St Helens, Sheffield and Barnstaple all risers in Digital Influence Index

The updated and improved Digital Influence Index now includes Twitter, Facebook and Instagram data. This means it more accurately reflects the Digital Influence of over 1300 UK Towns and Cities. We have found some interesting winners and losers in the index this week.

This week’s highlights – who’s moving up?

Several towns across the country are performing particularly well this month:

  • St Helens has risen 44 places from 199 to 155
  • Sheffield now ranks in 8th place following a climb of two places
  • Barnstaple rose 33 spots to 126

Rank Place Change
2Nottingham +8
3Edinburgh +3
4Bristol +1
5Manchester -1
6Leeds +1
7Glasgow -5
8Cheltenham +15
10York +1
data generated: 17th Jan 2019

What is the Digital Influence Index?

The Digital Influence Index ranks 1,300 towns and cities in the UK, taking into account audience size, message volume and engagement that occurs across social media networks from a total of 150,000  high street business locations across the UK. Measuring daily activity gives Maybe* information on current retail and digital trends.


  • The Merseyside town has reversed a 25 place drop last year to climb 44 places in May 2018. With only 52% of local businesses active on social media, St Helens has huge potential to rise even further up the Digital Influence Index with the support of #StHelensHour and the excellent St HelensUnlimited.
  • Recent shop closures and Marks and Spencer announcement of their move to a nearby retail park could have caused spirits to fall but according to St Helens Star the local council is committed to developing a bustling town centre. Cllr Barrie Grunewald said “… a thriving town centre is an absolute priority, and work is already ongoing behind the scenes to ensure our town grows and develops into one that can rival the best and instil pride among local people.”
  • Clandaw Childrens’ Boutique recently opened in St Helens and have made a great start on  Facebook and Instagram. The boutique shares special offers and competitions along with wonderful images.


  • The number of Sheffield retailers active on Digital has increased a sizeable 12.7% from 361 to 407 since April 2017.
  • Sheffield fashion retailers embraced ‘Style Sheffield’ in May to showcase the city centre’s fantastic range of independent and high street stores, promoting Sheffield city centre as a destination for style and fashion.
  • Sheffafter5 encouraged people to share news of the fashion event with Instagram frames: a simple but effective way to spread their news.


  • The North Devon town fell 41 places last year, but has recovered and climbed 33 places from to 159 to126 in May.
  • 23 independent businesses in Barnstaple are active on social media.
  • Barnstaple’s famous Pannier Market may have been built in 1855 (with a market in the town since Saxon times) but they are up to date on Facebook. Frequent posts highlighting their stalls keeps their 2,000 followers aware of the market.

And who’s moving down?

Of course, each week there are some towns that move down as well. Here are this week’s noteworthy changes and why:

  • Grantham, Burnley and Stevenage have slipped down the Digital Influence Index. Grantham has fallen 32 places to 193, Burnley 36 places to 194 and Stevenage has dropped 30 places to 164.
  • A more in depth look at the Place Report for both Grantham and Burnley reveals that only 46% of local businesses are active on social media against higher ranking towns of 60%.

Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO and founder of Maybe* who compiled the Index, said

‘We see a clear link between digital activity and physical footfall. Shoppers increasingly start their journey online. Every town and city in the UK is a sum of its digital parts. From what we see it’s key that businesses become more pro active on social media. That is frequently the start of their digital journey.’

Collect today’s Digital Influence Index of 1300 towns. Buy your town report to discover what drives the ranking in your town.

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