Archive › September, 2011

(Funny) Infographics about Infographics

The best designers in the world cannot help but critique every single bit of design they see – from the cereal box at breakfast to the restaurant menu in the evening. It drives our families mad (I speak from first hand experience!). And so, with infographics being thrust on us left, right and centre, I couldn’t help but nod knowingly (and slightly smugly) at these wonderfully witty infographics about infographics.

Phil Gyford’s “Infographic”

Ivan Cash’s Infographic of Infographics

Think Brilliant’s Intimate Look at Infographics

Zabisco’s Infographic of Infographics

Alberto Antoniazzi’s Most Popular Infographics (my personal favourite)

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UK University Twitter Rankings

By way of follow up to our last analysis of UK universities’ use of Twitter, here’s the first in what we intend to be a regular series of assessments of the Twitter accounts of the 39 members of the Russell Group and 1994 Group of leading institutions. This time, we’ve added Klout scores into the mix in the hope that a combined score will flatten out any major discrepancies.

Without further ado, here are some highlights:

  • Oxford University tops the list, followed closely by UCL and Cambridge University
  • Newcastle University and University of Manchester languish at the bottom, not helped by the fact that they make their Twitter accounts so hard to find
  • Russell Group members take the top three spots with the leading 1994 Group member, University of York, settling for fourth place
  • PeerIndex and Klout scores appear to track each other pretty well, although there are some notable oddities in the guise of the universities of both Birmingham and York
  • Next time, we’ll look at the climbers and fallers, so stay tuned.
University Twitter PeerIndex Klout Combined
1 Oxford University @uniofoxford 60 55 115
2 University College London @uclnews 60 53 113
3 Cambridge University @cambridge_uni 56 56 112
4 University of York @uniofyork 61 48 109
5 University of Bath @uniofbath 52 55 107
6 University of Leeds @universityleeds 52 53 105
7 Warwick University @warwickuni 51 54 105
8 Sheffield University @sheffielduni 45 58 103
9 Glasgow University @glasgowuni 46 55 101
10 Edinburgh University @uniofedinburgh 43 57 100
11 Cardiff University @cardiffuni 44 53 97
12 University of St Andrews @univofstandrews 46 50 96
13 Nottingham University @uniofnottingham 41 54 95
14 University of Exeter @uniofexeter 42 53 95
15 University of Liverpool @livuni 39 55 94
16 Queen Mary University London @qmul 38 56 94
17 Kings College London @kingscollegelon 41 51 92
18 University of East Anglia @uniofeastanglia 34 58 92
19 University of Southampton @southamptonnews 42 48 90
20 Imperial College London @imperialcollege 41 49 90
21 University of Sussex @sussexuni 34 55 89
22 University of Birmingham @unibirmingham 27 60 87
23 University of Essex @uni_of_essex 36 51 87
24 Lancaster University @lancasteruni 34 53 87
25 London School of Economics @lsenews 34 48 82
26 Goldsmiths College London @goldsmithsuol 34 47 81
27 School of Oriental and African Studies London @soasnewsroom 31 44 75
28 University of Surrey @uniofsurrey 25 50 75
29 Bristol University @bristoluni 20 51 71
30 Birkbeck College London @birkbecknews 14 46 60
31 University of Leicester @uniofleicsnews 13 47 60
32 Queen’s University Belfast @queensubelfast 12 47 59
33 Loughborough University @lborouniversity 12 47 59
34 University of Reading @unirdg_news 12 44 56
35 Durham University @durham_uni 11 45 56
36 Royal Holloway London @royalholloway 10 45 55
37 Institute of Education London @ioe_london 9 42 51
38 Newcastle University @newunipress 7 31 38
39 University of Manchester @admissionsuom 7 28 35


If you represent any of these organisations and have any comments or questions about the rankings, please drop me a line at [email protected].

