The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

Understanding your Social Media Presence (Part 1)

For the second time in 2011, we combed through social media channels Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and iTunes U to assess the presence of Swiss academia in social media. We are excited to give you an introduction to our research and to provide our key findings for Facebook in this first blog post about your social media presence. Next week, we’ll give you the inside scoop on the numbers for Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and iTunes U. 

First some important remarks about the methodology of our research: Each channel is searched for pages about the 35 participating institutions, no matter who manages/owns the page (official representatives of the institution or unauthorized, unofficial representatives). We have determined a number of search terms for each institution and only track pages that contain any of these search terms in the title—very much like a student or interested user would run their search if they were looking for your institution on social media channels. We heavily rely on the quality of the search function of the channels, as well as on your feedback. We encourage you to take a look at your report and to let us know if any official presence is missing.

What’s in it for you?

The reports provide unique insight into the presence of Swiss academia in social media and offer benchmark opportunities by allowing every participating institution to see where they stand compared to others. Since this is the second quarter of our monitoring, we were able to show progress on all channels over the first quarter results. Some progress can be fully attributed to institutions’ own initiatives, while other progress lies in changes or added functionality on the channels. This is especially the case for Facebook as you will find out shortly.

We also want to advise you to have a close look at those accounts that are managed by external parties and are labeled as “unofficial pages.” It’s a good idea to assess reaching out to the page owners, even “like” the page and get to know what content is being offered there. Establishing a relationship with the page owner could lead to a better understanding of audience needs and eventually aligning efforts. The best example to illustrate this approach is Coca Cola’s Facebook page, which was started by fans.

Social media presence for all institutions on all social media channels for Q2 2011 (Please note that iTunes U data is not included in this graph)


With Facebook being the largest social network to date, it comes as no surprise that almost every institution has some presence on this channel. Some institutions like the FHNW and EPFL have an impressive amount of pages and at first glance the increase over the first quarter seems quite astounding. In almost every case, however, the reason for this hike lies in an explosion of community pages like this one, and an improvement on Facebook’s search function. According to Facebook, community pages are “the best collection of shared knowledge on a topic” and display Wikipedia articles about the topic they represent. The dilemma that comes with these pages is ownership. Facebook generates these community pages automatically and the brand has no ability to control the content. In April 2010, Facebook automatically created 6.5 million community pages by taking information from users’ “Likes and Interests” and “Work and Education” sections of their personal profile info tab. This means that any content in this section eventually resulted in a community page with that information in the title. We have seen a significant increase in community pages auto-generated by Facebook over the last few months.

Facebook presence regardless of page ownership

Even though Facebook introduced community pages over a year ago, the mystery continues and there is not much information about how Facebook creates these pages. During our research in July, we stumbled upon a large number of pages that seem not to have existed during our initial research earlier this year. While we can’t make all community pages go away, we have a few tips for you on how to make the most out of it:

  1. Merge them. Merging community pages with your official page is possible as long as your authenticated page has the exact same name as the community page. Up to five community pages can be merged with your official page.
  2. Ensure your Wikipedia content is accurate and up to date, as this will feed most community pages. Don’t miss our upcoming webinar on using Wikipedia with Pete Forsyth.
  3. Using our reports, keep an eye out for what pages are out there, how many followers they have, and what they say about you. Find out if they are serving an audience that you are not.
  4. Steer users to your official page. Things that help include having a social media icon on your official website, branding your fan page appropriately, and taking good care of your official page by keeping the content fresh and updated.

More on community pages can be found here:

In Big New Product Push, Facebook Set to Launch 6.5 Million New Community Pages (
Connecting to Everything You Care About (The Facebook Blog)

We were able to find 21 institutions with an official presence on Facebook. EHL has the most “likes” with 1672 fans, closely followed by EPFL and UZH.

For a list of all official Facebook pages we found, visit this page with a list of links.

Official Facebook pages

While some of you don’t have an official corporate Facebook presence that represents the entire institution, many of you have very active departments or sub schools on Facebook.

Number of official department, sub school, or event pages in Q2

Institutions like HSG and FHNW have an impressive number of pages on Facebook that represent a part of the institution for example. UZH and ZHAW have an active corporate presence on Facebook in addition to very engaged departments and sub schools. This may be linked to the size of these institutions. UZH is the largest university in Switzerland with around 24,000 students, and ZHAW is the largest sub school of the university of applied sciences in Zurich (ZFH), the largest of its kind in the German speaking part of Switzerland.

Please note that we are convinced that HESSO would have the largest presence on Facebook with its many sub schools, but since we only search for the main name of the participating institution and its abbreviation, all of the many sub schools are not included in this research.

Our monitoring and third party research shows plenty of activity on Facebook. Almost all participating institutions have official and/or unofficial pages, 60% even have an official corporate page.

Furthermore, contrary to popular belief that most Facebook users are under 16 years of age, data from shows that the age group best represented on Facebook is between 25 and 34 years of age in Switzerland.

User age distribution on Facebook in Switzerland

In addition to the audience, Facebook’s steady growth is another reason to invest in a well maintained official page on the social network. In the last six months alone, 200’000 new users signed up for Facebook in Switzerland. In light of Facebook’s practice to automatically create community pages when users add content to their profile info tab, the progress over the last few months also shows that users like to associate themselves with the participating institutions. We hope institutions take advantage of the opportunity to to connect with more than 2.6 million users in Switzerland (34.6% of the population) through a coordinated official presence.

Stay tuned and come back next week for more information about Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and iTunes U numbers.