Friday, April 16, 2010

The UK election - a measured perspective

Now that I'm getting into the swing of the UK election, I've been having a look at the three parties's websites and assess how they're doing. Rather than the usual analysis of how the sites look and function, which has already been done here, I thought I'd do a quick post trying to see what tracking exists, and look at their social media strategy.


On inspection of the websites tracking, using my Chrome extensions, it appears that all three are using Google Analytics, although none of them were using the the latest asynchronous version. Furthermore, there was no evidence of the code being tweaked. For the pages of the three sites that I visited, there was no evidence of any events being set up in Google Analytics, for example to track exit links, or people signing up to their email campaigns. There was also no sign of any custom variables being set when I carried out any significant actions (e.g. signing up for an email - I wasn't dedicated enough to this post to make any donations).

Social Media

The Labour website has a very basic set of social media links, pointing to just a Facebook page and their Twitter account.

The Conservative website has the most comprehensive set of links for its social media strategy, including ones to their Twitter account, Facebook fan page, YouTube Channel and iTunes podcast amongst others.

The Liberal Democrats website is more advanced than the Labour site in terms of its links, incorporating a YouTube channel link, but is not as comprehensive as the Conservatives.

However, just comparing what tools are used does not give an indication of how active their social media campaign is. We can have a snoop on how one element of their social media campaign is doing by looking at Twitalyzer (Super site by Mr Eric T Petersen - great review on its capabilities here) for the three parties.

The most noticeable chart here is the improving clout metric (the relative likelihood that the Twitter username will appear when searched for) which has been steadily rising, and is now rated at 80.7% for the last 30 days, indicating an increased presence in the last 30 days. The engagement metric (measuring the type of interaction the user has in Twitter by examining the ratio of people referenced by the user to the number of people referencing them) is 0%, and has registered no change over the last 30 days! This indicates that the account is referencing very few of the Twitterers who mention it - closer inspection of their account reveals that whilst they do reference others, a lot are the same account, and in no way match the RTs of their own account. The Tories (see next chart) suffer the same problem, although they have much higher Impact, Influence (similar to Clout, but looks at RTs and references) and Clout metrics. This indicates a higher number of followers (at currently c. 27k, nearly twice Labour's 15k), unique references and retweet rate amongst others.

Until yesterday, when the Liberal Democrat leader clearly won the leaders debate, the Liberal Democrats were very much in third place in this contest. Looking at their number of followers shows that whilst trailing the other two, the gap between them and Labour is very small.

Their Twitalyzer data shows a different picture, suggesting that their followers are more engaged than Labour's (although not as much as the Conservatives). On every metric bar Generosity (the share of tweets that retweet others) the Lib Dems trump Labour, suggesting their following are more likely to retweet and mention them than Labour's followers would them, and that they would be more likely to appear in a Twitter search. They manage a 0.5% engagement score, indicating they are doing a better job of talking to those that reference them.

Of course, all this references activity in the last 30 days - it is the next 30 days that are more important. However, looking at the trends and levels it would suggest that the Tories' larger number of Twitter followers are more engaged with them than their rival parties are, and that the Lib Dems and Labour are close, with the Lib Dems interacting better with their followers than the incumbent party. This then might have a bearing on future polls, and loosely corroborates the pre-debate polling suggesting a tentative Conservative lead. It also corroborates evidence that the Tories have a larger share of voters who are determined to vote and have made up their mind.

How these scores change in light of yesterday's debate and the events of the coming weeks are another matter, and one I hope to look at in the coming weeks. Let me know your thoughts on these numbers - what would you look at, and would you interpret the numbers differently?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chrome Analytics Extensions

I've been using Google's new browser for a while now and, as a Google Fan Boy, have fallen head over heels in love with it. Now that it incorporates extensions, Google's answer to Firefox's addons, the browser's really come into its own, and has convinced a lot of Firefox users to see the light. However, the volume of analytics extensions isn't as a large for Chrome as it is for Firefox. In fact, the addon I used to use with Firefox, Ghostery, doesn't exist for Chrome. I've done some hunting around to see what's out there for the discerning Chrome-using analyst, whether it be for monitoring tracking on other sites, or for helping you with your own sites.

BuiltWith Technology Profiler is a collection of easily-accessible stats for a site. Divided into a number of sections, the first (and most important!) is right at the top: "Analytics and Tracking". This lists the analytics providers to the website in question, with a bit of blurb as to what sort of information it would provide the site owner with - handy for those who use this tool from a non-analytics perspective. Other sections here are also of interests - widgets, detailing bolt-ons the site uses (for example Wordpress plugins); Aggregation functionality (RSS, Feedburner); and Document Information (the Meta information behind the site) amongst others. Whilst being quite wordy, the information is clearly laid out, and easy to get at. This extension then is great for people who want a quick overview of the tracking behind the site, and thus a good replacement for Ghostery.

META SEO Inspector is a bit harder on the eyes, but has a lot of helpful data, particularly from a site-owner's perspective. As its title suggests, it provides SEO information for a site, which it groups into four categories - information box, SEO Tools, Site Safety and Other. Within the information box, it begins with the Meta data, which spells out word for word the contents of the various categories. It also has sections on links for showing if canonical links have been specified for example, lists no-follow links, and then in the scripts section lists the various tracking codes, but without naming them. If a script contains multiple URLs in it these will all be listed, so it can get a bit messy if more than one tracking provider is being used. META SEO Inspector also has a SEO tools function which contains a list of a variety of tools each linking to their respective site with information on the site in question.

Chrome SEO promises to provide Google Analytics integration shortly, but for now concentrates on links, ranking and indexed pages, and is essentially a more compact version of the META SEO Inspector extension.

For me, the BuiltWith Technology Profiler provides the best information on the tracking on a site for now, managing to provide the information that Ghostery does for Firefox. That said, a slicker more informative version would be welcome.

Whilst looking for some extensions to compete with Ghostery, I came across the ClickyChrome extension, which is handy if you've got a Clicky analytics account (but not very if you haven't). Clicking on the icon brings up a mini-dashboard, with metrics around the number of visitors, actions, time, bounce rate and goals. The extension allows you to track more than one website, with two drop downs allowing you to choose your site, and the timeframe. The extension comes into its own when someone visits your site - being a real time tool, Clicky enables its extension icon to alert you if you have visitors in near real time, so you can open your account up and see what they're up to whilst they're still there!

This being a new(ish) browser with a frequent update schedule and dedicated coders, I wouldn't be surprised if the quantity and quality of analytics extensions increased over the coming months. I'll be keeping an eye out for new developments. If you use an extension for Chrome that I've left off here that you like (or know of an addon for Firefox that is so super-whizzy it'd tempt me back to the dark side), then please let me know in the comments.
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