Social universities part 3 | The UK

21 Jul

We’ve taken a look at how some Australian and US universities compare to each other with their use of Facebook and Twitter. It’s only fair to bring in the UK for round three. Or is it?

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge Twitter account is less formal than most university Twitter accounts. Its language is often casual and it doesn’t only push out news, it brings attention to events on campus, includes weather updates, and retweets relevant content.

Here’s one of my favourite examples of their tweeting. Cambridge link to an event listing, to the Cambridge Flickr channel and the Twitter account for the eight museums on campus. Well done.

Their use of hashtags can become a little overkill.

The University of Cambridge Facebook Page usually includes a short lead-in to articles posted on the wall, some are even framed as questions and generate thoughtful comments. Instead of dropping the entire URL into the status update, they should be shortening it with to track click-throughs and shares. This data can be compared with Facebook Insights to determine which type of content is most popular and receives the most interaction.

Looks like they haven’t made the switch from FBML to iframes (phased out in March). Not so well done.

University of Oxford

The Twitter stream for the University of Oxford is filled with tweets linking back to news on their media page. They inform followers about events on campus and university programs, but they don’t connect with followers, their tone is unexciting and they don’t use hashtags … except for #FollowFriday, which they’re doing correctly and I can dig it.

The University of Oxford Facebook Page has turned the Discussions tab off, doesn’t allow fans to post on the all and doesn’t respond to fans’ comments on posts. They mix up the content, posting important updates for prospective and current student, giving kudos to professors and staff – though most link to the media page on their website. There must be a few admins posting on the wall. Sometimes URLs are dropped into the copy of the post (looks messy), sometimes it’s a and the ‘voice’ of their updates changes back and forth.

University of Wales, Newport  

The University of Wales, Newport Twitter account is quite conversational and responds to followers. They do their followers a diservice, however, when they fill their stream with “please RT” tweets. This is how it looks as I write this article. 

Want to annoy your followers? This is how. Also, the Twitter handles you’re begging for a retweet are now put in an awkward position.

The University of Wales, Newport are quick to respond to questions from prospective and current students on their Facebook Page. They post a mix of videos, campus updates and general questions and don’t seem to mind others’ promotional spam on their wall. They attempted to resolve a student’s frustration on the wall, whereas my advice would be to move it to a Facebook message and comment that they’ve done so on her post. This shows others the situation is being handled privately, the student can feel comfortable giving extra details and Carl Peters isn’t vilified in public.  

The University of Aberdeen

“The University of Aberdeen is the fifth oldest in the UK and is at the forefront of teaching and research in medicine, the humanities and science.”

They’re definitely not at the forefront of social media! Their Twitter account is an automatic news feed, with no personality and no real-time updates. It’s also confusing to see universities like Aberdeen naming themselves one thing on Twitter ‘Aberdeen University’ and another elsewhere ‘University of Aberdeen’.

This copy is found on the Info tab of the University of Aberdeen Facebook Page:

:At Aberdeen we’re always interested to hear what you think about the University. Whether you’re a student here, an alumnus or are considering coming to the University, please feel free to leave us your comments, email us or check out our wall for what’s going on around the campus.”

Aberdeen show no regular presence on this Page. Prospective students are asking how to apply and have questions on accepting their offer with no official answer – missed opportunities? Spammers are also taking advantage of the lack of Aberdeen maintenance.

Aberdeen’s last post was on July 8, “We’d just like to say congratulations to all of our students that graduated this week. You made it!!! Don’t forget to join our Alumni facebook page!” Why should they if this is the standard you’re setting?

Queens University Belfast

Queens University Belfast runs its Twitter account through the web and not a social media dashboard such as Hootsuite. Makes life harder than it needs to be. At graduation time, for two weeks straight the account only tweeted about graduation. What about those followers not concerned with graduation?

Then there’s this:

This type of tweeting hurts my heart.

The Queens University Belfast Facebook Page shows many automated tweets, though you’ll also find events, photo uploads and campus updates. They are regular with posts, mainly seen with links to press releases.

There you have it. Out of the universities I’ve explored, Australia is ahead on Twitter, the US is ahead with customised tabs on Facebook and the UK? Um … Cambridge is doing well.

Next up – Canada.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 21, 2011 in university engagement


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One response to “Social universities part 3 | The UK

  1. David Girling (@davidgirlinguk)

    August 10, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Some interesting observations. For some good examples of Social Media in the UK check out University of Nottingham, Warwick University and Imperial College.


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