#BartlettMetrics for April 2014

#BartlettMetrics for April, 2014

My monthly #BartlettMetrics update, measuring and reporting on social media audiences on Twitter and Facebook for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, has been updated for April, 2014.

Audiences for the seven state universities were measured a bit before noon on Wednesday, April 2. The methodology is simple; the channels are all visited and whatever follower number is being represented by the service is entered into a Google Docs spreadsheet by hand. The spreadsheets are available publicly; you can visit them here:

• state universities
• state colleges

MnSCU State Universities

The total followers for the seven MnSCU state universities on Twitter and Facebook reached 94,042, with the audience still skewed heavily toward Facebook. The system’s universities total 71,990 fans on Facebook and 22,052 followers on Twitter.

Bemidji State had an excellent month; it seems clear that our advertising campaigns for both general recruiting and for our online MBA program launching this fall have had an impact on the pace of our growth. We picked up a total of 661 fans (taking us to 14,913) across both channels as compared to the March 3 measurement data; it was our largest increase since we picked up 657 total fans in July of 2013. Per-channel increases were similar; we gained 440 fans on Facebook to reach 11,568; that marked our largest single-month jump since I started doing these systemwide measurements on a roughly monthly schedule in Feb. 2013. We picked up 221 followers on Twitter to get to 3,345, our biggest monthly jump since gaining 227 in July 2013[0]. My “official” report on our social metrics, which I prepare for our Office of Communications and Marketing monthly staff meetings, will be interesting.

Our total audience is also at 300 percent of our enrollment [0]; with 14,913 total followers and a fall enrollment of 4,952, we’re at 301.15 percent. None of the other six MnSCU state universities are at even 200 percent.

Metropolitan State University gained 56 fans on Facebook and sits at 3,102, and gained another 14 Twitter followers to reach 3,581 total followers.[0]

Minnesota State University still hasn’t replicated their crazy growth from October and November of 2013, but they’re still growing at an impressive pace. The Mavericks added 679 total followers for the month, and while they didn’t reach any new milestones on either Twitter or Facebook they’ll be the second state university to go over 20k total audience sometime later this month.

Minnesota State University, Moorhead had a nice month on Twitter, picking up 124 new fans for their second-biggest increase since September. They’re at 2,893 and should be the fourth of the seven state universities to reach 3,000 Twitter followers later this month. They also gained 87 fans on Facebook, which is about in line with their average over the last seven months (which has been 83). The growth helped them go over 9,000 combined followers (9,118); they’re on pace to hit 10,000 sometime in August.

St. Cloud State was off a bit this month, gaining 566 total followers to reach 28,768 total. Their Facebook growth was down; after averaging an increase of 379 new fans per month over the last seven months, they were down to 272 – their lowest single-month increase since October 2013. They still were the first MnSCU institution to go over 22k on Facebook – at 22,022 fans, the Huskies have more followers on Facebook than any of the system’s other institutions have for total followers on Facebook and Twitter combined. Like us, St. Cloud State had a good month on Twitter, picking up 294 fans; that was their biggest increase since a 342-follower bump in Sept. 2013.

At their current pace, the Huskies could be the first MnSCU institution to hit 30,000 in total followers sometime in late May or early June.

Southwest Minnesota State had their typical month, picking up 41 fans on Facebook and 62 fans on Twitter; both are below average for them this academic year (since August, their average gain has been 56 fans on Facebook and 84 followers on Twitter). Had I measured them at a different time of the day, they’d probably be at 5,500 fans; their total now is 5,499, so I’ll hopefully have a milestone to talk about for them in May.

Winona State University finally inched over 10,000 fans on Facebook; they gained 235 for the month and sit at 10,214. They also gained 121 on Twitter – identical to their growth there last month, which was interesting. Consecutive identical numbers in data like this always stands out.

