What Message Did Sandy Send Facebook?

StormInvestors and analysts continue to dwell on Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) sluggish stock price. However, hurricane Sandy gave the social network an opportunity to show its worth.

While the superstorm lashed the East Coast of the United States on Monday and Tuesday, both Facebook and Twitter became key sources for information and commiseration.

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According to Facebook’s Talk Meter, which measures conversations on specific subjects, Sandy was the second most-talked-about event of 2012, after the Super Bowl. On a scale of 1 to 10, Sandy scored an 8.34 on the meter. Facebook reported that Sandy-related conversations were most punctuated by the words “we are OK,” “power,” and “damage.”

Facebook’s 1 billion users and Twitter’s 140 million usually create increased traffic around major news events like the London Olympics or the first presidential debate, and Sandy was no exception. As Altimeter Group analyst Charlene Li told Bloomberg, social media provides users with more information and viewpoints than traditional television news.

“It’s not only the immediacy, but also the depth and the breadth that social media is actually impacting,” Li said. “It is endless amounts of content. You just can’t get through it. It’s constantly refreshed.”

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which provided online tools for tracking the storm’s progress, also saw a jump in storm-related posts on its YouTube video site.

The social network’s role in Sandy-related communication proved the value of social media during crises. But it is not the only proof. Facebook’s Talk Meter statistics support data compiled by research firms that reveals the extent of the company’s growth. Adobe’s Digital Index report showed that Facebook’s brand engagement grew by 896 percent since the third quarter last year, and mobile traffic has also increased. While Facebook’s most-talked-about metrics do not implicitly prove that the event was a boost for the company’s mobile advertising revenue, the storm did cause a surge in traffic, especially mobile traffic, and Facebook has already proved in its third quarter earnings that mobile revenue is increasing as it makes strides toward capitalizing on greater traffic via that platform.

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