Mapping influence at ContentEd 2018

By Posted in - Content Strategy & ContentEd & Influence on June 26th, 2018 0 Comments

It might have been more than a week since ContentEd 2018 wrapped up, but I’m sure people are still buzzing with ideas for their institutions after the amazing two days we all had in London.

The conference was a great way to share ideas, plans, and past experiences with others involved in content strategy for the education sector. We saw this happen in real life at the networking events, and it took place online on the conference Slack channel and on the #ContentEd18 hashtag. And there was a lot of activity on the hashtag…

If you caught my session on influencer mapping on day one, you’ll know a little about how we can use visualisations of social media communities to provide insights into our audiences. So I thought it would be cool to see what an influence map of the #ContentEd18 conversation would look like.

An event like ContentEd – full of marketing, communications, and social media professionals – is bound to get people talking online. But who were the most vocal commenters at the conference? Who were people talking about most? What was driving the content strategy conversation this year?

I know those who attended the conference will be interested to see who was taking part in those conversations, so we’ve made an influence map for you to explore.

Here’s an example of a how these networks look with the names removed…

Influence map of ContentEd18, without name labels

When we add the names, these maps give us a snapshot of who was involved in online conversations at ContentEd 2018. We can see groups forming around certain topics, some popular individuals who have influence on the map, and some more unusual offshoots that you might not expect.

The size of a dot shows how well connected an account is to other well-connected accounts. The better and more numerous its connections, the bigger it appears in the map. More densely connected groups of accounts are coloured the same for ease of identification. The more interconnected the conversations are, the closer they come to the centre of the map. That’s why you’ll see accounts like the official ContentEd account or the conference chairs among the biggest and most connected account on the map.

The map is available as a PDF download if you want to examine it in more detail yourself (or if you want to see where you ended up on the map…)

The ContentEdLive account is a dominant influence on the map. They’re the ones running the event and curating some of the best tweets from the conference, so we’d expect to see them there.

Close-up of the central section of the ContentEd18 influencer map

Sometimes the map shows us which talks and sessions sparked people’s imaginations enough to generate online discussion – we can see Mike Petroff and Alex Ayling occupying places of influence in different parts of the map.

Forming communities

Each different coloured group of accounts usually has a slightly different set of topics that they’re likely to discuss, or other shared similarities (I’ve got this information in the data we gather to create these maps). These all take place within the overall ContentEd conversation, so of course they’re still focused on content strategy, but – for example – there’s a group of red circles that’s mostly made up of ContentEd delegates and speakers from the US (and, oddly, me).

The yellow group in the top right of the map is centred on Rich Prowse and Rachel Sandison, the chairs of the conference – a pair you’d expect to see in close proximity. Similarly, Emma Gilmartin and Dan Marrable of the University of Glasgow are close together at the top of the map, sharing space with their own university account.

Close-up of ContentEd18 influencer map - top of the map speakers

(I also want to point out Rosie Wowk from Pickle Jar, who, although she doesn’t have the largest circle on the map, is very close to the centre of everything – as you’d expect from the person who was running it all behind the scenes…)

It’s easy to see how the overall map is extremely interconnected, with lots of people having conversations with others from different disciplines and institutions – as you’d find at ContentEd in real life, too.

I created these maps as a fun way to look at the conversations taking place at the conference, but they have directly applicable uses for content strategy work, too – we can identify important online influencers to engage with, or assess our own impact on a particular topic. We can use it to understand more about a community we want to engage with, and find out what kind of content the community likes to share.

If you want to know more about this work you can read about our project with UCL or how we investigated research topics for SOAS. If you’d like a chat about how we might be able to help you look at other ways of assessing your institution’s influence and reputation, just get in touch. We’ll be happy to help.

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