Institutional Uses of Twitter in U.S. Higher Education


This study employed data mining and quantitative methods to collect and analyze the available histories of primary Twitter accounts of institutions of higher education in the U.S. (n = 2411). The study comprises a sample of 5.7 million tweets, representing 62 % of all tweets created by these accounts and the entire population of U.S. colleges and universities. With this large, generalizable dataset, researchers were able to determine that the preponderance of institutional tweets are 1) monologic, 2) disseminate information (vs. eliciting action), 3) link to a relatively limited and insular ecosystem of web resources, and 4) express neutral or positive sentiment. While prior research suggests that social media can serve as a vehicle for institutions to extend their reach and further demonstrate their value to society, this article provides empirical and generalizable evidence to suggest that such innovation, in the context of institutional social media use, is limited.

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George Veletsianos acknowledges funding received from the Canada Research Chairs program.

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Correspondence to Royce Kimmons.

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Kimmons, R., Veletsianos, G. & Woodward, S. Institutional Uses of Twitter in U.S. Higher Education. Innov High Educ 42, 97–111 (2017).

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  • Social media
  • Twitter
  • Dialogic communication
  • Data mining