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Top British universities failing to integrate social

Further to the Peer Index ranking posted by my colleague Niall Cook, it is interesting to see the different social media integration strategies – or apparent absence of strategy –  employed by the Russell and 1994 Groups, usually thought to comprise Britain’s top universities.

We looked at ‘social’ links on each university’s Home, About or Contact pages. Of the 39 members of these two groups:

  • More than one third, 14 in all, have no social links at all
  • About two thirds, or 25, have at least one Twitter account link
  • 21 have a Facebook page link
  • 17 have a YouTube link
  • 11 have a Flickr link
  • 6  have an iTunes U link

What does this say about the degree of integration by these universities of their social and traditional web strategies? Answers will vary university by university but, on the face of it, it looks like many are failing to make any connection between the two at all. For example, all universities in the group have Twitter accounts… including those with no links to these accounts on their websites.

I am confused. Can anyone think of a good reason why you would not want to put social links on your website?

I can only think it must be because of some fear of sending traffic away from the main site but that’s hardly a good enough reason. Seems daft to make it more difficult for potential students to find you on social networks if they want to.

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Which of the top UK universities is best at engaging on Twitter?

UPDATE: We’ve updated the rankings to include both PeerIndex and Klout scores, which changes the picture somewhat. We’re tracking the new numbers here.

Stop Press: Just been informed by PeerIndex that some accounts – including that of the overall winner, the University of York – are estimated based on the data they currently have, so may change over the coming week. So check back here to see if the lead changes!

As we’ve said before, the UK higher education sector is in a massive state of change right now. Whilst faculties are busy welcoming the latest intake of freshers, the marketing and communications teams are already focused on recruiting next year’s students – a task that is likely to be made exponentially more challenging following the Government’s changes to how these places will be funded. Amongst the top UK institutions – the 39 that make up the Russell and 1994 Groups – the big fight will be over those who get better A-Level results than two As and one B (AAB). And with 16-24 year olds being the greatest users of social networking, what better battleground than social media is there for this to play out?

To begin to analyse this, we need to start with how the top UK universities are performing right now. And whilst Twitter may not be the only platform with which to engage the graduates of tomorrow (in fact, it may be less important than Facebook or YouTube according to Google ad planning data), it does provide us with a bellwether with which to compare the relative engagement of some of our leading institutions.

To analyse the performance of Russell Group and 1994 Group universities on Twitter, we have created a ranking using PeerIndex which evaluates how effective a Twitter account is at engaging and influencing people. The full breakdown is included below, but here are some key findings and observations:

  • All of the 39 universities analysed hold a centralised Twitter account of some kind. The only exception is the University of Manchester, whose main account appears to be from the admissions department.
  • Collectively, the Russell Group set hold a clear lead with an average PeerIndex score of 38 compared to the 29 of their 1994 Group counterparts
  • However, the overall winner is the University of York with a score of 61, a 1994 Group member (take a look at their social media page – directly accessible from the home page – for a great example of promoting multiple accounts)
  • University College London and Oxford University hold joint honours amongst the Russell Group members
  • Over a third of the 39 universities analysed do not include links to their social media accounts on the home, about or contact pages of their website.
  • There is a positive correlation (0.29) between the number of social media channels promoted on a university’s web site and their ranking in this analysis

Of course, there are some limitations with this approach. As a comparative indicator for a single channel, it may be useful, but I wouldn’t recommend setting your KPIs by it! For that, a more detailed analysis that combines three things is required:

  1. Channel multiplicity – Twitter may or may not be a good proxy for the rest of a university’s performance and profile in social media.
  2. Audience preferences – there is no point being at the top of a Twitter ranking if the people you are trying to reach are more active on Facebook
  3. Institutional objectives – PeerIndex does a reasonable job of gauging your activity, audience and authority, but it applies equal importance to all three and may not even consider indicators of performance that are more important to your organisation.

If you’d like to talk more about your ranking or how you can get a more comprehensive set of comparative metrics, we’d love to hear from you.

