As Facebook shows off its worth with its recent IPO offering, this recently popular infographic explores the added value of colleges and universities using social media in education. We at the Digital Bullpen wonder: Has USF fully embraced the world of social networking?
USF’s official social media presence, managed by the University Communications and Marketing division, currently stretches across six platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Tumblr.
So far, Facebook is the most widely used platform on campus. USF’s main Facebook page has a large following with more than 69,500 fans, compared to Florida State University’s more than 66,000 fans and University of Florida’s almost 382,000 fans.
In addition to the main page, almost 100 official active Facebook pages are affiliated with USF. Some of the more popular USF Facebook pages include USF Athletics with over 27,000 fans, USF Tampa Bookstore with 7,600 fans and USF Marshall Student Center with more than 6,500 fans. The pages with the most fans tend to be the most interactive, using diverse content that engages both students and other departmental pages.
While the study for the infographic shows that only 84 percent of colleges and universities use Twitter as a means of communication, USF currently has more than 60 affiliated Twitter pages. Yet, USF’s main twitter account, @USFNEWS, has only 5,800 followers compared to the University of Florida’s more than 22,700 followers.
Twitter has recently started to play an interesting part in the learning process at USF. Some professors now strongly encourage students to start their own Twitter accounts, while other professors go so far as to use Twitter for a means of student participation in larger classes: setting up a live, on-screen Twitter feed in the front of the room and encouraging students to tweet their opinions in class to a designated #hashtag.
USF also recently integrated Foursquare into the mix, using the platform as the base for the first USF Social Media Scavenger Hunt, hosted during homecoming week of fall 2011.
In order to maintain standards for the vast number of pages affiliated with the university, University Communication and Marketing provides social media guidelines that set expectations for departments and organizations on campus that wish to start their own official pages. These guidelines are laid out more specifically for Facebook and Twitter, describing appropriate page names, hashtag use, number of posts per day, diversity in content and conversation tone.
While USF may not be breaking social networking records yet, our herd does seem to be progressing as it transitions into the digital age of social media.