The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

Understanding your Social Media Presence (Part 2)

Last week we gave you insight into our research findings from the second quarter of 2011 and published the Facebook presence data for all program participants. In the second installment, we share comments and numbers for Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and iTunes U. 


A look at Twitter data shows us that Swiss academic institutions have yet to fall in love with the micro-blogging platform. Seventeen of the 35 participating institutions have an official Twitter account that represents the institution overall. Sixteen institutions have at least one Twitter account that represents a department, sub school, or event.

Official Twitter accounts representing the institution overall

While some institutions like EPFL, ETH Zurich, and USI tweet regularly, others have set up an account but have not yet started tweeting. If you’re not ready to tweet, it is still a good idea to do this in order to claim the best Twitter handle for your institution. The best Twitter handle is short and matches your brand. Another reason to set up an account is that it is worth following other tweeters, like those in your peer groups to see what is going on. Take a look at the list that we have created for you on Twitter to identify other Swiss academic institutions with official accounts.

If your official Twitter account does not show up in the report, it is most likely because we couldn’t find it. This is a good indicator for how good your Twitter handle is at identifying your institution. You might consider changing it to a name that is easier to find by your potential followers (and let us know).

A look at the Twitter accounts created by departments, sub schools, and events shows that some institutions like ZHAW and HSG have very active tweeters.

Department, sub school, or event Twitter accounts

For those of you who would like more information on Twitter and who were not able to attend the last two webinars on Twitter, take a look at them here and listen to the recordings.


Thirty of the 35 participating institutions have a company page on the professional network LinkedIn. The federal institutes of technologies are the front-runners in terms of followers.

LinkedIn followers by institution

Company pages are another easy and useful way to establish presence and allow users to follow the institution to learn more about the organization. Users listing EPFL in their profile will also be added to the company’s activity on LinkedIn, which could prove useful for your institution when reaching out to alumni. LinkedIn company pages also offer insightful statistics for the organization’s employees and can also be edited by individuals that have an institutional email address.

Our participants also have a total number of 148 groups on LinkedIn. Groups are a useful tool to reach out to alumni, as described in detail in part 2 of our research paper.

LinkedIn groups for Q2

ETHZ is far ahead of all other institutions with a total of 37 groups on LinkedIn. UNIGE comes in second with 22 groups. Nine institutions have between four and 15 groups and a large number of institutions have zero to two groups. We are aware of the fact that Xing is quite popular in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria and that many institutions might be more active on that channel.


As of July 2011, only 18 institutions have an official corporate channel on YouTube. Changes from Q1 are not significant in terms of number of channels, subscribers, or videos. Only EPFL stands out with almost a 100% increase in subscribers and more video uploads. EHL and EMPA had channels in Q1, but were not included in the Q1 reporting since they were not found in the first round of the research.

YouTube subscribers for corporate channels

Number of videos on corporate YouTube channels

Institutions with more than 10 videos on their YouTube channel include EPFL, USI, HESSO, PHZH, and UNIL. US universities like Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Yale University all use YouTube to make classes available to a broader audience. A look at the numbers shows the big gap between US and Swiss universities: Stanford University has over 1,300 videos and over 89,000 subscribers, UC Berkeley has over 2,100 videos and over 62,000 subscribers.

iTunes U

Only three participating institutions have an iTunes U account. UNIL was one of the pioneers in the Swiss academic landscape and has a well established presence on iTunes U.

UNIL's iTunes U page

Newcomers to iTunes U include are FHNW and FFHS. Both opened an account in the last quarter and have already uploaded a number of podcasts.

Podcasts on iTunes U channels

Social Media Icons

We will continue to monitor the presence of all participating institutions on social media and release reports quarterly through the remainder of our program. We expect some growth and progress as the program moves along and participants attend webinars, study tours, and educate themselves. We have also taken a look at how many Swiss institutions actually put social media icons on their homepage to include another indicator. American universities like Stanford University, Princeton University, and Yale University feature all main social media channels on their homepage. Out of the 35 Swiss institutions, only nine institutions currently have social media icons on their homepage that lead to their official channels.

Stanford University's homepage with social media icons

Obviously there are more than nine institutions that have official social media accounts. Those of you who are actively using social media channels for their communication efforts should consider placing social media icons on your home page. This will increase the chances that your target audience will discover these accounts.

EHL's home page with prominently placed social media icons

UNILI, ETH RAT, CRUS, PHZH, and SWITCH joined the program after March 2011 and were therefore not part of the first research round in quarter 1. This means that their figures for the first quarter are not necessarily zero as reported in these charts.