How the top 10 UK universities use Twitter

How often should a university tweet? Should institutions respond to every tweet that mentions them?

April 15, 2014

Source: Quka/

According to an analysis of university Twitter accounts between 31 January - 31 March 2014, the UK’s top 10 universities (based on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014) had more than 400,000 followers in total, and yet none were sending out more than an average of four tweets a day.

The University of Oxford was the least frequent tweeter, sending out around just one tweet a day while receiving 86 mentions from other Twitter users. The University of Bristol was the most prolific tweeter, sending out between three and four tweets per day, while Manchester was the best at interacting with its followers, with a quarter of its tweets sent to other Twitter accounts.

The UK university Twitter accounts were used predominantly for broadcasting university-specific and industry news, and unlike Manchester, most had a less than 10 per cent engagement rate for their tweets (the percentage of total tweets that were directed at others). Three of the universities - Oxford, the London School of Economics and Kings’s College London - sent out no direct tweets during the two-month period.

The research was carried out by social media analysis company Brandwatch.

Total followers

1University of Oxford123,001
2University of Cambridge109,8
3University of Edinburgh35,100
4University of Bristol29,861
5Imperial College London26,608
6University College London24,520
7King’s College London24,307
8Durham University14,078
9London School of Economics13,370
10University of Manchester3,413


University handle tweets (total/per day)

1University of Bristol2343.9
2University College London1923.25
3Imperial College London1913.2
4University of Cambridge1662.8
5University of Manchester1612.7
6King’s College London1412.4
7University of Edinburgh1372.3
=8Durham University1232.1
=8London School of Economics1232.1
10University of Oxford741.25


University engagement with others (percentage of tweets directed at other users)

1University of Manchester25
2University of Edinburgh23
=3Durham University9
=3University of Bristol9
5Imperial College London6
6University College London5
7University of Cambridge3
=8London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)0
=8King’s College London0
=8University of Oxford0

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Reader's comments (2)

It is a shame the article doesn't actually answer the questions posed - How often should a university tweet? Should institutions respond to every tweet that mentions them? The stats in themselves aren't that interesting. What would be more informative is to look at the increase in reach over time, i.e. which profiles are adding the greatest number of followers and which profiles get retweeted the most, i.e. followers sharing with their followers. University engagement with others is a meaningless metric. They've also made an error with the Manchester Twitter account. The reason this account is interacting with followers a lot is because that is a separate Admissions account (@AdmissionsUoM) so they are responding to enquiries. The giveaway should have been the low follower count! This is NOT the main university account. Manchester are splitting their resources over several accounts, e.g. @UoMNews has 11,900 followers while the account linked from the main site is @OfficialUoM. Be good if some usable conclusions were drawn from this rather than just numbers for the sake of numbers.
Hi Mark. The data as was analysed by Brandwatch, as we state in the intro. They selected the Twitter accounts to focus on, and as you say, appear to have chosen the UoM admissions handle. A more detailed assessment of how universities tweet would certainly be worth doing - but I do think some of the numbers here are very interesting and worthy of discussion.

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