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Why the European Commission cannot do without LinkedIn anymore

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By @CaroleBxl

The social media team of the European Commission’s communications department began proactively managing its LinkedIn page just over a year ago, in early June 2013. The page was generated automatically – which happens when a LinkedIn user states its company work – and had already built up around 90,000 followers before its active management by the social media team. Following a year of providing regular content and interacting on the page, we have reached just over 160,000 followers, including 19,000 staff members.

According to LinkedIn analytics, this puts the European Commission in 3rd place amongst other international institutions in terms of followers.


Communicating to a more specific audience

With 300 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. While it is used by individuals for job searching and professional networking, companies and institutions also use LinkedIn, principally for recruitment and providing peer-to-peer information. As such, an active and engaging presence on LinkedIn can create strong opportunities to develop the reach and influence of an institution like the European Commission, particularly when it comes to connecting with a specific professional audience. Read the full entry

Measuring communication effectiveness on social media

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When talking about measuring effectiveness on social media it is indispensable to talk about listening. Listening is one of the most important yet it is one of the most often overlooked uses of social media. Listening to where your audience is, gives you an indication of how to address them in the most direct and adequate way.

Apart from that, listening (also referred to as monitoring) leads to reporting and something which we should not neglect is to be “understandable” to the final readers. When you stick around mostly with people sharing your own expertise you might forget that your reports could go to people who are not familiar with your jargon or vocabulary. This is why lately I can’t stop thinking about this scene from “The Internship.


In today’s market, we really have a wide choice upon the indicators we can get. Even though a lot of data is available, that doesn’t mean you should drown in a sea of indicators! Here are some recommendations I would like to put forward on communication effectiveness on social media.

  1. Focus on relative rather than absolute data
  2. Consider engagement as currency
  3. Reports are “Step 1″ for your next digital activity Read the full entry

Highlights from Social Media Week, Hamburg

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Social Media WeekBy @nialljudge

Niall works in the communication team of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and co-manages their social media accounts

In February, I was lucky enough to attend Social Media Week in Hamburg for three days. It’s a worldwide event that takes place twice a year in the spring and autumn for… funnily enough… a week at a time. It’s a coordinated week of events in 8 cities all over the world, with the most recent edition 17-21 February in Hamburg, Copenhagen, Milan, Barcelona, New York, Lagos, Tokyo and Bangalore.

There were close to 200 separate events, covering all manner of things such as Social Media Monitoring & Analytics; Legal Pitfalls in Social Media Marketing; the use of photos; Political reporting and campaigning; Social Media in the European Parliament elections, and so on. You can see the full schedule including videos for some of the events. Several are in English but most are in German so you can also use the opportunity to brush up on your Deutsch!

Read the full entry

From web analytics to digital analytics: getting the full picture of our digital communication’s effectiveness

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By Angelo Strano

Dagmara Swistek and I recently attended the Master Class Web Analytics organized by the European Parliament run by the Digital analytics expert Nicolas Malo. It was a useful training session and also very refreshing to see an inter-institutional community of EU web analytics experts come together to share their experiences and learn from each other. I guess we shall leverage more on this kind of cooperation in an era where the buzz about big data is spreading more and more every day, though we need to fully grasp what it really means to us and our corporate digital communication.

Here’s a few highlights and key insights of the day:

  • The concept of Web (-site) Analytics is shifting to Digital Analytics (i.e multi–device, multi-platform including particularly social media): if we don’t want to miss the big picture we need to analyse digital data collected through all interactive channels to better understand and serve our end-users
  • Core “behavioural “metrics (i.e. visits, page views, bounce % etc.) MUST be complemented by/interpreted with “attitudinal” metrics which tell us i.e.  why users visit or leave a page or section  and whether they were able to complete their task or not . This should be done with the help of surveys, usability tests, interviews, etc. since web stats alone will not tell the whole story
  • Competitive analysis is crucial to benchmark our performance against similar/comparable organisations. Some free tools are available on the web which can help us understand our metric trends and user paths against our peers i.e. governments, international organisations, etc.)
  • Organisations must choose their own analytics reporting model (i.e. centralised and decentralised approach) but nonetheless reports should be built around maximum 3-5 Key performance Indicators (KPI’s) and not a flood of metrics and data that have little or a very technical purpose and are difficult to read. Format and frequency of reporting should be based on end-users’ needs rather than “pushed” by all available information.

