Swedish University Facebook Pages – Monthly Review – Part I: Friends

Here’s the first of two posts covering the activity of Swedish higher education Facebook pages – these data are for the summer, and bring us more or less up to date. This post is just the friend data, I still need to take a look at comments – that will come later. I’m also asking for help concerning the age of Facebook pages, see my earlier post about it here (particularly if you are a page owner at a Swedish university).

The average increase in the number of friends over the summer (I compared the number of friends in August, with the number from May), for the University Facebook pages listed below was 13%.

Lund University’s English page moved past Linköping’s Swedish page into the number 1 spot, but otherwise the top 5 universities remained unchanged.  Of these top 5, only Lund and Umeå showed any significant growth above the average.

Lower down the list, Skövde is the biggest climber with a whopping 40% increase in friends in the last few months; impressive stuff. KTH, Uppsala University, Karolinska Institute and Malmö University also had above average gains in the number of friends.

University Page Number of Friends August 5th 2011 % Increase compared to May 24th 2011
Lund University

7695

18

Linköping Universitet

7444

7

Umeå universitet

5555

15

Linne Universitet

5078

7

Stockholm University

4651

11

Umeå University

4260

7

Uppsala universitet

3404

9

Jönköping University

3055

7

Högskolan i Borås

3048

6

Lunds Universitet

2844

12

SLU

2706

4

Skovde

2573

41

Chalmers University of technology

2561

12

Stockholm school of economics

2209

5

Karolinska Institutet

2099

24

Högskolan Väst

1811

10

Högskolan i Halmstad

1788

9

Mälardalans Högskola

1735

16

KTH

1643

30

Stockholm’s universitet

1458

16

Malmö University

1399

28

Malmö Högskola

1177

12

Karlstads Universitet

1093

13

Uppsala University

1041

31

Royal Institute of Art

1020

8

Högskolan Dalarna

592

9

BTH officiell

541

6

Högskolan Kristianstad

362

13

There’s a bunch of pages which experienced rather sluggish growth over the summer. What’s the difference between these pages, and those showing more aggressive growth? It does not seem to be as simple as brand, as there are both well established and new universities distributed throughout the list.  Maybe those pages where there is a concerted effort to engage are those which exhibit growth? Incidently,  5 pages have closed walls, three of which show little growth.

In my next post I’ll be looking at the amount of comments on these pages; this will shed a little more light on the summer’s activity.

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Cookie Killer Law – EU Commissioner Smack Down: Things just got more confusing…

Confusing and bad news for website owners – EU Data Supervisor says that industry guidelines for cookie use are not sufficient and that consent for cookie use must be actively obtained – criticizing the softer stance of EU Commissioner. 

Rather than have the usual picture of biscuits, jars or muppets to go with this cookie post I thought I'd channel some Johnny Cash instead. Image: Flickr - Diogo A Figueira.

This is another of my posts about the EU directive which threatens life as we know it. This is an amendment to the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive which forces website owners to obtain consent from a website visitor before cookies can be left on their computer. The upshot of this would be a sudden, and profound, hole in the data we collect on customer behavior on our websites.

No one really knows what the hell to do – since the Directive’s amendment, confusion has reigned supreme with some EU countries not getting round to implementing it while others, like the UK, bashing out a rapid response – and then giving organisations a year to respond to it.

Websites which have attempted to get visitor consent have screwed their site, and their data collection, with unwieldy solutions – the UK Information Commission’s Office, I’m looking at you.

Right now, there has not been any major indications that cookie use is being reduced.

In the background, marketing and advertising associations have been putting together guidelines for how cookie users can respond to this – use cookies, and yet still remain within the law. Check out the guidelines from the Swedish brand of the IAB here.

EU Data Protection Supervisor criticizes EU Commissioner – Advertising Association guidelines unworkable?

Neelie Kroes, the EU Commissioner behind this directive, had previously said that European companies have a year to comply with the directive and that she supported efforts by advertising associations (such as the IAB) to create some kind of standardized opt-in.

Not good enough, responded Peter Hustinex the European Data Protection Supervisor. In a recent speech he specifically said that the guidelines suggested by the IAB fell short of the requirements of the directive, despite them being welcomed by Kroes, the EU Commissioner.  He went on to say that Kroes’ support for a US ‘do not track initiative’ also fell short of the Directive’s requirements. One measure he suggested was a default browser setting of non-acceptance for cookies.

