Understanding your audience

Digital | 29 October 2013 |

In the Office of Communications we constantly monitor audience interaction with the University via our website, via social media, in response to mail outs and with attendance at events in Tokyo.

For the University’s online presence, we have been promoting the use of Google Analytics across the entire UNU and sharing the data with everyone interested. We have also been sharing social media statistics for our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

With respect to mail-outs and attendance at events here in Tokyo (but also in New York and Accra this year) we use our constituent management system (CIVICRM) to collate data on successful email deliveries, tracked-opens and click-throughs. We are also able to monitor both registration for and attendance at events, including the professional background of the participants.

However, recently we have been experimenting with a new innovative method of collecting data about our online audience. In the past when we implemented online surveys of visitors to UNU websites, we asked the visitors to complete a series of questions using tool like Survey Monkey or Lime Survey. But in the last couple of months, we have been implementing a survey on Our World (the place we do all our experimental work before applying it to the University website) where we only ask one question for a limited period of time, one to two weeks.

The result has been amazingly successful. For example, a few years ago we implemented a survey of Our World with about twenty questions and we had about 180 respondents. We were pretty happy with that number. However, this time around for each single question we have been getting over a 1,000 responses on Our World. Meanwhile, on the University website the response varies from 2,000 to nearly 4,000.

The data is great and really helps us to understand the Our World readership.

In this context, I want to share two figures with you. The first one shows that the gender balance for Our World is exactly 60% male and 40% female. Other key data is listed below:

  • 61% of readers are aged below 39.
  • 72% have a bachelor degree or above.
  • 61% prefer to read articles about science and technology.
  • 56% are interested in environmental issues.
  • 37% work in academia, research, education and training. The rest are spread across a range of professions including engineering, art, design, architecture and information technology.
Chart 1
Chart 1

The second figure includes some additional data drawn from Google Analytics but shows that:

  • 48% of Our World readers live in Japan.
  • Over 70% are visiting Our World for the first time, but close to 100,000 readers return regularly.
  • After reading an article, many readers feel that they understand issues better (48%) or learn something new (34%).
  • 74% are using a desktop computer, but mobiles and tablet users are growing fast.
  • Our readers are mainly Windows users, but the proportion of Macintosh users is high (29% if iOS is included).
Chart 2
Chart 2

So there you have it. The Our World audience is relatively young, well-educated, working in a broad range of professions, interested in environmental issues, particularly science and technology related topics.

As I mentioned above, we are doing a similar survey of visitors to the University website and we already suspect that the audience may be slightly different. This viewpoint is supported by data from Twitter about the followers for Our World and the UNU, where we see only 900 people follow both, from a total of 19,858 followers (via followerwonk.com).