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Tweeting Professors: Who is Winning?

Text by Julia Kuhn Mirza, Senior Communications Manager, swissnex San Francisco

In 2010, a survey of nearly 1,400 higher education professors in the United States revealed that 35 percent of them used Twitter. Most said they used it to share information with peers rather than as a learning tool to communicate with students. But things are changing.

Numbers for Twitter use among professors in Switzerland are not readily available, so swissnex San Francisco tallied up the followers. Here are the results:

Edwy Plenel of University of Neuchatel clearly leads the pack, followed by Miriam Meckel from the University of St. Gallen and Frederic Kaplan of EPFL. As Professor for Corporate Communication and Director of the Institute for Media and Communication Management, Meckel clearly has a knack for all things social. With more than 17,000 followers on Twitter, she reaches an audience more than eight times the size of her employer’s, yet she strongly represents her institution on her Twitter profile and acts as an ambassador for the university.

Edwy Plenel HSG

UNINE: Edwy Plenel HSG: Miriam Meckel, Urs Gasser EPFL: Frederic Kaplan UZH: Kurt Imhof. Data collected by swissnex San Francisco in January 2014 using publicly available data (Twitter)

University professors are not only increasing their use of social media for outreach purposes. A recent survey revealed that 41 percent of professors in the US also use social channels for teaching, up from around 34 percent in 2012. A revolution in the classroom is not far away.

swissnex San Francisco collects quarterly data on the use of social media by Swiss universities in the scope of the program “The Digital Campus,” managed by swissnex San Francisco. The objective of this program is to build upon the growing social media expertise of program participants and provide Swiss higher education with the latest knowledge and best practices on how to leverage new technologies for the benefits of their institutions and students.