This year, the company has overhauled the formula it uses to rank institutions, with a greater focus on user engagement, as opposed to just institution-generated content, as a barometer of success.
Edu Rank is the latest incarnation of Net Natives’ social media benchmarking efforts, which began three years ago with the launch of the Education Engagement Index, which the company says was the first online tool to measure universities’ and colleges’ social media engagement.
“With so much content marketing and so much information being pushed out, it’s the most relevant content that’s the most powerful”
It provides separate listings for UK universities, colleges and business schools, as well as a separate category for universities that run distinct social media channels targeting international students.
Social engagement is measured in four categories – popularity, activity, participation and reaction – based on statistics such as their total number of Facebook fans, as well as the number of posts, likes, comments, shares and new shares they have accumulated in the last month.
It also takes into account Google search data and QS and THE league table rankings, with further data from other social networking sites such as Twitter and Weibo due to be added in the near future.
Queen’s University Belfast currently tops the table with a score of 9.2, but with 26,023 fans, the Irish university is by no means the most-followed institution on Facebook.
In contrast, the University of Oxford has amassed an impressive 2,094,756 Facebook fans but comes in at 89th place with a score of just 5.7.
“The old ranking was based on the university, the business doing their own activity; but now the way social media is used now, it’s much more important how people actually engage with that content,” Kailan D’Arcy, Marketing Manager at Net Natives, told The PIE News.
“With so much content marketing and so much information being pushed out, it’s the most relevant content that’s the most powerful,” he explained. “We’ve changed the weighting so it favours that side of the content rather than quantity of use of social media.”
“Institutions can make changes and then see how that’s moved them up the rankings when we release the January data”
Loughborough University currently holds second position in the overall ranking, followed by Edge Hill University and the University of the West of Scotland.
Meanwhile, the international list is topped by the University of London, London Metropolitan University, Cambridge International Examinations and the University of Greenwich.
The website also allows users to compare up to three individual universities in detail.
The ranking data, which is only accessible to UK institutions, is updated monthly, enabling universities to monitor the progress of their social media strategies.
“They can see how they’re doing this month, make some changes and then see how that’s moved them up the rankings when we release the January data,” D’Arcy said.
Social media is an increasingly influential marketing tool for education institutions, with an estimated 75 million active secondary school students on Facebook. According to Net Natives, there were 150 million university searches in 2014.