More on the current and future trends in digital analytics can be learned by visiting the Digital Analytics Association website.


Social media in 2013: our year in review

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By @marcoRecorder, @AmyJColgan, @PabloPerezA

Assessing our performances is key to understanding how we can improve. In this post we want to share with our readers about how the European Commission’s central social media accounts have developed – in terms of followership, engagement and the volume of  conversation we are now having across our social media platforms.


Follower numbers
Let’s have a look at what the European Commission achieved in 2013 in terms of social media followership of their central accounts.

Gathering intelligence from social media monitoring: it’s not always about being techy

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By @marcorecorder

Open your ears

It is a common misperception to think of social media as different from traditional media. I believe that the more communication technologies evolve the more we must learn to see social media as part of “all media.” However, it is true that some aspects of media monitoring require a different perspective when talking about social media and gathering intelligence.

Do you know what’s been said about you, and where?

In a recent blog post I advocated how audience segmentation (the process of dividing a broad target audience into more specific subgroups) is key to effective communication output (the way we communicate).

When I was asked to prepare a presentation on social media monitoring to gather intelligence I realized how this also applies to communication input (the way we gather information to then produce communication output).

Knowing where people are talking about you and your activities is crucial. We’re currently in an era of information overload and learning how to listen and extract the information which is useful for our communication strategy is not an easy task.

We tend to think that effective monitoring is about being techy or using the most advanced tools or the most elaborate algorithms. At the social media team in the European Commission we are often asked “How can I find influencers on topic X or Y” or “what tools can tell me exactly who to follow on a particular topic.” I’m afraid the answer is: there is no magical tool. Tools will help ease your workload but you should not forget the so-called “human touch.” No matter what monitoring platform you are using or monitoring project you’re setting up, you will always need some manual background research work.

Choose the appropriate monitoring technique

We can distinguish different types of monitoring activities on social media. These are mainly based on:

  • The amount of information that needs to be processed.
  • The duration of the event/topic at stake.

Roughly I could identify:

  • Continuous monitoring
  • One-off monitoring
  • Short-term project-based monitoring
  • Long-term project-based monitoring

Continuous monitoring

“Taking the temperature” of the social media interactions and shared content in relation to your activities is very important. Whether you do that through a corporate monitoring tool or via different platforms, every-day monitoring allows you to be reactive and keep close to the action. It is by monitoring the trends, the data and volumes of information on a daily basis that you will be able to understand when values are unusual (unusually high or unusually low) and to promptly react when needed.

One-off monitoring

This usually refers to monitoring activities which are done una tantum. They generally end with prompt reports and are used to assess the performance of specific activities. They are good to evaluate events such as conferences, debates, press briefings, campaigns etc…Was the event successful? If not, why? Can we do something to counterbalance? This type of monitoring should be used to answer these questions.

Short-term project-based monitoring

Short-term project-based monitoring can be set-up when a particular “opportunity window” opens (alteration of trend and detection of unusual values). For instance, if you are continuously monitoring discussions on social media about “finance”  you will be able to notice when significant amounts of discussions suddenly start revolving around related topics like legislation, transactions fees or regulation. If any such topics is of particular concern for you, it would be interesting to follow a procedure similar to what you can see below.


1. After identifying the issue (i.e. huge concern on social media about upcoming financial regulation) you should measure how far the issue has expanded on social media. This can be done by measuring reach, engagement, shares and retweets, likes etc…

2. Further ad hoc monitoring will allow you to identify influencers and to be able to understand the sentiment around the topic (positive, negative, neutral)

3. After that it is recommended to make a decision on how to engage on the topic with the right stakeholders and suggest a publishing/output or rebuttal strategy.

4. Once this is done, it is necessary to reassess the situation and report it back to the people in charge who will verify if the issue is over or continues.

5. If the issue continues, go back to step 1

If you make step 5 it means that your short-term project-based monitoring becomes long-term.

Long-term monitoring project

These are monitoring projects that are on-going and for which you cannot foresee an exact end date. It’s good to keep an eye on these projects regularly on long intervals or when timely events may lead to values alteration.

Of course there are cases that require the implementation of monitoring projects that go beyond what we have presented here. Nevertheless, whatever monitoring activity you think of setting up, it is important to consider:

  • Consistency

Stick to consistent measurement and reporting techniques. This is key to providing effective benchmarking.

