This is Aaron Rester's blog:

Field Notes from the Digital Prairie

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tracking the Law School's Social Media

(cross-posted at The University of Chicago Law School's Electronic Projects Blog)

I recently spent some time immersed in Google Analytics, trying to track the effectiveness of some of the Law School's social media efforts. As these results may be of interest to colleagues at the University of Chicago and elsewhere, I thought I'd share the results here.

Goals
The goals of the Law School’s social media presence are:
  1. to increase engagement between the Law School with both current students and alumni, thereby strengthening their bond with the school;
  2. to increase engagement with prospective students, thereby increasing the chances that those students will choose to attend Chicago over one of our peer schools;
  3. and to increase awareness in the general public about the achievements of the Law School’s faculty, students, and alumni.
The primary method for achieving these goals is to distribute content from the Law School’s website through a highly dispersed network of “followers” and “fans,” and to allow those followers to not only consume our content but to spread it to their own friends/followers.

Tracking Method
My measurement for tracking the effectiveness of this method is to trace the amount of traffic driven to our website by these social media channels, as a means of indicating consumption of the content contained therein. I did this by creating segments based on referring URLs and examining the content consumed by the different segments. Of course, visits and pageviews are not perfect indicators of content consumption, but they are the best option that I could figure out how to measure using Google Analytics. It should be noted that the numbers below are based on sampled data rather than absolute numbers.

Facebook
  • The Law School currently has just over 2,000 fans on its Facebook page, an average of 450 of which are active on the page in a given month.
  • Between 10/1/09 and 10/01/10, Facebook sent nearly 8500 visitors to the Law School website (this does not include the number that it sent to the Faculty Blog [just over 350] or the Becker-Posner Blog [just over 4,000]).
  • Other than search engines and the University’s site, only Wikipedia and Leiter’s Law School Reports sent more visitors during that period.
  • 27% of visitors from Facebook had never before visited the Law School’s site. This means two things:
    • 1) over 2200 people who had never visited the Law School’s site before were brought there by Facebook, and
    • 2) the remaining 6300 visits were from people who engage with the Law School repeatedly.
  • 18,728 pageviews resulted from Facebook
    • 17% were views of the home page
    • 16% were views of “student” pages
    • 7% were views of “news” pages
    • 7% were views of “prospective” pages
    • 3% were views of “alumni” pages  
    • 2% were views of audio/video pages
Twitter
  • During the same 10/1/09-10/01/10 period, Twitter.com sent nearly 5,000 visitors to the Law School’s website; however, because of the many different ways people can access Twitter (third-party applications, etc.), it is likely that the actual minimum number sent from the Twitter platform is closer to 6,000, and the total could be as high as 10,000.
  • The Law School currently has over 3,500 followers on its primary account.
  • 19,013 pageviews resulted from Twitter.com
    • 22% were views of the homepage
    • 8% were views of “student” pages
    • 4% were views of “news” pages
    • 33% were views of “prospective” pages
    • 2% were views of “alumni” pages
    • 1% were views of audio/video pages
LinkedIn
  • During that same 10/1/09-10/01/10 period, while only 492 visitors came from our LinkedIn group, 40% of those were new visitors. This is important because we know that the vast majority of our interactions with LinkedIn users tend to be with alumni, so this stat potentially indicates that alumni who are not otherwise visiting the Law School’s site are engaging with the Law School there.
  • There are currently just over 1,300 members of our LinkedIn group.
  • 1,552 pageviews resulted from LinkedIn
    • 18% were views of the homepage
    • 6% were views of “student” pages
    • 18% were views of “news” pages
    • 4% were views of “prospective” pages
    • 4% were views of “alumni” pages
    • 4% were views of audio/video pages
The biggest surprise for me out of all of these results was the large percentage of "prospective" pageviews generated by Twitter; I really had no idea whether our Twitter feed was reaching prospective students or not, but it appears that they are indeed our largest and/or most engaged audience on Twitter.

So, what do you make of these numbers, and how do they compare to your own? Suggestions for ways to improve both the accuracy of these results and the effectiveness of our social media efforts are, of course, more than welcome. 

Update: One stat that I forgot to mention: all of those pageviews generated by our social media were equal to just 1% of our total pageviews for that time period, which seemed surprisingly low to me. However, visitors referred by social media spent approximately 33% more time per page than the average time per page, which indicates that while social media may not be driving massive amounts of traffic, it is driving people who are more likely to actually engage with our content.