Mostly sports and congratulations : Twitter, Facebook, and Alberta higher education
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One of the defining features of social media is the capability for interaction, specifically for the audience to respond to previously posted content. Higher education research to date has focused on the content published by institutions, with minimal examination of the content sent back to institutions. Previous research has often operated as though higher education’s social media is homogenous, without acknowledging the variation in institutional mission. Furthermore, previous research has tended to treat institutions’ social media accounts as the same, without examination of differences between social media platforms. This research examines both gaps. Twitter posts mentioning primary and secondary accounts of 25 Albertan post-secondary institutions were gathered during a two-month interval alongside messages posted to the same institutions’ primary Facebook pages, to determine which topics led the audience to communicate back to institutions and to examine whether any difference existed between account types and platforms. Analysis of the data, using sentiment analysis and topic modeling, found that audiences tended to discuss institutions’ sports teams, as well as events or features unique to institutions. No difference in sentiment or emotion was found between account types, with most messages being moderately positive. Facebook messages tended to include more descriptive language while the higher volume of tweets suggested that Twitter audiences appear to be more prone to interaction than Facebook audiences. Institutions may be best served by pursuing different social media strategies for Twitter and Facebook.
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