About Thomas Lancaster

My name is Dr. Thomas Lancaster, and I am a Associate Dean in Recruitment at Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My background is in the Computer Science discipline. My best known academic research relates to student plagiarism and contract cheating. Please browse around the blog and the links, and feel free to leave your thoughts.
Website: http://thomaslancaster.co.uk
Thomas Lancaster has written 122 articles so far, you can find them below.


Mirror This Tweet Style For Twitter Success In 2016

I’ve recently been presenting some of the methods that have improved my Twitter viewership in 2016.

In this post, I’m going to take a look at the tweets I’ve made so far in 2016 which have gained more than 2000 impressions (some substantially more). The number of impressions that each tweet has received are also shown.

I’ve also performed an analysis to compare these high-performing tweets against the 10 strategies identified to see how closely these match. The analysis is slightly rough, but the strategies and analysis are shown below (you can click on the image to view it at full size):

AnalysisOfHighPerformingTwitterTweets

Strategy #1: Use tweets with photos (or include other images)

Strategy #2: Mention influential people in tweets (so long as they will care enough to retweet)

Strategy #3: Mention companies who will want the publicity in tweets

Strategy #4: Use tweets to promote the agenda and events of the company that you work for

Strategy #5: Tweet positive comments relating to the achievements of others

Strategy #6: Engage with Twitter hashtags, or generate them when they don’t already exist

Strategy #7: Use multiple tweets on a related theme to build interest

Strategy #8: Retweet other people to help them increase their Twitter reach

Strategy #9: Attend (or organise) events and engage with them widely on Twitter

Strategy #10: Tweet interesting content on a regular basis

The classifications here are slightly subject to personal judgement. They do depend on knowing my wider tweets, something that would make this automating an analysis like this difficult. But, there are some trends that seem apparent.

All of my successful tweets have taken place in association with events, whether these are talks, marketing activities such as open days, conferences or awards. They’ve also all formed part of a series of tweets that I’ve made during those events, almost always referring to companies, individuals and hashtags.

Some of the strategies can’t be directly analysed in this way, such as retweeting. It’s also subjective to consider whether content is interesting and often this is independent to the more marketing style of tweets that generate the large number of impressions.

It was also interesting to see that not all of my successful tweets include a photo (but many do).

There are certainly lessons to learn here when tweeting to get results and I encourage you to take a close look at the Twitter marketing strategy that works best for you.

1000 Twitter Impressions Per Day In 2016 (Video Version)

I recently presented 10 strategies I use to encourage Twitter engagement.

I’ve provided more detail about these strategies in this video version, looking particularly at the tweets that have got me results in 2016 and the reasons behind this.

It’s really interesting to look back and see which strategies work – and which activities I did that are useful for other professional purposes, but not strictly for viewers.

Do take a look at the video and feed back any ideas to improve engagement in the comments section below.

1000 Twitter Impressions Per Day In 2016 – Use These Twitter Strategies To Get Your Tweets Noticed

Having an active and engaged Twitter audience is of increasing importance to academics looking to market themselves. As an academic whose work and influence spans multiple fields, ranging from promoting and marketing courses, helping students to develop contacts and gain employment, working with startup companies and promoting my research and media interests, my Twitter network covers several different types of people.

I’m now in the position where my tweets are consistently receiving an average of over 1000 impressions per day and, in many cases, substantially more impressions. I’ve analysed my successful tweets of 2016 and used these to identify the general strategies that have worked best for me.

I’m presenting the 2016 Twitter analysis in the form of a set of slides. These slides can be viewed on my SlideShare account. You can also see the slides embedded below.

 

Based on this analysis, I can recommend the following 10 strategies. They should be appropriate for academics, but also anyone looking to increase their exposure on Twitter.

Strategy #1: Use tweets with photos (or include other images)

Strategy #2: Mention influential people in tweets (so long as they will care enough to retweet)

Strategy #3: Mention companies who will want the publicity in tweets

Strategy #4: Use tweets to promote the agenda and events of the company that you work for

Strategy #5: Tweet positive comments relating to the achievements of others

Strategy #6: Engage with Twitter hashtags, or generate them when they don’t already exist

Strategy #7: Use multiple tweets on a related theme to build interest

Strategy #8: Retweet other people to help them increase their Twitter reach

Strategy #9: Attend (or organise) events and engage with them widely on Twitter

Strategy #10: Tweet interesting content on a regular basis

Marketing in a professional manner on social media should be a key part of how all academics and students operate. By looking at these strategies and identifying how they apply to you, it should be possible to easily extend your Twitter reach.

