You can probably divide your faculty into two groups: Those who believe in the potential of social media, and those who consider it more of a waste of their time. Do you have one or more social media believers in your faculty? Congrats if you do, since we think they can offer you some highly valuable perks.
We have identified those Swiss faculty members who use social media and included it in our quarterly research about the official social media presence of Swiss universities. Program members can find a chart with that data in their official reports due to be published this week. Read on to find the top professors on Twitter in Switzerland, but also how to utilize these social media advocates in your faculty.
In 2010, a survey with responses from nearly 1,400 higher education professionals in the US, revealed that most of the 35% educators on Twitter use it to share information with peers, and less as a learning tool in class or to communicate with students. If their peers are more likely to use new media such as Twitter, they are more likely to engage on that medium. It is not surprising that the most followed professors in Switzerland have a communications background, such as journalism or marketing.
Top Tweeting Professors in Switzerland
Miriam Meckel is one of them. As Professor for Corporate Communication and Director of the Institute for Media and Communication Management at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, social media is her daily bread. So much so, that she even wrote about how to live a good digital life (illustrated here). With more than 17,700 followers on Twitter, she reaches an audience that is more than eight times the size of her university’s audience on Twitter.
Frederic Kaplan, Professor in Digital Humanities at EPFL, is another faculty member with a high follower base in Switzerland. Kaplan uses the platform to inform students about published slide decks from class, promoting his research, interacting with peers, but also to spread the word about news at his department or the university.
I specifically highlighted Miriam Meckel and Frederic Kaplan since they both have a large follower base and are fully associated with their institution. Here is the top five*:
UNINE: Edwy Plenel HSG: Miriam Meckel, Urs Gasser EPFL: Frederic Kaplan UZH: Kurt Imhof
Data collected by swissnex San Francisco in January 2014 using publicly available data (Twitter)
*A professor is missing? Let us know.
What They Can Do For You
Faculty that embraces social media and uses it for outreach can be a great asset for the university. Through sharing knowledge and research, they are an ambassador for their institution and can help shape its reputation. Additionally, students can definitely benefit from a professor that is available on Twitter and uses this channel as an extension of his or her teaching assignment.
Besides that, there is clearly a very big advantage for those of you feed social media channels on behalf of your university: free, authentic content.