MSB Hunts for Followers, But Do They Listen?
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 02:10
Although the McDonough School of Business’ recent social media campaign has placed it on the top-10 list of business schools for social media reach, analysis of the campaign reveals that it has not brought the intended engagement with these followers.
MBA50, the website that ranked the MSB at No. 8 for its social media reach, based its list on the number of followers, likes and subscribers, rather than the way those followers interact with the account. The MSB’s 44,000 followers put it at fifth on MBA50’s top business school Twitter accounts.
While these numbers are impressive, the MSB’s Klout score, which measures user interaction through social media, is 53 out of 100. Twitter accounts operated by The New York Times and President Barack Obama, which engage followers through retweets and favorites on every post, have a Klout score of 99. On a more comparable level, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management has 41,000 Twitter followers and a Klout score of 78.
MSB administrators acknowledged the usefulness of the Klout score as a measure of success in social media.
“One of the best success metrics is seeing how users engage with your content,” Rob Mathis said, Georgetown Social Media Director.
If MBA50’s rankings were adjusted to measure by Klout score, or engagement, rather than the number of followers, or reach, the MSB would likely place 21st rather than eighth.
In the month leading up to the MBA50’s social media ranking, the McDonough School of Business added 35,000 followers, jumping from 6,964 followers Sept. 8 to 44,877 followers Oct. 3.
“We developed a targeted campaign to engage with that audience through promoted accounts, which appear in the suggested ‘who to follow’ box on the side of a person’s feed, as well as through promoted tweets, which place our tweets within targeted Twitter feeds. The tweets we promoted highlight high-profile events on campus and our own social media campaigns,” MSB Chief Marketing Officer and Associate Dean Chris Kormis wrote in an email.
The campaign targeted Twitter users likely to be interested in the MSB, looking at people who follow Forbes magazine. Barracuda Labs, a social-media analytics company, analyzed the MSB’s recent gain in followers to note that of the 35,000 added, Forbes was not among the top 25 accounts followed in common by the followers and the MSB. Rather, the top two accounts in common were Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, who both have approximately 45 million followers, many of which are fake accounts.
However, accounts about business and Georgetown were found in common among the MSB’s original 7,000 followers before the launching of the campaign. While the original 7,000 followers were located mainly in D.C., New York and London, the 35,000 added followers were listed mainly in India and Indonesia. These new accounts had mostly been created in the last 41 weeks and had tweeted fewer than 27 times, while the original followers have an average of 331 tweets per account.
Kormis stressed that the MSB’s recent social-media push is a global campaign, and she expects global engagement.
“Our goal is to promote the school,” Kormis said.
Jason Ding, a research scientist at Barracuda Labs, added that gaining as many as 35,000 followers is highly irregular and extremely difficult to do even through a promoted campaign, which usually produces a more gradual result.
This sharp increase in followers and fluctuating trend in types of followers highlights the potential pitfalls of a broad marketing campaign and flaws in Twitter’s advertising model. While the MSB has gained tens of thousands of followers, the school is not receiving the type of engagement associated with a high follower count, as its Klout score suggests.
“I would rather have a thousand engaged followers than a hundred thousand non-engaged followers,” Mathis said.
“This is a trial for us,” Teresa Mannix, assistant dean for Communications for the MSB said. “This is the first time we’ve done a global campaign.”
After seeing these findings from Barracuda Labs, the MSB has since suspended its Twitter promotion campaign, fearing that funds are being poorly spent if they are not getting the engagement they had hoped for.
Mannix stressed that only time will tell if their campaign was successful.
“Numbers are just numbers,” she said.