MnSCU State Colleges

Highlighting the April #BartlettMetrics report for the two-year colleges are a number of new data points. Thanks to Andrea Steen at the system office, who helped me track down a variety of accounts that, for whatever reason, I had overlooked on my first attempt to inventory the state’s two-year colleges. Here’s a list of what’s been added:

• Twitter data added for Anoka Technical College.
• Twitter data added for Anoka-Ramsey Community College.
• Facebook and Twitter data added for Central Lakes College.
• Facebook data added for Century College.
• Switched Facebook account to track for MState.
• New campus: MState Moorhead (Facebook and Twitter data added)
• New campus: MState Wadena (Facebook and Twitter data added)
• Added Twitter data for Northland Community & Technical College.
• Added Twitter data for Riverland Community College.
• Added Facebook data for St. Paul College.
• Added Twitter data for St. Cloud Community and Technical College.
• Vermillion Technical College renamed to Vermillion Community College; added Facebook and Twitter data.

There is a combined “MState fan page” presence for the four-campus MState institution, and MState’s Wadena and Moorhead campuses each have unique Twitter and Facebook presences. As a result, the MState fan page is reported separately, and I have added new standalone measurement data for the Moorhead and Wadena campuses.

With the number of changes made to the data this month, there are no real meaningful comparisons to be made (for example, St. Paul College gained 5,119 fans on Facebook since the last measurement, but only because I wasn’t previously including that channel in its data). After this round’s additions, there are only four schools with missing data points – and all are Twitter accounts. As a result, comparisons and trends will begin in the May release of the data.

With this month’s increases and the additions of new data, across the 30 campuses being tracked the two-year colleges in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have a combined total of 77,179 followers – 61,342 fans on Facebook and 15,837 followers on Twitter.

MnSCU aggregate followers

2-year colleges: 61,342 on Facebook, 15,837 on Twitter; 77,179 total
4-year colleges: 71,990 on Facebook, 22,052 on Twitter; 94,042 total
System-wide: 133,332 on Facebook, 37,889 on Twitter; 171,221 total

#BartlettMetrics for November

MnSCU social media follower data

For the last few months, I’ve been sharing some notes about social media following totals for the seven state universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system on Twitter.

I started compiling the information for use at work, just as an easy way to compare us to the other six schools, on a “when I remember to do it” basis back in mid-2011. This fall, I started updating it at the beginning of each month so I could include the data in some monthly metrics reports I give at our Office of Communications and Marketing staff meetings. After seeing that the information was going to be updated regularly, I decided to make the Google Docs spreadsheet where I’d been stashing the data publicly available and to give shout-outs on Twitter to the other schools when they passed some noteworthy follower milestone.

Yes, I know that the raw number of followers isn’t a particularly good — or even useful — way to measure an organization’s social media presence. There are some useful insights to be found in the data, however, especially if you’re looking for patterns or trends and not necessarily at the raw number of followers.

#BartlettMetrics

The #BartlettMetrics hashtag was born in October during a direct-message exchange with the social media manager at St. Cloud State. Make no mistake – it. is. awesome. Especially given my background in sports information, I love this and am rolling with it.

This month, I decided to expand a bit on the few tweets I sent out this morning and play with the data in a bit more detail.

#BartlettMetrics update for December, 2013

Looking at the spreadsheet that was updated this morning and the first thing that became immediately obvious to me was “growth is in the tank across the board.”

We only picked up 80 new Facebook fans since the last measurement, and both Crowdbooster (+102) and Sprout Social (+126, net +110 with 16 un-likes) reported us as having far lower-than-usual new fan counts for the month of November.1 As a point of comparison, both were our lowest in the last 12 months (since Nov. 2012, in fact).

New Twitter follows were down also; after six consecutive months of adding more than 200 per month, we were down to 143 in November (Crowdbooster reported a gain of 81 followers in November, and Sprout Social reported a gain of 129.2)

Others were off as well; Minnesota State added a total of 601 followers in November, far and away the highest total of the seven schools I’m tracking, but their lowest in six months and coming off of back-to-back months adding more than a thousand people. Winona State only added 210 after picking up 1,500 over the previous three months. Southwest Minnesota State only added 71 after gaining about 550 over the previous three months. MSU Moorhead stayed relatively on course with 171 new fans, on par with where they’ve been for four of last five months.3

So everyone is a bit off, even though none of this is remotely scientific.

In terms of milestones, then, there wasn’t much to report. Minnesota State went over 4,000 followers on Twitter. I was expecting Southwest to go over 5,000 total followers for the month, but they fell just short at 4,942.