Read his whole speech here.

What Happens Now?

More confusion – even the EU can’t seem to agree on what this directive means. Germany and Denmark have aready got a ban on using Google Analytics (from earlier concerns about IP addresses), but many companies in those countries continue to use it, knowing that the risk of being penalized is relatively low. However, for those of us operating in the public sector there’s a risk that we could get some form of all-encompassing edict of ‘no cookie use without consent’ and boom, there goes our main method for collecting data for improving our websites. Sigh. Where do we go from here? I really don’t want to be saying ‘I told you so’ in a few years time.

What’s the age of a Facebook page? ‘Joined’ vs ‘No more posts to show’

I’ve been posting for the last few months a bunch of data which attempts to compare the performance of Facebook pages in the Swedish higher education sector (here, for example). It’s been bugging me that I did not have a date for the creation of the Facebook pages I look at. Well, I took a deep breath and scrolled through every wall hoping to get a date for when the page was created. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be so simple; the final entry for each page can either be the helpful ‘ XXXX joined Facebook’ or the more enigmatic ‘No more posts to show’. I also added some UK university pages to the data.

Here’s what I got:

The second and third columns are the date of the first post on the wall, after the message ‘XXX joined Facebook’ or ‘No more posts to show’ i.e. as far back as you can scroll down (if you know what I mean).

Page Name Joined No more posts to show
Karolinska Institutet May 2010
Högskolan Väst June 2009
BTH officiell September 2010
KTH August 2009
Högskolan i Halmstad June 2009
Högskolan Dalarna March 2010
Högskolan Kristianstad June 2009
Karlstads Universitet February 2010
Uppsala University November 2010
Mälardalans Högskola October 2010
Jönköping University August 2009
SLU March 2010
Uppsala universitet March 2009
Malmö Högskola June 2010
Lunds Universitet June 2010
Lund University August 2010
Högskolan i Borås April 2008
Linköping Universitet May 2010
Linne Universitet December 2009
Umeå universitet November 2009
Malmö University September 2010
Skovde February 2011
Stockholm University February 2009
Umeå University November 2009
Chalmers University of technology April 2010
Stockholm school of economics April 2009
Royal Institute of Art October 2010
Stockholm’s universitet September 2009
Cambridge March 2008
Oxford May 2010
Warwick June 2009
Bath September 2009
Bristol
York January 2008
Sussex April 2009
Leeds June 2011
Northumbria May 2008
Plymouth March 2008
Plymouth II June 2011
Brighton
Bradford June 2011
Sunderland May 2008
Worcester June 2010
London South Bank August 2009
Keele University December 2007

My suspicion is that the ‘no more posts to show’ message is the same as when the page joined Facebook, but it would be great to confirm this.

A desperate cry for help 

The interweb is surprisingly coy about establishing the age of Facebook pages so I wonder if you can help? If you’re the owner of one of these pages it would be awesome if you could check the date your page was created and then add it in a comment on this post. If you can’t remember that momentous day, then you’ll be able to get it from your insights data. I’d be very grateful, and it would make these data much more robust and hopefully more useful to Facebook heroes like yourself. Bang your date in the comments below and, when I have enough data, I’ll write a new post with the results. I’ll also make sure you’re top of the list when I get around to sending out a white paper about these data and the use of Facebook in Higher Education.

Why is this important?

The number of friends is a fairly weak metric for assessing Facebook success. But, if we want to give it any teeth then comparing it with our peers/competitors pages becomes more robust if we know when their pages were created. That way we can get a rough idea of whether our page’s growth is ‘runaway train give me a pay-rise’ or more ‘damp firework lying in a puddle’ stagnation.

I also think that it would be neat to know exactly how many posts one can see, particularly if you want to go back to an older conversation.

And another thing. The next load of analysis of comments will include a comparison with the UK universities mentioned above, as another way to bench mark the performance of the Swedish Facebook pages analysed here.

Comments: If you leave a comment (and thanks if you do!) it may not appear straight away; looks like the wordpress spam filter is being super sensitive; I’ll keep an eye on the inbox and make sure your post appears here soon as.