How important is it for Universities to connect with their current students, alumni, faculty, staff and prospective students on social media?

Rachel Vitale recently tweeted out to the class a Mashable article ranking top Social Media Savvy Universities by a study conducted by Sociagility, a social media consulting company, which got me interested in look at how well BC uses Social Media.  The study revealed the 25 highest ranked Universities in the US and the UK who use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube the best.  The results were determined by how well each university attracts people to their social media pages through likes, views, followers, user engagement and site visits.

The top 10 are:

  1. Harvard
  2. University of Pennsylvania
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  4. University of Michigan
  5. Stanford University
  6. University of California, Berkeley
  7. University of Oxford
  8. University of Sheffield
  9. University of Wisconsin, Madison
  10. University of Texas at Austin

BC didn’t make it into the top 10 but the majority of the top 10 are large, well-funded universities that attract large networks and a lot of popularity.  Harvard has more more than 1.6 million fans on Facebook and 107,000 followers on Twitter.  Harvard is really good at posting all different announcements and responses via their social media sites but I think BC has recently been doing a pretty good job too.

Boston College’s Facebook page has over 43,000 likes which is not anywhere close to Harvard’s number of fans but I BC’s page is updated everyday with fun facts about the school or new pictures taken of campus.  The page is also connected with BC organizations and clubs so fans can navigate through different pages and learn more about different events going on on-campus.

Boston College Athletics Facebook page posts status’ regularly and has links to photos, videos, team schedules and game tickets on their profile page.  The page has over 11,000 likes which is not as many as other schools but I definitely think that the page is updated often by the Sports Marketing Department which makes the site a good source of BC sports news.

So what can BC do in the future to improve their social media use and why is it so important that they do a better job?

I think that BC needs to go beyond status updates or quick facts to more interactive uses that foster more of a communication aspect with fans.  Like the 3M model we have been discussing in class it is important to not only use the Megaphone to throw ideas and thoughts out there but also to use the Magnet to bring things in and the Monitor to assess the conversation stirring.  I don’t know if BC should offer some more incentives for people to interact with them online or if naturally over time people will be more inclined to post and share with BC on Facebook but I think that’s the next step to be taken to increase the power of social media for BC.  I know that the BC bookstore offers contests through their Facebook page a lot and I have seen BC athletics offer up ticket packages for people who post pictures and stuff so I think people are willing to interact they just need to do it.

I also think that student created pages for BC have been hugely successful like the different class pages where anyone can post if they have extra tickets to games or events or the Roommate Finder page for people living on-campus Junior year is also very helpful for students to meet new people and to interact with BC.  I am also a huge fan of the Senior Week Facebook page that was created recently to announce all the events and tickets for Senior Week 2012.  They have run a Senior Week T-shirt contest which is great and have been adding activities almost daily to the week and really getting everyone really excited!

With all this said I do think that both Boston College and BC student sponsored social media are important for attracting more and more students to the school in the future.  Its a great promotional tool to sell the University on students who might have never thought about BC before or to recruit prospective athletes or artists to groups on-campus.  Universities using social media is very important and I hope BC is able to rise up in the rankings in the near future!


7 responses »

  1. Great post! I think BC does do a great job at using social media. However I think there are so many different Facebook and twitter pages that each page attracts different followers so it is not all combines. For twitter there is a BC sports page, but then there are seperate twitter accounts for each team. So there are people that follow the BC hockey team, but don’t follow the BC athletics page and vice versa. In addition Facebook has a ton of different pages connecting alumni to students. Whether it be BC connecting women alumni to current female business students, or a BC athletics Facebook page, or the Communications page etc. I think BC has a lot to offer, but there are so many different pages, and twitter accounts that BC’s following is so spread out so, everyone can’t connect with each other. I think current students can be pretty well connected, but still there is a gap between classes, CSOM and A&S, and even students and athletes. If BC could somehow connect all of their followers, I think they would generate a lot more clout.

    • megfrazier says:

      I think the fact that colleges and universities have so many pages and twitter handles is the exact reason why they have such a hard time in social media. Educational institutional are large, and have so many facets, so it is understandable that every office/team/club/department wants its own voice. Unfortunately, students are not going to follow them all and the departments that really need to get in touch with students are often the ones that students aren’t going to think to “like” or follow.

