Social media to drive engagement: a case study

Felicity Wild
Monday 19 October 2015

These days it is expected that every major (and minor) institution and organisation should have a social media presence.

Social media is a great means to share information and reach new audiences. However, all too often it is used by organisations simply because it is expected, without any higher purpose.

Facebook, Twitter et al. are channels of communication, but they are so much more than just broadcast mediums. They can be used to engage particular audiences and achieve specific goals, from crowdsourcing ideas to charity fundraising. To do this successfully requires a campaign focused approach rather than just going through the motions of daily posting and sharing.


The University’s Press Office launched a social media campaign surrounding Orientation week 2015, aiming to drive traffic towards the new Orientation website, as well as to engage with students (past and present) and promote the unique St Andrews student experience. Their primary target audience was students, with secondary audiences including the parents of Freshers and alumni interested in opportunities to reminisce.

Objectives and audience are, however, not the only aspects that need to be considered when planning a social media campaign. The timing of posts (evenings and weekends are best), content (must be interesting, relevant and sharable), and resources (committing staff out-of-hours to cover events in real-time) all need to be accounted for during the planning stage. The Press Office also took the time to share their plans with University groups and organisations likely to be active on social media during Orientation week in order to promote the use of hashtags (#FreshSaints) and to generally raise awareness of the campaign. This proved very useful and is something we intend to do a lot more of in the future.

Campaign evaluation

Properly planning a social media campaign is vital to its success, but post-campaign evaluation is equally as important. All major social media platforms provide analytics which give insights into how your posts performed, allowing you to tailor your next campaign to audience preferences.

Below is a summary of activity across the University’s Facebook and Twitter accounts during Orientation week 2015, compared with Orientation week 2014 when no specific campaign was undertaken. I won’t go into how specific content types performed here – that topic deserves a blog post of its own, this is just an overview of general activity.

Twitter analytics

Orientation week 2014 Orientation week 2015
Engagement rate* 0.5% 1.7% 
Average link clicks per day 2 38 
Average retweets per day 0 10
Average favourites per day 0 13
New followers per day 0 14


*number of impressions (total times a Tweet is seen in user timelines and search results) divided by number of engagements (total user interactions with a Tweet e.g. link clicks).

Facebook insights

Orientation week 2014 Orientation week 2015
Average post reach* 2,539 19,627
Average likes per post 51 468
Average comments per post 9 42
Average shares per post 10 40
Page likes per day 39 64


*number of users who have seen a post

It’s a cliched saying, but the numbers really do speak for themselves. Much higher engagement rates and reach were achieved across both platforms during Orientation week 2015. This demonstrates the benefits of planning a properly targeted and resourced social media campaign, as opposed to a random selection of posts and shares.

However, there is still room for improvement. Action points for the next campaign include starting further in advance to allow momentum to build and even more coordination/collaboration with other University groups active on social media.

Do you have any suggestions or pearls of social media wisdom to share with us? If so, feel free to get in contact with us on [email protected] or leave us a comment below.


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