The best Facebook analytics report (that you’re probably not using…)

Let’s take a step back, for a minute, from the usual slightly spitty excited talk about measuring social media by ‘engagement’, ‘reach’ or ‘virality’. All good stuff, to be sure, but sometimes – as a website owner, you just want to know how many visits are coming to your site from the Facebook page you lovingly maintain. It’s your bread and butter metric – it makes sense, and you know where you are with it. Chances are, most of your conversions take place on your website, that’s a good enough reason to want insight into your traffic sources.

Facebook domain insights is a great tool – among the reports it gives you are insights into visits to your website, from any link out there on Facebook. Here’s an example from a website, showing visits coming its way from Facebook:

Graph showing links clicked on from Facebook, back to a website

The number of clicks sent to a website, from links appearing in the news feed, page or profile walls. (Click for a larger view)

If you’re running a web analytics tool, you’ll can also get a similar report from your referring sites report – but what you get from insights, which you don’t get from your own website, is a report showing how many times links about your site were shared, regardless of whether they were clicked or not:

Daily shares from a Facebook page

The number of times people included a link to the website in a status message or wall post (Click for a larger view)

Ok – so where’s the insight? What’s the action I could take?
The first time I looked at the graphs above, my immediate question was ‘what’s responsible for the spikes?’. Finding out that answer will give me insights, which I can use to adjust my content strategy. Insights for domains has a ton of other useful reports, for example, it will show the success of any ‘like’ or ‘send’ buttons you have on your website.

The next question is, are the trends in the data above suggesting that the strategy that I have for Facebook is working, or not? In this instance, I can say that the prioritized purpose of my employer’s activities on Facebook is not to acquire traffic to the website  but to provide a platform for conversation with students (though, obviously, it’s nice when content is shared). However, as we increase publication of content on Facebook – and start using it to reach a larger audience we’ll definitely be using these reports to see what impact it’s having – we’ll be looking for an upwards trend. Whether this traffic does anything valuable to us, or for them, on our website is another question….

Talk to your webmaster, give them buns and get the meta tag from Facebook added to your website – enjoy.

Killer Facebook Data (That you can’t get from insights…or anywhere else for that matter)

Here’s some killer statistics from the Facebook page which I curate which fits both the ‘shock and awe’ and ‘frickin’ useful’ categories:

Between August 2011 and January 2012 friends of the page left 348 posts.
- 60% of these were related to making an application, or a question about our degrees
- 30% of them were practical questions about studying at Malmö
- 10% were links to events, jobs or other content

Simple take home? 90% of the posts we received in that 6 month period were about applying, splendid!

These data tell me that our page is totally supporting the current goals we have for Facebook – our strategy is to specifically focus on using Facebook for customer service and encourage prospective students to contact us via the wall.

How did we get these data? The hard way – my awesome colleague @idarosqvist went through our page with a pen and paper categorising the posts we had received. Definitely not the world’s most glamorous task but it results in some simple, easy to understand numbers which gives both insight (we’re on target with our strategy) and a set of data which allays the fears of those who worry that our page’s wall is full of random nonsense.

If you’ve got a billion friends, and a wall to match, then this probably is not for you; but if you’ve got a ‘regular’ page then taking a foray into your wall, armed with pen and paper, may give you some great insights and some awesome data to report.

(We didn’t look at comments, that would have taken too much time. The sentiment of the posts was largely positive or neutral, as tends to be the case with comments as well).

Swedish Kommuns and Facebook – a quick and dirty review

The other day I was struck by the thought ’I wonder how Swedish Kommun Facebook pages compare’ – so I took a look, and the results are presented here ( a ‘kommun’ is the Swedish equivalent of a British ‘county’ – an administrative region). Before we get stuck in, a few comments on the data:

First – there’s a ton of data missing; I certainly will have missed pages, nor have I spent time looking at how many Facebook pages a kommun might have. Nor have I made any kind of assessment of their overall communication strategy (they may stink at Facebook but throw great parties). I tried to check but it may well be that the pages I understood to be representing the Kommun are entirely ‘unofficial’ and actually administrated by small dogs.

