Digital Knowledge Day 2013: Don’t work in silos

First, I need to be upfront and say this is a shameless plug for a conference which Search Integration, the awesome consultancy I work for, is hosting in April.

So, with that bias declared, I can go on to say that this is not a conference to miss; especially as the theme ‘Don’t work in silos’ is still, and so, relevant in digital marketing today. This resonates with me, as I’ve been in too many projects and jobs where, despite a underlying acknowledge of the importance of the web, there is still a lack of a coordinated approach in presenting a company digitally. As my colleague Christofer Brugge writes on our blog, it can be as simple – though as critical – as colleagues not talking to each other, or not having an adequate awareness of each other’s activities. Digital Knowledge Day 2013

In a previous job I worked at a university where the system for presenting the education we offered (essentially our product) was ring-fenced by a blinding complexity of multiple databases, restricted windows of opportunity for developing content and a general disconnect with the marketing efforts of the university. This was a ‘silo’ effect – however much the website was developed the database content sat in the background driving the customer experience no matter how much it was dressed up. This effect rippled through the organisation, where the even the offline catalogue format was steered by the database as well.

With that kind of experience in mind, the line up of speakers we’ve got is particularly cool – they worked with the silo effect head on, and come up trumps. They include Tracy Green, Head of Online Services for the UK parliament (fresh from implementing a new content management system across several websites, as well as launching an award winning mobile intranet site – what’s not to like?), Olle Ahvne, Marketing Communication Manager for Ericsson (again, an award winning strategist) and Karin Zingmark, PR manager for Viasat (who has led Viasat’s explosion onto social media). We’ve put together so many awesome speakers – check them out!

(BTW, for you non-Swedes, the conference will mostly be in Swedish).

What: Digital Knowledge Day 2013

When: April 10th 2013

Where: Hotel Rival,Stockholm, Sweden

Complete your booking here!

Facebook Timeline Arrives For Pages

Timeline has arrived for pages, and can now be enabled immediately (or automatically comes into effect on the 30th March). There’s already a few Swedish university pages, who are early adopters including  Umeå Universitet, Umeå University and Högskolan Väst. Here’s a few of my thoughts.

Look and Feel.
The new pages just look far better, the presence of the larger picture makes for a better visual impact and creates more opportunities for associating the page with campaign imagery used elsewhere.

Umeå university's Swedish Facebook page with timeline activated.

Commenting.
This is the part which worries me. All the pages I’ve looked at, which have timeline activated, now show comments in a separate box called ‘Recent posts by others’ with a truncated  snippet. If you’re using the page as a service platform, as my employer does, then there could be a risk that the first time visitor does not get to see that posts are answered quickly and with good answers. Timeline places a greater emphasis on posts from the page owners which may not be the main priority of all pages – this has implications for your content and posting strategy on Facebook. Tabs also, are not as obvious as they were previously.

Posts by page friends receive less priority in the new Facebook timeline layout (click for a bigger image)

Landing pages are now a thing of the past but you can get more data from a page’s insights tab, as a page friend. The completely awesome allfacebook blog is an extremely useful source of information about this, but it’s also worth checking out Facebook’s own guidelines for Timeline (which includes what you can and cannot do with the picture).

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

New recommendation on cookie use – browser settings rather than banners

The IAB in Sweden (the trade association for the digital and interactive marketing industry) have, this month, released a set of new recommendations on how website cookies should be used. These place the emphasis on the website visitor’s browser setting to determine whether cookie will be used, and move away from the website banners that have been previously promoted as a solution.

These recommendations are a response to the Electronic Communications Act (Sweden), which is itself a response to the EU directive concerning on-line privacy. This directive requires consent from a website visitor before cookies are placed on their computer;  but – as I’ve posted previously – this breaks many important tools for ensuring a good visitor experience. Not least, it directly impacts the use of Google Analytics.

The IAB guidelines say the following:

– Cookie use, and type, should be clearly identified on the site
– Clear information should be given about what cookies do and their purpose

The awesomeness (but also what I expect will be the controversial element):

– If a user’s browser is set to accept cookies this means they have granted consent for cookies to be used (if the website clearly identifies which cookies are being used)
– If a user’s browser rejects cookies, then this must be respected

They promote the use of a standardised badge, to help users find out what cookies are used and make their own choice.

I need cookies to do my job – that is, to make the user experience better; these recommendations seem like a sensible solution for everyone. Unfortunately, I doubt that the EU will entirely agree – particularly given the apparent disagreement between EU ministers on how this directive should be enforced.

(You can see this slow car crash unfolding by checking out all my posts on the cookie directive).

What do you think? Will this work – is this an alternative to the opt-in banners which seem to be popping up?

IAB recommendations in Swedish and English.

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)

Page

Comments left by page friends

Malmö University

77

Lund University

68

Uppsala University

15

Jönköping University

12

Mid Sweden Uni

4

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.

