These are just some of the findings from the Q1 2013 research we conducted.
For the second time this year, we have taken an extensive look at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and iTunes U, and evaluated the presence of Swiss universities on those channels.* Each university can download its detailed report on their private landing page.
As highlighted in the previous blog post, every Swiss university and most of the universities of applied sciences have at least one Twitter account by now. Most are present on Facebook as well, as you can see in this list of official Facebook pages.
We are excited to give you some additional insight into what’s been happening on Facebook and Twitter in this past quarter below. For the first time we have taken a closer look at Facebook posts and evaluated which posts were the most successful in terms of likes, comments, and shares.
Facebook community: Full Speed Ahead for Some
A quick glance at the number of Facebook likes of official pages reveals some impressive developments in the last quarter. Two universities made a huge leap and expanded their fan base significantly.
HSG multiplied its Facebook likes by eight, and is now totaling 7,600 likes. UNILI, Liechtenstein’s university that is also participating in our program, doubled its follower base to 2,500. These increases were not accidental. Both institutions have taken measures to increase that number in the last quarter. HSG’s social media officer, Katja Wenk, pointed out that while she is definitely very active on the university’s Facebook page and posting regularly, a lot of growth came from targeted Facebook campaigns.
UNILI’s head of communications, Herwig Dämon, also ran Facebook campaigns with paid ads that appeared on pages of selected Facebook users. The ad only showed up on the page of a user who met a certain demographic criteria and already had a friend who liked the university’s official page. In addition, UNILI ran ads for specific programs that would take users directly to the program’s website.
UNILI also applied other methods to increase the Facebook community:
- Internal information sessions: Explaining social media activities to the internal audience increases awareness of the channels. Employees can then spread the word beyond the campus. UNILI takes advantage of the employee and student newsletters, banners, and the university’s website to promote its social media channels. This is also a big part of the work day for HSG’s Katja Wenk, who spends a large amount of her time educating university employees, mostly upon their individual requests.
- Introduction of channels to (new) students: UNILI directs new students to the school’s social media channels with the help of the admissions office and the international relations office. With the new semester starting any day now, it’s an ideal time to promote your school’s social media presence. Check last week’s blog post to learn about 10 ways to engage students during back to school season.
- Integrated approach: Social media is part of an institution’s overall communications strategy. Using multiple channels when communicating an event, spreading news, or engaging with the audience is key. UNILI has started to do this more often in the last quarter, for example by tweeting about an event, writing a news story about it on the website and featuring posts on Facebook with pictures and soundbites from the happening.
We expect a lot going on for the next quarter, with many new students flooding the universities’ campuses and looking for information and ways to engage with their schools.
Facebook Posts: We Like Visuals
We evaluated every program participant’s Facebook activity in July to find out which posts created the most interest in their community. Generally, posts with a picture got the most attention. Flip through the slideshow below to see the most liked, commented, and shared posts. Can you detect a pattern?
The kind of posts that received the most feedback are very different. In some cases a picture of the campus motivated people to like it, as seen in the case of ZHAW, PHZH, and UNIFR, in other cases interviews with university employees or presidents were liked most, as seen on the pages of UNIGE, UZH, WSL, and FFHS.
Twitter: One Tweet a Day
On average, universities sent 70 tweets in the second quarter of 2012, compared to 56 tweets in the first quarter. This makes an average of 5 tweets per week, about one per working day.
.ETH and EPFL had the biggest reach on Twitter in Q2 2012. Twitter reach is calculated by counting the amount of Twitter users who have potentially seen a tweet that was talking about that university, therefore looking at how far the tweet traveled. We have only taken into account the tweets that include the official Twitter handles.
Here is an overview of the universities’ official accounts and their Twitter reach for Q2 2012:
* This also includes numbers for universities of applied sciences. Our research is limited to the institutions participating in the program however. Depending on the structure and nature of the institutions, they either participate as a whole (like BFH or HSLU) or as sub schools (e.g. most of the sub schools of the university of applied sciences in Zurich participate, such as the HWZ or ZHAW).
