No one will argue that the number of people participating in the social media sphere is growing. Facebook is used by millions of people worldwide and allows you to target your advertising by using identifiers such as age or interest. As a wedding officiant, I was curious to see if Facebook could give me some interesting information on weddings in the making, “weddings to be” if you will.
There is lots of information on the marriage rates, divorce rates, average marrying age and other demographics through websites like Statistics Canada. I was stumped with finding out how many people are looking at getting married. Traditionally, those who are preparing to get married get engaged first. It then came to me that in Facebook there is a field in your profile where you can set your relationship status. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of brides and grooms changing their status at the ceremony. Or we’ve followed our friends as they enthusiastically change their status from relationship to engaged to confirm their new state. I wondered if I could use this information to satisfy my curiosity.
The process was quite simple. I used Facebook’s “Create an Ad” function to look at the percentage of users over 18 years of age, who declared themselves “engaged”, by geographic area. Although unscientific and would not hold up to statistically scrutiny, it certainly gives an interesting picture of the “weddings to be”.
My first exploration was to examine the largest population centres in Canada. Since I live in Ottawa, I wanted to see how my city compared. It seems that about 3% of the Ottawa Facebook users are engaged to be married. Interestingly Montreal and Quebec have a higher percentage of folks engaged at about 3.5%. This is curious given that there are more common law unions than marriages in that province. Do residents of Quebec get engaged and never get married? Are they just engaged longer? Toronto and Vancouver are around 2.3%. Does this mean that they have shorter engagement periods and get married faster?
At a provincial level, the picture reflects the large population centres. I was surprised to see that Newfoundland and the North West Territories lead the pack in the percent of population engaged at 4.4%. Ontario and Quebec are at the lower end and below the country average of 3%.
Finally, I looked at some country stats for fun. I chose the top countries from where I get hits on my blog site. Since I write on weddings, these were selfishly interesting. The UK came in first with a whopping 4.8% of people saying they are engaged. The US was fifth at 2.6%. Canada was middle of the pack. It certainly would be intriguing to study the reasons behind these differences.
Facebook has given me an insight into people’s behaviours and satisfied the geek in me. Pure numbers, however, never give the complete picture. The numbers do point to some fascinating stories to be uncovered. For me, happy couples getting engaged usually leads to a wedding where I may be invited to celebrate their union. Their stories are the ones I like to hear about.