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UK Universities Social
Media Benchmarking
Report 2016
Compare your university against the best, discover
which content gen...
2
Page 3	 Introduction
Page 5	 The Data
Page 6	 Key Takeaways
Page 7	 Top 10 UK Universities - Social Profile Comparison
P...
3
Back in 2006 “social media marketing” was a new term for a new
channel. Over the next few years, social media marketing ...
4
We have aggregated the research data using the latest and most-powerful social
media management software and displayed t...
5
The Top 10 Universities in this report were taken from the
Guardian League Table 2015. The data was then amassed and
ana...
6
Key Takeaways
Takeaway #1
Oxbridge dominate on
Social Profile
Oxbridge institutions dominate in terms
of number of Follo...
7
Top 10 UK Universities
- Social Profile Comparison
Followers Following Male % Female %
Avg Follower
Authority
Monthly
Fo...
8
Findings
Here’s a graph looking at the combined twitter chatter for all of the
Top 10 UK universities. Each spike is dri...
9
Cambridge University University of Oxford St Andrews University University of Surrey University of Bath
The following da...
10
Durham University Warwick University Imperial College London University of Exeter Lancaster University
Findings It’s cl...
11
US Universities have been using sophisticated social media management tools to
supercharge recruiting, manage online re...
12
Promoting a Diverse, industry-focused University
Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta prides itself on its
diverse...
13
Efficiently Marketing the University
Midwestern State University (MSU) is small in size but big
on value. MSU ensures t...
14
A clear understanding of how social media management
compliments and supports your business objectives will
help you ma...
15
This research was undertaken by;
It used to be enough to just observe social media. But with billions of
conversations ...
Please call; 0121 380 1010
email; enquiries@interactivesoftware.co.uk
or visit; interactivesoftware.co.uk/aes
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UK universities social media benchmarking report 2016

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This report examines how the top 10 UK universities are using social media channels to communicate and build engagement with students and other stakeholders.

The report was jointly produced by Interactive Software and Sysomos.

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UK universities social media benchmarking report 2016

  1. 1. UK Universities Social Media Benchmarking Report 2016 Compare your university against the best, discover which content generates most engagement and see how US Universities are using advanced social media techniques to rebrand, recruit and retain.
  2. 2. 2 Page 3 Introduction Page 5 The Data Page 6 Key Takeaways Page 7 Top 10 UK Universities - Social Profile Comparison Page 8 Twitter Chatter Key Topics Page 9-10 Twitter Content Driving Most Engagement Page 11 International Insights in Social Media Management Page 12 Case Study One: If you Tweet it, they will come Page 13 Case Study Two: MSU: Building a Strong Student Community Page 14 Social Media Management: Best Practices Page 15 Research Authors Contents CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW CLICK TO VIEW
  3. 3. 3 Back in 2006 “social media marketing” was a new term for a new channel. Over the next few years, social media marketing was the cool new kid on the block… but with everyone unsure of his agenda. The term social media suddenly cropped up on the CV of every Marketing professional and corporations ploughed large sums of money into the channel without really having a strategy. Thankfully, now, the savviest marketers no longer consider social media as a separate discipline. Rather, as with “digital marketing”, social media is just a set of tools or a channel that can be used as part of an integrated and holistic marketing campaign. But social media is not just any old channel. Its reach and potential are still staggering; Twitter has over 305 million monthly active users. Instagram over 300 million users. And then there’s the daddy of them all, Facebook, with 1.59 BILLION active monthly users. Independent research conducted by Ofcom shows just how far social media has permeated our daily lives, with 93% of 16-24 year olds having at least one social media profile. Research shows us that social media use is growing year on year. For marketers working in Higher Education, this provides us with a huge opportunity to engage and influence our target audience in new and effective ways as never before. Prospective students actively interact with institutions on social channels throughout their student journey, making it a key channel for marketing, recruitment and retention. Institutions are now dedicating serious time and resource into growing their social audiences, blending paid social with paid search efforts. But what works and what doesn’t? These statistics compel HE marketers to act. But what we also need are insights that show us how and when to act for maximum impact. Introduction
  4. 4. 4 We have aggregated the research data using the latest and most-powerful social media management software and displayed the information in a series of insights and takeaways which you can put into action straightaway, taking your social media student marketing to the next level. There’s also some great examples of how US Universities are using social media monitoring, and a best practice guide for you to apply straightaway. We hope you find the content useful and look forward to hearing about the opportunities you generate. That’s why we created the 2016 UK Higher Education Social Media Benchmarking Report: providing HE marketing professionals with data that allows you to benchmark your performance against the social media profile of the UK’s Top 10 Universities, as well as understanding what content generates most engagement / reach and when key peak activity spikes are. 4
