YSU social media earns high marks in national study

Youngstown State University’s social media efforts rank third in Ohio and in the top half nationally.

That’s the conclusion of a new report by Rival IQ, a new media competitive analysis software, and the Up & Up Agency, a higher education marketing agency. The report ranks the engagement rates of the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels for 338 Division I colleges and universities across the United States.

YSU ranked #173 overall and #3 in the state, following the University of Toledo and the University of Dayton. On Twitter, in particular, YSU ranked #61 nationally and #2 in the state.

YSU’s high rankings are the result of a focused university-wide strategy to use social media to tell the stories of YSU students, faculty, staff and the campus community, said Kati Hartwig, coordinator of Social Media and Digital Marketing.

“The strategy for the social media channels shifts pretty much every 6 to12 months as things change in the industry,” she said. “We regularly take a look at each channel and study how our audiences absorb their information. For Facebook, it tends to be through video. For Twitter, it's through gifs, memes, and even a heartfelt 240-character tweet. Instagram is in the form of a high-resolution photo that gives our followers a feeling of nostalgia or familiarity, and on LinkedIn, our followers really enjoy news stories about the developments and changes we're making on campus.”

Hartwig said that, with each platform, the goal is to get users to engage with the content. An engagement, she said, is defined as any like, share, comment, reaction, click, etc. on a particular post.

Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, YSU’s social media channels rake in more than 92,000 followers.

“However, while the follows are great, my focus is really on whether or not we have meaningful conversation with our followers,” Hartwig said. “We can post a flyer on Facebook to announce something happening on campus, but are we really drawing any attention? As a public university, our social media channels are often looked at as public forums. The more meaningful conversations we can foster, the more meaningful our existence on social media will be. This includes responding to comments from the university account so that followers know they can ask questions where they feel most comfortable.”