On the (Check-Ins) list

Top Check-Ins Around The World

Last week Facebook posted its Top 10 U.S. Check-Ins list as part of its 2013 Year in Review. I’m happy to share that Universal Studios Hollywood made the list again. We climbed one spot from last year, from 8th to 7th.

A big Thank You to my teammates and co-workers who helped make this happen over the past two years. (Disclosure: I’m an employee of Universal Studios Hollywood and am responsible for digital marketing).

I find the milestone to be extra sweet because I’ve been working on the company’s Facebook presence literally since its first day.

On an even more personal note, I have to admit that I felt some joy in seeing Universal Studios Hollywood’s name next to Fenway Park, which is 8th on this year’s Top U.S. Check-Ins list.

7. Universal Studios Hollywood (Universal City, CA)
8. Fenway Park (Boston, MA)

Growing up in Massachusetts I shared the New England kid dream that my professional career would someday lead me to Fenway. OK, so side-by-side on a Facebook list isn’t quite the stuff of childhood fantasies…. but I appreciate the irony.

Reader Beware

The Facebook Stories Top Check-Ins list generated a decent amount of media attention last week. It was interesting to see how the information was often reported in a slightly inaccurate way.

Looking at how Facebook released the information, it’s understandable where the confusion began.

The first and most prominent of its two Top Check-In lists was presented as:  “Top Check-Ins Around The World:  Explore the most popular destinations people checked into this year”. (I.e., the image at the top of this blog post)

That headline links to the following eye-catching map highlighting 25 locations around the world:

Facebook Stories 2013 check-ins map

Not surprisingly, many news outlets rans stories implying that these locations were the most checked-into spots in the world. For example, a CNN Travel article was titled, “The 25 most popular destinations for Facebook check-ins in 2013”. And an article in The Telegraph (UK) referred to the locations as “the 25 most popular locations of 2013.”

However, there’s a nuance that makes this billing inaccurate. The Facebook top 25 list highlights the #1 check-in spot within each of 25 countries (i.e., one spot per select country); it is not a list of the 25 top check-in spots overall.

Facebook should have been more careful in how it presented the information. Vague wording leads to vague understanding.

Facebook has received some bad press for cluttered layouts and confusing privacy instructions. The wording of the Year In Review article (and the check-in lists therein) doesn’t help counter perceptions about poorly disseminated information. This is especially poignant in the digital world, where there’s a premium on having a relentless focus on an easy user experience.

At the same time, journalists should have caught the nuance. It should be pretty obvious that the U.S. is not home to just one of the world’s top 25 check-in locations, given its population, the amount of tourism and the Facebook usage rate. It is equally unlikely that Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík, Iceland, could have a check-in count large enough to rank amongst the world’s highest (the entire population of Iceland is 320,000).

Getting back to Universal Studios Hollywood, its relative place on the U.S. list is easy to discern. For “Top U.S. Check-Ins” Facebook provided a straight-forward #1 through #10 ranking.

No fancy graphics but no confusion.

(Please note that all comments made in this post and in this blog overall reflect personal opinions and not the opinions of Comcast, NBCUniversal or Universal Studios Hollywood).

One thought on “On the (Check-Ins) list

  1. I always enjoy reading your blog posts Josh. This is a special one, it reminds me once again to be very careful with what I read in terms of how I process the info received, question it, pay attention to nuances, etc…

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