Rural Areas Hotbeds Of Twitter Searches, Social Networking - InformationWeek

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7/30/2008
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Rural Areas Hotbeds Of Twitter Searches, Social Networking

Lightly populated areas are more prone to fostering online relationships because of travel constraints, a report from Gaebler Ventures suggests.

People living in Kansas are more social in the digital sense than those living in California, according to a report from Gaebler Ventures.

The business incubator and holding company released rankings this week that show how active residents of U.S. states are when it comes to using Twitter. California ranked 29th, while Kansas ranked sixth, but Ken Gaebler said his methodology is imperfect.

He said he ranked the states "for grins," using Twitter searches for state names. Nevertheless, it's interesting that more people searched for Washington, D.C.; Washington state; Maine; Oregon; and Hawaii than California or New York, which ranked 10th. Those five areas held the top slots while Louisiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania ranked lowest among states for their residents' lack of activity on the social networking site.

However, the results don't reflect most searches for big cities -- unless users also typed in the state names. That may be why some relatively small, rural states ranked high and California, where the population is concentrated in major cities, ranked lower.

There is some evidence that points toward the possibility that people in rural areas rely more heavily on social networking sites and tools to stay connected. ComScore stats on social networking adoption rates in May showed that Plattsburgh, N.Y., which sits just south of the Canadian border, had the highest level of activity on MySpace when grouped in a metropolitan area with nearby Burlington, Vt.

Those figures show the lightly populated area in upstate New York (with a 49.1% penetration rate) is more active than Houston; Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans; and Los Angeles. On Facebook, penetration is highest in Jackson, Miss., and Little Rock, Ark., and its surroundings.

It's likely the back roads of the North Country and the South make it easier to get online or text than pop over to a friend's house for a visit.

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