We are well into 2012, which means brand new numbers about Swiss academia and their social media presence. Those of you participating in the program have already received the quarterly reports about official and unofficial presence. In this blog post we first present a short overview about official presence during the first quarter of 2012, then give detailed insight into Twitter activity. Many universities and universities of applied sciences set up official Twitter accounts in the past 12 months. We were curious about how much those groups are tweeting and what their potential reach is. Read on to find out.
Official Social Media Presence Q1/2012: EHL Shakes it up on Facebook
The last quarter of 2011 was quite eventful, with three institutions setting up an official Facebook page and four an official Twitter account. The new figures for social media presence don’t reveal any major shifts in the first quarter of 2012. While no new accounts were created, there have certainly been increases in likes, check-ins, and other metrics.
A quick look at Facebook likes on official pages shows that EHL and EPFL are still leading, but EHL has passed EPFL for the first time. Newcomers HSG, UZH, and FHNW, who have set up profiles in the last quarter of 2011, have taken Facebook by storm, doubling their likes or more since we last checked them at the end of 2011. HSG, for example is already tied with UNIBAS, who joined Facebook in 2009 and is a Facebook pioneer among Swiss academia.
For a list of all official Facebook pages found for program participants, visit this page with a list of links.
No new Twitter accounts have showed up in this first quarter of 2012, but the channel has certainly become a little bit louder. As of February 2012, yet another program participant is chirping in the Twitter sphere: The university of applied sciences ZHAW has started tweeting (they quietly set up their account in the last quarter of 2011).
Take a look at this list of official Twitter accounts, found for program participants.
Prominently placing links to official channels on the institution homepage takes visitors directly to those pages and makes sure that official pages are easily identified. Half of the participating institutions link to their official social media channels on their homepage. Along with their newly established presence on Facebook and Twitter ( at the end of 2011), UZH has now joined the majority of institutions and prominently features links to their official presence on their homepage.
To get an overview of who else is linking to official presence on their homepage, which institutions have an official Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, or Linkedin page, take a look a this list.
Twitter Insights for Q1/2012
At this point, every Swiss university and most universities of applied sciences have at least one official Twitter account. We thought that was a good reason to take a deeper dive into the numbers and learn more about how Swiss academia is using Twitter. We took a look at each peer group, checked the number of tweets they generated in the first quarter of 2012, how many new followers they gained, and what their potential reach was.
Swiss Universities: Federal Institutes Take the Lead
Among all Swiss universities, the two federal institutes clearly stand out with their high numbers of followers. Accounts in English and German for ETH, and English and French for EPFL allow them to target their messages to specific audiences. EPFL was the most active institution on Twitter and generated 188 tweets in the first quarter of 2012, followed by UNIBE with 100 tweets, ETH with 98, and HSG with 89.
Does activity on Twitter have an influence on number of followers, in the sense that the more you tweet, the more followers you get? This hypothesis may have its limitations (it is difficult to prove causality, for one, even if there is a correlation), but let’s assume for a second that it is true. In that case, we could divide the number of new followers by the number of tweets during that time and use that ratio as an indicator for the success of Twitter activity. We did this for all official Twitter accounts as you can see in the chart below. UNIL has the highest follower per tweet ratio with 17 new followers per tweet in the first quarter of 2012. ETH received nine new followers for every tweet they generated. Of course, you should take this with a grain of salt. Other factors such as the content of the tweets, the time they are sent, and the way you engage with your followers play an important role in acquiring new followers, but it’s interesting to look at these numbers every now and then.
Twitter followers are very valuable. Depending on their own follower base, a retweet or mention by a follower can reach hundreds or even thousands of people. “Twitter reach” is the magic word and shows the potential audience on Twitter.
What is Twitter reach? The reach of a certain brand (in our case the Twitter handles) is a measure of the impression the brand is making online (in our case only on Twitter): how far it’s moved across the Web and how many eyes, ears, and mouths are seeing, hearing, and talking about it (Source: 10 Key Awareness Metrics to Track by Amber Naslund)
We estimated Twitter reach for Swiss universities and found once again, that the federal institutes are the frontrunners with a Twitter follower reach of 327,000 (EPFL) and 260,000 (ETH) in March and April 2012.
