Evaluating networks: Twitter activity of 1994 Group universities
Hi there! I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the different social networks I work with. I’m interested in how I can determine how effective my networks are in reaching my target audiences, and how I can use evaluation to improve my communications through these channels.
Evaluation is a constant headache for anyone working in marketing or communications, with the evaluation of social networks possibly the hardest to carry out.
And as increasingly more time and resource is put into online communications, proving that the investment is effective is essential.
Soon, as press officers, we’ll be asked to justify our decision to focus on these communication channels, and we have to be ahead of the game and ready to demonstrate the value of our online networks.
I had some time on my hands so I decided to follow the lead of Brian Kelly, who recently wrote a great blog post on the Twitter use of Russell Group universities. I have replicated his analysis for the 1994 Group, to see what I think of this method of evaluation. I’ve only used Klout so far (as it took forever), but I’ll try to do a PeerIndex comparison soon.
Klout measures influence online by analysing Twitter metrics, giving you a Klout Score. The Klout website explains each score with the following:
- The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1-100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence.
- Amplification Probability is how much you influence people. When you post a message, how many people respond to it or spread it further? If people often act upon your content you have a high Amplification score.
- The True Reach is the number of people you influence. Klout filters out spam and bots and focuses on the people who are acting on your content. When you post a message, these people tend to respond or share it.
- Network Influence indicates the influence of the people in your True Reach. How often do top Influencers share and respond to your content? When they do so, they are increasing your Network score.
For the purpose of this I’m taking the word of the company and assuming that Klout really does what it says it does. Although a critique of each of these evaluation services might make an interesting blog post some day…
So here are the results (ordered alphabetically):
(Admin update (4/12/11): Due to a glitch I was unable to produce a score for Queen Mary at the time this table was created. I’ve been informed that the current Klout score for Queen Mary, University of London is 49. Its true reach is 946; amplification probability is 15 and network influence is 19. http://klout.com/#/QMUL - thanks to Emma Lowry for letting me know.)
Where there isn’t a huge budget and a couple of spare staff, tools like Klout offer a quick insight to how social networks might be performing. However, while a score based on an evaluation of Twitter metrics can look appealing, these tools certainly have limitations.
While your Klout score might be able to show how many opportunities for influence you have within your network, you can’t assume that every tweet you post is read by your complete ‘true reach’, or even that your ‘true reach’ represents the target audience you want to communicate with. Likewise, while tweets might be read, if the purpose of your communications is to elicit a response you need to carry out further analysis to determine whether the reader acted upon the information you shared with them.
For that, a much more sophisticated evaluation is required, along with a much larger budget and much more time.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, and if you have any ideas for evaluating social networks then I’m all ears. What are other press officers doing to determine how effective their communications through these channels are, and how are you using the results of your evaluation?