And Metro State’s account somehow continues to add a few Twitter followers every month despite not tweeting for years.

What can you take from all of this? Not much. Everybody’s trends are off for the month, but looking back this mirrors what happened with us in November of last year as well. We will see if everyone rebounds in December.

Pct. Enroll stat

One thing I haven’t managed to update for everyone is the total followers as a percentage of enrollment stat. This is primarily attributable to the fact that everyone in the system was down in enrollment this year, and only us, St. Cloud State and Winona State had fall enrollment releases on our respective websites. I’ll add that back in for everyone at some point in the future, once their fall enrollment can be gathered from other sources (I should just call them all and ask).


  1. And, yes, it drives me absolutely nuts that the Crowdbooster (+102) and Sprout Social (+110) numbers are different. It’s the kind of situation that makes it quite difficult to take any of this seriously. 

  2. See [^1], above. 

  3. Moorhead’s outlier is a gain of 403 in August; aside from that they’ve been around 190 for the last five months. 

The Price of Software

The Price of Software

Earlier today, I jumped into an interesting Twitter discussion on the price of software started by iA. iA makes Writer, which I use at work almost every day. It’s become the go-to place for me to draft the various things I have to write as part of my job.

iA dropped a hint today on Twitter that it’s giving some thought to increasing the price of Writer for the upcoming Version 2. And not just by a little bit. They said this:

https://twitter.com/iA/status/403198445940662273

…and this:

https://twitter.com/iA/status/403199654973956096

It’s an interesting situation to think about. Much has been written about software’s seeming trend toward “free” as a price point; Ben Thompson wrote a good piece about this at Stratēchery back in October. If iA is going to attempt to swim against this current, it’s going to be interesting to watch.

Writer is great — as I said, I essentially use it daily. But it would be interesting to see if they would have success with this sort of business move. I am reminded of my early days working in the sports information office at Kansas State; not long after I graduated from college, I decided I wanted to be able to take some of my work home with me, so I spent $169 to buy my own copy of Pagemaker (I think it was the Adobe-branded version, just after they had purchased Aldus). That seemed crazy at the time, but since I wanted to work at home it was really my only choice. It would be another several years before I would have a laptop at work, and about six years and a new job until I had an Apple laptop.

That same “it was really my only choice” doesn’t exist today, and it certainly doesn’t exist for Writer. There are plenty of capable competitors that exist in Writer’s space — lightweight, minimalist applications that exists to facilitate a clean writing environment. Byword, for example, is completely capable, has a couple of features that Writer does not (like built-in ability to publish to a blog), and has Mac and iOS versions. Draft is a web app that has similar functionality. And that’s just a start; there are plenty of alternatives to Writer.

It’s difficult to imagine that Writer could add a killer feature that would be so game-changing that it would justify anything in the neighborhood of a 200 percent price increase.

Still. The very fact that they’re talking about it is going to make me pay a lot of attention to how they talk about Writer 2 going forward.

What I’m Reading

Missed New Comic Day last week, so Helen and I caught up today; today’s pull included G.I. Joe #10, Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #23 and Batman #25. Pretty light haul for two weeks; Star Wars #11 was out today but the shop’s copy or two was already gone by the time I got there. I’ll have to look elsewhere.

NCMPR presentation

Since I have been tragically poor at reporting in at the ol’ blog, I’ve missed out on sharing some fun stuff over the last two months. Notably, for the first time ever, I presented at a regional conference. On Sept. 24, I gave a breakout talk at the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District V conference in Bloomington, Minn., called “Using Off-the-Shelf Software to Build a News Clip Tracking System.”

I wrote a bit about my initial process for building a system in Filemaker Pro for tracking media mentions back in July; it took me until just a few days before the presentation to get everything perfected, but the system is now working the way I had originally envisioned.

I had about 45 minutes to present, and my breakout was late in the conference and opposite a session with tips for online advertising. The conference was small to begin with, about 65 attendees to start, so by the time my presentation rolled around I had maybe 18 in my session. So it was a nice small audience for me to deliver my first presentation.