  • Sustainability

Organise your monitoring activities according to the resources you have at your disposal. Although it is very important to monitor your presence on social media, it also requires considerable resource investment. Try to find a sustainable balance between your workload and time spent on social media monitoring.

  • Essentiality

With the help of social media monitoring tools, either expensive custom solutions or free online platforms, you will be able to gather enormous amounts of information. Think about who you are reporting this to and stick to what really matters. Information overload is your worst enemy.

Content Matters

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This blog post is part of a series on online content strategies developed in cooperation between the web team and web consultant Sue Davis.

We’ll look at key resources, the relationship between content strategy and other tasks like information architecture (IA) and some essential tools and processes. Read the full entry

Hootsuite vs. TweetDeck

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From the Owly Gallery

Did you know, Belgians organise one of the most bizarre contests? We judge the twitter of birds and call it a sport; finch sportto be exact. Prizes go to the bird that tweets a particular mating call the most times, makes the most beautiful tweet, etc. Although we won’t make it a contest, this is what you’ll find next. We’ll judge the two most popular Twitter apps which we already reviewed in our blog posts Tools Tuesday: Hootsuite & Hands On TweetDeck. Both of these apps offer great features and are used by millions of people. However which one is best suited to you is a personal choice and depends on several factors:


Hootsuitethe free version offers adequate features which allow you to start immediately. Yet for a small monthly fee you’ll get unlimited social profiles, enhanced analytics, access for 1 additional team member and more.

TweetDeck … it’s 100% free yet you can only have basic features, e.g. no analytics tools.

System Requirements

Hootsuite … because it’s a browser application, it’s accessible anytime & anywhere: just go to

TweetDeck … to get the most out of it you need to download TweetDeck and have Adobe Air installed on your computer. For this reason it can be a bit of a drain on system resources.

User Interface

Hootsuite … less intuitive than TweetDeck but you’ll get the hang of it pretty soon.

  • + your profiles are in tabs instead of in a single window which allows you to focus
  • + easy to drag & drop tabs where you want them and to save custom search columns
  • - tab limit of 10 columns

TweetDeckseems to be a bit more user friendly, clear and easy on the eyes.

  • + column based interface a.k.a. multi-column view: all profiles are viewed in 1 screen giving you more of an overview of what’s happening
  • + more freedom to personalise the look & feel
  • + not only audio but also visual notifications of updates
  • + custom URL-shortener, e.g.
  • + as many columns as you want
  • - you can move the columns only one space per click to where you want them

Photo taken from TweetDeck

Updating Multiple Social Networks

With either of these apps you can easily schedule updates for the major platforms like Twitter and Facebook. So how do they differ?

Hootsuite likes Facebook more.

  • + also supports professional Facebook pages
  • + shows you a preview before you update your Facebook wall so you’re sure it will look the same
  • + more open to other platforms than Twitter, e.g. WordPress
  • - you need to specify to which account or several accounts you want to send every update which means you spend more time clicking your mouse

TweetDeck … follows Twitter better.

  • - only personal Facebook profiles
  • - shows your Facebook updates without a preview of the link, only as you can read them on Twitter
  • + you can post to multiple accounts at once and the accounts you select stay active till you deselect them (be careful because updates can end up in the wrong account if you forget to deselect that account)

Accounts and Users

Hootsuite … only 5 accounts for free but it’s unlimited when you pay the fee.

  • + you can also collaborate with your team when you pay for the pro-version

TweetDeck … no limits on accounts but also no team collaboration.


Hootsuite … offers basic analytics tools for free and more in-depth ones for a fee.

TweetDeck … doesn’t provide you with the analytics tools to put you on the right track and report back.

Mobile devices

Hootsuite apps operate very smoothly on mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android).

  • + you can quickly open articles and videos on any type and speed of connection
  • + simple and easy to use interface

TweetDeck … has apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

  • – less stable and you’ll have trouble on a slow connection even when you calibrate its custom refresh rate


Hootsuite … is constantly developing new features which you can learn about at Hootsuite U.

TweetDeck … is owned by Twitter and more likely to guarantee similar care, e.g. Twitter Help Center.

