The Social Side of College Admissions

A High-Level Look at When and What Colleges Posted on Facebook in 2013

February 10, 2014

This is the first post in our 4-part series A Look Back at 2013.

We wanted to kick off our series with a look at some of the big-picture takeaways from our analysis of more than 300,000 posts by 700+ college and university Facebook Pages.

We hope to help provide some clues on when the best time to post is and what types of posts work best.

To give you an anchor for the engagement scores that you'll see in our analysis, we've shared a few averages for all 301,897 posts we analyzed:

  • Average Likes per 1,000 fans: 3.72
  • Average Comments per 1,000 fans: 0.21
  • Average Shares per 1,000 fans: 0.27
  • Average Engagement Score: 4.69

Best Day of the Week to Post

Posts on Saturdays and Sundays tend to generate the highest engagement scores. This has been a consistent finding every time we've carried out a large-scale analysis of posts by college and university Facebook Pages. In particular, they seem to generate more likes and more shares.

Our belief is that this higher engagement is likely linked to a couple of factors:

  • Your fans have more time and opportunity to check Facebook on the weekends. Many schools and workplaces block access to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube.
  • Sports-related posts are often the most engaging posts, and college football and basketball probably have the biggest audiences of any college sport. Most college football games and lots of college basketball games take place on Saturdays (which is the day with the highest engagement score).

Not surprisingly, Saturdays and Sundays are also the days of the week with the fewest posts by college and university Facebook Pages.

A Month by Month Look

Unlike last year, when we saw a sustained increase in engagement from May onward, we did not see any major shifts in the engagement score that would indicate a significant change in Facebook's algorithm for displaying Page posts in a fan's News Feed. We did notice that March, May, and August showed the strongest engagement levels. A few thoughts on why these months may have stood out:

  • March
    The NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments take place in March (and bleed into the start of April). Several schools capitalized on these games and their teams' successes in these tournaments to engage their fans (Wichita State is a great example of this).
  • May
    Commencement ceremonies for graduating classes take place in May for many institutions. A number of Facebook Pages took advantage by sharing pictures of students in their caps and gowns along with announcements of famous commencement speakers on their Facebook Pages.
  • August
    Many institutions welcome their incoming first-year students in August. A congratulations post or, even better, a picture of the entire class seemed to be a great way to generate engagement.
MonthEngagement Score (# of Posts)
21,820 posts
27,852 posts
28,764 posts
31,781 posts
28,687 posts
20,435 posts
19,924 posts
13,613 posts
27,457 posts
31,177 posts
27,523 posts
22,864 posts

Pictures Generate Most Likes and Shares

No surprise here. Posts with photos receive the most likes and are shared more frequently than any other type of post. If you're looking to generate comments, though, a simple status update (text only) seems to work best.

Media TypeEngagement Score
(# of Posts)
Likes / 1000 FansComments / 1000 FansShares/ 1000 Fans
142,237 posts
38,924 posts
16,945 posts
6 posts
103,623 posts
4 posts
158 posts

One important note to keep in mind, our engagement formula is unable to capture click-thrus for link posts or views for video posts because these metrics are not available via Facebook's Graph API. These metrics are available via the Insights area of your own page.

A recent announcement by Facebook may shift things a bit when it comes to what type of content to post. Sharing links instead of status updates may be a better strategy for 2014, if you're looking to get visibility in a fan's News Feed.

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