WHEN it comes to making the most of social media Sheffield University is a world beater, according to a new independent report.
The university is making the most of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other online networks to raise its profile and engage with students, the study found.
Sheffield – eighth overall – is one of only two UK universities in a top 10 list otherwise dominated by US institutions, in the study, entitled The Transatlantic University Divide.
Harvard University, where entrepreneur Mark Zuckberburg studied and created Facebook, tops the chart.
But Sheffield is credited for having the most receptive and responsive social media out of all the leading UK and American institutions.
The university scored highest for ‘receptiveness’, which measured the extent to which each institution is seen to be listening to comments or conversations by users and includes linking, following and referencing. It was also highly rated in ‘popularity’ – measured by site traffic, followers, references, fans, views and engagement with the university – as well as its interaction with users.
Dr Chris Sexton, director of Corporate Information and Computing Services, said: “The university prides itself on really embracing social media as a way of communicating with staff, students, prospective students and members of the public both in the UK and across the world.
“Engaging with people by responding to enquiries, starting debates and posting interesting content is the crux of what social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, should be about.
“It is this that has helped us come top compared to other universities in terms of our ‘receptiveness’. The social media revolution is still only in its early days and we will continue to adapt our services to keep up the pace. We are extending free Wi-Fi across campus and in residences so staff and students can stay connected in all areas.
“We’re adding social media interaction to our web pages and to our existing help and support channels, and have built a suite of creative media rooms in which students can create, edit and upload their own interactive content.
“We hope this will help us build upon the success of this study and allow us to lead the way for other higher education institutions.”
Researchers for the study claim it is essential that universities project their brands onto social media platforms as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics shows 16- to 24-year-olds are the most connected age group in history.