Second – I’ve only looked at number of friends (not a particularly sharp metric) and number of posts left by page friends (a slightly better metric, but I only looked at February). I’ve not looked at comments left on posts (life is too short).

Third –  I’ve not looked at the age of the pages, so the friends metric is pretty useless for figuring out growth rate.

Kommun Facebook Pages – List
Here’s all the data in a spread-sheet. Hat tip to Obiz24 for publishing their survey of Swedish kommuns, which got me off to a good start.

Number of Friends – bubble chart

Facebook Page Friends - Swedish Kommuns

Click on this to get a bubble representation of the number of Facebook friends these Kommun pages had in Feb 2012.

Karlstad Kommun’s Facebook page stands head and shoulders above the others with just over 12282 friends, way more than any of the others I looked at; most struggle to get more than 1000 friends.  No surprise, they also had the most posts left by page friends.

According to Wikipedia, there are 290 Swedish Kommuns, with a massively varying population in each. If one assumes that most of Karlstad’s Facebook page friends actually live in the kommun then they have around 14% of their citizens as friends – definitely a significant communication channel. Not everybody enjoys such success – Eskilstuna, with the second most Friends, theoretically only has 2% of their citizens as Friends.

Number of Posts – bubble chart

Facebook Posts - Swedish Kommuns

Click to see number of posts left on the Kommun Facebook pages, during February.

12 of the Kommuns I looked at have their walls well and truly shut, with no posts allowed. Another 21 Kommun pages failed to get any posts from their friends in February (remember, I’ve not looked at any other months or comments left on posts). Generally, the amount of posts is quite low. Several of the Kommuns have a few ‘activists’ who post several times.

Lots of Numbers – So What?

How do you use this? First, given the large amount of energy often expended on discussing how social media is used in the public sector it’s a provoking reflection that – with regards to the Facebook pages I looked at here – the direct audience (i.e. the total number of friends) seems to be quite low. Second, with a few exceptions the level of engagement (‘shudder’ – what does that word really mean?) is also low – page friends do not seem to post or comment that much.  If you’re investing in your Facebook page then you could maybe use these data as a benchmarking tool, and spot those kommuns which seem to be having success (though it all comes back to your strategy and goal).

Is your page missing? What would make this analysis more useful? Have I made a colossal #fail?  - let me know in the comments box below!

Swedish University Facebook Pages Review – Posts in January 2012.

Here’s the data for January for the Facebook activity of Swedish universities, ranked by the number of posts left on their walls. December was relatively quiet in comparison to January; some pages received more than double the number of comments in January, compared to December.  (December’s data will be presented in a review of the previous 12 months which I’ll prepare next month.) International pages are the most active, which is no surprise, given that this is the main application period. 5 university pages still do not allow posts to be left.

In January, the pages with the most posts were Malmö (112 posts) and Uppsala’s (104 posts) English Facebook pages. Uppsala experienced considerable gains from last month, with an increase in 30% in the number of posts. Lund University’s page is ranked 3rd, with 67 posts.

Malmö University

112

Uppsala University

104

Lund University

67

Linne Universitet

64

Uppsala universitet

41

Linköping Universitet

33

Lunds Universitet

21

Högskolan i Borås

21

Umeå universitet

21

Umeå University

20

Högskolan i skövde

18

KTH

17

Malmö Högskola

14

Mittuniversitetet

12

Jönköping University

11

Karlstads Universitet

9

SLU

9

Göteborg Universitet

9

Högskolan i Halmstad

8

Mälardalans Högskola

8

Chalmers University of technology

8

Högskolan Dalarna

7

BTH officiell

5

University of Borås

5

Linnaeus University, Sweden

5

Högskolan Kristianstad

4

Mid Sweden Uni

4

Karlstad University

3

Högskolan i Jönköping

2

Högskolan Väst

1

Ranking of Swedish University Facebook pages, by posts left by page friends during January 2012 (+/-5)

What’s the Value of this?
Well, that kinda of depends on you. If the aim of your Facebook activities is to build a relationship between yourself and prospective students then you’ll probably want to see lots of posts on your wall. If, on the other hand, you are more interested in profiling your university online then you may be more  interested in comments and likes – though posts will still be important – in getting a more viral effect for your content. So, only a few comments may not necessarily mean bad things (and you may well be being awesome on other channels) but it could equally be a sign that, currently, you have not given any compelling reason why people should connect with you on your wall. In a subsequent post I’ll be showing a simple way of evaluating a page, and presenting the results, to get a handle on the type of posts being left.

