Hot topics: August 2020 in UK Higher Education
Updated: Oct 18
It is a miracle anyone working in UK higher education survived August, after what was one of the most dramatic periods we've seen recently. While many would want to forget August, we've looked back at the popular online conversations.
Using Brandwatch for Education, we've reviewed the online conversations mentioning any college or university in the UK. These conversations took place on Twitter, sharing information from social, blogs, forums, news sites, and websites.
With rolling Covid-19 coverage an every day part of our lives right now, we switched it off for this blog. Using a simple Boolean filter NOT covid* to see what's actually being talked beyond the virus. Considering character limits in tweets and what we could see in the data, we didn't filter out "coronavirus". This approach has given us a more balanced view and a range of topics discussed.
Top 50 Emojis, Hashtags, Locations, Organisations, People & Phrases
Put simply, the bigger the word (or emoji) the more it was mentioned during August. Those featured in the top 50 account for 346,142 mentions online. Netflix took the lead on the very last day of the month, racking up 21,144 of its 23,828 monthly mentions total. Why? Well thanks to its mention in a tweet alongside the University of Oxford discussing the death of Chadwick Boseman.
A-Level results day won't be one to forget, we looked at the Twitter data for the 13 August to see which topical hashtag gained the most traction with audiences.
#alevelresults 3,252 mentions (8.98% of the conversation)
#clearing2020 1,675 mentions (4.63% of the conversation)
#clearing 1,396 mentions 3.86% (3.86% of the conversation)
10.46% of August's top 50 conversations were generated on the 13 August, totalling 36,199 mentions.
Top 5 Twitter conversation themes
Dinosaurs, superheroes, vaccines, football, and disaster. This month, our UK universities have featured in an interesting range of conversations. These have ranged from simple mentions and facts, to the hard work of communications teams getting their university's story out.
University of Oxford
All tweets: 484
University of Sheffield
All tweets: 47
"Beirut explosion: Before-and-after images" BBC News
University of Cambridge
All tweets: 27
University of Southampton
All tweets: 40
All tweets: 132
The top 10 hashtags generated a remarkable 240m impressions during August, with #clearing2020 accounting for 16% of the total. Interestingly, the hashtag only generated half the volume of mentions compared to #alevelresults. Quality over quantity some might say.
A staggering 394m impressions were generated across the top 10 most mentioned tweeters, with the University of Cambridge claiming 23.5% of all impressions.
Did "NOT covid*" make much difference to the results?
In case you were wondering, we did remove the filter, here are a few things we spotted.
Covid-19 mentions had some impact on the data but some of the strong performers still ranked highly with the filter off.
Covid ranks top in the word cloud with 53k mentions, Netflix moves into second place
An Economist article "Oxford University is leading in the vaccine race" achieved 141,820,805 impressions
Cambridge remained top of the most mentioned tweeters, taking its total impression count to over 100m
Want to know more?
If you want to find out more about Brandwatch for Education and analysing the data for your university, get in touch.