I started out pretty well, but nerves hit after about 15 minutes and I’m not sure I ended very strong. I thought I had some troubles explaining my general concept for building the application — assigning a unique identifier to each news release in a list of stories, tagging media clips with that unique identifier when necessary, then using Filemaker functionality to make a list of clips that are tagged that is accessible directly from the release list. If I had a chance to give the presentation again in a different venue, I have some ideas for how I’d completely redo this section with some better visuals to make what I tried to do more clear. I know I could do better the second time around.

Overall, though, the presentation was successful; I got a lot of questions afterward, some of which branched out into other topics like social media measurement that weren’t even part of what I had prepared for. Most importantly, I learned a lot about processes for presenting and what sort of things I need to keep in mind to polish up when I next have an opportunity to present. The presentation also reinforced that I’m on the right track for my general presentation philosophy — lots of full-screen graphics when necessary, and very minimal text on the screen. My presentation ended up being heavy in terms of total number of slides (I was around 70 for what turned out to be about a 25-minute presentation), but I thought it was clear and kept the reading burden for the audience to a minimum.

It would be fun to find another opportunity to present and continue to practice. I think it’s something I could get to be pretty good at in time.

Pouring one out for the Lutes Circle house

So, my old neighborhood is gone.

First, some back story. This past Friday, Helen and I were having some random conversation about things that are of import to eight-year-olds, and at some point she started asking about stitches – specifically, if I had ever had any. I told her I had, and told her about my largest wound that necessitated stitches – the puncture wound in my left palm from a sharp rock when I was in the second grade. She asked where it happened, so I told her about the place I lived at the time – on a corner on Lutes Circle in Fort Bliss, Texas.

Due to the power of the Internet, I told her “I can even show you exactly where I fell. We will get on Google Maps and I will show you my house and the park where I got hurt.”

It didn’t work out that way. I found the neighborhood easily enough. But every single house in it is gone. The only thing left of the entire housing development are paved roads and dirt.

I lived here.

You can see these odd marks in the dirt with residual vegetation that show you where the houses sort of used to be. Emphasis on “used to be” – they’re all gone, every single one of them. Single-family houses, some 2-3 story apartment buildings, the little convenience store in the middle where I can remember buying pens and comic books. Just gone.

I haven’t seen any of those buildings in 30 years, but it’s still a little weird to look at this picture and realize the whole thing is just… gone. You think of houses being lost to things like fires or natural disasters or something like that; my old neighborhood had a stray foundation for a house that had burned down and never been rebuilt. We used that foundation as a launching pad for bike jumps. So you just know that kind of thing can happen. But an entire neighborhood, just wiped away? That’s a little weird.

I’d really be curious to know why this happened. It looks as if the neighborhood was leveled in 2011 and is planned for replacement because the homes had basically fallen into disrepair.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_22827516/fort-bliss-commences-final-stage-housing-expansion

It looks like the neighborhood is being replaced with this: http://www.ftblissfamilyhousing.com/

Where to write, and more with If This Then That

Where to write

I find myself running into what seems to be an enviable problem – I currently have too many tools at my disposal in which to write things. Each one is similar, with differences that are slight enough to make each compelling in its own right. But, while each has its advantages, I haven’t devised a workflow in my head that might require that I use all of them simultaneously. So I have this sort of fragmented writing existence that is compartmentalized in several different apps.

Part of the problem I am having, honestly, is iCloud and its sandboxing properties which keep documents created in one app walled off and unavailable to other apps. So I’ve got a group of documents in one app; a separate group of documents in another app; a third group of documents in a third app; and so on, with no crossover. Using iCloud sort of forces your hand into one of two workflows: a single-app workflow where you use one tool for everything, or a fractured workflow where multiple apps become used for certain specialized purposes since you can’t share documents between them.

Here’s a rundown of what I’m using right now.

iA Writer

iA Writer was one of the first tools I played with that had Mac, iPhone and iPad versions so I could access the things that I wrote anywhere on any device at any time. I don’t use iA Writer on my phone all that often, but it’s become my primary writing tool for work; every news release or other story I write for work is written in iA Writer and then moved into InDesign for layout and distribution. I’ve created around 150 work-related documents in iA Writer, and they all live in iCloud. I have some personal documents here as well, mostly work in the last three graduate school courses I took and a couple of documents related to some personal projects I have worked on over the last year.