November Review – Facebook Page Comments – Swedish Universities Ranking

Here’s the November ranking for Swedish universities’ Facebook pages – based off the number of comments which their friends left on their walls, during the last month. This does not include comments left on posts by the page, or additional comments in a longer discussion. I’ve divided it into English and Swedish language pages.

Swedish language Facebook Pages

Overall, Linne Universitet’s wall saw the biggest increase in posting, with a growth of 20% since last month. There’s some international activity on the wall, which contributes to the growth, but the content seems to be mostly from students on campus; for example the sharing of blog posts or for sale notices.  The Karolinska Institutet, The Royal College of Art and Stockholm’s Universitet’s walls remain closed for posts.

Linne Universitet

60

Lunds Universitet

29

Linköping Universitet

27

Uppsala universitet

22

Högskolan i Borås

22

Högskolan i skövde

19

Mittuniversitetet

17

Högskolan i Halmstad

16

Mälardalans Högskola

13

Umeå universitet

13

KTH

11

Karlstads Universitet

11

Malmö Högskola

11

Högskolan i Jönköping

11

Högskolan i Jönköping

11

SLU

10

Högskolan Dalarna

6

Göteborg Universitet

6

BTH officiell

3

Högskolan Kristianstad

2

Högskolan Väst

1

English Language Facebook Pages

Malmö University sits at the top of this part of the ranking, with a page where posts are almost entirely questions about studying at Malmö, or how to make an application. Lund University, in second place, also has a wall dominated by questions about applying to Lund.  Uppsala, whilst enjoying fewer posts, shows a similar trend towards questions about making an application. Stockholm University and the Stockholm School of Economics walls’ remain closed.

Malmö University

56

Lund University

48

Uppsala University

22

Jönköping University

14

Umeå University

13

Chalmers University of technology

6

Karlstad University

6

Karlstad University

6

University of Borås

2

Some Quick Reflections

A few things occurred to me when I was preparing this month’s ranking.

Number of friends versus number of posts
A high number of friends is obviously great for reach and getting your content visible across the web. Lund University, for example, gets a high number of likes and shares for some of their posts which presumably leads to a healthy amount of inbound traffic to their page, and website. But, once again there’s little relationship between number of friends and number of posts;  Lund University has 5 times as many friends as Malmö University, yet they both have similar levels of posts.

Exceed expectations
The student’s question that you ignored or dismissed with a short, terse answer? There’s another university giving them red carpet treatment.  In the last month I noticed, on several different occasions, the same student posting the same question on different university’s walls (yes, your customers are fickle – get over it). The tone and level of support tended to vary. Enough to make them not choose your university? Hard to say; but maybe enough to drop you from 1st to 2nd choice. Exceed the expectations of your Facebook friends, the extra effort does not cost much and will reap rewards.

Don’t be shy about your social ecosystem
Chances are, the page I include here isn’t your only one – you’ll have an ecosystem of different pages representing Faculties, programmes or research activities, for example. Quick tips – make sure your pages are liking each other;  don’t rely on the Facebook search engine to show up your other pages. Also, encourage cross posting from one page to another;  get administrators from a particular page to post, using their own page’s identity; when appropriate this is a powerful way of drawing attention to the competence and presence you have on Facebook.

Facebook Page Friends – November review of Swedish university Facebook pages

 

It’s just an arbitrary threshold, but the Lund University marketing team have something to celebrate as they manage the first university Facebook page, in Sweden, to have more than 10 000 friends. In the last month they gained over 500 new friends, which pushed them up to 10 300 friends. It’s interesting that the first page to achieve this is an English language page, rather than a Swedish one. Even though the need for communication with the university is higher for international students, the number of Swedish speaking students would – you’d think – mean that the universities’ Swedish pages would be larger than they are. Something like 95% of our youngest target group (Data from Svenskarna och Internet 2011) for bachelor degrees, are using social networks in Sweden – so why their absence from these pages I wonder?