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5 reasons to forget about social media ROI

“How do you measure the Return on Investment of social media?”

Sound like a familiar question? Yep, us too. In fact, I’ve often thought it would be easier to measure the ROI of answering that one question than to measure the ROI of social media itself.

Because it’s so difficult? Nope. ROI is one of the easiest calculations in the world. Just divide the financial return you’ve received from social media by the amount you’ve invested in it. And there’s the rub. I’d wager that half of those investing in social media right now can’t quantity the financial return, and the half that can probably don’t know how much they’re investing (hard and soft costs). That’s before you even consider those who can’t do either. And that’s why every conversation I’ve ever been party to about the ROI of social media ends up talking about measuring fans and followers, web traffic and conversions, or influence and reach.

That’s not to say these are bad things to be measuring – right now they may well be the best metrics to track progress against objectives. But let’s not get these confused with ROI.

To help, here are five reasons to stop asking what the ROI of social media is.

1. ROI has to be quantified financially
In case it’s not already clear, you cannot measure the ROI of social media unless you know how much it costs you and how much you get back. Very few organisations are able or ready to do this, without investing more in measurement than they’re already investing in social media, which would seem to defeat the point somewhat.

2. The Risk of Not Investing (RONI) is more important
Think about email and telephones. The risk or damage of not having these – or them not working – is far more important to most organisations than the amount of money they might make or save as a result of investing in them. But who sits down to calculate the ROI of the phone system? The same is arguably true of social media right now.

3. ROI is not the same as Benefit
This is my favourite. Whenever I see the ROI question being asked, it invariably transpires that what the questioner really wants to know is what the benefits of social media are. This is fine – as long as they can be quantified; this helps others in an organisation see why it might be worth paying attention. But make no mistake; if you cannot measure a benefit financially, it’s not ROI.

4. ROI is not generic, even if the calculation is
There is about as much point asking a group of social media gurus what the ROI of social media is as there is my asking you what the ROI is of the iPad I’m typing this blog post on. Why? Because the return is personal to me. The answer to the social media ROI question is as specific to an organisation as any other ROI calculation.

5. Measure progress, not money
For most organisations (but admittedly not all) who are still relatively early in their journey towards building any kind of sustainable in-house social media capability, clear objectives, a focused strategy and appropriate metrics are more important than a (dare I say it) pointless attempt to define future success with a spurious financial calculation. Personally I would much rather see the time better spent working out what an organisation wants to achieve from social media, how they intend to do it, and how they can easily see whether it has been achieved – a genuine ‘Return on Social’ not just ROI.

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Debunking the teen social networking myth

The latest internet access data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) is out, and it sheds some interesting light on the internet habits of the 16-24 year old in the UK.

Contrary to what you might often hear about how teens are turning away from social networking, the study shows that the reverse is actually true. In fact, the age group is the greatest user of social networking – it’s what they do most of, and they do so more than any other age group (91% of those who had accessed the Internet in the last three months cited social networking as something they had done).

More interestingly, perhaps, is that the other online activities that they do more than any other age group include consulting wikis to obtain knowledge in any subject and looking for information about education, training and courses (59% and 58% respectively). And whilst they use the internet to find information about products and services slightly more than these (63%), this isn’t something they do more than other age groups (perhaps surprisingly, the people who do this most are aged 55-64).

Furthermore they are the most skilled age group too, having used the internet in more ways than any other age group – with the exception of two things: using the internet to make phone calls and modifying the security settings of their browser. The latter may well point to the fact that they are the greatest users of the internet on mobile phones, with 71% having a mobile internet connection compared to the average of 45%.

There is some excellent insight in the data tables that have been made available by the ONS, and anyone interested in the 16-24 age demographic would do well to take a look.