I like iA Writer; it’s become a comfortable writing environment, even though I’m creating some roadblocks for myself when it comes to importing that text into InDesign for layout (or into Pages for export into a Word document if I am using it to write a magazine story, for instance).

As an app-based service, iA Writer comes with some one-time charges; the Mac app is $4.99 and the iPad and iPhone apps are 99 cents each. Still, for less than the cost of two drinks at Starbucks you get access to a pretty solid round-trip writing environment you can easily access from your Holy Trinity of devices.

Draft

Draft is the most recent addition to my app arsenal; on the surface it’s a Markdown app like iA Writer, but rather than using a collection of native apps Draft achieves “access anywhere” by being a web-based application. Draft’s killer app-type feature is its functionality as a transcript-writing tool; it has the ability to embed audio with extremely easy-to-use and intuitive controls for navigating that audio, making the development of transcripts an absolute breeze.

Right now I have exactly four documents in Draft – and all four are transcripts of audio interviews I have done for work. Draft made preparing these transcripts almost trivial; it’s probably the only tool I have ever used that had specific built-in functionality to help with transcribing, but I can’t imagine any other existing tool doing this any better.

I’m honestly not sure what’s keeping me from going all-in on Draft. It has a free and a paid version, and the paid version is a $3.99-per-month subscription; the subscription is primarily an “I love this tool and want to give you money for it” support mechanism, as the freely-available version of the tool seems entirely functional. And Draft’s developer, Nathan Kontny seems to be exactly the kind of person I would have no problems giving $4 a month to in order to help him continue to build this tool; he’s obviously passionate about what he does and he’s putting every piece of his talent to work in order to build a tool that people will love using. Guys like Nathan Kontny are part of the reason I love technology — he helps to give a writing tool a personality, which is a pretty amazing thing.

If there’s any immediate change in my workflow, I could easily see it being a straight trade of iA Writer for Draft.

Google Docs

Then, I’ve got a pile of stuff in Google Docs, which is almost entirely work-related; I also did some grad-school work in Docs, mostly on group projects where I had to collaborate with people in other cities. But I have very few personal documents in Docs. I actually do very little with Google Docs, and I suspect that as Apple’s iCloud.com versions of Pages and Numbers come out of beta there won’t be any reason for me to use Docs for anything that isn’t related to work. Right now, though, Docs is great for building shared calendars and other workflow-tracking documents for me to share with our student workers.

But, the majority of that material could eventually be moved into something like Wunderlist or Trello, as well, which would leave very little reason to continue using Docs for much of anything.

Day One

Day One is touted as a journaling app, and it’s quite good. I have taken to writing all of my post drafts for andybartlett.com in Day One, because as a journal its entries are tied into a built-in calendar which makes it a nice archival tool. Day One entries also are written in Markdown, and simply as a Markdown editor Day One is quite good.

Day One is a lot like Evernote; the more I use it, the more I realize I should be using it. I’ve started using Day One for job journaling, to keep track of significant accomplishments over the course of a day (although I haven’t remotely gotten into a flow with that yet, mostly because I’m not entirely sure what I would be referring back to the entries for), as well, and it’s good for traditional journal-type entries where something that I want to write pops into my head and I need somewhere that isn’t a blog to stash it. This is another situation where I really like that Day One’s entries are married to a calendar.

Still, other than drafts of andybartlett.com posts, Day One wouldn’t be a good production environment for work; because of the calendar, it would be quite difficult for me to start a story on one day, then write a bunch of other stuff over the next seven days and then backtrack to finish that story. Day One ties your writing to when you start it, and with my work I’m more interested in when it gets finished.

The Rest

In addition to these four outlets, I also have a significant amount of data spread across two Evernote accounts (one that is basically for work and one that is for personal things — drafts of the comic book reviews I used to do for The Terrordrome were all originally written in Evernote); I’ve got a pile of stuff in a Simplenote account that I don’t hardly use any more – data that, honestly, I should migrate somewhere else; I’ve got some things in Vesper; and there are other things still that I have in Apple’s Pages and Numbers apps. So there are six other apps where I have data, and as with the first four, none of them can share information with each other due to iCloud sandboxing.

