I need your help – Facebook Comment Analysis

I need your input to make a massive piece of data collection worthwhile. I want to do an analysis of comments on University pages. I’m interested in uncovering trends in commenting; for example, what kind of comments are left and what their tone is.

This data will help page administrators steer content production, but also allow benchmarking of page versus page. It’s a big undertaking. It could also help in explaining why your page exists in the first place, and how it’s being used.

Would it make sense to collect the following pieces of data:

Type of post: Is it a comment left on a post by the university, or from another page friend? Is it a new comment by a page friend?
Is the tone of the post positive, neutral or negative?
Is it a question, or a statement?
Does it link to other web content?
What type of question or statement is it? E.g. Feedback, praise, application, complaint, fees, programme specific query, spam etc etc

Let me know if this makes sense, or if you’ve got any feedback – thanks!

Facebook Comments – Monthly review of Swedish University Facebook Pages

Who has had the most posts from their friends this month? Yes, I know Facebook launched their ‘are talking about’ metric last week which, on the face of it (ha, see what I did there), would make this comparison somewhat redundant. But, you know, it does not seem to look like that. I still think a new comment left on your wall is pretty much a slice of fried gold – it’s the one of the ultimate metrics; particularly if the purpose of your page is talking to people. Absolutely they could be commenting on stuff you’ve posted but that’s still not quite the same, or as powerful sign of engagement,  as an unsolicited, original comment – particularly one which is related to the mission of your page.

Without being able to access the back end of the Facebook insights, it’s hard to know what’s influencing the ‘are talking about’ metric on any given day – it could be  any combination of likes, comments or sharing of content. A page with a closed wall can still have a high ‘are talking about’ score, but I would argue that those pages are probably doing less for the organisation than a wall which allows, and cultivates, commenting (and if anyone knows how to make a call for the ‘Are talking about’ metric from the Facebook API I’d love to hear from you!).

Overall, this month every page dropped in the amount of activity – there was a lot of posting going on in August, presumably due to the start of the new term. Malmö and Lund continue to lead the pack for English language pages while Skövde sits at the top of the Swedish pages.

Swedish Universities English Facebook Pages – Ranked by number of comments left in September.
(If you compare this to last month, then remember that I collected data from over 3 months in the summer; rather than looking at a single month)


Comments left by page friends

Malmö University


Lund University


Uppsala University


Jönköping University


Mid Sweden Uni


Stockholm University

Wall closed

Chalmers School of Technology

Wall closed

Stockholm School of Economics

Wall closed

Umeå University

Wall closed

There’s a +/- of around 5 going on here; and there’s a number of posts left by friends, which get included, that come pretty close to the spam category (not many though). There are not so many posts from other pages, which is interesting when you consider that most of these universities have a rich ecosystem of pages – cross posting between them would probably be beneficial for the page friends. Malmö University’s comment count was boosted by the posting of photographs, by friends of the page.

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


Comments left by page friends

Högskolan i Skövde


Linne Universitet


Högskolan i Borås


Linköping Universitet


Lunds Universitet


Mälardalans Högskola


Umeå universitet


Uppsala universitet


Malmö Högskola






Högskolan Väst


University of Borås


Karlstads Universitet




Högskolan i Halmstad


Högskolan Dalarna


Högskolan Kristianstad


BTH officiell


Karolinska Institutet

Posts not allowed

Royal Institute of Art

Posts not allowed

Stockholms Universitet

Posts not allowed

Mashup Pages
An awful lot of people come to your website, every day. And a lot of them don’t look at your homepage, or are there a very short space of time. If you’re relying on your homepage to draw visitors to your social media assets then you may be missing a trick. One solution is the use of mashups which provide an overview of all the social media assets from the university. Here’s some examples from some Swedish websites:


LNU - social media aggregator page
Borås University:

Borås University - aggregator page - social media

Borås include a feed from Twitter which shows tweets where the university is mentioned, which is very transparent.

And an example from the US: William and Mary Mashup

William and Mary Social Media Mashup
Normally I react against the ‘official’ label, but in this example I like the ‘Official’ and ‘Official-ish’ distinction!

Swedish Government’s cookie opt-in banner has severe impact on their Google Analytics data collection

This is the data which Google Analytics collected, from the Swedish government’s website before, and after, they introduced a banner asking for visitors to accept cookies:

Impact on Google Analytics data of banner asking for opt-in - severe reduction in tracked visitors
With the introduction of the banner, at the end of June, 80-90% of their data disappears – just as we’ve seen in the UK, on the Information Commission’s website. Thanks to the Swedish authorities for sharing this data.

Why a banner?
Here’s what they say, on the banner:

Banner on Swedish government website Why does this matter?
The EU directive which this is based on is throwing the baby out with the bath water. In an attempt to protect our online privacy they have taken a crude approach to an issue which is more complicated than their directive recognizes. In this particular instance, the use of Google Analytics, there is not a privacy issue and the data is used to improve the website.

What’s the precedent for this?
In Sweden, right now, there is none. The PTS, the organisation responsible for making the directive a reality in Sweden, has nothing particularly specific (In Swedish); certainly nothing which directly requires a banner. Uppsala’s county website also sports a similar banner.

But there’s still some data being collected – all is not lost, right?
Wrong. One of the joys of the analytics data we can collect is that, from the start, we get a bucket of visitor data which represents everyone who has visited our site. Our job as analysts is to segment out different types of visitors and figure out how the site is performing for them. The opt in banner segments the data into people who accept cookies. I would hazard that the people who accept cookies are a rather unique demographic, who probably don’t represent most of your other visitors. In my humble opinion, your data is screwed from the start.