However for the best support look to the people close to you. Many of your colleagues have encountered and resolved similar problems or had to deal with the same needs as you. Use their thoughts to make an informed decision. Please also feel free to comment on this blog, share your experiences, … tell us what works for you and why.

From the Owly Gallery


Tools Tuesday: Hootsuite

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‘HootSuite Screenshots’Mobile Apps

Hootsuite is a social media management, engagement and analytics tool. As it’s also a web-based tool it can sweep down from the cloud onto your desktop, smartphone or any other mobile device so you don’t have to install a software program first. I don’t think that I’d recommend it for someone who’s just tweeting or just Facebooking via one or two accounts. But if you’re using several accounts or, better yet, you have a team managing a bunch of different accounts, Hootsuite is pretty sweet.

What can Hootsuite do for you?

Hootsuite can let you and with a subscription also your team:

- manage your social media accounts

- gather analytics

- schedule status updates

- direct messsage

- track and receive messages

- track RSS/Atom feeds

- etc.

You can also use it for simple analytics reports (free) or to build your own more in-depth report (for a fee). Hootsuite seeks to be your comprehensive social media tool, minus video. If you’re going to use Hootsuite and you want to track video, set up a YouTube account and tweet or post your YouTube videos on Facebook via Hootsuite. Then combine your clickthrough analytics from Hootsuite with your YouTube Insights to see how popular your videos are and which audiences are viewing them.

The goals in using Hootsuite are:

To track and manage ALL of your social media accounts as an individual or as a team.

If you use Hootsuite, it’s best if you use it for everything from scheduling tweets to posting photos. This way your analytics are up to date. Links that you tweet from Hootsuite usually have an ‘owl’ in them which indicates that Hootsuite is tracking the links clickthroughs. There are also free phone apps that let you use Hootsuite from your mobile device, so utter immersion in the tool is possible.

How does Hootsuite work?

1. Create a Hootsuite account using your email address.

2. Add your twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare,, WordPress, Mixi (a Japanese social networking site), and/or MySpace profiles. You can add more accounts whenever you like.

3. Select which of your networks you wish to include in your Hootsuite dashboard. Each of these networks must be linked to a social network account that you have access to / are an administrator of, e.g. a particular Facebook fan page, your blog (or one of your blogs), a twitter account, etc.

4. Schedule an update.

5. Create an analytics report.

You are limited in what you can include an a free report – basically, a free report is a summary of your clickthroughs. To create a Hootsuite report:

- Select report type (choose from five options, only one of which is free)

- Choose profile (Twitter / Facebook / Google Analytics)

- Add report “modules” (Rollovers on the reports page provide at a glance descriptions)

- Select your email scheduling preferences and create a report.

6. Manage your networks: e.g. identify spammers to block, read comments, send tweets, post to Facebook or MySpace, upload images … generally engage via Hootesuite.

What does it cost?

Free / Basic subscription:

  • Free quick reports
  • 5 social profiles
  • 2 RSS/Atom feeds
  • ad supported: You’ll get targeted ‘promotional tweets’ in your twitter stream. (Don’t worry, only you can see them. Your followers will never see the promoted tweets unless you retweet.)

Pro (USD$5.00 a month)

  • Unlimted social profiles
  • 1 free team member
  • 1 free enhanced analytics report
  • Google analytics
  • Facebook Insights Integration
  • Opt out of ads
  • Archive tweets
  • unlimted RSS feeds
  • More here.

The Analytics point system  by Hootsuite: Hootesuite has a ‘point’ system which lets users purchase points. Points let you buy modules to include in your analytics report(s). For example, Hootsuite claims that users usually spend about 50 Analytics Points per analytics report. 50 Analytics Points are worth USD$50/month. If you buy 50 points, you can update your reports as much as you want during the month, and you will not be charged. Pro users automatically get 50 points per month.

Hootesuite allocates each free user a certain number of points, but I’ve only ever gotten 35 points without paying. Please let me know if your experience is different.

Analytics reports

‘HootSuite Screenshots’- Analytics

Detailed analytics offered by Hootsuite include:


  • compare up to 5 keywords (powered by Topsy) – you can compare over time or in a pie chart
  • track followers over time
  • track mentions by influencers
  • sentiment (not regularly accurate)


  • Everything you find in Facebook insights (likes, demographics of followers, page activity, likes by demographics, per-post metrics in tabular and graphical forms, etc.)