      What I think one way to solve this problem is for BC to take on a few hashtags. Like #BCbilling, #BCHousing #BCevents, things like this so that way no matter the department if there is a gathering they can use #BCevents and grab a larger audience. Universities are known for pummeling their students with emails and information, over saturating the internet with pages and twitter accounts doesn’t make it easier for students.

      I think if BC really took a pause and rethought a school social media initiative, it could shoot to the top.

  2. Cool post, Taylor! I personally love the simplicity of BC-run social media accounts. They may not do anything special, but there’s something about the BC Twitter account saying “Good Morning” to me everyday that I can’t resist. I agree that they aren’t using social media to its fullest extent, but I love the understated nature of it all. On the other hand, the BC class groups on Facebook are great! Because they are student-run, it probably doesn’t help our rankings, but they are so great at finding tickets or housing, like you pointed out.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Fun post! I wasn’t aware of the Mashable article ranking top Social Media Savvy Universities. I took a look at the article and found it very interesting. I think you made some great points explaining why BC, a small University compared to say Harvard, did not make the top 10 list. Although I am not sure our college could ever out rank any of the top 10 colleges listed above, I do agree that BC needs to go beyond status updates and quick facts to make more of a lasting impression among their student body and potential prospect students. Adding incentives for students to get more involved and interact online with one another is a good start. I think by looking at other big time schools that are well into social media, and studying how they use their Facebook and Twitter sites to attract students and be interactive with their current student body could be very beneficial for Boston College.

  4. This is really interesting because I feel like this is all relatively new and schools are still working out the best ways to use social media to build there school brand. Do they want to focus on academics, or athletics, or the student body, etc..? There are so many things about each school that I think it is difficult to find a direction to go. For sports news, should it be on facebook, or the schools athletic website? Does the school’s social media sites want to focus on content for current students, or to try and attract new students? The great thing about this is that there is limitless information that can be gathered to see how well things are working in social media and schools and conferences can bounce ideas off each other and use what works well and get rid of what isn’t working. The possibilities are endless and I think it will be fascinating to see how schools progress into determining their individual social media strategies.

  5. andyoreilly says:

    Great post! I had never given much thought to BC’s level of savviness online.

    I come from a small University in Ireland that only recently started its social media drive and we have 7,000 likes on the Facebook page and 4,000 following on Twitter. What I learned from my involvement with it was that the student body’s use of social media reflects that of the college. Twitter’s still building momentum in Ireland so it’s early days yet.

    For BC though, I’d be interested to see what percentage of students frequent social media sites and their level of involvement. Very interesting topic

  6. Awesome post Taylor! Although I’m 100% biased and feel like BC should have made that top 10 list (haha just kidding, but how cool would that be), I would like to see more of how exactly the rankings were calculated. In particular, I’m curious to see what metrics they used and if they accounted for some intangibles. For example, Harvard and MIT are two of the best universities in the world, with global recognition. Obviously this will give them a huge boost in followers/likes over a less well known school such as BC. Also, I’m curious to see if they considered the populations of the universities. Going by that number alone, BC will never have a change to score higher over the huge state universities. What if they measured it per person, taking into consideration the student population of university? Would the 10 top still remain as is? All of this is hypothetical of course but it makes you think.

    In terms of what BC does, I think the main @BostonCollege twitter handle does a great job addressing the general population and tweeting out lots of relevant news. I’d like to see a CSOM devoted Twitter account just to increase the presence of our business program. Business Week ranked the undergrad CSOM program as 9th this year I believe, and we should capitalize on this exposure via social media!

    I would like to see more of a coordinated social media effort for BC though. I see lots of various BC Twitter accounts, one for almost everything you can think of. I don’t know how realistic/idealistic it could be to arrange this among the various offices/organizations/students but to possibly consolidate these accounts and go for more of a quality > quantity approach. I’m not sure how these top 10 schools go about their social media approach but hopefully BC can eventually make it onto that list!

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