Universities of Applied Sciences: HSLU Tweets the Most
EHL and HSLU were the first two in this peer group to join Twitter in Spring 2009 and are the most followed universities of applied sciences, as shown earlier. HSLU was also the most active institution in the first quarter of 2012, followed by BFH who started tweeting in Summer of 2011.*
HSLU did not have the highest follower per tweet ratio in this quarter, however. That belonged to ZHAW with four new followers per tweet in the last quarter. The institution, who joined Twitter in the last quarter of 2011, sent its first tweet on February 10, 2012 and gained around 50 followers in the first quarter of 2012.
Tweets, retweets, and mentions helped universities of applied sciences expand their social media audience in March and April 2012. HWZ had a potential reach of almost 89,000 followers on Twitter, for example, while HSLU had almost 55,000.
Realizing the Potential of Twitter Reach
The first quarter of 2012 may not have brought a whole lot of new presence, but looking at the increase of likes and followers shows us that institutions are active on social media and are continuously expanding their fan base. In this blog post, we highlighted reach on Twitter to illustrate one of the key benefits of social media. The potential reach a larger audience on Twitter is only limited by the social graph of your established audience. Retweets by followers, for example, have the potential to be seen by many more people than just the followers of that institution. For those who are interested in strengthening relationships with the community, listen to our past webinar with Georgy Cohen, who gives general advice on how to engage with your community, but also how to reach out to press through Twitter.
* Our research for universities of applied sciences is limited to the universities participating in the program. Depending on the structure and nature of the institutions, they either participate as a whole (like BFH or HSLU) or as sub schools (e.g. most of the sub schools of the university of applied sciences in Zurich participate, such as the HWZ or ZHAW).
In this second installment of the December survey results, we look at the reasons why Swiss academia is using social media, how they are using it, what barriers exist, and if and how impact is measured. Check out last week’s post if you haven’t already.
Testing the waters
Swiss institutions of higher education have really come up to speed with regard to their social media efforts. But how comfortable are they using the new tools? According to our survey, 17% of institutions indicated that they are very familiar with social media and use it extensively, but most institutions are still just testing the waters, which is still a great step.
Most institutions, namely 72%, say that they are somewhat familiar and are trying out the tools, but not aggressively utilizing them on a regular basis.
Content distribution is king
The survey results indicate that one of the main reasons why institutions of higher education in Switzerland use social media is to distribute content, news, research results, and event information. Listening to what others say on social media is another important aspect that institutions take advantage of. The illustration below shows other uses of social media.
Quick tip for program participants: Consult our monthly Radian6 reports to find all the mentions of your institution, identify influencers, and see what content was successful in capturing attention (they can be found on your private landing page).
We have stressed in the past how important it is to measure the success of your social media activity. Swiss academia definitely recognizes the importance of social media monitoring: Sixty-seven percent measure the success of the tools they use.
But those polled also realize that it is not necessarily easy to measure success: Ninety percent say that it is difficult to measure the return of investment. All institutions who responded focus on simple measurements like counting friends, likes, members, and followers.
Knock down the barriers
Every communications manager has faced barriers to using social media successfully and many are probably still facing them.
What are the barriers institutions face for having a formal social media presence or putting more effort into the practice? We have noticed that only a few institutions have allocated additional budget to social media or plan to do that in the near future. The lack of resources is the biggest barrier: Ninety percent are facing this challenge at their organization. Fifty-three percent don’t have the knowledge and awareness to have a formal presence or put more effort into social media.
Not all obstacles can be overcome, but identifying the reasons why social media is such a powerful tool is a step in the right direction. Seventy-four percent of respondents agree that social media tools have a great potential for achieving important goals in their institution and these tools have provided support for a whole range of objectives.
We also asked if the fact other institutions are active on Facebook, Twitter, and other media influences decisions on whether or not to join the club. Forty-two percent disagree with that statement.
Not surprisingly (but good to hear), is that all respondents agree to some extent that they would like to use social media more at their institution. We will continue to keep you updated on the state of social media at Swiss institutions of higher education and encourage you to check in regularly next week when we’ll be welcoming participants for our second social media study tour here in San Francisco. We will have a fresh blog post ready every day as we visit Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Facebook, Twitter, and many other important players in social media.
