This past week Twitter has exploded with business schools sharing photos, stories, and testimonials at an intensity and frequency that has never occurred in the business school sector. The inspiration? Another business school ranking competition. To promote Businessweek’s Best Business School rankings set to be released on November 11, Bloomberg created the #WhyMBA social media competition encouraging business schools to share information about their institutions and compete to get the most @ brand mentions.
The purpose of the campaign is to answer the pressing questions on many prospective student minds including: Why should I get an MBA? Would an MBA help you get your dream job? Which MBA program is best? How has your MBA helped your career? Is an MBA worth the investment? Despite the importance of this topic and these conversations, currently Businessweek are ranking of the top business schools on Twitter based on only the total number of people who mention the business school’s Twitter handle(ex. @DukeFuqua).
But at Eduvantis Digital we understand that social media is about more than a popularity contest – its about real engagement and having the opportunity to share what makes an institution’s programs, campuses, students, faculty, alumni, and community truly distinctive. Based on an analysis of over 50 business school Twitter accounts, the Eduvantis Digital team ranked the top 5 business schools on Twitter based on how successful they are at conveying the unique attributes of their brand. The business schools we have chosen really stand out and there is a lot other business schools can learn from them. At the end of the rankings below we have compiled a list of the top 5 social media best practices that any business school can implement today to have a more effective Twitter and social media strategy.
The Top 5 Business Schools on Twitter
The @DukeFuqua Twitter account is a standout example of a business school who understands who they are. Fuqua have built a social media strategy to showcase their unique brand – a truly global business school. Duke Fuqua can lay claim to launching the first global MBA program with their Cross Continent MBA, which has since become a model for other global business school programs to follow. Over a 16 month period Fuqua students in the Cross Continent MBA program study in North Carolina, India, China, Russia, and Chile.
To align their social media strategy to support its global mission and programs, the @DukeFuqua team focuses on sharing globally focused content – from faculty research, to student photos, program gatherings, and Fuqua alumni stories across the world. Not only has Fuqua set the bar for business schools on Twitter, they were also the first business schools in the United States to expand their social reach into Asia, creating a Duke Fuqua account on Weibo (the Twitter of China) to engage with stakeholders and prospective students in China.
The @DardenMBA Twitter account takes the opposite approach to @DukeFuqua, focusing instead on an intensely local strategy – showcasing what it’s like to a student at one of the most beautiful and prestigious business schools in the world. The University of Virginia, which was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson has a stunning campus – especially now with the bright colors of a Virginia fall season. The famous Jefferson lawn and rotunda is a world heritage site and creates a historical backdrop for a business school with an intensely close and ethically driven community.
The Darden brand is built on a rigorous social community where your professors can be your friends and joining the UVA family gives you both a large, but also practical network to support you as your build your career and life. From day one, students at Darden are taught to respect and value their tight-knit learning community through the signing of the famous UVA honor code. The Economist recently ranked Darden as having the number one teaching experience in an MBA program. Professors are known to give their cell phone numbers to all students on the first day of class and even text with students when they have a question.
An early Twitter adopter, @MichiganRoss are an exceptional example of a top-ranked business school that stands out, not only because they are a world class institution, but because they make going to business school seem like a lot of fun. The “social” Michigan Ross brand is naturally suited for social media and one of the most engaging higher education institutions on Twitter.
Out of the 50 business school Twitter accounts the Eduvantis Digital team analyzed, @MichiganRoss has the most accessible brand – they are the industry leader in creating and sharing dynamic brand content (consistently releasing new engaging photos and videos) and they truly engage with their community on Twitter and their enthusiasm shows. The @MichiganRoss team are always listening to their community across social media and consistently share user generated content that tell the stories of their many stakeholders (students, faculty, alumni, and Michigan business community).
The @BerkeleyHaas Twitter account is the only one Eduvantis Digital ranked that is not participating in the #WhyMBA campaign, which naturally aligns with its “question the status quo” and “confidence without attitude” brand. Led by the prolific Tweeter Dean @RichLyons, @BerkeleyHass is fiercely independent and always engaging. Haas has unique built into the core of its brand. Most of @BerkeleyHaas updates are about the success of their students and the cool stuff that seems to only be able to happen at Berkeley.
Berkeley Haas’s proximity to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where there is a natural skepticism for MBA programs within the entrepreneur community is both a challenge and an opportunity. It’s clear from the @BerkeleyHaas Twitter account that Berkeley is tight with the tech community and it’s graduates are having an incredible amount of success working in the tech industry, as well as launching their own companies. They also share a lot of stories about their students and graduates helping others – which aligns nicely with the other core tenant of their brand – to go “beyond yourself”.
The @SmithSchool Twitter account wins the award for most passionate #hashtag user – which allows them to tap into other conversations that are happening on Twitter outside of its core community. Most business schools shy away from engaging outside of their core followers, but @SmithSchool clearly understand their large community is deeply rooted in one of the most cosmopolitan and powerful cities in the world.
Of all the schools the Eduvantis Digital team analyzed, @SmithSchool does the best job engaging all of their stakeholder groups and showcasing all of the elements of their brand (their campus, proximity to Washington DC, top notch faculty, research, and programs). This is not easy to do on social media, but with a focused approach it is possible to engage with a much larger community than just your students and create more value for your followers.
Business School Twitter and Social Media Best Practices
1. Showcase Your Distinct Brand: Figure out what makes your institution unique and build your content strategy around showcasing that distinctiveness. @DukeFuqua and its global focus is a standout example.
2. Leverage User-Generated Content: Social media is about more than one person managing an account. Your business school is a community and to truly tell the story of your institution and what makes you unique, that story needs to come from your community. Very few business schools encourage their students, faculty, and alumni to create and share content about their experience. As an institution you should be curating the best of this content on your own Twitter account. @BerkeleyHaas does an exceptional job listening to their social followers and leveraging their content to showcase the unique Haas experience.
3. Create and Share Dynamic Content: You should be creating and sharing photos and videos with as many of your Twitter posts as you can. Your social media followers want to “experience” your business school – they want to watch it, hear about it, and see it. If you don’t have top-notch videos to share you need to make a priority to create them. @MichiganRoss have created some of the most engaging videos for a business school and share them frequently through Twitter.
4. Engage With All Stakeholders: Most business schools only share content related to prospective or current students. This is a missed opportunity to engage with all of your stakeholders (including the business community) most of whom likely have very different expectations of your brand. Listen, engage, and be proactive. Find conversations where you can share your institution’s unique views and join the conversation. @SmithSchool engage with all of their stakeholders, including the DC business community.
5. Mobile User Experience – it is important to remember that most Twitter users are engaging with the platform on their mobile device. Business schools need to ensure that all content linked to from Twitter is mobile optimized to ensure the best user and brand experience.