Team Analytics – If you have a team running several social media accounts, you can assign tweets to team members and track:

  • team activity (who posts what when and how often – general engagement of different team members)
  • team activity aggregated (overall, how active is your team? )
  • post details (see who posted what and how it was re-tweeted, shared, commented on, etc.)
  • comparison of post counts (graphs of the posts over time)

Clickthrough statistics

  • summary of your clickthroughs of links shared via your twitter profile
  • clicks by regions
  • referrers – lists of the most popular referrers for links shared via your twitter profile
  • the most popular links that you’ve shared
  • comparison of links sent by different twitter accounts that you manage
  • total clickthroughs per link (provided you shared the link via Hootsuite)

Google + analytics

  • Google + page follower count
  • number of posts on your Google + page
  • aggregated number of comments on your posts
  • number of +1 (shares) of your posts
  • aggregated re-shares of your posts


Hootsuite offers a pretty great ‘Hootsuite U‘ … as in ‘university’. This has a lot of  how-to videos and step-by-step instructions with images. You can even subscribe to receive new how-to updates by entering your email in the bar at the bottom of the page.

If you buy a Pro account, apparently you get even more support.

I like Hootsuite. It’s cheap, easy-to-use, and works well when you have to manage several accounts.

Photo taken from ‘HootSuite Screenshots’

Tutorial by Hootsuite (short video on YouTube)



Tools Tuesday: Topsy

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Topsy is a free analytics tool that you can use to track the impact of social media communications. It enables you to identify and quantify what keywords, terms and URLs are trending within the social web.

What can Topsy do for you?

>> Topsy allows you to search and compare up to 3 queries. A query can be a group of keywords, a group of domains, and/or a group of Twitter usernames.

>> Queries can be compared over time (a day, a week, two weeks, or a month).

>> Topsy also provides metrics comparing:

Influence – a measure of influence across the social web

Velocity – a measure of the speed at which a link’s popularity is increasing, independent of the link’s overall popularity

Peak period – the period that had the highest number of tweets over the past 24 hours

Momentum – a measure of the combined popularity of a link and the speed at which that popularity is increasing

*It’s necessary to use the search operators to get the most out of your search on Topsy.

Here’s a trend of the European Parliament and the European Commission (in English) along with the top trending links mentioning either one for the past month. Results shown include:
- Social analytic comparisons for keywords (European Parliament, European Commission)
- Social analytic comparisons for domains (Techcrunch, mashable)

The goals in using Topsy are:

>> To measure top trending links (what stories and pages on your site are trending)

>> Comparative analysis (which links are trending within your competitor’s sites)

>> Historical trends (compare historical trends for three queries)

>> To measure influence, velocity, momentum, and peak periods (defined above)

Yet Topsy also has some limitations:

>> It is not clear how some of Topsy’s comparative metrics (influence, velocity, momentum and peak) are determined.

>> Languages included in the ‘filter for language’ option are limited to the following options: All languages, English, Chinese, Korean, or Russian. If you enter a query and filter for ‘All languages’, the results in that language are returned (e.g. entering Union européenne finds French results when searches are filtered for ‘All languages’.)

How does Topsy work?

Anonymous Use

1. Go to Topsy’s website.

2. Enter a query (you can also enter an ‘Advanced query’ by clicking the appropriate link).

3. Review your query via the Web results, Tweets from Twitter, Photos, Videos, Google Plus, and Experts (news, think tanks, and registered consultants or academics).

4. Cross-search within the results to determine which multimedia results (web, photos, videos) are exchanged via Twitter or Google Plus.

5. Filter for language (English, Chinese – Mandarin or Cantonese, Korean, or Russian).

6. Filter for your preferred time, i.e. past hour, past day, past week, past month.

7. Create an email alert for your query (functions in a manner similar to Google Alerts) or subscribe to results via an RSS feed.

8. If desired, share your results on Twitter.

Customise your own Social Module

1. Go to and log in (upper right).

2. Choose the module (Sitesense, which posts ads at the bottom or you module, is not to be used on EU websites).

3. Identify what you want to track for, i.e. what key words in social media conversations you wish to follow.

4. Customise the background of your Social Module.

5. Copy and paste the code of your Social Module to the website of your choice.

*Topsy offers free APIs for up to 7000 queries a day. If you wish to include more than 7000 in your API, email Topsy’s business development department at