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Flickr Alamagordo

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Flickr Alamagordo

All of the universities’ Facebook pages  – regardless of which language they use – are showing a reduction in friend growth compared to last month.

This month, Göteborg Universitet, KTH, University of Borås, Malmö University and Jönköping show some of the highest percentage growths; but, in real numbers of friends, some of this growth is very small. If you’re working to get more friends, then maybe you need to revisit your strategy, or not, as the case may be (Though it’s worth repeating that the total number of friends should not be the metric you’re focusing on to measure your page’s success).

I’ll be following this post up in a few days with an analysis of the commenting frequency on these pages (altogether more relevant than just looking at numbers of friends) - I just know you can’t wait.

If your page is missing, just let me know in the comments, thanks.

Facebook Pages in English, ranked by number of friends.

University Page Friends % Growth, from last month Increase in friends, since last month
Lund University

10307

5

524

Stockholm University

5596

2

113

Umeå University

5361

3

160

Jönköping University

3501

1

62

Chalmers University of technology

3151

2

69

Stockholm school of economics

2517

1

42

Malmö University

1982

6

127

Uppsala University

1452

5

82

Karlstad University

1364

n/a

n/a

Mid Sweden Uni

817

4

38

University of Borås

533

7

36

Facebook Pages in Swedish, ranked by  number of friends.

University Page

Friends

% Growth, from last month

Increase in friends, since last month

Linköping Universitet

8823

1

128

Umeå universitet

6235

1

64

Linne Universitet

6010

1

57

Stockholm University

5596

2

113

Uppsala universitet

4772

3

121

KTH

3721

10

329

Lunds Universitet

3610

5

166

Högskolan i Borås

3487

1

11

Högskolan i Skövde

3091

1

20

SLU

3053

3

92

Karolinska Institutet

2887

4

106

Mittuniversitetet

2661

1

16

Mälardalans Högskola

2533

3

71

Högskolan i Halmstad

2291

2

41

Högskolan Väst

2268

2

45

Stockholm’s universitet

2089

3

61

Malmö Högskola

1556

2

36

Karlstads Universitet

1474

3

47

Royal Institute of Art

1118

3

32

Göteborg Universitet

772

25

152

Högskolan Dalarna

653

1

2

BTH officiell

596

2

9

Högskolan i Jönköping

530

7

33

Högskolan Kristianstad

451

2

9

Facebook Page Comments – Monthly review of Swedish university Facebook pages

Another month passes, and we’re out of the national application period and into the beginnings of the frenzy of international recruitment. The overriding trend is that almost all pages saw a drop in comments, only the English pages saw similar numbers to last month – but even they showed a reduction in the number of comments. Chalmers School of Technology have opened their wall for comments, but 6 others still remain closed.

Comments

Swedish Universities English Facebook Pages – Ranked by number of comments left in October.

Page

Comments left by page friends

Malmö University

41

Lund University

38

Uppsala University

11

Jönköping University

12

Mid Sweden Uni

15

Stockholm University

Wall closed

University of Borås

2

Stockholm School of Economics

Wall closed

Umeå University

Wall closed

Chalmers School of Technology

1


Swedish Universities Swedish Facebook Pages – Ranked by number of comments left in October.

Page

Comments left by page friends

Linne Universitet

45

Mälardalans Högskola

25

Uppsala universitet

23

Linköping Universitet

23

Högskolan i Skövde

22

Lunds Universitet

20

Högskolan i Borås

17

Karlstads Universitet

14

Högskolan i Jönköping

12

Högskolan i Halmstad

11

Mittuniversitetet

11

KTH

10

SLU

8

Malmö Högskola

8

Umeå universitet

8

Högskolan Kristianstad

6

BTH officiell

4

Högskolan Dalarna

4

Högskolan Väst

1

Karolinska Institutet

Wall closed

Royal Institute of Art

Wall closed

Stockholms Universitet

Wall closed

My top tip for this month – open up your Google Analytics account, create a segment called ‘Social Media’ which includes Facebook, Blogs and Twitter and then apply it to your visitor traffic. For extra marks combine it with another segment, such as international visitors. Hopefully you’ll see an upward curve of traffic, particularly if you’ve been investing in Social Media – bask in the glory, but also consider how you can continue to drive this traffic. Ping me if you need advice on creating advanced segments.

