Universidade de Coimbra, Faculdade de Letras (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 5518-5520
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.1322
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
The 'cyberstream' is essentially comprised of cross-content aggregations, which creates a specific dependence on platforms and remodels user-binding practices (Amaral, 2016). Based on the assumption of being everywhere, social media and social networking sites are user-centred, sharing, cooperative, and have collective action services that may have different (and simultaneous) content access and distribution devices.

In the era of online social networks, brand communication involves the use of digital social media tools. The capitalization of the brands is made through commitment, recognition, reputation, loyalty and recommendation. Brand identity goes through content marketing and social networking. Peppers and Rogers (2011) consider that a content marketing strategy must incorporate four central elements: values shared with the client, a mutual value in the relationship, quality communication and non-opportunistic behaviour. Sánchez-González and Paniagua-Rojano argue that “a brand, a company or institution, and its product or service have become social objects and, as such, must communicate through the social web” (2013, p. 30). Social media also become part of institutional communication.

The Internet is recognised as a “key source of information for prospective students” (Simões & Soares, 2010, p. 384). Digital tools are now used in the institutional communication of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) for branding, student recruitment, communication with the academic community. Rutter, Roper and Lettice (2016) argue that “universities that interact more with their [online] followers achieve better student recruitment performance than universities that fail to interact” (2016, pp. 6-7). Clark, Fine and Scheuer advocate that HEI “should invest resources in social media communications if they intend to form high-quality relationships” (2017, p. 12).

This article analyses the use of Facebook by Portuguese universities as a tool for institutional communication. The study focus on the dynamics of this social network platform in order to evaluate the indicator ‘visibility’ trough the metrics of ‘applause’ and number of fans. The empirical study analyses the HEI (N = 15) that compose the Council of Rectors of the Portuguese Universities. Datasets were extracted from university’s Facebook pages within a 6-month period (April - September 2018). The methodological approach was quantitative content analysis. The results show that institutions with more students achieve higher dynamic of publication and engagement, although smaller institutions attain greater amplification and more visibility. Larger universities tend to have more fans. HEI with more visibility can be those with a number of fans consistent with the level of ‘applause’. However, not all HEI with higher activity have more fans or ‘applause’. Moreover, the institutions with fewer students are those that can reach consistency in their social media strategies, showing greater visibility and engagement in their institutional communication and high amplification of the brand.
Social media strategies, social networks, Portuguese universities, institutional communication.