World Statistics Day

The following blog post is written by Gareth Pryce.

World Statistics Day comes around once every 5 years and as the UK’s largest producer of official stats, it seemed only appropriate that we joined in the celebration!

There are many other Government departments who are involved with various statistical outputs so this was a good opportunity to work across the Government Statistical Service and invite our colleagues to join with us in the celebrations.

What did we do?

After some initial research, it was decided that the content would take the form of a Twitter quiz. Possible answers would take the format of Twitter gallery images, with the collapsed tweet view concealing the answers. A similar approach had been adopted previously by DFID and had drawn much interest.

When you click on a gallery image, the hidden area shows if the answer is correct.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.14.29

To coordinate the quiz across the Government Statistical Service (GSS), we contacted a number of departments including HESA, DEFRA, DFID, Ministry of Defence and BIS to name a few.

The content suggested to us formed the basis for 8 quiz questions with graphics produced by our design team.

And so the day began…

How did it go?

Engagement wasn’t instantly visible after each tweet, with Detail Expands the highest form of engagement given the nature of the content.

However as we began to tweet the questions, there were plenty of keen participants!


Most popular among the questions was this one from HESA – posted twice during the day.


Media Views and Detail Expands were top of the engagements – the more visible retweets and likes not so much. Always a good reminder not to take the performance of social content just by what you can see on the face.

Overall 5,200 engagements across stat facts and the quiz questions and a lot of positive feedback making this a successful collaboration, and thanks to all involved.

Despite these successes there are always things that we can improve on, particularly in the planning stages. Organising digital content across Government means that an effective sharing platform is needed.  We were limited somewhat by network issues meaning that we couldn’t share graphics as quickly as we’d like to have done with departments, and this meant some last minute changes that couldn’t be made due to resource issues so some of the graphics weren’t as impacting as they could have been. Trello is a great platform that we are using more and more at ONS for digital projects, but relies on making boards public to people if not all parties use the tool. Any suggestions for future would be welcome!

Want to do your own quiz?

One of the main reasons for the success of the quiz was that we identified a format that had been tested by another user and used that format to build upon.

Early contact with appropriate organisations was also key – many were so prompt to respond with good suggestions in the right format, making the whole collaboration successful.

The dimensions of the graphics were just as important – keeping to the recommended size whilst also allowing for the answer positioned at the top of the graphic to be hidden effectively when appearing in a person’s timeline.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 12.18.01

For the future?

Given the success seen in this approach, it’s definitely one we can look at again in the future.  Twitter themselves have now have the option of polls.




A simple A or B option poll that lasts 24 hours has it’s limitations, but certainly a good option to trial as an alternative to the Retweet for Yes, Like for No approach that has been seen in the past.

Facebook have also introduced Q&A functionality in recent times, though the audience there is much more targeted.  See our previous blog post on Digital Day and Storify detailing Retail Sales Q&A for more.

Overall, World Statistics Day was a positive day with plenty of engagement, and from a social point of view, World Statistics Day was definitely something worth celebrating!



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