Swedish Kommuns and Facebook: Another dirty review

Back in February I published a post which gave a quick, and rather dirty, review of Swedish kommuns and their use of Facebook. I like dirty, so here’s a follow up which looks at the same pages, almost a year later, in December 2012. Before we go any further:

What’s wrong with the data:
– Not every page is included (Nor have I looked at multiple pages from the same Kommun), there’s around 90 Kommun pages included here
– Some kommuns have only opened their walls for posts in the last few months (but well done you!)
– I can miscount stuff
– Facebook’s supposed chronological presentation of posts can sometimes be a little odd
– Page owners can have removed posts

And what’s wrong with the method:
– I don’t include comments on posts from the page
– I don’t control for posts from the same person (there’s more than one page which has a lot of ‘engagement’ from one or two special individuals)
– I have not looked at how quickly questions, comments etc are responded to
– I’ve not even attempted to second guess the stratgy behind the page (is it to drive traffic to a website, or encourage people to comment; for example?)
I have instead looked at the number of likes (yes, yes I know – not a sharp metric), the average monthly growth of likes and the number of posts by page friends.

Here’s a bubble chart showing number of likes on December 19th 2012:

Facebook likes - Swedish Kommuns

Clicking on the image will take you to the clickable chart.

Some clear winners, on the basis of likes. I’ve set up Facebook pages myself (and currently manage one for a client) and likes have never been the best metric. But, but, but – when you’re a kommun you know, roughly, how big your target group is – the number of citizens in your kommun. If your likes are a miniscule percentage of that number, then maybe you’re not really communicating optimally via Facebook.

Here’s a bubble chart of kommuns showing the average monthly growth, of likes, in 2012:

Average monthly growth - Kommun Facebook pages

Click on the image to visit the clickable chart.

Averages are dangerous things, but these data give an idea of what the best, and worst, growth looks like. These data give you no idea whether all the growth is restricted to a few months, or is spread throughout the year. Update: Basically, what I’m saying here is that some pages, indeed, a whole bunch of them; have simply not grown much at all. Others, like Karlstad are gaining likes at an impressive rate. GIven that many kommuns said in a recent survey that they lacked resources to adequately manage social media, this is not altogether surprising.

Bubble chart showing the number of posts left by page friends in 2012:

Facebook page posts - Swedish Kommuns

Bonus – correlation between posts and likes…make of this what you will:

FB likes vs posts

I’ve removed Karlstad’s page as including it sends all the other pages scurrying into the bottom left hand corner while it sits high up in the top right – no question for them that more likes is associated with more posts. There are outliers where lower numbers of likes are associated with still high numbers of posts but, generally, on the basis of these data you could roughly predict the number of posts by looking at the number of likes. Remember, as well, that these data are skewed by pages which may have only opened their walls in the last few months as well as pages which have received lots of attention from one or two people.

What can you do with this data?
No deep insights, I’m afraid, as I’ve got no idea what your particular kommun strategy with Facebook is. However, as most kommuns are using social media to have a dialogue with their citizens (Slide 7, Sveriges Kommun & Landsting) then presumably a low level of posts from page friends is an indication this target is not being met (though you may rock with comments on your posts – I didn’t look at that). Check out what the rock stars from this list are doing and remember, developing a social media presence takes time, patience and more than a little enthusiasm.

You can find my list of data here – if you notice any errors, sorry, entirely my fault and if I can find the time I’ll make this less dirty and more shiny. Here’s the raw data from the last time I did this.

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!