The Anatomy of a Twitter Audience

Cassie Dull is the online communications specialist at Park Tudor School, an independent school in Indianapolis, Indiana.

When we started using Twitter at Park Tudor two years ago, I immediately became curious about the types of people who were following us. I assumed that our follower base would be 90 percent Park Tudor families and alumni and 10 percent spam. I was wrong. Here’s the breakdown of our Twitter followers:

Twitter audience infographic

One-third of our audience is made up of people or organizations in our local community in the city of Indianapolis or the state of Indiana. Almost another third is made up of schools, teachers, education bloggers and people who work in the education industry. Then we get to the 22 percent of our followers who have a direct relationship with the school— alumni, students, parents and faculty and staff. Only two out of every nine followers are school constituents. The male-female ratio is evenly spread out among our followers, excluding Twitter accounts that represent an organization or company.

So what does this mean for our Twitter strategy?

First, it means we have to adjust our messages to fit a wider audience. If we tweet a reminder about the kindergarten program that parents are invited to attend, it’s not going to matter to most of the people following us. Instead, we’ve turned to Twitter as a tool for community outreach. It lets people in the community get a real glimpse of what life is really like at Park Tudor. We tweet photos and videos of everyday life on campus. And we listen. When someone talks about Park Tudor online, we want to know what they’re saying and we want to have the chance to respond, whether it’s a positive or negative comment. (Most of the time, it is a positive comment.)

Second, it means we need to establish ourselves as a leader in the education industry. Whether it’s people in the community, in the education industry or in our school community, they all are looking to us as a knowledgeable source for education information. I will admit this is an area that I would like to improve on. I think it would be beneficial to our followers if we shared more articles and blogs about news in the education industry as well as parenting tips and learning strategies.

Finally, it means that we need to better promote our Twitter account among our school community. We don’t just want to increase our numbers by asking them to follow us on Twitter, we want to increase engagement with our school community members.

Do you know how your Twitter audience is spread out? How do you tailor your content for your audience? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

3 responses to “The Anatomy of a Twitter Audience

  1. Thanks, Cassie–that’s a great idea to track Twitter followers as they follow. It’s great to hear what other folks find useful and effective when using social media for their institutions 🙂

  2. Good question, Krista. The stats are from an ongoing list that I started when we got started on Twitter. Every time we get a new follower, I add the name to the list, check out their profile and determine which category they fall under. Usually, I can determine if they are in the local community or education industry by their bio, and I can figure out if they are an alum, student, parent, faculty/staff by cross-checking with our directories. Some people I just label as ‘None.’ I also check who.unfollowed.me and take names off the list when they unfollow. Sounds like a lot of work, but I really only spend a few minutes a week on it. I understand this would be a little harder at larger institutions with a large number of followers, but this works for us, and we have 730 followers. Good luck as you get started and welcome to higher ed!

  3. Great infographic, Cassie!
    I am curious–how did you find out the stats for your Twitter audience? Did you issue a survey after a period of time? I’m new to higher education communications and of course, social media is expected to be a part of our strategies. I’m not sure if we can determine who our “real” Twitter audience is at the outset if we don’t first get active and attract followers (sort of a chicken or egg dilemma). Your insights would be very helpful!

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