  5. 5. 5 The Top 10 Universities in this report were taken from the Guardian League Table 2015. The data was then amassed and analysed using leading social media management tool Sysomos. This report will allow you to compare your institutions Social Media performance against the best UK Universities. The data used was taken from Twitter, as this is the platform that allows the most extensive data analysis. The findings provide considerable understanding on the “social profile” of these institutions, what content they share, which of this content receives most engagement (likes and retweets), when the spikes in activity are and the reasons underpinning this. The report begins with a takeaways section looking at key trends and insights across all 10 Universities. We hope you enjoy our work. The Data Top 10 UK Universities
  6. 6. 6 Key Takeaways Takeaway #1 Oxbridge dominate on Social Profile Oxbridge institutions dominate in terms of number of Followers and Monthly Follower Growth. However, it’s the Universities outside of the top two that have the higher Average Follower Authority, which is one indicator of an accomplished Alumni. Takeaway #2 Listen and Engage with A Level Results A Level Results are responsible for the main spike in Twitter chatter. Social listening tools should be used to monitor and respond to this chatter, engaging with prospective students and undiscovered segments to drive additional enquiries and conversions. Takeaway #3 Make your Content Strategic University rankings, key institution news and tapping into wider cultural events and trending hashtags generates the highest level of Tweet engagement. Measuring engagement with the content you share and identifying which topics and media formats (video, links, photos etc.) gain most traction is an important step in boosting the reach and success of your social media activity.
  7. 7. 7 Top 10 UK Universities - Social Profile Comparison Followers Following Male % Female % Avg Follower Authority Monthly Follower Growth Account Authority Cambridge @Cambridge_Uni 239,654 775 62 38 3 5,232 10 Oxford @UniofOxford 272,068 582 62 38 3.1 5,179 10 St Andrews @univofstandrews 26,216 478 52 48 3.5 381 8 Surrey @UniOfSurrey 38,222 1,335 53 47 3.4 662 9 Bath @UniofBath 44,351 602 57 43 3.4 648 9 Durham @durham_uni 26,927 1,988 49 51 3.3 474 9 Warwick @warwickuni 50,917 2,430 56 44 3.4 975 9 Imperial College @imperialcollege 43,642 2,855 63 37 3.4 805 9 Exeter @UniofExeter 42,647 8,016 49 51 3.5 635 9 Lancaster @LancasterUni 39,466 996 54 46 3.4 1,093 9 The Social Profile comparison table above lists Universities as they appear in the Guardian League Table 2015. As you would expect the Oxbridge institutions dominate in terms of Followers and Monthly Follower Growth, which is an average taken over the six months up until March 2016. Interestingly, it’s the Universities outside of the top two that have the higher Average Follower Authority, which could be an indicator of an accomplished Alumni. Being able to see a breakdown of your social audience allows a University to develop strategic discussions between, genders, age ranges and locations. Findings
  8. 8. 8 Findings Here’s a graph looking at the combined twitter chatter for all of the Top 10 UK universities. Each spike is driven by a major news event concerning one specific university. We can clearly see the main spike on August 13 which is driven by A Level Results Day, peaking at 3723 tweets that day. Other notable spikes include; Spike 1 – Kanye West speaks at Oxford Union Spike 2 – Oxford Cambridge Boat Race Spike 3 – Louise Richardson named first female Vice Chancellor at Oxford Spike 4 – David Cameron doing unspeakable things to a pig’s head at Oxford Spike 5 – Warwick student union bans an ex-Muslim from speaking, causing a freedom of speech argument Spike 6 – The Times Higher Education World University Rankings being published and universities talking about their performance Spike 7 – Various issues – protest against animal experiments at Cambridge (#boycottcambridge), news story about Oxford University accepting a donation from a Russian oligarch and Welsh rugby player Jamie Roberts making his debut for Cambridge University Spike 8 – Lancaster University exams delayed due to floods causing a power cut Being able to “listen” to this chatter and understand audiences allows a University to reach out and engage with prospective students as never before – congratulating the successful, providing advice to the disappointed and even offering places through clearing. Twitter Chatter Key Topics
  9. 9. 9 Cambridge University University of Oxford St Andrews University University of Surrey University of Bath The following data shows the Top 3 tweets and content that generated the most engagement for the UK’s Top 10 Universities for the 12 month period up to March 2016. Twitter Content Driving Most Engagement
  10. 10. 10 Durham University Warwick University Imperial College London University of Exeter Lancaster University Findings It’s clear from the tweet engagement data that content around University rankings and league table performance consistently generates the highest level of engagement. Following league table performance, the content that drives most engagement typically concerns key news events relative to each institution, such as a new Vice Chancellor or significant research findings – with existing students and staff compelled to share this content and extend its reach into new audiences. Content that taps into wider cultural events or trending hashtags, for example the #solareclipse, also performs well.