Activity and Influence

I was struck by a post I read recently ‘confusing-activity-with-influence‘. In particular the line ‘..growing acceptance that activity somehow relates to influence’. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and have already touched on this previously with the observation that pages with relatively low numbers of friends can still have lots more comments than pages with far more friends.  This notion of influence intrigues me, as this is what – presumably – most of us are striving after; I’ll soon be buckling down to an analysis of comments from the pages I look at in this review which will give more of a measurement of influence, rather than just activity.

Update: I’d missed off the number of comments from Högskolan i Jönköping from the above tables, they are included now. Thanks to @ollehallberg for letting me know.

Bad content more damaging than missing content – Noel Levitz survey of future students and University websites.

Students value website content over the ‘look and feel’ of a university website, are put off by out of date information and want to be contacted through social networking. These are some of the results of a new survey by Noel Levitz, who surveyed 1000 college bound students in the US.

The report totally emphasizes the power of content when it shows that  an alarming 57% of the respondents would drop a school off their list, of possible study destinations, if the website content is out of date, incorrect or unhelpful. This is in contrast to the lower 16% who said they’d take a school off their list if they don’t find what they need. Morale – big sites with unmanaged stinking content (to coin one of Gerry McGovern’s favourite phrases) are damaging your brand.

The report also indicates a willingness to read content and scroll through content. What’s interesting about this data is that it also shows a high frequency of printing or emailing the content – both actions which could be tracked, and used to measure the performance of the page.

When I first saw this report mentioned on Twitter the information that only 3% of applicants found a school online via research on MySpace or Facebook seemed a little surprising at first; but it only takes a few seconds thought to realize that people don’t begin a search on a social networking site. Further, the survey then goes on to show that students are positive about universities using social networks to promote their courses, or contact the students directly.  I think an excellent opportunity for this, in the Swedish Higher Education sector, is with the awesome studera.nu- national admissions to Swedish higher education facebook group. Huge opportunities exist, to help students in the recruitment process, if the universities and studera.nu itself, were to engage with the students there.

There’s a lot of good stuff packed in this 12 page report; and it totally emphasizes the value of simply asking our target audience questions. Higher Education has a unique advantage in that our existing, or potential, customers are so easy to identify and research.

The Noel Levitz report – Scrolling Towards Enrollment

Making sense of bounce rate: Tracking outbound links

One of the possible dangers of using the bounce rate data from google analytics is when you are looking at a page where the links being clicked are sending people away from your site. GA shows you a bounce, but the user is actually clicking on one of the links you thoughtfully left for them.

In our higher education world of decentralised websites this is often the case. For example, a page on a university’s main website, which gives links to all its faculties will often be sending visitors away from the site and could therefore be shown as a bounce in Google Analytics. Thus, GA is telling us the bounce rate is appalling but is the problem the content or the data itself? I’ve started addressing this by adding the handy piece of javascript which the good people of Google have thoughtfully provided. Here’s the bounce rate of our ‘Find Faculties’ page, before I added the javascript.

ga-data

Holy Crap! – What the graph is telling us is that on some days the bounce rate was 100% – time to get my coat, I think. The average for this time period is around 50%…which sucks.

Here’s the bounce rate for the ‘Find Faculties’ page, with the data included for the period when I added the tracking code. Note the much shorter peaks on the far right of the graph.

ga-data-2

Nice  - now we can see that the bounce rate has dropped (or rather, we’re visualising it properly) to something we can live in.  The average for the period where we installed the script is a more agreeable 10%.

And to get even more data from that page we can see the individual links now appearing as ‘pages’ in the content report. And my top tip here is set up the tag in the link so it’s something sensible to read in your reports and is different for each link.