It’s crude but still very interesting

I was asked a very interesting question earlier today – A colleague asked me how many twitter accounts there are in Devon? To which my reply was (slightly paraphrased):

“Hmmmm, I’m not sure to be honest…however we could provide a crude figure for the number of facebook users or potential reach using the advertising feature….we could then,  again this is crude but use the worldwide ratio of twitter to facebook users and apply that to our figures and this would give us a best guess figure, at least it is sort of logical…”

“That sounds like it could be a useful starting point, let me know what you find out.”

So I did exactly what i suggested and the result of which I include below…It is crude I know but very interesting, even if we take a very conservative position on the figures they are actually still very significant.


More than 800 million users worldwide – more than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices.

Facebook Estimated reach in Devon – 488,820 people

  • Who live within 40 kilometres/25 Miles of Exeter, Barnstaple, Tiverton, Sidmouth, Tavistock, Bideford, Newton Abbot, Ivybridge, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Okehampton, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Salcombe, Exmouth, Lynton, Lynmouth, Bovey Tracey, Ashburton, Braunton, Cullompton, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Ottery Saint Mary or Totnes
  • Figures are based on users who are aged 13 or over.
  • The towns listed are those which I used and found and which i think represent a good coverage of Devon in terms of the 25 mile radius…


More than 380 Million users worldwide – Ratio of twitter to facebook therefore is  just under 50%.

If  we apply the crude formula to the facebook figures for Devon then we would expect to see approximately 240,000 twitter users.

For context  – the population of Devon is just under 750,000 – using the County Council boundary – therefore excluding Plymouth and Torbay…although it is likely that some Plymouth and Torbay users will be included due to the geography. It shows that a significant proportion – around 65% of residents are allegedly on Facebook…and approximately 30%-35% are allegedly on Twitter.

I’ll say it again, it’s crude but it is very interesting…



9 thoughts on “It’s crude but still very interesting

  1. Really interesting thanks Carl and very timely as a client wanted to know information exactly along these lines (and i was going to use the Facebook ad feature to obtain figs!!) I’d love to be able to get a feel for the twitter user figures more exactly, just in case Devon happens to be atypical and has more or less than the ‘average’ % of users compared with Facebook.I had a go using twellow and tweetadder and didn’t get anything sensible …. 🙂

    1. Hi Julia,

      I agree that it would be great to get more accurate figures, I think someone suggested trying to crowdsource the information, but i’m not sure how long that would take..but it could be an option over time.

      I think unless twitter opened up to advertising more formally we won’t get this kind of intelligence from twitter itself…the only way we can get “estimated reach” in facebook is through an advertising route.

      Still it is at least a measure, regardless of how accurate, it is something to start with….we have a range of other factors which we could start including which would help to make that figure more realistic for example broadband coverage maps and mobile coverage maps…

  2. Carl

    How about if you provided each Devon CC resident who wished one, with a Personal Data Store (PDS) ?

    If this enabled them to transact with you more conveniently than at present, then you might build up your numbers of interactive citizens based on improved trust levels.

    These individuals might be across different areas e.g. business, social care, public health, young people based on their volunteering personal information to the Council.

    This seems a way to engage with people. It equips individuals with the means to participate in digital public services on their terms.



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