Which Facebook publications can tell us about a company’s economic recovery

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What it shows is how some sectors have rebounded much more quickly than others. The counts of daily totals of Facebook posts by the administrators of the businesses’ pages is broken down to the county level, and does not take into account transactions, revenue or employment, McGorman said. “What we find so startling about some of this data is that it shows how uneven the recovery has been across sectors,” McGorman said.

“The rate at which small businesses are posting to their Facebook page is actually a really interesting indication of whether or not they’re open or closed, and their overall activity online,” said Laura McGorman, a policy lead for the tech giant’s Data for Good program. SEARCH THE FACEBOOK DATA HERE

Facebook modeled the project on similar research by a team from a university in the United Kingdom, which measured posts by small businesses after hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. In general, the more often a business posts, the better it’s doing.

“It’s important to remember for economists, for local chambers of commerce and even for local communities to remember that while businesses in general are recovering from the economic effects of the pandemic, that recovery is quite uneven and that has important amplification implications for how we support these businesses across the state,” McGorman said. The hope, McGorman says, is to provide policy makers and other leaders a tool to help them more precisely target relief programs in the future. Conversely, those tied to local events — such as concerts — still aren’t posting nearly as often as they were before March 2020.

For example, grocery and convenience stores in Wake County consistently have been posting at or above their levels before COVID — which makes sense, because those types of businesses largely were open the whole time. These charts show how the number of posts to Facebook pages for businesses in North Carolina compare to the pre-pandemic baseline and can measure the recovery of those businesses. (Source: Facebook.)

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