The great Local Board Facebook contest

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Waitakere Ranges facebook page

For someone now over 50 I was a fairly early converter to social media and I have marvelled at its ability to reach out and spread news and shape opinions.  At best it is a fearsome beast that can change political views overnight.  At worst it is a snarling beast where everyone shouts at each other and conversations are all noise and no light.  But its capacity and its potential to disseminate news is unparalleled.

I use social media quite a bit.  I blog here and at the Standard, and I use Facebook for a variety of purposes.  One interesting example related to Local Board work was when I conducted an informal consultation with the people of Titirangi through its Facebook page about what should happen to Titirangi’s chickens.  The subject flared and there was this unbelievable avalanche of comments.  375 comments later there was a somewhat uneasy consensus that numbers should be reduced but there was a preference that this should be done in as humane way as possible.  The great humane Titirangi Village Chicken relocation then occurred and no-one complained.

Shortly after I was elected to the Waitakere Ranges Local Board I set up a Facebook page with the intention that news and information about the board could be posted.  The immediacy of Council activities meant that it was not perfect but it provided access to the local community of local board news and was used to promote events and consultations that were occurring.

Council then took the page over and set up identical pages for all of the local boards.  Statistics geek that I am I wondered about the take up of the local boards by their local community and if there was any discernible reason for which board was popular and which board was not.  I also thought it would be a helpful guide to see which boards handled their pages well and which boards were not doing so well.

My thoughts were that the areas of Auckland where community was strongest would be the best performing.  I also thought that relative wealth and the associated access to technology would also play a major part.

I performed an initial analysis in June 2013 and repeated the analysis recently.  The measurement was a simple one, seeing how many likes a local board Facebook page has as a proportion of its total population.  The measurement is somewhat crude because liking a page does not require someone to be resident in the area but it gives an indication of how much local interest there is in the local board’s activities.

The results match some of my preconceptions but there were some surprises as well.  The results are (drumroll please) …

In fifth position down two places was Devonport-Takapuna Local Board.  My perception is that the wonderfully formed village of Devonport would have a real core community and its high placing is not a surprise.

In fourth place is the people’s republic of Waitakere Ranges and I am not surprised that we are highly placed.  Our local board area is a hive of communities with their own Facebook pages and the desire for information is high.

In third place, up five positions was Mangere Otahuhu and this was something of a surprise.  I grew up in Mangere and I understand the poverty that the area suffers from and thought that this would have a major effect on on computer access.  But it is a proud area with a strong well networked pacifica population and an active local board and this may explain what is an unexpected result.

Second place was a repeat from 2013.  Waiheke with its Island status and its extraordinarily strong network of communities and its intense interest in local issues meant that its local group is followed intently by the local population.

And the winner by a long margin is Great Barrier Local Board with Facebook likes being a third of its total population.  It is streets ahead of every other board.

Interesting results included Henderson Massey which rose 14 positions from two years ago and that two of the three worst performing areas were Orakei and Howick.  I thought their socio economic status would mean that they would perform relatively well but the result belies this.

The full table is below with rankings from 2013 and now.

2013 2016 Board Likes Population Proportion
1 1 Great Barrier 294 820 35.85%
2 2 Waiheke 1000 8,420 11.88%
8 3 Mangere Otahuhu 1368 75,900 1.80%
5 4 Waitakere Ranges 817 49,000 1.67%
3 5 Devonport Takapuna 878 57,300 1.53%
7 6 Albert Eden 1358 98,800 1.37%
21 7 Henderson Massey 1389 109,600 1.27%
4 8 Waitemata 873 70,000 1.25%
12 9 Puketapapa 626 56,100 1.12%
11 10 Papakura 490 44,900 1.09%
6 11 Kaipatiki 917 85,900 1.07%
15 12 Whau 759 76,400 0.99%
9 13 Rodney 516 54,100 0.95%
13 14 Upper Harbour 376 49,000 0.77%
14 15 Maungakiekie Tamaki 548 73,000 0.75%
18 16 Otara Papatoetoe 588 80,300 0.73%
10 17 Hibiscus and Bays 623 88,800 0.70%
16 18 Manurewa 571 86,600 0.66%
17 19 Orakei 502 81,100 0.62%
20 20 Franklin 396 64,200 0.62%
19 21 Howick 574 128,100 0.45%
15463 1438340 1.08%




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