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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2020

Birte Fähnrich, Jens Vogelgesang and Michael Scharkow

This study is dedicated to universities' strategic social media communication and focuses on the fan engagement triggered by Facebook postings. The study contributes to a…

Abstract

Purpose

This study is dedicated to universities' strategic social media communication and focuses on the fan engagement triggered by Facebook postings. The study contributes to a growing body of knowledge that addresses the strategic communication of universities that have thus far hardly dealt with questions of resonance and evaluation of their social media messages.

Design/methodology/approach

Using the Facebook Graph API, the authors collected posts from the official Facebook fan pages of the universities listed on Shanghai Ranking's Top 50 of 2015. Specifically, the authors retrieved all posts in a three-year range from October 2012 to September 2015. After downloading the Facebook posts, the authors used tools for automated content analysis to investigate the features of the post messages.

Findings

Overall, the median number of likes per 10,000 fans was 4.6, while the number of comments (MD = 0.12) and shares (MD = 0.40) were considerably lower. The average Facebook Like Ratio of universities per 10,000 fans was 17.93%, the average Comment Ratio (CR) was 0.56% and the average Share Ratio (SR) was 2.82%. If we compare the average Like Ratios (17.93%) and Share Ratios (2.82%) of the universities with the respective Like Ratios (5.90%) and Share Ratios (0.45%) of global brands per 10,000 fans, we may find that universities are three times (likes) and six times (shares) as successful as are global brands in triggering engagement among their fan bases.

Research limitations/implications

The content analysis was solely based on the publicly observable Facebook communication of the Top 50 Shanghai Ranking universities. Furthermore, the content analysis was limited to universities listed on the Shanghai Ranking's Top 50. Also, the Facebook posts have been sampled between 2012 and September 2015. Moreover, the authors solely focused on one social media channel (i.e., Facebook), which might restrict the generalizability of the study findings. The limitations notwithstanding, university communicators are invited to take advantage of the study's insights to become more successful in generating fan engagement.

Practical implications

First, posts published on the weekend generate significantly more engagement than those published on workdays. Second, the findings suggest that posts published in the evening generate more engagement than those published during other times of day. Third, research-related posts trigger a certain number of shares, but at the same time these posts tend to lower engagement with regard to liking and commenting.

Originality/value

To the authors’ best knowledge, the automated content analysis of 72,044 Facebook posts of universities listed in the Top 50 of the Shanghai Ranking is the first large scale longitudinal investigation of a social media channel of higher education institutions.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 11 August 2020

Mike S. Schäfer and Birte Fähnrich

Research on science communication in organizational contexts is scarce – even though many cases can be found where organizations from science and beyond communicate about…

1249

Abstract

Purpose

Research on science communication in organizational contexts is scarce – even though many cases can be found where organizations from science and beyond communicate about science-related issues, or where organizational contexts have an impact on the communication of individual scientists and scientific organizations. Therefore, it is time for an “organizational turn” in science communication research, and for more scholarly emphasis on the specific cases that science-related communication in, from and about organizations presents. Such an approximation would benefit both science communication research and analyses of strategic and organizational communication.

Design/methodology/approach

This special issue of the “Journal of Communication Management” on “Communicating Science in Organizational Contexts” is a step in this direction: It compiles commentaries from leading scholars in the respective fields as well as research articles coming from various disciplines and conceptual as well as methodological paradigms. In the editorial, we assess overlaps between scholarship on science communication and strategic communication, respectively, based on a meta-analysis of journals in the field(s), develop a guiding heuristic for analyzing science communication in organizational settings, and introduce the contributions to the special issue.

Findings

The meta-analysis shows that overlaps between science communication research and scholarship on strategic communication are scarce. While organizations and their communication appear occasionally, and increasingly often, in science communication research, scholars of strategic communication only rarely analyze science communication.

Research limitations/implications

The meta-analysis is limited to the publications of five scholarly journals over ten years. It still demonstrates the lack of research in the intersection of scholarship on science communication and strategic communication.

Practical implications

Scientific organizations are rapidly extending and professionalizing their strategic communication, and an increasing number of organizations beyond science communicate on science or science-related issues. Understanding science communication in organizational settings, therefore, is crucial for practitioners in both areas.

Originality/value

Analyzing science communication in organizational settings is of increasing importance – yet few studies exist that have done it, and the respective research fields devote not much attention to one another. The special issue is a first foray into this new, intersectional field.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

Keywords

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