• STV
  • MySTV

Can Facebook data tell us how European Scotland is? Kenny Murray

Analysis: Digital guru Kenny Murray learns some language lessons from Facebook.

Social media: A window into Scotland's diversity.
Social media: A window into Scotland's diversity.

Will Britain stay in Europe or leave?

I couldn't say but what I can be sure of is that this will dominate discussions from political journalists and many others from different sections of society.

A large part of the debate is centred on freedom of movement within Europe.

The European Union is a melting pot, a mixture of cultures, languages and peoples from various different backgrounds. To some, this is positive and to others a threat to the job markets in each member state.

Personally, I love it. On my walk from the station to the office, I pick up a number of different languages. As culturally diverse journeys go, from the New Town to Leith is like strolling through New York City.

So, just how diverse is Scotland?

It's a difficult one to answer based on census data, given that they are taken so far apart and families often move from country to country in much shorter timeframes. However Facebook, fast becoming the most up-to-date and trustworthy global data centre, has insight into this.

Using the same tools I harness to help clients engage with different audiences, it's possible to map the countries of origin of people within a specific country, city or postcode area. In fact, these tools allow us to go even further and get a list of all the jobs European citizens are doing and to dig deeper still and work out which languages they speak as a first language.

This is where I'm going to pull some data. Below is a chart breaking down the languages spoken by Facebook users living in Scotland.

Of course, English is the majority language with roughly 80% of Scots users communicating in that tongue. That in itself is fascinating. It means one-fifth of Scottish adult Facebook users don't use English as a first language -- that's pretty diverse.

Let's remove English from the mix and see how the chart breaks down.

The largest language outside of English in Scotland is Polish, followed by Spanish, French, Italian and German, although there are some surprising appearances, including Persian and Kurdish. These are languages spoken by people in Syria and Iraq, alongside Arabic and a number of other minority languages.

Some would argue that Scotland has long had that level of diversity, that it goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. So, to break the data down a little I decided to look at non-English languages used online in Scotland, from users who are living away from their home town and who had moved here within the last year.

The breakdown shows that in the last 12 months there has been an addition of over 30,000 Polish speakers to Scotland, with Spanish and Chinese speakers making up the next top two. There has also been an additional 800 Arabic speakers.

What this data shows is that not only is Scotland a melting pot (and I'm not hearing voices as I amble down Leith Walk) but that Scotland is welcoming on a yearly basis a culturally diverse group of people. And not only from Europe, farther afield too.

It also explains why I can now buy a wide range of Polish meats, breads and desserts from my local shop. (Please, keep coming people of Poland; if you also want to recommend to Fife shopkeepers more delicious puddings, my tastebuds will thank you even if my waistline won't.)

Would this change on a possible exit from the EU? I honestly don't know. I can't second guess the reactions of those new to the country to such a major decision. Nevertheless, it's worth reflecting that, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, Scotland is already a European country, with our arms open to different cultures, languages and peoples.

And if you're a Scottish business owner, this data illustrates the size of the market in Scotland for products, content and communications in languages other than English. Last year, around 45,000 Scotland-resident people used Polish as their first language online, while roughly 30,000 of them came here within the last year. That's new customers and clients to target with advertising and marketing. Why not target them in their first language?

Na razie, do widzenia.

Kenny Murray is a digital strategist for Edinburgh-based public relations agency Holyrood PR. His specialisms include social media and data analysis. Follow him on Twitter at @kenny_murray.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.