Building Strong Connections: #citylis Social Media 2015 Engagement in Review

With 2015 reaching its end I’d like to share some data on the social media engagement around the Library and Information Science Postgraduate Programme at City University London.

It must be noted that there are several blogs and online resources by #citylis students and staff, as well as other hashtags corresponding to different #citylis modules, that would also give interesting insights and express the active online engagement around the programme.

In this case I am merely  focusing on this blog and the #citylis hashtag, which is the main hashtag labelling tweets relevant to the programme.


The #citylis blog

The first post on this blog was published on 15th April 2015. The blog’s purpose is to provide a platform for quick, open dissemination of the activity around the programme, and to provide a space where students and alumni can practice their public engagement skills, widen their networks and enhance their professional digital footprint. Since that first entry we have posted 85 posts (including this one), with 29 posts authored by #citylis students, and 9 by alumni.

We all know blog statistics are far from reliable and often the devil is in the details. However, they do provide some indication of any engagement around what’s published. We must always bear in mind that not all activity may be measured, and what is sometimes measured may not mean what we think it means. However, if there is no activity at all, there is no signal to measure, and if there is a measured signal, we often can learn something from it.

I have embbeded below a screenshot from the latest statistics from the #citylis blog. Though it is only slightly disappointing to see there’s only been 2 (!) views of the blog’s pages (our About page), it is good to see that the blog posts are indeed being clicked on.


Visitor statistics of the #citylis blog as of 18/12/2015 at 09.57.36 AM GMT

Visitor statistics of the #citylis blog as of 18/12/2015 at 09.57.36 AM GMT


The numbers above will mean different things depending on who’s reading. If you’ve got a blog and you follow your stats you may be able to compare and judge. Considering this resource did not exist before May 2015, and the limited resources we have to do online engagement, in my opinion it is a very positive thing to have some indication that the information and work published here is receiving some attention. Now, which content on the blog received the most attention?

Apart from the home page, these have been the top 15 most popular posts so far:


1. #citylis Guest Views: Why the Information Profession Needs Library Carpentry
2. Don’t Go to Library School: You Won’t Learn Anything Useful
3. #citylis Student Perspectives: Natasha Suri on Rehumanising Data
4. Are the Digital Humanities and Library & Information Science the Same Thing?
5. #citylis Student Perspectives: Thomas Ash on the British Library Labs Symposium 2015
6. #citylis Student Perspectives: Vashti Turner on Makerspaces
7. On Not Going To Library School 
8. #citylis Student Perspectives: Neil Barclay on Working in a Prison Library 
9. #citymash: Library and Information Science as Fluid Practice
10. Applying to Study Library and Information Science #cpd25APPLIS
11. #citylis Student Perspectives: James Atkinson on Studying Library Science and Working at the Library
12. #citylis Student Perspectives: Nancy Beckett-Jones: Books & Bodies: Musings after a Visit to Highgate Cemetery East
13. #citylis Focus on Alumni: City University London MSc Information Science 1970-1 Reunion 
14. Albert’s Imagination and the Significance of Information
15. #citylis Student Perspectives: Hannah Howrie on Chartership: “Progress comes in waves”


Whenever it is possible it is interesting as well to see where visits are coming from. Twitter’s shortener ( remains the main referrer to the blog, which indicates that when blog posts are shared on Twitter they do get more views:


Top Referrals Visits 221
(direct) 112
google 99 9 5 5 5


#citylis on Twitter

As in previous years, Twitter was a main feature of the online engagement of the programe, and the #citylis hashtag featured activity by staff, full-time and part-time students. This means that some students would have started and/or finished the course in the previous year, or in September this year, meaning some have changed status from students to alumni in 2015 (they graduated!). The hashtag was also used by members of the public, with a big prominence of professionals in the library and information sector, institutional accounts and academics and students from other institutions.

The chart below shows a summary of the #citylis activity collected in the 2015 archive:


Number of unique users 1692
Number of links 5378
Number of RTs 4575
Number of Tweets 12350
Unique tweets 10645
First Tweet in Archive 18/01/2015 21:39:38
Last Tweet in Archive 18/12/2015 09:15:09
In Reply Ids 965
In Reply @s 659


It should be noted that approximately half of the tweets tagged with #citylis contained links, and that more than 10% of the activity was composed of replies, indicating interaction between users.

The 2015 archive allows us to chart/visualise who the top 10 tweeters using #citylis were in 2015. Not surprisingly, users who have been using the hashtag for longer made the top 10:


#citylis top tweeters 2015 at 2015-12-18 at 09.59.54

#citylis top tweeters 2015 at 2015-12-18 at 09.59.54


The top 100 users list following the top 10 above includes mostly #citylis staff, alumni, City Library staff, #citylis students that started the course in 2015, and colleagues from other areas of City University London, as well as institutions such as the British Library, CILIP, Sue Hill Recruitment, etc.

If one wanted a visual indication of the reach and intensity of the connections and relationships encouraged by the Library and Information Science Postgraduate Programme at City through its #citylis hashtag, this screenshot of an interactive visualisation of the 2015 #citylis archive might provide a degree of insight:

#citylis 2015 mentions visualised with TAGSExplorer. Screenshot: 18/12/15 at 11.34.13 AM GMT.

#citylis 2015 mentions visualised with TAGSExplorer. Screenshot: 18/12/15 at 11.34.13 AM GMT.


There is still skepticism about the cost-effectiveness of social media engagement. The benefits will not always be measurable, and the ‘conversion’ into pre-determined offline targets may take longer than some are willing to wait. For #citylis, 2015 has been a successful year investing in the active development of sustainable professional relationships. #citylis alumni and colleagues from other institutions remain engaging actively online because the community has value and offers many direct and indirect benefits.

There is much more to say about this, but time is short and the holidays are about to start. Please let me finish by thanking everyone engaged with #citylis, online and offline, throughout 2015, and with you a merry Christmas and a very happy, succesful, new year 2016.

Archive and visualisations created with Martin Hawksey’s TAGS. You can search the #citylis 2015 archive here (be patient while it loads; it requires considerable bandwidth).

Find out more about postgraduate study in Library and Information Science at #citylis, meet alumni, current students and staff on our next open evening on Wednesday 17 February 2016. Register here.

If you are a current #citylis student,  alumni or Library and Information professional and would like to contribute a post, please contact Dr Ernesto Priego.

For current and future Library and Information Science news, opportunities and events follow the #citylis blog on Twitter @citylis.

About Ernesto Priego

A lecturer at City, University of London. My research interests include digital humanities, library and information science, human computer interaction design, comics scholarship, scholarly communications, open access, open data and open educational resources.
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