UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Institutional Use of Social Media In Europe

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 Feb 2012

A recent series of blog referrer links from a post entitled entitled “Rànquing d’universitats i estructures de recerca de Catalunya a les xarxes socials” brought my attention to a number of benchmarking surveys of use of social media in higher educational institutions outside the UK.

The blog post — which can be read in an automatically translated English version if you do not understand the Catalan language :-) — describes how:

The presence of social networks and academic institutions doing research is increasingly consolidated. Realizing the importance of this fact, I thought it might be useful to show what institutions are visible to the networks and to what degree.

The blog post provides a summary of use of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in the seven public universities (and a number of research organisations) in Catalonia. The findings are shown in the accompanying image (and note that the original was an image rather than a table).  The findings can be compared with the findings for Institutional Use of Twitter by Russell Group Universities, carried out in January 2011 from which we found a much greater diversity on the number of followers, which ranged from 965 to over 12,000 and Use of Facebook by Russell Group Universities also carried out in January 2011 for which the number of ‘likes’ ranged for 977 to over 137,000. The much greater popularity of Twitter and Facebook in the UK is perhaps not surprising, as such US inventions are likely to have an impact initially in the English-speaking world, but it is interesting to notice the much greater variation within the UK.

The article provides a link to a post summarising use of Twitter in French universities for which the findings are shown in the following table. This table also shows that Twitter is more popular across many, although not all, Russell Group universities.

No. Name of Institution
(and link to Twitter account)
Nos. of Twitter
1 Université de Nantes 2,817
2 Université Claude Bernard – Lyon 1 2,191
3 Université de Lille 1 2,125
4 Université Pierre et Marie Curie 2,103
5 Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 1,762
6 Université Panthéon-Sorbonne – Paris 1 1,649
7 Université Lumière Lyon 2 1,648
8 Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse 1,632
9 Université de Lille 3 1,530
10 Université de Rennes 1 1,515

A similar survey, which was also published in January 2012, provides details of the ten most popular Facebook pages for French Universities.

No. Name of Institution
(and link to Facebook page)
Nos. of
1 Université Lumière Lyon 2 8,775
2 Université Paris Sorbonne – Paris 4 6,797
3 Université Pierre et Marie Curie 6,763
4 Université Claude Bernard – Lyon 1 6,304
5 Université d’Auvergne – Clermont-Ferrand 1 5,456
6 Université Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC) 4,774
7 Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier 3 4,745
8 Université Panthéon-Assas – Paris 2 4,509
9 Université Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne 4,325
10 UVSQ 4,307

The automated translation of this page provides the ‘paradata’ for the survey:

  • This ranking takes into account the number of “gross” of fans at the time of measurement
  • we do not weighted by the number of students in the school.
  • only the “official pages” are taken into account (or group or community pages …)

The article also provides a graph showing growth in the Facebook communities from October 20010 to January 2012.

Back in September 2011 I wrote a post entitled Bath is the University of the Year! But What if Online Metrics Were Included? In the post I whether since University league tables such as those provided by the Sunday Times and the Times Higher Education based on teaching and learning and research activities are well-established, in light of the acceptance of  the importance of the online environment in university activities  might we expect online metrics to be included in future surveys.

In light of these surveys across Catalonian and French universities I now wonder if  a future equivalent of  The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010-2011 will include metrics for institutional engagement with social media services?


4 Responses to “Institutional Use of Social Media In Europe”

  1. @JohnWedderburn has done a lot of work on the use of social media in HE in Sweden – see I keep meaning to take a look at Denmark too.

  2. Thank you very much, Brian, by your reference to my article on social media at universities and research structures in Catalonia. So for those who are not familiarized with Catalan higher education system, I will develop the acronyms of the universities that appear in the table:

    UB: Universitat de Barcelona
    UAB: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
    UPC: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Barcelona)
    UPF: Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona)
    UdL: Universitat de Lleida
    UdG: Universitat de Girona
    URV: Universitat Rovira Virgili (Tarragona)

    I look forward to reading your articles! :-)

  3. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 3:30 […]

  4. […] Facebook and YouTube and links to social media services. These surveys were followed by a post on Institutional Use of Social Media In Europe. Such evidence-gathering can be helpful in identifying patterns of usage and informing […]

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