UW claims top Twitter honors in new study

June 23, 2015

The top Twitter account in U.S. higher education is @UWMadison, according to new data released by social media research firm Engagement Labs of Toronto.

“It’s quite evident how much UW–Madison cares about its students,” says Meg Pedrick, Engagement Labs director of sales. “You’re focused on interacting with them in the way that’s easiest for them. UW cares about being present in that space.”

That level of care produced an eValue score of 82.89 out of 100, the highest of any U.S. institution. Rounding out the top five are the University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and the University of Virginia. The only other Big Ten school in the top 10 is Illinois, at no. 9.

It’s easy to look at the amount of fans or followers when looking for the best accounts on Twitter (UW-Madison has nearly 99,000), but that’s not where true value always lies, according to the Engagement Labs research.

“If you only look at the number of followers an account has, you’re missing a big piece of the story. Accounts can have extremely large followings, but what if the content is terrible?” asks Pedrick. “Having large numbers alone doesn’t mean that account has an effective social media strategy.”

If the number of followers alone doesn’t translate into an account’s success, where then should universities be focusing?

“An effective social media strategy is based on three main things: pushing your content out to enough eyeballs; having really good content; and, of course, customer care,” explains Pedrick. “Engagement Labs looks at 200 different metrics that get rolled up into three subscores: engagement, impact and responsiveness.”

UW-Madison scored highly in responsiveness and average response time, underlining its dedication to effectively communicating with its audience.

“It’s paramount that we reach our students, staff and community members where they like to be. For the UW community, that’s obviously Twitter,” says Nate Moll, social media specialist for UW–Madison University Communications.

“Large institutions often get the reputation for being big, impersonal places,” he adds. “With UW’s social media channels, it’s my goal to interact with our community members in fun and engaging ways.”

There’s much more to social media than just Twitter. UW’s Facebook fan page also ranks in the top 10 nationwide in the same study, behind only Penn State in the Big Ten conference.

Last year, @UWMadison was ranked as the second-most influential U.S. university on Twitter, according to a study conducted by Internet marketing firm Coldlime.

To see UW–Madison’s favorite tweets visit social.wisc.edu.