The Social Side of College Admissions

A Look Back at 2012: A Four-Part Series on Our Research of College and University Facebook Pages

January 15, 2013

We just completed our analysis of more than 600 college and university Facebook Pages. We crunched data for every post by these pages for the year 2012, which totaled more than 230,000 posts. We're sharing our results in a four-part blog series over the next couple weeks.

A Quick Look at Our Methodology

We pulled every post available via Facebook's Graph API for every school in our directory of college and university Facebook Pages (627 pages were used in our 2012 analysis). We only analyzed posts made by the Facebook Page itself, not the fans of that page (236,060 posts analyzed). We collected the count of likes, comments, and shares for each post. The data pulls were done during the first week of January 2013. We also pulled the fan data every week for each of the Facebook Pages in our directory, giving us a ballpark approximation of the fan count for a given page when a post was made.

Our Engagement Score

For each post, we used the following formula to determine an Engagement Score:

The Engagement Score is an attempt to quantify how effective a given post is at engaging the audience of an institution's page. We have given each form of engagement a weighting based on how significant that form of engagement is. As you can see, we've given comments and shares twice the weighting of likes. We believe responding with a comment or sharing the post with your friends is a stronger form of engagement than simply clicking a like link. They involve you either contributing content of your own, in the case of a comment, or expanding the distribution of the Facebook Page's content, in the case of a share.

We recognize that this is a rudimentary measurement, but we believe it provides a high-level sense of how engaging a particular post is and a point of comparison when looking for trends and best practices. We also recognize that our metric focuses on particular forms of engagements (likes, comments, and shares). It does not take into account how many views a video may have received, how many click-thrus a link may have garnered, or whether a post led to particular actions by an audience member. We are obviously limited by the data provided by Facebook in its Graph API, but these may be metrics to consider when attempting to analyze your own institution's Facebook Page posts.

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