Information technology connects the world, influencing decisions around the globe. According to the Pew Research Center, over 90% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 engage with some form of social media. Businesses use social media platforms to reach customers, just as colleges and universities use social media to reach prospective students.
The following guide offers rankings of 15 colleges dominating social media. You will learn how social media usage benefits these universities, along with their prospective and current students.
Our methodology considered total followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We also considered the frequency of updates and the average number of reactions, comments, and shares a school garners per post. Lastly, we weighed more subjective characteristics like content creativity and unique features or strategies.
Top Colleges Dominating Social Media
The Stars of College Social Media
Harvard boasts more than 8.5 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. This total does not include the substantial social media followings for entities like the Harvard Business School, which has about 570,000 likes on Facebook, or the alumni association, which draws 336,000 followers on Instagram.
Harvard's Facebook page posts about current events, with recent content focused on analyzing the 2020 presidential election. Followers are among the first to receive news of the university's online events, including virtual tours of museum exhibits. An average post garners nearly 1,600 reactions and 165 shares.
About 1.7 million people follow Harvard's Instagram account, which highlights the diverse voices of incoming first-year students. The university also maintains a Twitter account that focuses on the accomplishments of Harvard researchers and alums.
Stanford's Facebook page and Twitter feed feature mirroring content, including news of faculty accomplishments and alumni gifts. Followers also enjoy videos that explain topics like distance education and U.S. border detention facilities, as well as showcase artistic performances from students and visiting musicians.
Over 816,000 people follow Stanford's Instagram account. Posts focus on student experience, such as how incoming and returning learners are managing academic and personal responsibilities in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
As a leading research institution, Stanford not only produces online content, but also studies its psychological and interpersonal effects at the Social Media Lab. Recent research delves into how technology impacts the ways people lie, tell the truth, and build trust.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
More than 1.2 million Facebook users follow MIT's main Facebook page, and an average post garners 451 reactions and 50 shares. Followers receive updates on student projects, including a mobile app that connects refugees with volunteer translators who collectively speak 120 languages.
MIT is also one of the colleges dominating social media on Instagram. The institute's 1,800 posts feature photos of the beautiful campus, filtered using #aroundMIT. MIT's Instagram also posts snapshots of faculty achievements, which users can learn more about by following provided links.
MIT boasts over 1.1 million Twitter followers. The feed highlights research innovations by the medical school, MIT's energy initiative, and partnerships with organizations like the Koch Institute. Community members can view the latest content from all MIT accounts by visiting the social media hub.
New Haven, Connecticut
Yale boasts more than 2.3 million followers on three main accounts. Posts from Yale's Facebook page are shared an average of 25 times. Content highlights academic programming and innovations, such as the construction of a new coastal research and teaching center by architecture students and faculty.
For research accomplishments, the Yale community turns to the university's Twitter feed. Recent discoveries delve into the existence of an ancient supercontinent and a new tool to decrease the rate of veteran suicide. Tweets also offer tips for students on topics like maintaining work-life balance and becoming better distance learners.
Yale's Instagram account has posted over 2,700 times. The account spotlights diverse student backgrounds, including a former U.S. army sergeant's journey to a graduate engineering program. The university's popularization of #VirtualYale enables community members to share their own content.
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton's Facebook page boasts over 586,000 likes and provides engaging videos from university conferences like Forward Fest, which focuses on developments in data science, education, and public health. Followers can also watch live feeds of graduation ceremonies and alumni day celebrations.
Similarly, Princeton's Twitter account features academic content. These updates cover the creation of new programs, such as the Princeton Techstars Innovation Bootcamp for graduate students and the Intelispark Consulting on Federal Funding for Startups for postdoctoral researchers.
Princeton's Instagram account has 386,000 followers. The account posts about student life using #TellUsTigers, including a story about the lasting friendship between two Muslim and Jewish students. The university also urges the campus community and other followers to tag their photos with #Princetagram.
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
LSU's Facebook page spotlights institutional successes. For example, 2020 was the highest enrollment year in the university's history, despite the educational challenges of the global pandemic. Prospective students can watch video tours of the state-of-the-art football stadium and the Burden Museum.
