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  • Top 10 of Social Media in HE

    - Social media are ‘in’. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms for communication and knowledge sharing have gained enormous popularity. But how do universities in Europe respond to this development? ScienceGuide conducted research and created a Top 10 list of HE of the best in social media and presents three prestigious universities that lose out in the race for Twitter, Facebook and co.

    From 2011 on, ScienceGuide will offer you a new English language service presenting you with news from stakeholders in science and higher education from all over Europe. We select highly qualitative live feeds from social media and bring them together with thorough journalistic analyses.

    Would you like to become part of our network for knowledge sharing? Get in touch with us via TopTien@scienceguide.nl .

    As a first preview, we now present you with the results of the research we conducted among almost 2.000 universities from all over Europe. How does your university score? How do the Netherlands perform as a whole? What countries and institutions lead in implementing social media? Who falls behind?

    A Silent Revolution

    Over the past few years, a silent revolution has taken place in the ways universities communicate with their students and the outside world. 336.890 people are currently following live feeds from 390 university twitter channels. At the same time, Facebook gained popularity with 1.475.255 members gathering in 598 official university Facebook groups.

    UK universities are by far outperforming other countries in communicating via social media. More than 60% of all university twitter followers are connected to UK institutions. They also account for 42,4% of all Facebook members. The University of Oxford dominates both Twitter and Facebook and is growing at a great velocity of around 2.000 members every month.

    Despite some effort by Dutch universities to catch up with this trend, none of them manage to place in our Top 10. Taking the country as a whole, the Netherlands only places 7th Europe-wide. An outstanding phenomenon here is that Dutch universities experience difficulties promoting their Facebook pages properly as they account for only 1,2% of all Facebook university members. Twitter by comparison seems more popular with a 'market-share' of 8,9%.

    Rank

    Institution

    Twitter

    Facebook

    1

    Oxford University

    11.500

    125.000

    2

    University of Cambridge

    11.000

    55.000

    3

    Open University Milton Keynes

    8.700

    35.000

    4

    University of London

    18.000
    (different faculties)

    30.000

    5

    University of Southern Denmark

    70

    37.000

    6

    Cardiff University Wales

    6.600

    20.000

    7

    University of Warwick

    6.200

    8.500

    8

    University of Padua

    950

    14.000

    9

    University of Turin

    1.400

    13.000

    10

    University of Aberdeen

    3.400

    11.000

    Note: numbers are in followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook, respectively

    Why Social Media?

    Looking at the numbers is only one side of the story. Many universities create Facebook pages and twitter channels, but in the end they do not know what to do with them. Some are simply copying news they publish on their regular homepage.

    Others are using social media for 'Customer Services' updating their students about library opening hours or exams and classes that are cancelled due to the recent snow chaos. A third approach is to increase the university's reputation by targeting outsiders that might be interested in hearing about the latest research breakthroughs made at the institution.

    Right now, numbers show that more than 65% of the social media channels in Europe focus on offering customer services to students. Understanding Facebook, Twitter and the like as a means for actively sharing knowledge and initiating discussions is very rare.

    Great Britain Dominates

    Having a closer look at how universities from different countries perform in communicating via Twitter and Facebook, it is easy to see that Great Britain dominates the ranking.

    Rank

    Institution

    Twitter

    Facebook

    1

    Great Britain

    201.885

    625.020

    2

    France

    24.130

    130.050

    3

    Spain

    15.980

    97.525

    4

    Germany

    31.500

    68.930

    5

    Portugal

    3.445

    79.950

    6

    Italy

    6.330

    70.150

    7

    Netherlands

    31.270

    17.790

    8

    Poland

    280

    48.700

    9

    Denmark

    60

    40.700

    10

    Belgium

    1.980

    32.200

    Note: numbers are in followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook, respectively

    Flop 3

    Last but not least, let's have a look at those institutions that are widely regarded as elite and prestigious in Europe. All of them are ranked highest in quality of research, but our data showed how some of them still have to find their way into the 21st century.

    1. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven:
      Despite being member of renowned university clubs such as LERU and Coimbra, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven has only an old-fashioned website without any news services like RSS or representations on Twitter or Facebook.
    2. ETH Zürich:
      This university is well-known for its research of international and global relevance. Communication-wise it only reaches German speakers (115 twitter followers, 260 Facebook fans)
    3. Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich:
      Known for its excellence in research, this institution does not communicate via Twitter or Facebook. Only German speakers can use a RSS service.

    Read the more extensive Dutch version of this analysis and ranking here on ScienceGuide.


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