has essentially hit the entire population in all 3 countries now.
After yesterday’s post on my thoughts on social media in the Caucasus, I came across Foursquare maps of Yerevan, Baku, and Tbilisi. I love this sort of visualization and how you can sort of see the life of the city in it.
Foursquare is a mobile-based “game” (it gets its name from an American (?) children’s game where four kids bounce a large rubber ball between them in a square). One “checks in” at places. So, you’re at your kid’s school, you get on your phone and your GPS recognizes where you are and you “check in” to the school. Or you’re at a bar and you “check in.” If you’re the most frequent person that “checks in,” you become “mayor” of that place. Mayor is sort of meaningless, except when businesses give benefits to the mayor. The coffeeshop in my old neighborhood gave 50% off to the mayor!
Anyway, it is fairly popular amongst the geek scene in the Caucasus, so this is a little interesting.
Here’s Yerevan’s last three months of check-ins, as points of light
And close up
And the most popular check in spots in Yerevan (not sure if this is for all time or just recently)
Here’s Baku’s last three months of check-ins, as points of light
And close up
And the most popular check in spots in Baku (not sure if this is for all time or just recently)
Here’s Tbilisi’s last three months of check-ins, as points of light (I cannot figure out how Foursquare spells Tbilisi, so I went to Batumi and scrolled over)
And close up
And the most popular check in spots in Tbilisi (not sure if this is for all time or just recently)