As Facebook has rocketed to its current position as the most popular social networking destination on the Web, some people have wondered whether there would be enough things for all of those millions of users to do once they arrived. That remains to be seen over the long term.
But today, Facebook users are sharing more than 1 billion pieces of content (Web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) each week, and one of the most popular is the Pick Five list from Facebook app developer LivingSocial. LivingSocial CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy says that Facebook users created some 600 types of Pick Fives, while only "a couple dozen" were created by LivingSocial's 17-person staff in Washington, D.C.
If you visit Facebook regularly, you've probably filled out at least one of these Top Five lists. I have--they're hard to resist. The reason I like LivingSocial's Pick Fives such as "Five Albums That Have Shaped Me" is because they provide a structured way for Facebookers to express to each other who they are and what they're all about. Nevertheless, I suspect that it's more fun to fill out your own list than to look at other people's lists.
After meeting the LivingSocial people, we decided to find out which five Pick Five lists Facebook users are most inclined to fill out. We also wondered which individual choices made those top five Pick Fives most frequently. So we found out.
The Pick Five lists come in a multitude of categories, such as "sports" and "technology." Many of the Pick Fives focus on celebrities, the most popular category chosen by the Facebook community. After celebrity Pick Fives (30 million lists created), you have (by order of popularity) Movies (12.3 million lists), TV shows (9 million lists) and Pro Sports Teams (7.8 million lists).
Top Five Pick Fives
Let's start our tour of the top five Pick Fives with the most-often-completed list of all, "Favorite Movies of All Time," and see which films got the most support. Under each Pick Five, I'll list--in order of popularity--the five picks Facebookers made most often. After each pick, in parentheses, we identify how many Facebookers have endorsed it.
Pick Five: Favorite Movies of All Time
(completed by 6.4 million people on Facebook)
Okay, not too surprising. We love to talk about movies with our pals. And our favorite movies are a good indication of our tastes and our personality. But what movies appeared most frequently in those 6.1 million Top Fives about movies?
1. The Notebook (416,386 times)
2. Titanic (361,384 times)
3. Forrest Gump (338,756 times)
4. Twilight (319,174 times)
5. The Dark Knight (311,561 times)
The Notebook number one? This was a result I didn't expect. I mean, we're not talking about Ben Hur or Rear Window here. I haven't seen this movie, and I had no idea it was so popular. It's a chick flick, isn't it? Titanic at number two I totally get. It's a pretty good movie, and it's a love story, which tallies well with the theory that most people who create these Pick Five lists are young women. Am I being sexist? I don't think so. Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks's 1994 hit, is no chick flick--and it was no critics' darling either--but it's certainly likeable and memorable. Twilight? Wha? The $37 million film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel is widely called a chick flick, though girls in middle school may account for much of the "chick" support in this case; still, I had no idea that so many of them loved the film. Rounding out the top five is The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger's swan song. It's a good movie, not a great movie, and it made the favorite lists of almost 300,000 Facebook users.
Pick Five: Best TV Shows
(completed by 5.6 million people on Facebook)
Not surprising either. What do we talk about at the water cooler? TV. Now let's see what shows Facebookers picked most.
1. Friends (picked 951,650 times)
2. The Simpsons (950,511 times)
3. Family Guy (860,441 times)
4. House M.D. (686,563 times)
5. Lost (679,851 times)
Now I'm getting scared. Number one (by an eyelash) is Friends--sappy sit-com schmaltz involving insipid, pseudo-hip 20-somethings. It takes me right back to the '90s, and then makes me want to gag. I'm obviously out of step with the mainstream on this. Facebook users favored Friends over the consistently funny and poignant animated series The Simpsons, created by Matt Groening. Another well-written and consistently funny animated series, Family Guy, finished third. Rounding out the top five are current hits House M.D. and Lost. Good. I'm sorry to sound so strident, but I really thought we were over Friends.
Pick Five: Favorite Sports Teams
(completed by 3.2 million people on Facebook)
We love to talk about the greatness of our favorite sports teams. And we love to talk trash about other people's athletic heroes.
1. Manchester United Red Devils (picked 510,109 times)
2. FC Barcelona (341,757 times)
3. New York Yankees (314,109 times)
4. Liverpool Reds (301,331 times)
5. AC Milan (258,629 times)
Four of the five sports teams on this list are European football clubs (for you Yanks, the reference is to soccer, not to the now-defunct NFL Europe)--strong evidence that Facebook, which began in the United States, has rapidly gained popularity in Europe. According to Facebook, about 70 percent of its users log on from outside the United States. The results of this Pick Five don't mean that the Manchester United Red Devils are more popular worldwide than the New York Yankees, but they may mean that Manchester United fans (and FC Barcelona fans) are more likely to write about their teams on Facebook or are more likely to have a membership on Facebook to begin with.
