When pairing social media and Michigan State University, you quickly discover that MSU’s social media aligns with two channels: award winning video and university-centered curiosity/research.

Going deep, Spartan Vision (which boasts high-production value content in video format) concentrates on MSU athletics, is heart-pumping, brand building connection driving material for fans and alumni alike.

Going wide is the research-based inquiry that creates curiosity around topics and explores how they affect society on a larger scale. Look no further than 2011 MSU grad Tyler Oakley. Among Time Magazine’s 30 Most Influential People on the Internet and media advisor to the Obama Whitehouse, Oakley has raised $1 million for the Travor Project, a safe and confidential lifeline for the LGBTQ+ community. Contributing to textbooks about understanding “new media,” a paper on the “governance of social media,” research on social media addiction, or a piece on “cultural divides and digital inequalities,” the team at MSU has been researching and writing about social media since the birth of what we called “Web 2.0.”

Michigan State University doesn’t manage their success in social following with a typical calendar year. Instead, the university uses a fiscal calendar that mirrors the school year to align KPIs and budgets across many platforms and accounts. As an outsider, that makes it difficult to measure their social media performance YOY, though we can share that MSU has doubled down on platforms like Instagram and moved away from Snapchat. (We know measurements of success there are difficult to report from this channel.)

On Facebook, MSU has nearly 2 million followers across 98 accounts. With the most followers on the MSUathletics account, the number is nearly double what the brand itself has on Facebook.

On Instagram, Michigan State has just shy of 700,000 followers over 48 accounts. MSU_football once again leads the charge in the social space averaging 8,000 likes per image since the season started. The Instagram channels have a consistent aesthetic so images always lean into the green, with each channel dancing between video, static images, carousels, and boomerangs. To our experts, this illustrates how important MSU (and most colleges) take this channel and its ability to connect with the four core audiences, alumni, students, parents, and fans.

Michigan State has just 6 accounts on Snapchat, reiterating the fact that many brands are having difficulty understanding how to measure engagement and connection. They appear to be keeping a place on the platform but moving effort and budget to other platforms such as Instagram.

Michigan State and the award-winning Spartan Vision have almost 45,000 subscribers and 37 account on YouTube. The two largest accounts are the MSU brand which hosts 29 playlists. Our personal favorite, “Spartans on Stranger Things,” dives into the science behind Stranger Things using the experts at MSU to explain it. (It’s pretty terrific, check it out!) MSU features playlists that center around the university’s impact on the world. Alternatively, the lion’s share of subscribers go to MSUSpartanAthletics with nearly 3,000 videos and 19 playlists. These cover each sport and the channel focuses on “Spartan All Access” covering the sport(s) of that season in real time.

In the social space Michigan State University is an award-winning, innovative pioneer that champions causes, helps build stars, asks questions about the mediums and then chases down the answers with research, and creates an ecosystem for fans—to be fans. It will be exciting to see what 2020 holds for this team and how they will use these channels to connect, explore, defend, and discover.

Published in advance of the Michigan State University, University of Michigan football game on Saturday, November 16, MLive Media Group invites you to follow our Football Coverage.

Contributed by: Eric Hultgren


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