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.

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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!

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.

Cookie Law Comes Into Effect In Sweden – PTS are reponsible and no detail available yet.

The new cookie law came into effect, in Sweden, on the 1st of July. It’s a response to the horrendous EU directive, widely seen as a cookie killer, which is an attempt to address online privacy issues. I’ve previously blogged about it here. The short version is that the directive requires consent from a website visitor, before a cookie can be placed on their computer. This impacts a whole bunch of website functionality, but not least Google Analytics. Brian Clifton has blogged about the implications for Google Analytics in two blog posts, shortly after the launch of the directive in the UK and then a little later.

If you’re in Sweden, then there’s a couple of things worth knowing. First, the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) is responsible for the execution of this new directive, and its Swedish interpretation. When I posted this, they had some information for website owners, but nothing concrete. There’s certainly not a ‘cookies are the big bad’ message from them – so far, so good I say. Right now, they are saying that they are giving website owners time to figure out how to get consent for cookies from website visitors.

The other important thing to know is that the Swedish arm of the IAB has prepared guidelines for website owners and are looking for feedback. The guidelines are available in both English and Swedish. Their suggestion is that consent is based on the users browser settings. The IAB guidelines are a best practice suggestion which avoid killing our website functionality with ugly consent requests (check out the banner on the top of the ICO’s website from the UK – and then take a look at what this has done to the data they’ve been able to collect from Google Analytics).

Best thing you can do right now? Don’t panic, read Brian’s latest blog post and get your website’s privacy statement in order. Checking to see what cookies your website is leaving on people’s computers might not be a bad idea either.