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Top University Social Media Accounts in 2023

12 min read

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Rama Eriksson
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Creating a compelling social media presence is now more vital than ever for educational institutions.

Social media has transformed into a fundamental marketing tool for higher ed, and institutions that are doing it right are able to amplify their brand awareness and attract prospective students globally.

Beyond hashtags, keeping abreast of current trends is the first step in guaranteeing your social media content strategy’s effectiveness. 

RivalIQ's 2023 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report delves into the social media accounts of over 700 colleges and universities around the US, creating a comprehensive guide to social media in higher education. The report ranks schools by assessing engagement rates, engagement totals, and posting frequency onInstagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter.  

Read on to learn from the institutions that rank at the top.  
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University of Iowa 

Perennial winner, University of Iowa, did not disappoint this year, clinching the overall gold for an unprecedented “5-peat” win. Ranking #1 on Facebook, #11 on Instagram, #2 on Twitter, and #35 on TikTok, UoI shows off its strengths as well as its opportunities for improvement.  

Part of UoI’s secret to its success can be linked to its highly engaged audience and highlighting events in addition to milestones on campus. 

That, combined with significant national sports victories and innovative content, consistently set the University of Iowa apart from the rest.  

The university was ranked first on Facebook - courtesy of celebratory and victory-centric posts, such as this example below highlighting a win from the Hawkeye women's basketball team during the national championship playoffs.

Fan-followers were happy to share in the celebration and drove a remarkable 15.3% engagement rate which is 80 times higher than the average D1 school Facebook engagement rate!

 

Regardless of the importance or availability of sports at your school, it is essential for engagement to celebrate noteworthy events around campus. 

The University of Iowa's captivating Instagram post showcased sorority members dancing on campus, generating exceptional engagement among students and alumni, achieving an impressive 31.3% engagement rate per follower.  

  

Angelo State University 

Thanks to its ability to customize content and effectively connect with its target audience across all channels, Angelo State University was able to snag a top spot in the 2023 rankings.  

ASU’s TikTok channel’s strategy features an entertaining blend of one-on-one interviews with students and faculty, highlights of campus events, and more whimsical content such as the post below, showcasing its renowned campus gum tree. This TikTok, dedicated to the tradition of leaving a piece of gum for good luck with sports or finals, achieved an impressive 11% engagement rate per view.  

ASU gumtree

As this post shows, shining a spotlight on a fun campus tradition that resonates with both current students and alumni, creates a successful connection within the community. 

 

 Shared Tactics of the Top Higher Ed Social Media Accounts  

By following the top 3 social media trends among the top higher ed accounts any institution can plausibly, improve its content calendar and strategy. 

 
 #1 Campus Glamour Shots 

Sharing beautiful and inspiring campus photos is Top Trend #1 in the RivalIQ report. These posts deeply connect with an institution’s diverse stakeholders, increasing engagement oy stoking nostalgia and school pride. 

 

#2 Celebrate Student and Alumni Accomplishments 

Second is all about celebrating—and leaning into - what makes your school special. Showing off these milestones is an easy way to achieve significant engagement rates when posting about a sports title success, smashing a fundraising goal, or winning a Nobel Prize, for example.

 

#3 TikTok Shake-Up 

 Let your Gen Z students take over with Top Trend #3: a content source shake up. Sometimes a silly video that puts students front and center can win big. We all know social media content can get stale and repetitive pretty quickly. There is no better way for your school to exude authenticity and cultivate up-to-the-minute trend points than to use content from current students and community members. 

Know your audience to master the art of social media content   

A successful social media strategy is one that takes into account the distinct audience on each social channel. Creating content that best resonates with that platform’s audience, therefore, is vital. Those institutions that are most successful are the ones that do not post for the sake of posting, but, prioritize quality targeted content over quantity. 

 

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