Analysing A JISC Supporting Technology Startup Project For Potential

With the world of data that surrounds us (both big data and smaller data), there’s a lot of information available to help students and entrepreneurs make smart decisions.

I’ve posted on the blog before about the students that I’m working with to add gamification ideas to programming learning. This all forms part of the JISC Supporting Technology Startup Projects contest. Here, I’ve analysed what made a winning entry in that contest in 2015.

I thought it would be interesting to compare how closely our competition entry for eduLevel matches the winning trends suggested by the data from 2015 (and yes, in future years, it may be useful to do this before putting the entry forward).

How Well Does eduLevel Match The 2015 Trends?

Strengths Of The Entry

  1. Word count of the marketing copyThis runs to 676 words, which is on the longer side. However, two of the winning four entries from 2015 were also long (at 672 and 514 words respectively) and generally the longer entries do well. The instructions about what to include also included more components in 2016 than in 2015.
  2. Large and identified team. The team consists of five people (four students plus me) and larger teams were clearly favoured in 2015. One winning team had four members and another team had five members. I believe that the staff and student partnership here is also a strength.
  3. Employability aspects to the project. Programming is a key area for jobs and this work is supporting students towards employment.
  4. Mobile aspect to the project. The eduLevel software is being developed to run on a desktop or a mobile device This can be accessed however is preferred by individual learners.
  5. Key words used. Students, their skills and associated universities are all key to this work. These are words that featured frequently in the winning entries.

Possible Negatives of the Entry

  1. Video length. The video pitch is only 2 minutes 37 seconds, shorter than the videos for any of the winning entries in 2015. The belief putting the video together is that people would prefer to watch shorter videos, but that may have been misguided.
  2. Discussion of collaboration. The potential for eduLevel to encourage collaboration, as students try and set challenges and gain awards, was mentioned several times in the video and copy. But, out of three projects that focused on collaboration in 2015, none were funded. Thankfully here, collaboration is a benefit, but not the main purpose.

Overall though, the strengths look to outweigh the possible negatives and it’s hoped that the industrial support behind eduLevel will also be looked at as a strength.

The Future Of eduLevel

It is certainly true that eduLevel will move forward in some form regardless of the result of the competition.

BCUHackeduLevelIt will be instructive to see how closely the results in 2016 match the patterns that were established in 2015. The field is bigger and more competitive, with 22 entries and the expectaton that five of these will be funded.

You can find out more about the plans for eduLevel and adding gamification to programing learning here.

Here’s How To Win The JISC Supporting Technology Startup Competition (With Infographic)

I’m currently involved with a JISC Supporting Technology Startup Project, aimed at improving the ways in which students learn computer programming.

The idea behind the JISC competition is a strong one, involving taking existing technologies that support education and putting these through a robust startup and development programme so that they can benefit from large scale trials. Teams submit both a video and written pitch about their technology. The successful teams receive financial backing to move their ideas forward.

I’m working with a team of students as partners.  I enjoy collaborating in this way, as it matches well with my teaching and learning ethos and the overall direction in which I feel higher education should be moving – a win, win.

This isn’t the first year that JISC has run the Supporting Technology Startup Projects competition. I’ve analysed the competition entrants from 2015 to see if I can identify what look like fundable trends. Clearly, this isn’t a complete solution, as it does not have the details of the full pitches from the interview process, but it does raise some interesting ideas.

The results are shown in the infographic (click the graphic to view it at full size).

JISC Supporting Technology Startup Projects 2015

The sample size is relatively small, and unfortunately the data isn’t there to identify which teams were invited to interview (a process from which the winners were selected), but it’s interesting to see that the number of votes doesn’t seem to have mattered too much. One winning team gained only 72 votes, under the usual target of 250 votes that were requested.

The 2016 competition has many more entries and what looks like a stronger field overall, so I suspect that the voting threshold will be important. But, the question exists if the same areas still be considered of importance and be judged successful.

All of the winning projects from 2015 are interesting. The range of ideas there are diverse, including a project that focuses on electronics and computer hardware. There is no clear indication of whether staff or students team fair better, or if there are any benefits to partnerships (my personal belief is that there are).

Some quick notes about data collection. Out of the 12 entries in 2015, one of the unsucessful entries has also since hidden the video pitch, which slightly reduced the sample size for this aspect, but I don’t believe that this has changed the results. I have also only processed the written pitch in detail. If any additional information was included only in the video pitch this hasn’t been seen.

Some projects mentioned that they had access to a team of developers, but as these people were not named or included as official participants, I have assumed that these were essentially developers for hire. They have not been included in the team size analysis.

There is a lot more potential for further analysis to determine what makes a winning video pitch, as well as how closely the video pitches and written pitches are aligned.

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