You could use this as an argument for the cookie directive. ‘See’ you can say, ‘no one wants cookies on their computer’. I would say that the lumping together of cookies as all universally bad has been lazy legislation; it does not reflect reality. Cookies which track visitor activity for improving the website are  a little different to those tracking your activity across the web. Without being able to gather data on what our visitors are doing on our site – which content works, which buttons get clicked, for example – we’re flying blind and the users’ experience will suffer.

I own a website  (in Sweden) – what should I do?
Check out the PTS regulations, they say  the following:

PTS guidance for website owners
In essence, ‘you don’t have to change your website right now’. Maybe while we wait, we’ll get a browser opt-in option which could be satisfactory for the EU, as  Peter Hustinex (European Data Protection Supervisor) hinted at in a recent presentation. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out from Google on this.

Here’s some additional reading:

E-Consultancy reflects on the ICO’s banner and the implications for future use of cookies.
Brian Clifton’s most recent post on the implications of the EU directive for Google Analytics
IAB (Sweden) – Recommendation on cookie use (In Swedish, but English translation available on their site).

Facebook Friends – Monthly review of university Facebook pages – Part 1.

Here’s the data for the first part of my monthly review of Facebook pages from the Swedish higher education sector. This is the comparison of the number of friends they have, and the growth they have shown over the last month.

Lund University’s English language Facebook page occupies the number one position, followed by the Swedish Facebook pages from Linköping, Umeå, and Linne Universities. Stockholm university’s English language page occupies the number Five position.

This is definitely the growth season! Compared to the last month, where many pages had little increase in the amount of friends, the last month has seen a dramatic rise for several pages.  Overall, the average growth in the number of friends was 17% this month; it was 4% in August; a reflection, no doubt, of the new term.

The clear winner is KTH – their page has seen an impressive 80% increase in Friends as they jumped from 1643 to 2953 Friends in the last month. Whatever it is you’re doing – don’t stop! After KTH, there’s about  9 pages showing 20-30% growth. There’s a bigger group of pages, about 22 of them, which show less than 20% growth.

Here’s a bubble visualization of the total number of friends for the university Facebook pages, click on it and you’ll come to a more interactive version which will let you see all the names and numbers.

Size of Facebook pages by friends - Swedish Universities Many Eyes

Lund University’s English language Facebook page occupies the number one position, followed by the Swedish Facebook pages from Linköping, Umeå, and Linne Universities. Stockholm university’s English language page occupies the number Five position.

Swedish university Facebook pages ranked by change from last month’s friends total looks like this:

Growth of Facebook page friends - Swedish Universities

What does this mean?
Total number of friends is hard to use, but growth is useful for benchmarking. I doubt it’s a fluke that KTH have seen such an increase in growth – there’s almost certainly some action behind that. Looking just at the last month also hides some other trends; Skövde and KTH have had the highest growth over the last 3-4 months.  I’ll be publishing the amount of comments these pages have received shortly, which is a more relevant measure of engagement (in my opinion).  If I’ve missed your page, made an ass of the data or said something which you want to question;  please leave a comment below – thanks!

‘Are talking about’ – The new metric from Facebook, a comparison of Swedish universities.

Facebook have launched their new metric, the rather awkwardly named ‘Are talking about’. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how it’s calculated. The factors which it looks at have been reported as:

– Liking a page
– Posting to the page’s wall
– Liking, commenting or sharing a page’s status
– Answering a question
– RSVPing to an event
– Mentioning the page
– Tagging a photo
– Liking or sharing a check in
– Checking in

Whats twisting my melons is this context for this. What time period is this reporting? Is it the last week, hour or minute? I expect we’ll get an answer to this as the more detailed insights for administrators comes on line – but if you’ve got any idea, I’d love to hear it.

Swedish Universities Ranked by their ‘Are talking about’ (ATA) score, as recorded on 6th October 2011:

Umeå University 296
Uppsala universitet 285
Lund University 226
Umeå universitet 145
KTH  135
Stockholm University 127
Högskolan i skövde 116
Linköping Universitet 104
Uppsala University 102
Högskolan i Halmstad 93
Linne Universitet 92
Karolinska Institutet 80
Mälardalans Högskola 75
Lunds Universitet 72
Mittuniversitetet 66
Malmö University 54
Jönköping University 50
Stockholm’s universitet 49
Högskolan i Borås 40
SLU 37
Chalmers University of technology 37
Högskolan Väst 32
Malmö Högskola 32
Karlstads Universitet 22
Stockholm school of economics 19
University of Borås 18
Royal Institute of Art 9
Högskolan Dalarna 7
BTH officiell 5
Mid Sweden Uni 4

And here’s the ATA score plotted against number of page friends:

Comparison of Facebook page friends with Are Talking About score

So What?

To be honest, I’m not really sure what this is telling us or how you’ll action it.  The more actionable data will be coming in the admin only revamped insights tab. Without knowing what time scale this is reporting, it feels a little meaningless. Also, the number of friends of the page clearly (and naturally) affects the number – weighting for this may make the ATA score more relevant, and this is discussed over on the UK Craft Blog, where they have done a similar comparison. I’ll repeat this again in the next few days, and see how the score changes.

Update – October 7th.

The last 7 days – that’s the amount of activity which the ‘Are Talking About’ metric gives you. This makes it a little sharper, but you’ll be needing to keep a pretty constant eye on your competitors, or peers, if you want to use it for benchmarking over time. Here’s the official information from Facebook:

7 days worth of data - Are talking about