We are introducing the beginning of a new, and hopefully useful, social media section to our site to help students navigate the ever-growing slew of available networks that universities are joining in order to help them communicate with current and future students. In this article we are discussing what we discovered researching Canadian universities on Twitter.
We started by collecting and examining all the Canadian universities with active Twitter accounts. We determined that a university could have up to 3 unique official accounts representing the university. The account could either be aimed at current or future students, or be focused on providing news and event campus information for generally everyone affiliated with the university. Sometimes there is overlap or combined efforts in these accounts especially for universities employing only one Twitter account.
Universities do have more than 3 accounts on average but these are more specific to the faculties, departments, programs, research group, student groups, alumni, etc. Our criteria were to select the Twitter accounts that represented the main contact for each university. We did also allow for some campuses to be listed on their own if they had their own active account which followed the criteria I outlined above.
Overall we discovered 118 official Canadian university accounts as of November 21, 2011. They have tweeted 122,543 times and have garnered 236,229 followers since that first account was established. The first university to register an account on Twitter was Simon Fraser University on August 9, 2007. The most recent account registered was on October 26, 2011 for the Student Service Centre at Saint Mary’s University. To be fair, this is already the second official account created for the university.
The growth of twitter for universities in Canada has followed the classic “S” curve or Sigmoid Curve as you can see in the chart below. The image of an actual “S” curve below the chart reveals how similar they are. The year when Twitter really took for universities in Canada was in 2009 when more than 59% of accounts were created. If you peek deeper into the stats, you can see that from March 1-April 30, 2009, 22% of all accounts were first established. This could be described as the peak moment or tipping point for Twitter on Canadian university campus.
Actual Sigmoid Function
Currently the growth of new accounts is slowing dramatically but that can be misleading since we are reaching a saturation point due to universities creating all the accounts they may need. However there is a growing trend for universities to develop twitter accounts and media portals focused solely on communicating with potential future or prospective students. The real growth will come from the other university groups which we will discuss in future updates and articles.
Although universities in Canada are very well represented on Twitter, we are still in the early stages in the growth of social media. For example, the average number of followers for a university is just over 2000 while the median is 1024. We will be tracking these stats and others on a periodic basis so we can continue to track the over-all growth of Twitter and social media in Canadian universities.
In the coming weeks and months, we will also continue to introduce additional ways for future or current students to access and navigate successfully through the growing availability of social media networks. For example, we will be introducing next week, the university faculties that are currently represented on Twitter and social media.
|Erez Segal is the President of Hecterra Publishing Inc, a Librarian, graduate of the Dalhousie MLIS program and former founding Director of the Pier 21 Museum.|