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Platforms matter: analyzing user engagement with social media content of Swiss higher education institutions


Sörensen, Isabel; Vogler, Daniel; Fürst, Silke; Schäfer, Mike S (2023). Platforms matter: analyzing user engagement with social media content of Swiss higher education institutions. Journal of marketing for higher education:1-20.

Abstract

Higher education institutions (HEIs) increasingly use social media to communicate with stakeholders and the public. The success of these efforts on individual platforms has been assessed by a growing number of studies recently. However, comparative research across different platforms and types of HEIs is lacking. This study analyzes factors influencing user engagement across different HEI types and the three most widely used platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). The study relies on a full sample of all social media posts published in 2019 (n = 42,006) by all 42 Swiss HEIs. Hereof, a random sample of 1500 posts per platform was manually coded. Several factors at the content-level turned out to vary across platforms, thereby pointing to the need for HEIs to tailor their social media communication to the respective affordances of different platforms. However, results also show patterns across platforms, including the importance of visual communication and the development of a large followership for driving user engagement. In contrast, we found no impact of publishing time, publishing frequency, and content length. This, among other findings, indicates that strategies focused on creating high-quality content rather than a large quantity of content yield better engagement results for the social media communication of HEIs.

Abstract

Higher education institutions (HEIs) increasingly use social media to communicate with stakeholders and the public. The success of these efforts on individual platforms has been assessed by a growing number of studies recently. However, comparative research across different platforms and types of HEIs is lacking. This study analyzes factors influencing user engagement across different HEI types and the three most widely used platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). The study relies on a full sample of all social media posts published in 2019 (n = 42,006) by all 42 Swiss HEIs. Hereof, a random sample of 1500 posts per platform was manually coded. Several factors at the content-level turned out to vary across platforms, thereby pointing to the need for HEIs to tailor their social media communication to the respective affordances of different platforms. However, results also show patterns across platforms, including the importance of visual communication and the development of a large followership for driving user engagement. In contrast, we found no impact of publishing time, publishing frequency, and content length. This, among other findings, indicates that strategies focused on creating high-quality content rather than a large quantity of content yield better engagement results for the social media communication of HEIs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute for Research on the Public Sphere and Society
Dewey Decimal Classification:070 News media, journalism & publishing
Uncontrolled Keywords:Higher education institutions, social media, engagement metrics, content analysis, organizational communication, Switzerland
Language:English
Date:11 December 2023
Deposited On:12 Dec 2023 14:29
Last Modified:31 Jan 2024 02:46
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:0884-1241
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/08841241.2023.2289009
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID174992
  • : Project TitleInvestigating the role of astrocytic vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) as a mediator of social stress induced blood-brain barrier disruption and depression-like behaviors in mice
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)