LSU's Twitter account highlights events hosted by individual offices and departments, including Campus Life and the Agricultural Center. The university's main feed often retweets updates from affiliate accounts like LSU Research and LSU Football to promote additional user engagement.
About 237,000 people follow LSU's Instagram page to explore campus life through the eyes of current students. Prior content includes profiles of aspiring RNs on National Nurses Day and the cheer team during a home game. LSU is one of the few universities to cross-promote, featuring TikTok content as part of its story highlights collection.
The Ohio State University
With about 717,000 followers, Ohio State's Facebook page posts about upcoming and current events. Recent updates feature guides on how to manage holiday travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce risk of infection over the winter.
Although the university's Twitter account offers the same posts as the school's Facebook page, followers can use the page to find affiliate feeds like the Ohio State Buckeyes and Ohio State News. Brutus Buckeye, the university's mascot, even has his own page, which provides official photos and student-made memes.
Ohio State's Instagram page boasts 266,000 followers, posting beautiful photos of campus scenery. The university also uses this platform to focus on campus initiatives, like social distancing promoted through the #TogetherAsBuckeyes.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbior, Michigan
U-M takes a comprehensive approach to managing its online presence. Community members can access a feed of trending posts across all of the school's platforms by visiting the social media page. They may also download official images and banners for their own pages, as well as search for the accounts of individual university entities, such as the Career Center, International Institute, and Law School.
The U-M Facebook page promotes upcoming events, such as a week-long celebration of veterans that consisted of panels of military family members and LGBTQ+ service members. Instagram users can find relevant content by looking up #UMSocial and #GoBlue.
The university's Twitter feed highlights student achievements, including a project to alleviate poverty in metropolitan Detroit. The account also spotlights faculty research, such as a study on tobacco use as a coping mechanism during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New York University
New York City, New York
NYU is among the top colleges dominating social media, particularly on Facebook, where the university's primary account attracts over 851,000 followers. Content centers on promoting academic programming, such as a multidisciplinary filmmaking course called "Sights and Sounds" from the Tisch School of the Arts.
NYU's Twitter feed mirrors the Facebook page, featuring institutional innovations. These accomplishments include the university's supercomputer Greene, one of the 100 most powerful machines of its kind in the world. Followers also receive news of future events sponsored by individual departments like the Office of Global Inclusion and the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs.
NYU's Instagram page enables users to access archived content, highlights of virtual tours, and downloadable mobile wallpapers. NYU also maintains social media accounts for international campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi.
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Nearly 1.2 million people follow Texas A&M's primary Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Through the university's social media directory, community members can discover additional channels, including pages for the branch campuses in Galveston and Qatar.
Through the official Facebook page, students and their parents can attend virtual family weekends and gallery openings. Followers also receive updates about institutional achievements, such as Texas A&M's status as the top public university for sending students abroad.
Texas A&M has more than 280,000 Twitter followers. The feed frequently highlights retweeted posts from students proclaiming their university pride with the #AggieRing. The university's Instagram account has posted over 1,800 times, promoting content that connects students to campus resources.
University of Florida
In addition to posts about campus events, UF's primary Facebook page publishes video series like UF Stories, which highlights individual students, and Cheryl '77, which tells the story of a mysterious love note written in concrete on the side of a campus building.
UF's Instagram account features profiles of diverse students, faculty, and other community members. Prospective learners and their families can get a glimpse of campus life by viewing videos in the highlight collections, which include tours of campus and libraries.
More than 203,000 Twitter users follow the UF feed. Content primarily consists of retweets of affiliated accounts like Gators Swimming and Diving, the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, and the university's career center.
The University of Texas at Austin
Over one million people follow UT Austin's main social media accounts. The university unites platforms with three official hashtags, including #UTTower for posts about the school's defining landmark and #HookEm for content that showcases UT Austin pride or athletic performance. The third hashtag, #WhatStartsHere, is reserved for posts about student accomplishments in public service, education, and research.
UT Austin's Facebook page consists primarily of news, covering institutional partnerships with community organizations and projects led by student groups. The university's primary Instagram account features official photos of the beautiful campus and stories from recent events.