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Vampires, US lessons, KIS and social media at CASE Higher Education conference

It takes a brave conference organiser to have their closing plenary hosted by Dracula. But, caped and fanged, Lorna Somers, the highly respected director of development at McMasters University in Canada, vamped her role brilliantly with a funny, energetic and pointed presentation. She clearly has a beckoning career in stand-up but she pulled together serious conference themes relating to the internal and external challenges facing the HE sector here in the UK and the urgent need for marketing, comms, recruitment and development departments to work together to overcome them. It marked a dramatic and successful finale to the CASE Europe 2011 five day event on higher education I attended in Manchester last week.

I’ve said before that I believe the sector is in major transition towards a North American model, and CASE conference delegates were looking for answers to the  questions this raises.

There were many excellent suggestions on offer. Peter Slee, Deputy VC at Huddersfield, co-presented entertainingly (albeit in a suit) on lessons learned from a study tour to the USA. He said that “marketing universities in the UK has been like falling off a log, frankly” but is now changing fast. The UK has much to learn from North America, he believes, where a fees-driven system requires HE institutions to be much more proactive when marketing to prospective students, alumni and donors. He concludes that the pressure to reduce the overall ‘cost of college’ will now increase, active price differentiation between HE institutions will soon emerge and the fight for non-quota AAB students has only just begun. I can’t help but wonder how many of our universities here in the UK are really ready for all this….

Other sessions, like that from MD of The Student Room, Jamie O’Connell, presented research showing how students rank the importance of the new KIS criteria and their trusted sources of information. No surprise that prospective students trust existing students more than anyone else and that online sources – and social media – are key to how many form their opinions of where to study.

The good news is that most of the delegates from our leading institutions, many of whom were live tweeting and blogging throughout, clearly ‘get it’. And from the conversations I had, some universities seem to be well on the way to sorting out their brand positioning and marketing communications – and engaging with social media. So that’s all OK, then?

Well, no actually. As Madame Dracula herself pointed out, before we here in the UK can really catch up with the USA, many of our universities  will need to address their overall lack of marketing focus and the fragmentation and confusion of effort amongst the various departments responsible for recruitment, marketing, development and communications.

Perhaps social media – and the requirement for authenticity, transparency and coherence – can be the catalyst for all relevant departments to work together to create an advantage in this new, increasingly competitive environment.

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The 10 best social business metrics for brands

If you’re interested in social business metrics, you’ll want to look at our PRINT™ Index score and methodology for analysing competitive social media performance.

Update: Dachis Group has now opened up a portion of its Social Business Index to the public “as a resource on social business adoption and performance. Looks pretty impressive.

To celebrate the launch of our own Social Agility Score (check yours here), we thought it would be a nice thing to round up 10 of the other leading social business scores, indices and levels designed to help brands and organisations assess their social ability and achievements. In no particular order:

Social Brand Index (SBI)™
Duxton Consulting Group

They say: The SBI™ Facebook App is a short questionnaire that resides on the brand’s Facebook page and probes the key psychological dimensions that govern the relationship between a brand and its community. The inter-relationship and strength of these psychological dimensions determine how engaged the community is with the brand, and defines the values which drive brand affinity.

We say: “Psychological dimensions”!? Might sound heavy, but actually looks very interesting for brands wanting measure and quantify the success of social media activity. Not sure if restricting it to Facebook will provide a complete picture though.

Vitrue Social Media Index™
Vitrue, Inc.

They say: The Vitrue SMI report is an easy to understand measurement of your brand’s social mentions. Based on our patent-pending technology, index scores are comprised of various mentions from social networks like Facebook and Twitter to popular media sites like YouTube and Flickr. The Vitrue SMI score provides a snapshot in time to help make sense of the overwhelming amount of measurable data.

We say: Not a lot we can say right now as the Vitrue SMI system was temporarily unavailable. Maybe we’ll try later.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

They say: Here is an informal score card you can use to gauge what your company is actually ready for now. Twelve questions will lead to a clear set of ideas that you can act on today – practical, not theoretical.

