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.

New Report from Eduserv on UK Higher Education Website Management

Over on my future web blog I’ve just posted on a new report from the UK, on the management of websites in Higher Education.

I’ll probably be adding more of the web management stuff there in the future and, when I can find a suitable person, giving over this blog so it can function purely as an admissions blog.

Web is the number one source of information for international students.

Which should not be a surprise, but it seems worth repeating now and again. I recently sent out a questionnaire to our master students, asking them about the relative importance of the various ways we communicate we them. 239 students answered and an overwhelming 61% said that the university’s website was very important when they made their choice of studying at Lund. 52% said that the opinion of someone who had been at Lund was very important. Least important were exhibitions (8%) and brochures (10%).  How can you action this? Well, the warm feeling is that the most important source of information, our website, is something we can improve and monitor with a relatively low investment of time and money (compared to brochures and exhibitions, for example).  The importance of alumni is also shown here, investment in them – as ambassadors for our university – is clearly going to be of value.  

Could we, for example, totally shut down brochure production and invest that money into the website? Well, that would be a brave step on the basis of these data  and it has to be, at some level, valuable to have something printed to give away. What I can see, however, is that our Master’s Brochure on the web has had an extremely high number of views in the last two months and that some of these views are associated with users who went on to visit our programme pages and clicked ‘apply now’.  A combination of the two mediums, web and print, gives us more insight into the success of a brochure and takes advantage of our primary marketing tool, the web.

Missing content, out of date content and poor navigation: External evaluator’s conclusions

I recently blogged about the poor evaluation that Lund’s research pages got in a recent research evaluation (although the research itself was judged, in many cases, of being world class). Now I’ve got more detail about what was wrong with the pages. The biggest usability issues are:

– Missing content

– Out of date content

– Poor navigation

I found this out by sending a questionnaire (using the very groovy Questback) to the evaluators; this got a 35% response rate which was not too shabby. Here’s a table showing the problems they encountered:

evaluators-responsesI asked them if they felt the pages they looked at added to the credibility of Lund; not unsurprisingly only about half said yes.

All the data from the survey, including the evaluator’s opinions on what should be fixed immediately.

“Out of Date Content Should Be Deleted”

The title of this blog is lifted from Gerry McGovern’s latest New Thinking article ‘How to manage out of date content’; it’s got a real scary example of the damage out of date content can do. Like, a 76% drop in share price for United Airlines after an old news story about bankruptcy from 2002 got picked up as current, scaring the hell out of an already shaky market.

Check out the recent review I did of the research pages of the university. Of 2500 pages, 51% of the pages had not been updated or had no date at all – probably another reason why the experts from the recent research exercise had nothing good to say about the university’s research pages.

And, as Gerry’s article shows, it’s not enough to simply update the page date (either intentionally or not). The content needs to be up to date, to reflect what the person looking at it is trying to do. If that person is wondering what research we did 10 years ago, then fine – let it stay but archived appropriately. But if that person is looking at research we did 10 years ago, but thinks its what we do now, then that’s a big problem.

Research Pages of Lund University – ‘absence of a comprehensive web presence’

Over the last year an external evaluation, by over 100 international evaluators, has been assessing the quality of research at Lund. The evaluation is called RQ08. The final report is out now, with several key areas highlighted as being of the highest international standard – good job.

 But the evaluators also said that our web pages suck.

I blogged about this subject (with pretty much the same conclusion) a month ago, where I discussed my own review of our research pages. The main conclusion of the RQ08 report says:

 “…the absence of a comprehensive English web presence robbed many of the panels of a facility that they would normally expect to exploit in an assessment such as they have just undertaken…”

 So, the research evaluation itself may have been made more difficult, or even affected, by the lack of good web pages.

Here are some of their comments, the page references are to the entire report.

“On the basis of information provided on the School’s web pages, it seems like if (sic) the research activities at Campus Helsingborg would not be very extensive.”

Page 163

“I had particular difficulties navigating the departmental web-site. This is somewhat unevenly organised.”

Page 178

 “The Panel has tried to obtain some information through the DCE web-site. It has helped significantly, yet it did not provide the full picture of the research organizational structure…it did not give information concerning full dimension of such (ongoing) projects and further introduced a few elements of difficulty since some projects are repeated in different areas.”

Page 402

“We believe that much of this information can be made available with no or little pain to the faculty people, by properly populating a Web information system that we think the university anyway lacks.”

Page 453

The evaluators had a strong motivation to try and find information, I seriously doubt that many of our visitors would make the same effort.

So what now? Well, as I suggested in my review of the research pages we really need to understand what tasks users of the research pages are trying to do. We also need to figure out the best metrics to measure the performance of any changes we make. Watch this space.

 Please comment on this – what problems have you encountered on our research pages? What could be better?  

New Lund University – Chinese Pages

I’m involved in a project to prepare new pages for Lund University describing our work with Chinese universities. The main aim is to help improve both the mobility of students and researchers between Lund and China.

One of the first things we did was, using an existing mailing list which had both Chinese and Swedish addresses, email out a questionnaire (using Questback) asking 5 questions.

You can see all the answers from the Questback survey here.

The questions were:

– Where are you living?

– What are you? (e.g. student, researcher etc)

– Which institution do you work or study at?

– What do you think the most important information, for you, that a Lund University – China website would have?

– Is it important to have a Chinese version of the website?

In retrospect I should have had the 4th question worded as ‘what tasks do you think you would try to do on a Lund University – China website’. However, we’ve still got some interesting results (103 people responded). Almost of the respondents gave more than one answer regarding the content they would want. It’s not particularly scientific, but I’ve roughly classified them.

Study information is clearly of great interest to many of the respondees.

Some other content was identified; clear information on which universities, and projects, we currently collaborate with, research at Lund and how you apply. There’s a mixture of generic answers and issues important for the target group.

When the site is up, we’ll email the respondees again and ask them to take a look at the site and give us feedback.

You can see all the answers from the Questback survey here.