Since we are a U.S.-centric publication, we present here the most-picked American sports teams:
1. New York Yankees (picked 314,109 times)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (252,370 times)
3. Boston Red Sox (221,489 times)
4. Dallas Cowboys (203,666 times)
5. Boston Celtics (202,521 times)
Pick Five: Cars I Want in My Garage
(completed by 2.6 million people on Facebook)
1. 2009 Aston Martin DB9 (picked 83,572 times)
2. Ferrari F430 Spider 2007 (75,273 times)
3. Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano 2008 (71,224 times)
4. 2009 Audi R8 (67,368 times)
5. Dodge Challenger 2009 (60,308 times)
You can tell by the total number of lists created (2.5 million) compared to the number of votes garnered by the five most popular picks that people's car preferences are all over the map. The most-picked car, the 2009 Aston Martin DB9, was picked only 83,572 times, or in only 3 percent of the total lists created. Only one U.S.-made care made the top five: the Dodge Challenger 2009, which most auto analysts refer to as a "muscle car."
Pick Five: Favorite Beers
(completed by 2.5 million people on Facebook)
1. Corona by Grupo Modelo S.A. de C.V. (picked 645,445 times)
2. Heineken by Heineken N.V. (594,475 times)
3. Guinness Draught by Guinness Ltd. (396,276 times)
4. Stella Artois by Stella Artois (350,825 times)
5. Budweiser by Anheuser-Busch (343,493 times)
The Favorite Beers top five again reflects the international flavor of the Facebook community, though the fact that Corona was the top choice surprised me a bit. I much prefer a beer with some body to it, like the one in the number three slot--Guinness. Heineken and Stella are good beers too, in my opinion, while Budweiser is, well, Budweiser.
Four Interesting Pick Fives
We also asked LivingSocial to run the numbers on a few of Facebook's not-as-popular, but especially striking categories. Here are the results for four intriguing Pick Fives.
Pick Five: Top Five People I Want to Punch in the Face
(completed by 1.4 million people on Facebook)
1. George W. Bush (picked 149,458 times)
2. Paris Hilton (142,608 times)
3. Miley Cyrus (105,877 times)
4. Barack Obama (70,251 times)
5. The Jonas Brothers (68,999 times)
"Striking" is the operative word here. But forget about punching George Bush--did you see how he dodged that shoe in Baghdad? You'll never lay a glove on him. And don't slug Paris Hilton, either: She might have to scrape together the dough for plastic surgery. If you even think about hitting Miley Cyrus, her daddy Billy Ray might give you an achy-breaky face. And as for taking a swing at Barack, beware: Those security dudes are ready to dance at the drop of a hat. The Jonas Brothers? Punch away.
Pick Five: 5 Things I Could Grab From Where I'm Sitting (No Cheating!)
(completed by 2.1 million people on Facebook)
The proposition is a bit odd, but millions of users completed the Pick Five, and the results are interesting.
1. Remote control (picked 325,884 times)
2. Pen (163,493 times)
3. Cell phone (292,457 times)
4. Pillow (91,766 times)
5. Camera (78,562 times)
Number one answer: the remote control. This is more proof that people, especially younger ones, enjoy computing and watching TV at the same time. This comes at a time when all kinds of tech gear and software makers are trying to bring TV and Web browsing together into one experience. They're gambling that people will want to do both things on a single platform, which may be correct. The integration of TV and Internet on one screen has great possibilities--both for consumers and for advertisers, but only if the resulting system easy to control and manage from a couch. That barrier to use is proving difficult to overcome.
Pick Five: Best Albums of All Time
(completed by 2 million people on Facebook)
1. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (picked 134,939 times)
2. Nevermind by Nirvana (79,199 times)
3. Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses (79,098 times)
4. Metallica by Metallica (66,356 times)
5. Led Zeppelin IV (aka ZOSO) by Led Zeppelin (59,059 times)
My response to this is the same as my reaction to the "Bands I've Seen in Concert" list (where the top five consists of Metallica, U2, Kiss, Bon Jovi, and the Rolling Stones): These picks are all really old. Most of the "Best Albums" are records that Facebookers probably borrowed from their parents--or grandparents (Dark Side, Led Zep IV). And this list is coming from the Facebook community, which is dominated by twentysomethings. Maybe my theory that truly great records stopped being made in about 1990 is true.
Pick Five: Top 5 Things I Hate That Everyone Else Seems to Like
(completed by 672,767 people on Facebook)
1. American Idol (10,236 times)
2. Twilight (4582 times)
3. Beer (2934 times)
4. Rap music (2660 times)
5. Coffee (2348 times)
More than ten thousand Facebook members put American Idol on their list of things they feel lonely about hating. Another object of widespread isolated animosity is Twilight (discussed under Best Movies, though the antagonism may spill over to encompass the popular book series as well). Old standbys beer, rap, and coffee round out the list, suggesting that when it comes to despising the truly and universally beloved pop sensations du jour--Zac Efron, Rachael Ray, Susan Boyle, Twitter--you're on your own, hater.
Demographics and Strong Feelings
We--and many others--have sought to figure out what sorts of people use Facebook. But the likes and dislikes of Facebook users tell a more revealing story than the demographics alone do. All in all, the tastes of the people who filled out the popular LivingSocial Pick Fives seem to skew toward twenty-something and female.
The LivingSocial Pick Fives first appeared on Facebook in March, and almost immediately they became an online phenomenon--something everybody was filling out. The lists have an infectious quality: If you see that a friend has picked and posted her five favorite albums, it's natural to want to weigh in on the subject yourself. For a while, various Pick Five lists dominated my newsfeed. The flood of Pick Fives has waned somewhat over the past month, but lists continue to show up, and I never fail to read them.
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