That’s 10 apps, total, each containing some unique segment of stuff I’ve written. I’d like to start consolidating most of that, but other than eliminating Simplenote I’m not entirely sure where to cut. I am going to hold out with iCloud for my storage until MacOS X version 9, Mavericks, comes out this fall, and I’m also going to see what happens with Apple’s Pages and Numbers apps at iCloud.com once those come out of beta. As I mentioned earlier I’m sorely tempted to switch from iA Writer to Draft, but if I did that I would want to pay for Draft just because I would feel the need to pay for something that I was using as such a central piece of my workflow.

Ideally, I could foresee a situation where I changed my sync solution from iCloud to Dropbox (which I probably just need to go ahead and do), switched to Draft as my go-to primary writing tool, and then distributed writing to andybartlett.com, Day One or Evernote from there.

Right now it’s all still a mess.

Spending time with If This Then That

If This Then That has proven to be a fun little automation tool that can tie some — but certainly not all — of the various presences I have scattered throughout the Internet’s vast series of tubes together into a cohesive presence.

For example, I’ve got sharing functionality set up in WordPress that automatically shares to Facebook and Twitter whenever I have a new blog post. I do this so I don’t have to jump over and immediately share that I’ve posted something on those social networks, mostly because there would eventually be the temptation to just not share because I couldn’t be bothered to spend the 30 seconds to do it or because I came up with some reason why the post shouldn’t be shared. So that’s usually fine.

I wrote an IFTTT recipe that automatically creates a post at andybartlett.com to share photos I post to Instagram. This is fine and it works great; it gets photo content to andybartlett.com, which in the past was exceedingly rare. But right now I’ve got a situation set up where an Instagram post fires an andybartlett.com post which fires a Facebook update; so if I share to Facebook when I post in Instagram, I get a double post on Facebook — one directly from Instagram and one from andybartlett.com.

The one thing that’s nice is that those auto-posts on Facebook aren’t triggering the IFTTT action I wrote to dump Facebook status updates into an Evernote notebook.

I either need to figure out a way to tweak the recipes to recognize post tags so that those round-trip type posts are situational and not automatic for every situation, or just scrap IFTTT for social posting automation.

Stuff I added to Pocket today

The Obama administration on Saturday issued a veto on a proposed potential ban on a number of Apple products in the U.S., including some iPhones and iPad devices.

via Pocket http://allthingsd.com/20130803/obama-vetoes-apple-product-ban/

Busy, busy weekend

andybartlett.com draft

Crazy busy weekend
Friday date night… Saturday garage sales and upstairs-cleaning duties… Kid Day today. It’s been a long weekend. Fun, and mostly unproductive, but mostly fun.

To show support for Helen cleaning the total disaster that was her bedroom, I started straightening up my office upstairs. It has become so full of stuff that it’s barely useable; mostly furniture, really. The room is tiny; maybe 8×10 with no windows, but as the room has a sloped ceiling due to the house’s roof line only about half of the floor space is useable for much. As of yesterday, there were four full-height bookshelves, two two-shelf closet organizers that are on the floor under the roof slope, the desk that my parents got me as a high school graduation present and a drafting table. There also was a television on the floor which left me barely enough room to maneuver my chair between my computer desk and the drawing area.

Part of the problem is the absolutely enormous desk that is holding my equally enormous PowerMac G5. In November, that behemoth will be 10 years old and it’s to the point that I use it for a web browser and not much else. It’s time for it to go, and that’s going to free up a ton of space.

The fun thing about making progress with a major room overhaul is that you have to blow it up and make it an even bigger mess before it all comes back together. I made quite a bit of progress, but it looks worse than ever. Fun.

Helen’s Toy Show
Helen got hooked on YouTube videos of a couple doing box opening descriptions of My Little Pony toys this weekend; she got to the point that she decided she wanted to do her own. So, tonight, we started Helen’s Toy Show. We did a two-minute video of her opening a fat-pack of My Little Pony trading cards this evening and posted it on my Facebook wall. She got three likes and a comment from one of Mel’s friends before bed, and she went to sleep thinking she’s going to be famous. It was one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.