  11. 11. 11 US Universities have been using sophisticated social media management tools to supercharge recruiting, manage online reputation and gain clear student insights for some time. Powerful social listening software is now a central component in the marketing toolkit of US colleges fighting to compete in a noisy, saturated industry. There exists an opportunity for UK Universities to employ these tools to increase social media presence and impact conversion rates. Brand Management US Colleges and universities spend significant time and money building big brands and maintaining their reputation in order to attract new students every year. A key channel for managing reputation is what prospective students read and hear on social media. “Listening” to social media conversations empowers HE Marketing Professionals in the States to track everything that’s being said about their school across all social channels — both positive and negative. This real-time data enables universities to react quickly to news, rumours and conversations – managing or changing sentiment – or piggy-backing on good news stories for positive brand association. Student Experience So, how do we engage with Digital Natives with our school? Well, in the US social media is used to foster an environment in which students participate actively and in turn develop a sense of belonging - helping students make the transition into university culture more efficiently and successfully. Using social media to nurture connections between peers outside of the classroom early in their university life helps promote social interaction, lower barriers and serves as a strong starting point for entry level students. Universities in the States use social media to initially help form these embryonic relationships, then use the same social channels to encourage face-to-face interaction, which then builds meaningful and sustainable relationships. Recruitment Social media and technology have changed recruiting, students now research extensively before engaging with a university. US Colleges use social media management to understand what students are searching for so they can have answers ready. US schools “listen” to online conversations to help define the messages they need to focus on - financial aid is usually a hot topic. For example, if a social listening tool is recording a lot of “financial aid” mentions, the university will share content about the financial aid process, hold QA forums or host related events. Social media management tools also measure the success of a campaign by assessing students’ reaction to it. If engagement with a piece of content is high, this can be an indication it will encourage students to attend an open day or complete an enquiry form. US colleges meet and engage their audiences where they are — on social media. Social tools deliver the understanding schools need to build “youth” brands, provide better experiences and appeal to prospects. International Insights in Social Media Management
  12. 12. 12 Promoting a Diverse, industry-focused University Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta prides itself on its diverse student body and industry-focused academics. Its goals include “to become a national model for undergraduate education by demonstrating that students from all backgrounds can achieve academic and career success.” Using social media, GSU connects with future and current students, creating a sense of excitement about GSU that students can share, and encourages prospects to apply and applicants to enrol. Providing Support to a Diverse Student Body After seeing what other universities were doing with social media, GSU’s social media management goals included; • Tracking brand mentions accurately • Filling the applicant funnel • Supporting “at-risk” students by getting them help before they drop out • Improving student experience by using social media to answer questions and provide timely information Monitoring the Pulse of the Campus Previously GSU were using free tools with no way to weed out noise. Their first campaign with new social management software focused on making new applicants feel welcome. GSU asked newly-accepted applicants to tweet a picture of themselves with a GSU poster, encouraging these applicants to become students. They then followed-up on each of the tweets, linking students to the correct form to confirm their enrolment. Students are now most likely to use social media to try to get answers about campus questions. GSU’s new tools manage each of its Twitter accounts, workflows fire off questions on accommodation, applications or fees to the relevant department. Serving Students and building a Brand for the Future Recently, GSU brought in a new VP of Public Relations and Marketing who created a strategic communication plan focused on using social media tools and channels to promote the university’s brand, new scholarships, fellowships, research and more. Case Study One If you Tweet it, they will come.
