UPDATE: We’ve updated the rankings to include both PeerIndex and Klout scores, which changes the picture somewhat. We’re tracking the new numbers here.
Stop Press: Just been informed by PeerIndex that some accounts – including that of the overall winner, the University of York – are estimated based on the data they currently have, so may change over the coming week. So check back here to see if the lead changes!
As we’ve said before, the UK higher education sector is in a massive state of change right now. Whilst faculties are busy welcoming the latest intake of freshers, the marketing and communications teams are already focused on recruiting next year’s students – a task that is likely to be made exponentially more challenging following the Government’s changes to how these places will be funded. Amongst the top UK institutions – the 39 that make up the Russell and 1994 Groups – the big fight will be over those who get better A-Level results than two As and one B (AAB). And with 16-24 year olds being the greatest users of social networking, what better battleground than social media is there for this to play out?
To begin to analyse this, we need to start with how the top UK universities are performing right now. And whilst Twitter may not be the only platform with which to engage the graduates of tomorrow (in fact, it may be less important than Facebook or YouTube according to Google ad planning data), it does provide us with a bellwether with which to compare the relative engagement of some of our leading institutions.
To analyse the performance of Russell Group and 1994 Group universities on Twitter, we have created a ranking using PeerIndex which evaluates how effective a Twitter account is at engaging and influencing people. The full breakdown is included below, but here are some key findings and observations:
- All of the 39 universities analysed hold a centralised Twitter account of some kind. The only exception is the University of Manchester, whose main account appears to be from the admissions department.
- Collectively, the Russell Group set hold a clear lead with an average PeerIndex score of 38 compared to the 29 of their 1994 Group counterparts
- However, the overall winner is the University of York with a score of 61, a 1994 Group member (take a look at their social media page – directly accessible from the home page – for a great example of promoting multiple accounts)
- University College London and Oxford University hold joint honours amongst the Russell Group members
- Over a third of the 39 universities analysed do not include links to their social media accounts on the home, about or contact pages of their website.
- There is a positive correlation (0.29) between the number of social media channels promoted on a university’s web site and their ranking in this analysis
Of course, there are some limitations with this approach. As a comparative indicator for a single channel, it may be useful, but I wouldn’t recommend setting your KPIs by it! For that, a more detailed analysis that combines three things is required:
- Channel multiplicity – Twitter may or may not be a good proxy for the rest of a university’s performance and profile in social media.
- Audience preferences – there is no point being at the top of a Twitter ranking if the people you are trying to reach are more active on Facebook
- Institutional objectives – PeerIndex does a reasonable job of gauging your activity, audience and authority, but it applies equal importance to all three and may not even consider indicators of performance that are more important to your organisation.
If you’d like to talk more about your ranking or how you can get a more comprehensive set of comparative metrics, we’d love to hear from you.