#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:

…and this:

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.