For updates from individual academic departments and offices, community members turn to the school's Twitter feed. Followers may also connect to affiliate accounts like Texas Exes, the alumni association, and Healthyhorns, the student wellness and mental health center.
Columbia University in the City of New York
New York City, New York
Columbia boasts some of the best college social media accounts, especially on Twitter. Over 386,000 people follow the university's primary feed, which posts research discoveries and analyses of recent political news. The page also consists of retweets from associated accounts like ColumbiaULife and ColumbiaTechVentures.
Instagram users who follow the Columbia account gain access to student profiles showcasing the diverse backgrounds and pursuits of the campus community. Viewers can watch a series of stories on topics like mental health and climate change by clicking on story collections. Similarly, Columbia's Facebook page features video collections that include archived broadcasts of live feeds from speaker series and artistic performances.
University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
UCLA dedicates a portion of its operating budget to hiring digital marketing specialists who are assigned to individual colleges, departments, and campaigns. These professionals help the university analyze current content to create more engaging photos and videos.
More than 484,000 people follow the UCLA Facebook page, which highlights research achievements by students and faculty. Recent updates include discoveries made by UCLA data scientists that pinpoint local neighborhoods facing the highest risk of COVID-19 infection.
Through UCLA's main Twitter feed, campus community members can find out about upcoming events. They may also use this account to discover Twitter pages specifically for alums and the university's NCAA football team, the Bruins. Social media users who follow UCLA on Instagram enjoy beautiful photos of student life and campus scenery,
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Penn State's three best college social media accounts boast more than 807,000 followers. The university maintains high standards, requiring marketing staff and student groups to generate at least two posts for their respective pages, as well as follow guidelines for authenticity and transparency. Community members can find links to all of Penn State's platforms through the social media hub.
The Penn State Facebook page displays reminders of upcoming events, including performances from visiting artists and a weekly online Bingo night. The university's Instagram account promotes campus programming. Recent content features students and staff showing support of the COVID safety initiative #MaskUpOrPackUp.
Penn State News, the university's primary Twitter page, highlights student and faculty accomplishments. Followers also receive breaking news about the Nittany Lions, Penn State's NCAA football team.
Why Is Social Media Important for Colleges and Universities?
By maintaining the best college social media accounts, the schools featured in this guide can connect with potential students, giving them a glimpse of available activities and campus culture in general. Posts that highlight the diverse experiences of current students help students and parents feel as though they are not just another face in the crowd.
Social media networking is also useful for staying in touch with alumni and raising funds for the school.
The colleges dominating social media use their platforms as around-the-clock communication channels. Advisors and faculty can engage students in real time through media feeds, answering questions about the admissions process or next week's mid-term. As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates, social media is also a crucial tool for quickly disseminating information during a crisis.
What Social Media Platforms Do College Students Use the Most?
Pew research shows that Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the three most popular social media platforms among U.S. adults. The data for individuals ages 18-29 reveals similar trends. However, there are differences in platform popularity between college students and young Americans with no postsecondary education experience.
According to the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, 84% of 18-to-29-year-olds use Facebook, a percentage that jumps to 87% among college students. Approximately 45% of students have an Instagram account. Twitter takes the place of LinkedIn in this top three, with 47% of college students using the microblogging platform to access news and keep up with family, friends, celebrities, and their university.
How Can College Social Media Accounts Be Useful for College Students?
Prospective students can learn important information about a school's academic quality and campus life by looking at Instagram posts and Twitter feeds. For example, learners from underserved communities can evaluate the diversity of the student population and equity of available services and programs. Does the college offer academic accommodations for non-native English speakers or highlight resources for LGBTQ+ folx?
Once enrolled, students can use their college's social media accounts to connect with peers and faculty, as well as discover extracurricular events and professional opportunities like internships, summer employment, and research funding.
Beyond connecting with their university, college students can use social media to make a good impression on potential employers. Most employers view Facebook rants and questionable Instagram photos as negative markers of an applicant's professionalism. Conversely, employers in many fields appreciate applicants who can use social media in a professional and engaging way.
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