Universities in the UK are not making the grade when it comes to social media. Socialbakers statistics reveal that Facebook can help universities attract more students and reduce acquisition costs.
According to the latest statistics published by the BBC, university applications from UK students fell by almost 9%. In absolute figures, this represents approximately 50,000 fewer applications received by the universities compared to the previous year. Another report pointed to increased spending on outreach projects, which raised university costs by 15%, to 46 million GBP.
This situation represents a new challenge for universities that need to look for new ways to attract potential students while maintaining modest budget burdens. Our findings, which examined universities’ behavior in social media, prove Facebook and Twitter to be successful communication tools.
Our social media statistics reveal alarming facts about the most popular universities, which completely neglect students’ enquiries and lack social information sharing. 32% of the universities, which received the most number of applications, have closed Facebook walls and only 10% have their Facebook Question Response Rate higher than 20%. On the other hand, the engagement rate results are quite satisfactory. The majority of the top 10 universities engage their fans within the range of 0.5% to 0.7%, while Durham and Newcastle Universities stand out with 2.4% and 1.5% respectively.
Further, UK universities need to work on growing their Facebook fan base. In August, most of them grew less than 1%. Among the top gainers were Oxford, Newcastle and Cambridge who are all doing a great job in attracting new fans. Getting new followers on board is a wise and effective approach, since these “new hires” can be more easily and cheaply targeted throughout the year.
At Socialbakers, we looked at the key social media metrics of the top 10 universities ranked by an official score, which is a combination of entry standards, student satisfaction, research assessment, and graduate prospects. Although these ten universities achieve great results in the aforementioned categories, their social media performance is rather disappointing.
The University of Cambridge, LSE, St. Andrews, and the University of Bath have closed Facebook walls, not allowing students to express their opinions or interact with the Page in an organic way. Oddly enough, pages with open walls tend to ignore the buzz and students’ enquires. Oxford, on the other hand, is a great example of student social media care. In August, the university responded to 155 out of 168 (92%) questions posted on its Facebook wall! The only piece of advice for Oxford would be to pay more attention to its Twitter account. Despite having the biggest number of followers (almost 47 thousand followers), the university social media manager seems to have left for a prolonged summer holiday. Oxford tweeted only 17 times during the month of August, almost as little as the University of Cambridge, which tweeted 23 times.
Clearly, it pays off for the universities to be active in social media. It is not only a trend, but also an essential component to building relevance and validation for current students as well as for potential applicants. Universities must take social networking seriously, as it is an essential platform for people to learn about them, their culture and value propositions prior to making the application decision.
For the purpose of this study, Socialbakers analyzed the top 50 UK universities ranked by number of applications received and the top 10 UK universities ranked by the official 2012 university score.
Socialbakers is the trusted social media management partner to thousands of enterprise brands and SMBs. Leveraging the largest social media data-set in the industry, Socialbakers’ AI-powered social media marketing suite helps brands large and small ensure their investment in social media is delivering measurable business outcomes.