In December 2011, we asked the communications department of every Swiss institution of higher education how they are integrating social media into their communications strategy. Almost all Swiss universities and a large number of universities of applied sciences gave us their feedback, and results of that survey are presented below and in a follow-up blog post next week. A comparison with a similar survey conducted in 2010 shows that social media has clearly become an important element of communication efforts within academia. In July 2010, for example, 21% of survey respondents agreed that social media was a priority at their institutions. Eighteen months later, 42% deemed social media a priority.
Business as usual
Survey respondents include individuals with titles such as Head of Communications, Communications Manager, Social Media Specialist, and other positions. Most respondents manage a personal social media account and/or an account for their institution. Only 5% indicate that they manage no social media accounts.
As we have observed before, a high number of participating institutions have an official presence on social media. According to our recent survey, 79% of respondents indicate that their organization has an official presence coordinated by university employees. Sixteen percent are in the midst of establishing official social media accounts and only 5% have no official presence at this point.
Social media managers on the rise
Social media savvy communicators should consider checking the job boards of Swiss universities in the upcoming months. Forty-two percent of the respondents plan to hire a social media manager in the next 12 months, and 27% of already have.
Even though comparing our survey results shows that social media has become more of a priority in the last few months, only 10% of respondents report that their institutions have actually shifted money from traditional communication channels to these new channels in the last 12 months. Forty-two percent have no intentions to allocate any additional budget to social media in the near future, although an impressive 36% do plan to move some budget to social media.
Making do with in-house teams
Given that social media tools are relatively new in the communications arsenal (Facebook pages only launched in November 2007), we were curious to know whether institutions are confident enough to tackle social media with in-house personnel, or whether the rely on outside help. The majority (67%) use existing human resources and 33% consult external parties to support them with social media.
Asked how much planning goes into the use of social media, 11% said that it is very much planned and 44% said that they mostly plan it, but some happens spontaneously. Thirty-three percent tend to have a more spontaneous approach with some planning, and 11% report that they are very spontaneous when it comes to social media.
Strategy, policy, and guidelines in the works
The institutions surveyed do see the need for a strategy as well as policies and guidelines for the use of social media. Forty-seven percent are currently working on a strategy while 58% are working on guidelines and policies. Thirty-seven percent already have policies and guidelines in place and 42% have a strategy ready.
Looking more closely at our quarterly reports, we have noticed that many institutions have departments that are very active on social media. In most institutions, the use of social media is mostly controlled by a specific unit (e.g. communications), but individual departments have some freedom. Sixteen percent of respondents say that their institution has a coordinating committee or group that controls all social media efforts.
Podcasts and Google+ are next
The four most used social media tools in Swiss academia are currently Facebook (90%), Twitter (83%), YouTube (67%), and blogs (56%).
Asked what tools survey respondents want to implement in the near future, podcasts, Google+, and YouTube were among the most named.
For an exclusive insight into potential barriers to social media, the main reasons why academic institutions invest in new tools, and how institutions can measure the impact of social media, check back next week when we post the rest of the survey results.
You might have been able to avoid them and get away with it but eventually you will have to back your social media efforts with hard numbers. Sooner or later someone is going to ask for them. So beat them to it!
Start small and establish a routine
If you are managing social media for your organization it is pretty likely you have an overall idea of the health of your accounts. But if you start looking at data over a period of time, you will be able to see trends, which are hard to see on a day-to-day basis, as well as anticipate reactions to different type of posts.
Personally, I had an aha! moment when I analyzed the engagement on our Facebook page and realized that what our audience liked best were photos and then videos. This simple insight made me rethink how I present content. It’s ok to keep distributing news about our organization but not ok to just share a link and some text. Instead, I have been trying to use images and videos more whenever possible. I would have never made this realization without taking a second look at our Facebook insights.
Set up a simple excel file and keep track of your followers, likes, reactions to posts (likes, RT, replies, mentions). Ideally, you will do this weekly but at least monthly.
