The University of Michigan joined the modern social media ecosystem in November of 2007 when they launched their Facebook page. Two years later they joined Twitter and today U of M has a footprint on every platform: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The university also boasts a social ecosystem of more than 70 different brands covering 1,194 different accounts that include the likes of Coach Jim Harbaugh to Michigan Creative—the largest provider of creative services to the U of M community.

U of M uses social media to connect and inform, and “strengthen our brand voice, providing customer service and mitigating institutional risk.” In 2018 they released a “yearbook,” which captured the scope of social media accomplishments over 12 months. Last year U of M put out 4300 pieces of unique content (12 different components each day). Each spoke in the “native tongue” of the given channel it was designed for.

When compared to private colleges with similar metrics, University of Michigan is 4th on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter behind Yale, Syracuse, and Harvard (the #1 private college in the social media ecosystem). That same comparison to public institutions U of M is #1 on Facebook and Instagram and #2 behind The University of Texas at Austin.

The university’s largest channel is Facebook and boasts almost 5 million followers across 449 accounts. In 2018, this audience grew 4.9%. Since 2012 the official U of M Facebook page has grown 32%. With all the changes to the algorithm even a brand the size of U of M struggles with reach in this climate and for the first time in 2018 experimented with paid promotion of posts on their main channel along with some of the smaller accounts.

On Instagram the University of Michigan has a million followers across 127 accounts, growing 25% YOY. Part of that growth occurred after researching their audience more deeply, resulting in a move from Snap Chat to Instagram. In 2018, the team leveraged the attention on Instagram to execute timely giveaways, lean into meme culture, and branded versions of viral video trends. One of their most successful posts in 2018 was a giveaway on ‘National Book Lovers Day’ where they gave away four books written by U of M alumni.

That post grabbed 500 new followers and 78 shares, ONE of those shares was a user with over 40,000 followers. This reiterates our core belief that ‘likes’ are one of the least useful ways to measure impact and getting the right post in front of the right person is a far more impactful when a brand leans into that, this post is an example of that.

U of M has 2,640,144 followers across a staggering 476 accounts on the Twitter platform. In 2018 overall this channel grew 13.8% year over year. In late 2017, as Twitter doubled its character count from 140 to 280, U of M was afforded the ability to tell better stories and took full advantage.

Perhaps the most interesting play from the #UMsocialteam is the creation of playlists on Spotify. ‘Wolverine Workout’ (433 followers), ‘GAMEDAY’ (357 followers), and ‘Dad Rock’ (255 followers don’t boast the numbers of the other channels, instead explore the power of what might be described as sharable audio. In fact, the digital strategy team launched Alexa updates and the “Michigan Minds” podcasts, offering another space in which U of M continues to innovate and explore.

Taking a look at social media’s most “buttoned up” channel, the university used LinkedIn for faculty and research-based content. The team decided to double their efforts on LinkedIn content in March of 2018, they posted 212 times for 17 million impressions and gained an impressive 36,9860 followers over the 61 accounts on the platform. This momentum carried through to 2019 where the University of Michigan page increased by 33,798 followers with 4 months left in the year.

For the University of Michigan, social media is not only something they “have” it is a priority and a tool they use with multiple mediums, strategies, and voices to speak to current, former, and potential students at every stage of their lives.

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

Contributed by: Eric Hultgren

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