Q&A on #digitalday

Today, ONS published a few ‘big ticket’ bits of content on the internet and e-commerce:

This always goes down well on social media (despite Ofcom’s Communications Market Report coming out this morning, which was news to us). So we picked some interesting facts and posted them all morning with some influential people kindly sharing our content around, helping #digitalday trend for a short time.

To give you an idea of the engagement of the different bits, below are the Twitter stats for today’s content. It’s quite healthy in places.

As an aside, the engagement we saw today, whilst good, pales into insignificance next to the success of Monday’s Commonwealth Games content, both on Twitter and even more so on Facebook. See the last item on the Twitter stats below.

Anyway, the crescendo for us today was a Q&A on Facebook at lunchtime (see screengrab below if you have trouble accessing the link), which went down well. We’ve found Q&As generally unpredictable in terms of attendance and participation. We’ve had some successful sessions on Twitter but our first session on Facebook didn’t exactly set the world alight. I think we learnt some lessons though – we need third parties to help spread the message, and we need to invite users that we see talking about the content on the day, to join the Q&A. Both of these helped improve things this time, as did the fact that internet stats have a broad appeal.

Having said that, I’m keen to continue to improve what we offer, so I invited feedback from the 71 who signed up to participate. Overall Facebook is a funny one for us. Engagement is increasing, but it’s a long way behind the success of Twitter where our content (in its current execution) is more suited. I’m not sure who I heard it from, but I like the metaphor that Twitter is a cocktail party and Facebook is a house party, albeit a house party with neater Q&A functionality and long form copy but a place people like to keep for personal interaction, not talk about worky content.

We debated whether today’s Q&A should be webinar or hangout (I’m not convinced the format is quite right plus it’s a bigger barrier to participation) and we’re also looking at Reddit’s AMA.

Q&As are something we’ll continue to tinker with at ONS but should be reserved for subjects where participation is likely to be high. Or should they? Should we make a regular fixture of Q&As for all of our content, regardless of whether it’s niche or mainstream?

Andrew Clark


Tweet Activity analytics for ONS


Our statisticians behind today's internet... - Office for National Statistics

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