Page

Comments left by page friends

Högskolan i Skövde

74

Linne Universitet

55

Högskolan i Borås

45

Linköping Universitet

45

Lunds Universitet

31

Mälardalans Högskola

28

Umeå universitet

26

Uppsala universitet

21

Malmö Högskola

21

KTH

19

Mittuniversitetet

19

Högskolan Väst

13

University of Borås

10

Karlstads Universitet

8

SLU

8

Högskolan i Halmstad

7

Högskolan Dalarna

7

Högskolan Kristianstad

5

BTH officiell

2

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:

Linneuniversitet:

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 University Facebook Pages: List and Monthly Review of Performance

Here’s the latest analysis of activity on 28 different Swedish university Facebook pages. Like last month, I’ve focused on a count of wall posts by friends of the page; a measure of engagement with the page. I’ve also included total likes and a count of comments by the page owners.

I give a percentage change from the previous month’s figure, giving some handle on the velocity of their growth. With a few exceptions, these data were collected on the 24th of May. There’s probably a +/-10 on the counts of comments and posts.

Let me know if your page is missing, or if there’s another way you’d like me to approach this kind of data.

Swedish University Facebook Page Ranked by Posts by friends of the Page: Engagement
The first number is the total number of posts since November 1st 2010. % in brackets is change from last month’s figure.

Malmö University 246 (16%)
Lund University 198 (60%)
Umeå universitet 120 (10%)
Uppsala University 119 (112%)
KTH 116 (2%)
Lunds Universitet 106 (17%)
Linne Universitet 102 (15%)
Linköping Universitet 98 (17%)
Högskolan i Borås 83 (14%)
Uppsala Universitet 78 (16%)
Malmö Högskola 75 (39%)
Jönköping University 65 (18%)
Mälardalans Högskola 63 (21%)
Karlstads Universitet 52 (24%)
Högskolan Dalarna 45 (33%)
SLU 44 (16%)
Högskolan Kristianstad 21 (0%)
Högskolan i Halmstad 17 (6%)
Karolinska Institutet 14 (17%)
BTH 14 (17%)
Högskolan Väst 11 (10%)
Umeå University 5 (Wall just opened for comments)
Skovde  – I’ve not collected all their data yet.

Umeå University has opened their wall up for comments but 4 universities’ walls still remain closed (although comments on posts authored by the page are permitted). Big movers this month are Uppsala who received double the number of comments on their wall than they did last month. Lund University also showed a healthy growth in the number of comments.

I’m not looking at additional comments left on posts. Even pages with closed walls are attracting comments on posts they themselves leave. This means there’s a huge amount of engagement which I’m  not including here. However, posts left by fans are a reasonable measure; and certainly better than simply looking at number of fans to compare page performance. Speaking of which…..

Swedish University Facebook Pages’ Number of Likes: Page growth

Linköping Universitet 6986 (3%)
Lund University 6527 (6%)
Umeå Universitet 4815 (12%)
Linne University 4746   (1%)
Stockholm University 4201 (4%)
Umeå University 3981 (3%)
Uppsala Universitet 3115 (4%)
Högskolan I Borås 2868 (1%)
Jönköping University 2844 (3%)
SLU 2612 (2%)
Lunds Universitet 2545 (3%)
Chalmers University of Technology 2291 (3%)
Stockholm school of Economics 2098 (2%)
Skovde 1822 (insufficient data)
Karolinska Institutet 1690 (8%)
Högskolan i Halmstad 1643 (4%)
Högskolan Väst 1642 (1%)
Mälardalens Högskola 1498 (6%)
KTH 1268 (8%)
Stockholms universitet 1254 (5%)
Örebro Universitet 1171
Malmö University 1093 (13%)
Malmö Högskola 1047 (8%)
Karlstads Universitet 964 (8%)
Royal Institute of Art 945 (6%)
Uppsala University 792 (16%)
Högskola Dalarna 543 (6%)
BTH 512 (3%)
Högskolan Kristianstad 321 (7%)

Biggest movers this month are Uppsala University, Malmö University and Umeå Universitet, though there was no breakout growth shown by any page. Based on these data, the average growth for a Swedish higher education Facebook page is around 5%

Swedish University Facebook Pages: Number of posts by the page
The first number is the total number of posts since November 2010. The % is the change from last months figure.

Uppsala Universitet 360 (15%)
Högskolan I Borås 263 (12%)
Stockholm University 242 (15%)
BTH 227 (16%)
Umeå Universitet 219 (14%)
Karlstads Universitet 183 (14%)
Royal Institute of Art 162 (12%)
KTH 139 (16%)
Malmö Högskola 137 (20%)
Högskolan I Halmstad 133 (8%)
Umeå University 130 (20%)
Linne Universitet 125 (7%)
Malmö University 125 (13%)
Linköping Universitet 112 (25%)
Mälardalans Högskola 110 (23%)
Stockholms universitet 109 (30%)
Lunds Universitet 105 (8%)
Högskolan Väst 94 (15%)
SLU 92 (19%)
Uppsala University 92 (33%)
Stockholm School of Economics 82 (14%)
Karolinksa Insitutet 82 (22%)
Lund University 67 (24%)
Jönköping University 57 (8%)
Chalmers University of Technology 29 (45%)
Högskolan Kristianstad 21 (16%)
Högskolan Dalarna 19 (12%)
Skovde: Insufficient data, so far.