We say: An oldie, but still a goodie. A very simple (and probably outdated) method for self-diagnosing an organisation’s readiness to deal with social media. Luckily, we’re “excited to engage”…

Klout Score

They say: The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare in order to measure: how many people you influence (True Reach); how much you influence them (Amplification); how influential they are (Network Score).

We say: The influence metric that everyone’s talking about, but we can’t help thinking that it’s more about ego-stroking than anything else. The metrics that go to make up the overall score (true reach, amplification and network score) are arguably more useful to brands, when combined with other sources of data.

PeerIndex Score

They say: Your overall PeerIndex score is a relative measure of your online authority. The PeerIndex Score reflects the impact of your online activities, and the extent to which you have built up social and reputational capital on the web. At its heart, PeerIndex addresses the fact that merely being popular (or having gamed the system) doesn’t indicate authority. Instead, we build up your Authority fingerprint on a topic-by-topic level using our eight benchmark topics.

We say: The influence metric that everyone’s talking about when they’re not talking about Klout.

Social Media Reputation (SMR)

They say: SMR stands for Social Media Reputation. SMR is a popularity index to rank brands’ popularity in social spaces. It’s also a monitoring and insight service provided by Yomego to help brands track opinion, highlight influencers and identify threats. The Yomego team works with clients to analyse and validate the raw data and suggest a prioritised list of recommendations to help the client to achieve its objectives.

We say: Looks very user-friendly and the cards and commentaries for some of the bigger brands (cough, prospects, cough) are kind of cute. Would be nice to test it out without becoming part of a Yomego lead generation pool though.

Social Business Maturity Level
Altimeter Group

They say: For each section, choose the statement that best describes your social business program. Give yourself 1 point if you choose “1,” 2 points if you choose “2,” and 3 points if you choose “3.” Add up your total score below to determine your social business maturity level.

We say: Hard to argue with much that Altimeter put out. This is a nice way of assessing your organisation’s level of social business maturity in order to then understand the implications of their much more extensive programme of research.

Social Business Index
Dachis Group

They say: Please enter your access code to enter the site.

We say: Dachis announced the launch of its Social Business Index in June 2011 as “the only information service providing ongoing real-time ranking, analysis, and benchmarking of Social Business adoption and performance of the world’s most connected and engaged companies on hundreds of key engagement and activity metrics across social platforms globally.” Unless you’re one of those companies privileged enough to be accepted, there’s nothing more to see so move along. Hopefully they’ll live up to the promise of a free public version “later this Summer”.

Social Spam Index

They say: Today we unveiled the Impermium Index — the first, comprehensive set of data and analysis on the types and severity of social web spam and abuse. It shows that not only are social web attacks growing exponentially in number, but there is an increasing sophistication to the tactics used by spammers; we also reveal that your user growth stats may not be as accurate as you thought.

We say: Not quite a score, but interesting for some brands nonetheless, when you consider the finding that Ugg (the boots) was the #1 most exploited brand in social media by a factor of x2 over Gucci and x5 over Prada. As the spam-fighters at Imperium say, “for site owners, the rampant issue of registration fraud has many significant ramifications including a company’s ability to accurately value its user base and determine the actual cost of new customer acquisition.”

10 TweetLevel

They say: This tool will be in permanent beta as we seek to continually improve its functionality based upon your feedback. Even though we believe that it goes a great way to understand and quantify the varying importance of different people’s usage of Twitter, by no means whatsoever do we believe we have fully solved the ‘influence’ problem. What we would appreciate is your views, advice and criticism is crucial in helping us understand social media measurement.

We say: TweetLevel was probably one of the first attempts to measure influence on Twitter. Like Klout, the individual metrics (popularity, engagement and trust) are possibly more useful for a brand than the overall score. For 2011, it’s been joined by BlogLevel which does the same for blogs (what else?). Also like Klout, you are sometimes left wondering, ‘so what?’

So there we go. Ten of the best. Now tell me which ones I missed.

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