V-cs’ so­cial me­dia si­lence ‘misses huge op­por­tu­nity’

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS -

Univer­sity lead­ers are miss­ing a huge op­por­tu­nity to act as “brand am­bas­sadors” and pro­mote their in­sti­tu­tions on so­cial me­dia, ac­cord­ing to a re­port.

The anal­y­sis of the on­line ac­tiv­ity of the UK’s top 10 uni­ver­si­ties finds that only one leader – Alice Gast, the pres­i­dent of Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don – has a Twit­ter ac­count.

The re­port, pub­lished by the me­dia in­tel­li­gence com­pany Melt­wa­ter, looks at the im­pact on news and so­cial me­dia of the UK’s top 10 uni­ver­si­ties, as de­fined by the Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion World Univer­sity Rank­ings 2016-17.

In­dus­try Re­port: Higher Ed­u­ca­tion finds that only one vice-chan­cel­lor and just one chan­cel­lor – Lemn Sis­say of the Univer­sity of Manch­ester – had Twit­ter ac­counts as of April this year.

Perri Robin­son, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for the UK and Ire­land at Melt­wa­ter, said that univer­sity lead­ers were “miss­ing a huge op­por­tu­nity to po­si­tion them­selves as brand am­bas­sadors and thought lead­ers”.

She added that vicechan­cel­lors and chan­cel­lors could be us­ing so­cial me­dia to pro­mote their in­sti­tu­tions’ re­search, fa­cil­i­ties, awards, grad­u­ates and cred­i­bil­ity. The plat­forms could also pro­vide a way to en­gage with alumni (who are po­ten­tial bene­fac­tors), Ms Robin­son con­tin­ued.

“Many of the younger uni­ver­si­ties do have ac­tive chan­cel­lors and vicechan­cel­lors on so­cial me­dia. We ex­pect other uni­ver­si­ties to fol­low suit,” she said.

The num­ber of posts on so­cial me­dia men­tion­ing the vice-chan­cel­lors of the top 10 uni­ver­si­ties dur­ing the pe­riod an­a­lysed var­ied hugely. Stu­art Croft, head of the Univer­sity of War­wick, got only six men­tions on so­cial me­dia be­tween Oc­to­ber 2016 and April 2017, com­pared with 384 for Michael Arthur, pres­i­dent and provost of Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don.

De­spite hav­ing a Twit­ter ac­count, Im­pe­rial’s Pro­fes­sor Gast gar­nered just 12 men­tions, the re­port adds.

The re­port also finds that uni­ver­si­ties have fallen vic­tim to “brand­jack­ing” on so­cial me­dia. This is when an in­di­vid­ual, or­gan­i­sa­tion or al­go­rithm uses a pop­u­lar brand on so­cial me­dia to push their own mes­sages or ad­verts.

Brand­jack­ers might use a univer­sity’s name in a tweet or In­sta­gram post that also con­tains links to YouTube videos about Kim Kar­dashian gos­sip and ho­tel ad­verts or to web­sites sell­ing car in­sur­ance, for ex­am­ple.

Of the in­sti­tu­tions fea­tured in the re­port, the Univer­sity of Ox­ford fell vic­tim to the most brand­jack­ing. Ms Robin­son said: “We es­ti­mate over 50,000 men­tions of Ox­ford Univer­sity were un­re­lated to the school.”

Holly Else

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