Staffordshire University Business School defended their Best Twitter Performance (Business School category) crown at this year’s Edurank Awards. The institution’s performance on Twitter, during 2017, saw them finish consistently in the top five throughout last year, topping the charts on a few occasions as well.
The brains behind their Twitter account have always taken their role seriously, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that all their hard work has paid off. After celebrating their win, we spoke with Jon Fairburn to find out what it means to be crowned an Edurank Award winner again.
How does it feel to be crowned an Edurank Award winner, and why?
It’s great for several reasons. The University strategy is based on being the ‘Connected University’ and our digital work is a big part of that. The award also supports our work on our MSc in Digital Marketing Management. We will be trying hard for three times in a row for next year’s awards.
Why do you think your institution has performed well on social media?
Our social media is used in the three main activities of a University, we teach it, we research with it and we use it in public engagement and debate.
All staff are involved but obviously some are involved more than others. However, students are also involved in numerous ways. For example, students on the MSc Digital Marketing award have to write blogs as part of their course and these feature on the Business School blog. Students also have access to many of our channels for special events. For example, Tourism and Event Management students work at the Stone Food Festival and use our channels to promote that event.
We often put out material showing what being a student is like in the Business School as well as using it on open days.
For Twitter specifically, we have been very active in some key campaigns – locally, the City of Stoke-on-Trent was bidding for City of Culture so #sot2021 was used a lot on articles and images we were involved with and nationally we were involved with the EU Remain campaign. We also make use of some regular Twitter hours such as #staffordshirehour and #midlandshour – these happen once a week and are an especially useful way to engage with SMEs in the region.
One of the most important reasons we have won is because of our level of engagement (what is the point of lots of followers if they are not reading and engaging with you?). Putting out good interesting content is a key part of our success. Also using plenty of good images and tagging people with them will tend to raise engagement.
So a big tip – get as many people involved as possible.
What are your biggest challenges when planning, delivering and reporting on your social media content?
The biggest issue is always time. Engagement by staff has been very good on producing content for the blog and we also write a weekly article for the local newspaper which is then distributed down our channels. Reporting is not a problem as I regular report social media to the School Management team.
What does social media success look like to you?
Engagement is important and we can also see that our social media especially facebook, twitter and linkedin are very important for driving traffic to our blog and the website in general. It’s also the case that social media and especially twitter has been very useful for communicating activity around a large organisation such as a University. Social media also helps us to engage with audience and businesses in new ways. For example, we were recently leading an EU project on Sustainable Managers in the Tourism Sector (SMARTOUR) and we made extensive use of social media to research and design the course with rural tourism businesses.
Is there anything we can expect from you and your social media team in 2018?
Probably more student-generated content. Writing blogs is a great way for students to practice their writing styles and for many students, it can provide a link to work placement activity by helping to promote the business or organisation they are working for. We have also been developing our YouTube channel more and we will have more films coming out.
If you could win a different Edurank Award, what would it be and why?
Harvard Business School won the Social Media Performance of the Year for the Business School category, but we couldn’t have been that far behind them looking at our monthly stats through the year. So maybe next year we can get that one.