Social Authority: What is it and why does your school need to measure it?

You may have heard us talk a lot recently about social influence and authority. Here, at Interactive Schools, we have been busy analysing every UK independent school’s social media activity and authority. This is to give schools clear, actionable data. It is also a clever bit of fun! We will be releasing this data out to schools in next the coming weeks. 

It is safe to say that schools have adopted Twitter - 73% of independent schools are on Twitter in some capacity - but there is still some way to go in terms of real engagement. How influential is your school? How engaging is your school? How influential are your followers?

What is social authority?

Social authority measures your school’s influential activity, primarily through the number of retweets. Its a 1 to 100 point scale based on a user’s influential content. It highlights the schools that are incredibly effective in engaging their followers. Some schools struggle to create content that resonates with people and this table will help to establish needed improvements. 

The great thing about authority is that it is not directly a matter of how many followers you have, rather the content you create and how your audience reacts to it. Followers is a reaction of good content, not the cause. 

Why does it matter?

Is your school’s content resonating with your community? This is something that is difficult to measure. It is easy to see the basic metrics such as tweets, followers, retweets, mentions, favourites etc. but these cannot be solely used for measuring social activity.

How you can use social authority.

So, all this stuff is great but actions…give me actions! There are a high number of ways that social authority can be used by schools. The simplest actionable insight you can get from social authority is an overview of how well is your content performing. The higher your social authority, the more shareable your content. 

It also gives a deep insight into the affinity people have with your content - if they are willing to share this content with their followers, then they are strong advocates for your brand. If you have a low score then ask these questions:

  • Are your tweets grabbing people’s attention?
  • Are your tweets actionable?
  • Are you engaging your audience?
  • Is your school easily discoverable?
  • Do your tweets have a high visibility?
  • Is there a strong affinity towards your school?

How influential are your followers? Having influential people following your tweets increases the likelihood of your message spreading through trusted and authoritative sources. 

Your school should follow schools with a high social authority and take a look at how they interact with their followers. This will allow you to analyse their content and tweet strategies to help you make informed decisions about your own. 

Who has a high social authority, and what can you learn from them?

Bablake School #1

Bablake School (@BablakeSchool) are currently number 1 overall on the Alternative School League Table. Why? Because they are engaging with their audience through replies, retweets and mentions. This gives their followers a feeling of community, which increases the likelihood of reciprocal communication.

Not only do Bablake School engage with people, but they tweet interesting content - which include links to their website and external sites! They do this on a regular basis, which constantly keeps their followers aware of Bablake.

Their language of choice is playful, fun and very social friendly. This makes people feel at ease and much more likely to advocate their message. Remember: retweets are key!


How does your school increase its social score?

The score is a great measurement of how people take to your content - this can either be your brand message/philosophy or interesting, engaging content.

Justin Bieber (@JustinBieber) has a high authority because young people have a very high sentiment for him - they are huge brand advocates and will defend him not matter what. This is very crucial to social marketing. You, as a marketer, want to create a brand that people have a positive feeling towards. So much so, that they will advocate and share your message. 

BBC News (@BBCNews) have a high authority because they are a trusted and instant source of news. People trust what they are saying and because they are often one of the first to tweet about news and updates, people will retweet and converse.  

Funny Tweets (@autocorrect) have a high social authority because, as you would expect, they share funny tweets! People find their content comical and want to share it their friends and following to increase their social capital. Just like in real life, if you hear a joke that makes you laugh the you will want to share it with your peers. We are innately social, we like to share.

These are three very different examples of Twitter accounts, but they all share something similar - they engage their audience through remarkable content. 

My school has a low social authority, what am I doing wrong!?

In general, schools have a low social authority. There are a number of reasons for this and we will go through a few of them. Lets take Brighton College (@BrightonCollege) as an example.

They have a social authority of 1 but have 925 followers. They have an audience willing to listen to them and ready to consume their brand message but they have not tweeted since 2010! This quiet downtime has led to their authority dropping. If you are not tweeting regularly, it will be difficult to receive a high social authority. 

Social authority is not about the number of followers you have, but how you engage the audience you do have. You could have the most followers in the world but if you are not engaging them, you will not be an influencer.

Begin to tweet regularly, then after a month check your social score again. Keep experimenting with different content and different styles - find out what resonates with your followers.

So, to wrap up.

We are previewing the table right now at the BSA Annual Conference for Heads (follow along using #BSAConf2013). Our MD Simon Noakes (@SimonNoakes) showcased parts of the tables during his talk on social media. We have had a great reception so far and it is great to see schools actively discussing their social score.

If you want to know your social score then tweet us with @intSchools #socialscore.