Forget football and basketball, which Utah colleges have winning social media strategies?

Posted on January 1, 2011 by


There’s no denying that Utahns are passionate about in-state college rivalries. But what makes these rivalries special is that they aren’t just limited to sports. I remember seeing t-shirts at a USU vs BYU basketball game that read “win or lose, you still have to live in Provo.” So today it only seemed natural to take those rivalries to the next level and rank our universities’ social media strategies. Overall lesson? Utah’s schools still have a long way to go. Most of them need to figure out that social media isn’t here just so you can tell us about your football games. It’s an opportunity for you to interact directly with your students, alumni, and fans. And I hate to burst all you cougars’ bubbles, but BYU does this worse than anyone in the state:

  1. Westminster College (2,200 on facebook, 2,500 on twitter) Their following may be small, but they do a bang-up job with social media. Westminster is the most engaging college in Utah. In fact, it’s the only school in the state willing to @ reply anyone on twitter. Their engagement style earns them a spot at the top of this list, because after all, if you’re not going to talk with people, why are you on social media in the first place?
  2. The University of Utah (43,800 on facebook, 2,900 on twitter) They’re active, they’re popular, and they’re in a great location. (SLC has more twitter users than any other city in the state). The Utes are in a great position to step up their social media presence in 2011. But it looks like they still haven’t figured out how to engage (i.e. @ reply) or even get their website to acknowledge that they’re on social (where’s the “like us on facebook” button?).  But nonetheless, they’ve taken a few steps in the right direction and we expect great things from them in the future.
  3. Utah State University (14,200 on facebook, 900 on twitter) What the Aggies lack on Facebook and Twitter, they make up for on YouTube. USU’s YouTube channel has more upload views than any other school in the state (148,300). USU also has the best integration of social media with their overall recruiting efforts. The Aggies have created a video and blogger series called “My Friends” that chronicles life at USU. Unfortunately, most of the blogs in this series haven’t been updated for several months.
  4. Weber State University (10,800 on facebook, 500 on twitter)
  5. Southern Utah University (3,500 on facebook, zero on twitter)
  6. Utah Valley University (5,000 on facebook, 135 on twitter) Why is UVU behind SUU? They haven’t updated their facebook page since August 2010.
  7. Brigham Young University (two facebook accounts: 17,800 on facebook A, 72,100 on facebook B, zero on twitter) Why is BYU last? Yes, there are a couple of Facebook pages set up, but neither one is maintained by the university and both pages have been updated a combined total of 5 times in the past year. And as far I can tell BYU has no official twitter handle (although some may consider @byualumni, it still doesn’t work as a main account for the school). While the university may call itself the “Harvard of the West,” it has dramatically missed the social media boat. So why do I rank them dead last instead of putting them in front of SUU or UVU? Because quite frankly, I expected more from BYU. When you have that many people wanting to interact with you and you ignore them, you have truly failed. What does this mean for the Cougars? Obviously BYU has a unique recruitment model that can’t be duplicated anywhere else (e.g. at last count my church building had 8 different BYU advertisements on the tack board). But BYU does not recognize that social media is still experiencing explosive growth. This provides other universities in the state an opportunity to step in and take over. Whether the Cougars like it or not, their future freshmen are spending more and more time on social media. I’m sure the Utes and Aggies are more than willing to find them and keep them entertained.

So how did your school stack up? Any suggestions for them on how to improve?

Disclosure: I am a graduate of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University