As more students at Yale and people across the world incorporate Facebook and Twitter into their daily lives, Yale administrators are increasing efforts to monitor the University’s social media presence.
Over spring break, 30 members of Yale’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, the Yale Broadcast and Media Center, and Yale art galleries attended a three-day “social media boot camp” in New York City, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said. Yale spokesman Michael Morand said Yale’s public affairs offices have begun to analyze Web page traffic closely to better understand who is viewing the pages and how the University’s social media outreach can best engage that network.
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“At OPAC, we sweat the details of our metrics closely and consistently,” Morand said. “A key part of the boot camp and our ongoing work with colleagues is to make sure we all make the most of the analytics to further improve our digital storytelling.”
OPAC oversees Yale’s Facebook page and Twitter, as well as the public relations website Yale News. Yale administrators at OPAC keep statistics on which stories receive the most traffic on Yale’s pages, which are then used to determine future content and press release times. Some of this information is available to the public, such as “likes” or “shares” on Facebook, but other statistics, such as Web traffic, are only available to the University, as the pages’ owner.
Morand said social media analytics also let OPAC consider the demographics of Yale’s online followers: Roughly 60 percent come from the United States and roughly 50 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. Individuals from India, Egypt and Mexico are Yale’s other top followers on Facebook, he added.
While these efforts are relatively new to Yale, Lorimer said the University has been “playing catch-up” to other schools, who have already established their online presences.
“Yale is behind Harvard rather substantially in terms of an extended Facebook family,” she said. “But on the other hand, Yale has started up late and has been coming up dramatically. It’s up to 140,000 ‘likes,’ far lower [than] Harvard, but Harvard’s alumni body is huge compared to ours.”
Harvard had roughly 1.7 million “likes” on Facebook as of Tuesday night. Still, Track Social, a social media analytics group, recently rated Yale third on a list ranking American universities by social media outreach, one spot above Harvard.
Since each school within Yale has its own specific public affairs staff, public affairs officials used last month’s workshops to compare social media use across the University’s schools, said Elizabeth Stauderman, chief communications officer for the University. Before becoming eligible for the workshops, she added, administrators had to agree to connect with each other over various social media pages in order to create “a network of social media experts” across the University.
“We felt it was important for our communications colleagues from across the University to have a basic understanding of social media tools and of the ways in which social media can be used to tell the important stories of their respective units,” Stauderman said.
As of Tuesday night, Yale’s Facebook page had 140,956 likes and the University’s Twitter account has 35,197 followers.