Significant breakout pages, in terms of increased publishing, include Chalmers University of Technology, Uppsala University and Linköping Universitet. The average is approximately a 17% growth in the number of posts by a page.

Reflection: Personalisation of posts.
As I compile this data I get to see a lot of different styles in maintaining a Facebook page. One thing which definitely makes a difference is how comments and posts, by the page, are personalized. Several universities sign off their posts; for example (click on the images to make them larger):

Lund University - Answering comments with a personal sign off

Malmö University - Signing off posts helps identify which administrators are commenting.

Umeå universitet use the page owner function (find it under: edit page>featured>page owners: Add featured owners), and link to the Facebook profiles of their page administrators:

Umeå Universitet's Facebook Page - Using the page owner function

I believe that showing that there is a human being behind the page is a positive thing – it helps the Facebook friend connect with the university through a real live person, rather than just being answered by a logo.  Furthermore, if there are several administrators active on the page it provides a useful way of seeing who is answering what.

Cookie Killer – New EU Directive on Cookies and Privacy – New Swedish Law

New privacy laws could impact on our ability to gather user data, potentially restricting the use of tools like Google Analytics.

The New EU Law

The EU will soon be enforcing a new directive which directly addresses the way cookies can be used – it’s a development of the EU’s ePrivacy directive. How will it affect your website? Well, no one seems to be totally clear but there’s certainly a ton of, what seems to be, well founded gloom.
Essentially the law requires website owners to get consent from website visitors to record and store information about them :

site owners need to get an explicit opt-in in order to deploy practically any cookie” – Wired

Photo from Jim Linwood - Creative Commons Licence - http://bit.ly/j7haTF

Sweden’s New Law ‘Bättre Regler för Elektroniska Kommunikationer’ – A response to the EU law

In a few day’s time the Swedish Government will be voting on a new law ‘Bättre regler för elektroniska kommunikationer’ which will enforce the EU law.

Using my second language with a legal document is not a happy combination, but cookies are under the spotlight in this new law. For example, page 317 of the law says:

“Abonnenten eller användaren ska inte längre bara ges tillfälle att hindra lagring eller åtkomst, utan måste lämna sitt samtycke till åtgärden”

This sounds like the opt-in which the Wired Article, and several other commentators have described (Techcrunch have come out of the corner fighting on this one ‘Stupid EU Law‘). However, the Swedish law just does not seem clear enough.

“Vissa menar att samtycket måste inhämtas innan man besöker själva hemsidan, det vill säga i praktiken kommer man till en ”för-sida” där informationen om cookies ges till den enskilda användare som får godkänna dessa för att sedan länkas vidare till själva hemsidan.”: Ny lag för Cookies – Mathias Berggren

The EU law states that cookie use is acceptable where it is absolutely mission critical, but opinions will no doubt vary on what is critical.

Google Analytics – Can we still use it?

My sector, and many others, rely on using 1st party cookies to gather data on what our visitors do on our websites. This enables us to optimize the user experience – for a content rich website, like a university website, it’s a vital tool. This new law could very well prevent the use of Google Analytics, and thus leave a potential gap in our ability to understand how people use our websites.

There’s discussion about this on the Google Analytics forum.

Our search optimization efforts, measurement of YouTube success and use of adwords would, presumably, also be impacted. So, can we still use Google Analytics?  It would be nice to get some kind of  measured response from e-delagationen or Datainspketion (who have previously commented on the use of Google Analytics).

In the UK, the Information Commissioners Office’s guidelines do not include the use of cookies to gather statistical data as sufficiently mission critical to allow their use, without first getting consent.

A Final Word

Several commentators consider this law simply to be unworkable, as to police it would be extremely difficult. Germany has banned Google Analytics, but do German sites continue to use it? It would be interesting to find out how such a ban actually works in practice.  This law could be a massive blow to our ability to manage websites, a blanket  enforcement of ‘do not track’ (or ‘do not track without consent’) could result in some bizarre user experiences with opt in messages plastering websites. Alternatives do exist when it comes to data collection, it’s true, and making sure we only collect aggregate data could defuse privacy issues at a stroke.

Let’s see where this lands – Don’t Panic.

I’ll be at the Google Analytics conference in Stockholm tomorrow, no doubt more light will be shed on this subject there.

Please feel free to leave comments on the new law, and particularly the Swedish law – be nice to get a lawyers input on this.