Social Strength #1
Social platforms provide a great way for marketers to measure engagement with audience via likes, favourites and re-tweets. I am sure social media metrics will feature in every Higher Ed marketing plan as a benchmark of success. Taken at face value the most popular university accounts at the time of writing are:
Is this a fair representation? You would expect institutions that feature more regularly in films and news to have more followers. You would expect larger universities to have more followers then smaller ones. You would expect followers to be made up largely of students and staff.
As marketers it is important to measure and benchmark but what does it mean without context? I have tried to put some context around social strength by looking at the social popularity in relation to size of the university. The size of the university is the total number of all students (undergraduate, post graduate and part-time) together with the total number of staff (academic, non-academic and atypical). This began to yield some interesting results.
There first thing to note is universities tend to have more Facebook likes then Twitter followers. I imagine it is largely due to the bigger audience size of Facebook compared to Twitter and perhaps the different characteristics of the audiences. something to look at another day...
Let’s have a look at how institutions compare with this new metric.
The X axis simply represents each of the 149 institutions measured. The trend line represents the average relationship (3.25) of staff and student size to Facebook likes.
Every dot below the line represents a university or HE college who has a lower relationship to the average. Every dot above the line represents an institution with above average Facebook likes.
It is not surprising that the two at the very top are Oxbridge, who’s respective Facebook following is in the millions for both institutions. There are some interesting inclusions looking at social strength this way. Smaller institutes such as Royal Veterinary College, Glasgow School of Art, Courtauld Institute and Rose Bruford College all punch virtually above their physical size.
The graph above shows radial graphs of Facebook likes and institution size. The bigger the blue area the lower the Facebook like to size ratio and the bigger the red area the greater Facebook likes relative to size. The points above are for a selection of institutions in London. This was a great chance to use the app plug-ins for Excel 2013 and a different way of looking at data.
It is interesting to see smaller institutions with a passionate audience can top the rankings, in particular several art institutions have a large number of followers compared to staff and student numbers.
Understanding relative size can highlight institutions with strongest social strength to use as case studies and best practice, equally it can highlight those that need to engage their audience more. It can also help shape KPIs that are appropriate and proportionate for the institution. This is a snapshot as of July 2015, I will continue to monitor the changing ratio over time.
A final note: What makes up a follower (an unscientific view)
This was a quick look at who makes up followers on Twitter by simply counting the number of followers where it was possible to determine which category they fit. I am not proposing this as absolute truth for each institution more a general stab.
 Would you? In a very unscientific approach I looked two unis with low follower numbers and counted types by category where it was possible to look at such information
 A note on rounding: Social Media scores rounded to nearest 100 or 1000, HESA staff & student data rounded to 5.