Getting beyond the ‘likes’?

When our Deputy Head of Student Development, Stuart Johnson, took on the role of ‘Acting Head of..’ I started to pick up more responsibility for our social media and general publicity.

When I picked this up, in August/September 2010, the accounts were already well formed, mainly due to Stu’s hard work. We had around 1728 ‘likes’ on Facebook and a high of 376 monthly active users. We were also followed by 598 people on Twitter.

I am happy with how we are progressing with sheer numbers; as of today, we have 743 followers on Twitter, an increase of 24%. Today we have 2120 Facebook ‘likes,’ which is an increase of 23%. Interesting to see that both have grown at pretty much exactly the same rate.

I think the really interesting figure is our Facebook monthly active users. In August 2010, the highest number was 376. The average for Jan 2011 is 1261. This is a whooping increase of 235%.

All this obviously shows we are doing something right. I wonder whether it was our decision to stop sending so many automated posts by decoupling our nifty events feed, back in October 2010. We still feed news items to Facebook and Twitter, but there are rarely more than two a day now, as opposed to up to six automated messages a day in September 2010.

Our ‘Impressions’ are better for the personally written items. On Jan 24th 2011, our average impressions on automated items was 1929 in comparison to average impressions for personally written items at 2466. Same pattern on Jan 28th; impressions on automated items = 1307, impressions on personally written items = 1842.

There could be other reasons for the increase; I am careful with the basics. I don’t post too often (maybe 2 updates a day on average?) so we don’t flood timelines. I try and keep the tone and language informal, see post below.

I also try and keep the posts relevant to what students might need/want at that time. The other key thing I try to do is respond promptly.

The main issue I’m facing however is this ‘getting beyond the likes’ thing. Stu blogged about this back in May 2010. Over the last three months or so, I have tried to make the accounts (especially Facebook) more engaging. I am posting questions rather than just statements and trying to get debate going. Ideally, I’d like to get Facebook especially, a genuine forum for question, discussion and debate, as well as a place to find out what we have going on etc.

At the minute, it’s extremely hit and miss. Some days I will pose a question and get a relatively good response…Other times I will get nothing in reply…

Then sometimes I ask something seemingly random and get inundated!

The only thing I seemed to have learned (apart from the randomness!) is to try and pose questions where people get to pass on their views, opinions or tips. These seem to work more often than not.

So, I have now started planning what I post where possible. So for big events like Stand Out Week I have a schedule of things to mention that have been considered and appropriately timed. I still intersperse these with other items that might be less ‘thought out.’ We’ll see how this goes I guess.

Any thoughts??


10 responses to “Getting beyond the ‘likes’?

  1. Hi Vic. It does seem to be quite random – I’ve also tried attaching pictures to make the posts more interesting and adding polls, but very few people seem to take part in those… Just perseverance I guess, but you must be doing something right to get so many more sign ups, so I think people also like the information without necessarily wanting to respond 🙂

  2. It’s a good point about not necessarily wanting to respond. I keep having moments of ‘why is a more discussion based page better?’ And then wondering whether I should be trying to push further interaction. Maybe it’s not really needed? Hence the post I guess :o)

  3. Yep. I think interaction is really really nice to get, and it would be great if our FB page and Twitter were more discussion based, but my opinion is it’s an extra – doesn’t mean it’s pointless if no one responds. Let’s face it – we’re not that cool, but we’re still pretty useful 🙂

  4. Clearly the informal discussion route is the one to take. Fewer personal posts are more productive than more automated messages.

    I wonder if the success of social media marketing is in fostering the ‘behind the scenes’ feel among your followers? Give people the feeling that they’re getting a bit more access and involvement than through the ‘official’ channels?

  5. Great work! Just keep experimenting and being friendly 🙂

  6. I posted about this only yesterday, albeit in relation to a smaller site. Are you trying to get students to ask and answer their own questions on your site? is that even a relevant requirement? Do you allow fans posts on your wall?

    also, what does FB mean by active users?

    • Hi DigitalScholar, it seems we’re at similar ‘places.’ I often think ‘that could have led to an interesting discussion,’ but just as you said, it hardly ever does.
      The ‘lurking thing’ is good point too. I think this is what @martau (above) was getting at, “people also like the information without necessarily wanting to respond.” Hence my whole question of whether this is really the time/place to get real forums for debate going. I don’t know. Sigh!

  7. great stuff Vic and thanks for sharing (and blogging!). As a user I’m wondering if the ‘getting beyond likes’ idea is down to the page/ corporate account response? I know that you are adding your initials, but from the outside that can often look like an administrative code, rather than a personal signature. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to do technically (may require two accounts on fb? argh!) but a response from ‘VicUoL’ would probably get better engagement than one from ‘SDSS’. Do you see what I mean? Your tone and responses are wonderful but it is one of the downsides of using a deparmental identity over a personal one that conversations may just not be there. I think this is partly what @craig is saying too.

    Finally, I think you need to ask yourself why you want engagement and what it means. I tend to ‘like’ pages to get information in a timely and personalised way into a place that has my attention (FB), I don’t usually want to ask the owners of those pages anything. If you want to run a ‘student help service’ as an interactive discussion – i.e. a supplement to one-to-one consultations, then I think that would have to be on a personal basis.

    • Interesting about initials being seen as an admin code Jo, hadn’t thought that of that at all.
      Also interesting about having a response from a ‘personal account.’ Although if I start replying as vicuol, I guess my whole Twitter account is liable to be read as some kind of official channel, which I wouldn’t want! Trying to think now of some kind of other way of doing the same thing…
      I think you’re point about WHY do we want engagement is interesting. Like you said, maybe the majority of people who ‘like’ us on Facebook have no need or want to be interactive, and use it like you do, to get ‘information.’
      Maybe we need a tweet up!

  8. We are using Friendfeed on the Leicester Award FLEX programme, to initiate discussion in a remote way. No need to follow each other, I just post the link and students join in the discussion. Riding on the back of the successes in this area from Biomedical sciences, but so far, its working well.

    We are assessing the contribution, which I think helps to motivate. See below.

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