Share! If you don’t communicate it, you didn’t do it
I had a boss that would always say: “If you don’t communicate, you didn’t do it.” Find a recurring event in your organization (team meeting, weekly reports, weekly emails) that you can use to share your metrics. I share our statistics on a weekly basis during our crew meeting and try to highlight posts that worked the best, among other things. At my previous job at LinkedIn, I would compile statistics related to user acquisition and report to the executive team in a weekly email that went out every Thursday at 4pm. Share insights and your interpretation of the data that can be easily reused by others (graphs are key!) A sophisticated excel file that is hard to understand will go unnoticed. KEEP IT SIMPLE. You don’t have to share everything you collect. Rather, select some key metrics to share that make sense in the context of your organization.
Sharing this kind of information will do two important things: force you to stay on top of your statistics and educate others in your organization about what you are doing.
Find the right tools
There are more tools out there that you can use. A lot of them are free or available for a small monthly fee.
Decide first what is it you want to track. This will make it easier to find the right tools. You might also decide on some new indicators once your start using these tools but set your goals before diving into the ocean of tools available. For example, if your organization has just built a new library, it might be interesting to keep track of check-ins (provided you have a Facebook place or Foursquare location) and mentions. Or if your admissions office seeks to enroll more graduate students, keep track of your Facebook likes user demographics. You can always just focus on what are known as “vanity metrics” such as followers, RT, replies, mentions, and likes.
Facebook Insights: Need I say more? Facebook might know everything about us but at least we can benefit and get great stats from their Facebook page insights. Get into the weekly/monthly habit of downloading them. I have analyzed 6-12 months at a time and it ain’t fun. You will get really good with Excel.
AllFacebook stats: These guys are based in Germany and will send you a weekly email with your like growth on Facebook. I have not used their full service but really like getting their weekly emails.
Twittercounter: As we all know, trying to get historical information about your Twitter account can be hard. This little tool makes it a lot easier plus you can track your competitors’ account as well. You have the options to download the data to excel and create some graphs. However, to obtain 3 month and 6 months figures you need to pay a $15 monthly fee.
Google Analytics: I have said it before and I will say it again: Get access to your analytics to see if your social media efforts are resulting in more traffic. Become friends with your webmaster and take the opportunity to learn about his/her goals for the year. You might be able to help.
YouTube Analytics: All Google products will provide you with great insights. My favorite is the “audience retention” metric which shows your video’s ability to retain audience through its playback. It’s a great way to learn what length works best or at what moments retention fell. Share these periodically with the person in your team who creates videos.
LinkedIn Company page Analytics: While I don’t analyze these, I do keep track of followers and share with my team any new followers that could be of interest to them. Unfortunately, no analytics are offered for groups. More of a reason to get a hold of your Google Analytics and see what kind of referal traffic comes from LinkedIn for example.
Timely.is: Staci Baird, social media manager at Stanford’s School of Engineering made us aware of this tool during the Fall 2011 Study Tour. Timely will schedule your tweets to the time your audience appears to be more engaged—the tool will require some time first to determine this. In addition, it keeps track of the performance of your tweets. You also get a nice weekly report in your inbox.
Crowdbooster: Another one of my favorites, which I use to get quick weekly stats. It will also give you some recommendations about when to tweet or post on Facebook. In fact, I have found this feature very useful for Facebook as it allows you to pick the thumbnail and exact link description, which sometimes is hard to control on Facebook.
Social Media Presence Reports: We are already doing some of the hard work for you. You can cheat your way through 2011 and just use these to show traction and progress. Download the appendices with the excel files if you want to refine them further. And if you notice something odd, let us know.
Radian6 reports: If you have not taken a look at these, download your report now from this website. These reports will provide you with graphs and complete list of mentions, share of voice, and more.
Other fun tools
- Tweet stats: Get fast facts about your twitter accounts
- Know your followers: Know your twitter followers including location, interests, and more.
Set your priorities and start today
The most important principle to keep in mind is to first decide on what you are going to track, set up a simple excel with several worksheets to store statistics over time, and force yourself to share this information with your team on a regular basis. Establishing simple milestones and deadlines, will not only force you to keep an eye on your accounts but will also help you be more effective and efficient, and more importantly educate others about your efforts and achievements.
Mashable had nice post “5 Essential Spreadsheets for Social Media Analytics” on available tools that offer spreadsheets, which you can then manipulate to your own needs.
Social Media Examiner’s post listing 13 tools to help you manage social media