  13. 13. 13 Efficiently Marketing the University Midwestern State University (MSU) is small in size but big on value. MSU ensures that every area of its operations makes efficient use of its resources. To help achieve this goal, the university’s Social Media Director, Matt Steimel, decided to explore tools to integrate social media with the university’s wider marketing campaigns. Engaging Prospective Students “MSU is now able to analyse prospective students’ decision-making process while choosing a university,” says Steimel. Social listening tools revealed to Steimel that students talked about MSU with their family and friends on social media, “so it seemed natural to reach out to students and their influencers who might not realise that MSU had a Twitter account,” says Steimel. The university also invites potential students with whom it has a social media relationship to attend orientation events where they can visit the campus and learn more about the university, “we’ve found this previously undiscovered group of students genuinely excited about the university,” says Steimel. Retaining current Students Monitoring common subjects gives the university an opportunity to answer pressing questions to individual students, while also broadcasting the answers to all who follow the social media accounts. Students tweet at the university’s accounts when there is a problem with their data such as a misspelled name. “Listening” allows the university to make corrections quickly, which makes existing students feel well-served. MSU has had so much success using social listening tools that it plans to expand use. The social media department has identified Twitter accounts that influence students on Twitter. The department focuses promotional efforts on these accounts and tracks the growth of mentions of an upcoming event. The number of students attending various university-run events has increased, which organisers attribute to social media outreach efforts. Case Study Two MSU: Building a Strong Student Community
  14. 14. 14 A clear understanding of how social media management compliments and supports your business objectives will help you make the transition from tactical to strategic, push to pull, annoy to engage. By incorporating the following best practice steps, your social media monitoring will become more strategic and effective; Conduct an audit to verify company readiness to integrate social media monitoring within overall business processes in order to ensure effective and sustainable deployment across the entire organization. Set clear, measurable social media goals that are aligned to core business objectives. Define KPI’s to track which will inform you whether you are meeting your social goals and wider business objectives. Provide leadership and develop structured teams and processes with clear strategic goals. Select social media monitoring tools based on your individual company’s strategy, market and segments. Dedicate resources (money, time, people with appropriate skills) and invest in internal training to support new SM technologies and raise awareness of company’s social media policy and practices. Train your team how to master the software and interpret the data, but how it fits into the wider marketing plan and why it has been selected to communicate with the target audience / segment. Organise processes and workflows to ensure rapid engagement with customers on social channels and to provide consistent brand experience as a part of wider customer service. Prepare company’s response plan, resources and procedures for managing possible social media crisis in accordance with the company’s core values and overall marketing and communication activities. View social data as a company strategic asset and understand the value of the data - how it can be monetised within your business setting. Social Media Management: Best Practices
  15. 15. 15 This research was undertaken by; It used to be enough to just observe social media. But with billions of conversations happening daily around your brand and audience, you need true intelligence and practical tools. Make better decisions based on actionable data gathered from sophisticated social listening tools. The true potential of social media captured and managed in a single platform. From insights to business results. Research without limitation, monitor and influence what your community is saying, and engage with people looking for what you’re selling. Sysomos use data science to bring together intelligent businesses and connected customers to deliver more personalised, relevant experiences. Don’t just listen. Understand. Monitor, analyse and gather insights that allow you to create better products and services. Interactive Software provide Student Recruitment Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that align your software requirements with your corporate goals and marketing objectives. Helping you hit targets, climb league tables and understand students. Build a consistent, strong “youth” brand that speaks to young people through tools and channels which create meaningful dialogues. Our partnership approach, developed through longstanding relationships with leading UK universities, allows productivity, creativity and immediate business benefit to thrive. Because we’ve mapped our implementation process to the student journey, you can be up and running in less than 6 weeks. Big Brands that cut through the noise, Targeted Multi-channel Marketing and clear Student Insights.
  16. 16. Please call; 0121 380 1010 email; enquiries@interactivesoftware.co.uk or visit; interactivesoftware.co.uk/aes

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