North East FE colleges embracing social but not influencing

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There is clear evidence that the overwhelming majority of FE colleges have embraced social media and social participation. Over 98pc and 95pc of FE institutions have a presence on Facebook and Twitter respectively.

The Digital Youth Academy, in its study published June 2014, resists the opportunity to 'name and shame' those 19 FE colleges not yet using Twitter. Our own research can't find any not using this platform in the North East.

Facebook is the most popular online social networking service so it's good to see almost all FE colleges using this platform to reach out and engage with students. London based Marine Society College of the Sea leads the pack with 30,000 likes, as of June 2014. Newcastle College comes 5th in the country (15,000) with Gateshead College (10,000) coming an impressive 10th in the table. Well done to them; solid foundations to build on.

The usage of LinkedIn is not as high or as developed but still accounts for over 80pc of all FE institutions in England. Once again Newcastle College performs well, coming 4th nationally with Cleveland College of Art and Design coming a strong 5th.

In fact, Newcastle College is a strong all-rounder making the top 5 in social participation and engagement across all three platforms - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

However, this study reveals our colleges shouldn't all be patting themselves on the back just yet. It's great that the FE sector has now embraced the previously taboo subject of social media and social participation; especially if we remember that it was only a few years ago that many colleges were discouraging social media among students by blocking access to such platforms.

But the real measurement of success is not so much big numbers of followers and likes, rather the ability to create and grow a sphere of social influence.

There are only a handful of FE institutions that are at the forefront of using social media to build, shape and develop their social influence as industry thought leaders. Newbury College is leading a handful (less than 5pc) of FE institutions that are creating and driving their social influence. This is where there is much more work to be done by most colleges.

The reputation and profile of FE colleges are not just built on past achievement, and some fancy marketing, but also on their ability to offer both students and employers the cutting edge of innovation and technology. Great food for thought.


*The full study can be found at:



Written by Wayne Halton at 11:30

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