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Wabash Facebook No. 1 in Nation?

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We’re No. 1!!!!!!

Wabash College has earned a “mythical national championship” in Facebook reach and engagement. It’s a bit like college football’s national champion prior to the current playoff system.

facebook-logo-2During calendar year 2015 research says that our Facebook reach was higher than any other college in the country. Statistical analysis, with a healthy dose of probability, indicates we led the nation by a substantial margin.

We have an experienced voice engaged in college social media efforts pronouncing us king.

“We have tracked Facebook data in higher education for seven years, and have analyzed over 3,000,000 posts from 1,400 colleges and universities,” said Brad Ward, CEO of BlueFuego. BlueFuego specializes in higher education social media engagement and recruiting practices. “Prior to 2014, we were able to track data on every page in higher education, but we can now only get accurate data on pages that we have administrative access to.

Blue fuego logo“However, we do know that until 2014 no higher education institution had averaged above a 4 percent engagement for a year. Siena College, who has been a top-3 page in the nation since 2011, was the first page to surpass a 4 percent engagement average in 2014. They went on to reach 5.7 percent engagement and 103 percent reach in 2015.

Those are certainly impressive numbers. Well, it was impressive until last year. Wabash’s Facebook engagement measured 7.7 percent in 2015 with a reach per post of 202 percent.

“That is the highest we have seen in our 7 years of data collection and analysis,” Ward said. “Wabash is 40 percent higher on engagement and nearly 75 percent higher on reach per post when compared to what we once considered the best-performing Facebook pages in higher education.

“Wabash has truly set the new standard and we can say with 99 percent certainty that these numbers are the best in the nation for 2015, and absolutely the highest in Indiana and the North Coast Athletic Conference.”

So for those wondering what the statistical hocus-pocus really means? Allow Mr. Ward to explain: “Reach measures the number of people that Facebook has put content in front of, and we look at that as a percentage of the fan base.  The industry average is around 40 percent, with Wabash at 202 percent.  Engagement is the number of people liking, commenting or sharing the content.  We divide interactions by the number of fans to see what percentage of fans interact with the institution’s content.”

ZurekFBstoryDo your own test. Check out the “likes, comments and shares” on Indiana, Purdue or any of the large college’s Facebook pages and then look at Wabash’s Facebook page. For example, the most recent post is about the college’s Martin Luther King Day celebration. That post reached more than 22,000 Facebook users, had 190 likes, and 97 shares.

One of our best posts of 2015 was Mason Zurek’s late game touchdown run in the snow against Albion. That post reached nearly 118,000 Facebook users, had more than 1,700 likes, and 460 shares.

“Wabash alumni, parents, and students engage in our Facebook page more feverishly than typical web stories,” said Howard Hewitt, Wabash’s Director of Digital Media. “The football photo is a good example of our reach. The Wabash community gets a compelling photo in seconds, then express their pride in the institution by sharing the photo or information with other Facebook friends.”


Research Leads Trio to Puerto Rico

Shane Xuan ’17 – This past weekend Andrew Powell ’17, Reno Jamison ’17, and I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to present papers for the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA).

Andre Powell '17.

Andre Powell ’17.

Powell’s and Jamison’s project is independent research supervised by Dr. Shamira Gelbman, an Assistant Professor of Political Science here at Wabash College. The presentation, “Mobilizing the Electorate: Evidence from the 2014 Senatorial Candidate Twitter Feeds,” analyzed over 8,000 tweets from 76 Senate candidates in the month leading up to the midterm election to examine how the political candidates used social media in 2014. They found that candidates tweeted more in competitive races, and that party affiliation was a strong indicator of the type of tweet that was used. Their research was presented as part of a panel regarding the media, public opinion, and elections.

“It was an extremely rewarding experience to have Andrew’s and my project culminate in attending the SPSA Conference,” said Jamison. “We got excellent feedback on how to improve our paper going forward. We thank Professor Gelbman for advising our research project.”

Shane Xuan '17.

Shane Xuan ’17.

My paper “Why Do Chinese Students Study Abroad: An Empirical Study on Brain Drain in Developing States” was presented in the Nationalism and Identity Politics panel. I study student emigrants from authoritarian states to understand the relationship between social mobility and regime stability, and to suggest how developing states could employ economic and political incentives in order to attract overseas talent.

I presented my paper at a graduate student panel, and was able to receive a lot of critical and insightful feedback on how to improve the paper and to incorporate it into a bigger project in the future. I have been in love with many academic books and articles in the past few years, and being able to talk to the authors at a national conference feels like realizing a dream that I have never thought about. All these experiences can help me tremendously as I move along into graduate school this September to pursue a Ph.D. in political science. Thank you Wabash.

I also would like to thank Professor Rory Truex for kindly sharing his China Policy Attitudes Survey (CPAS) dataset with him, and Professor Gelbman for her helpful comments on previous drafts.

Reno Jamison '17.

Reno Jamison ’17.

These independent projects have allowed us to develop stronger research skills as well as important insights into the professional setting of doing research in political science.

We would like to thank Division III, the Political Science department, and the Undergraduate Research Committee of Wabash College for providing the financial support that enabled us to present research at this year’s SPSA conference. Both papers also will be presented at the 16th Annual Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work on Jan. 29.