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#ThursdayThrowdown: Battle of the Business Schools

Social Media Listening, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy

#ThursdayThrowdown: Battle of the Business Schools

Social media listening can be an effective tool to gauge popular perception of a brand. By analyzing the volumes of posts written about any given brand, we can gain instant insight into what people across the social web feel and say about the brand. Today we’re continuing the #ThursdayThrowdown series at Tracx. Every other week we take two brands, events, or trends that we’re interested in and pit them against each other using Tracx technology. For this week’s edition, we’ve delved into a field where brand reputation most certainly matters: business school. We’ve collected and analyzed all of the social media activity around two top tier institutions, Harvard Business School and Wharton at University of Pennsylvania.

Online Reputation

Harvard Wharton Social Reputation resized 600

Social media analysts used to focus primarily on counting the number of times that a brand name was mentioned online, but the second generation of social listening tools emphasizes that honing in on the conversations’ content reveals a much deeper and complete understanding of the brand’s online reputation.

For this analysis, we’ve taken a look at the words that are most often used in discussions of the two schools. In the Venn diagram above, we’ve plotted the most used terms to best highlight the phrases that differentiate the highly-ranked schools from each other.

Taken together, the words associated with each brand-name school reveal its reputation. The Harvard brand evokes professional success, as demonstrated by its association with words like CEO,corporatesuccessful, opportunity, and senior. These words don’t appear as often in conversations about Wharton, whose reputation focuses on a less traditional kind of success: that of the increasingly emerging start-up scene. Despite Harvard’s efforts to grow its entrepreneurial program, it’s Wharton that’s associated with words like entrepreneur and founder.


We don’t often call a draw in the #ThursdayThrowdown, but the conversations around both schools reveals two robust reputations, each with a distinctive niche.

Authoritative online channels


Harvard Wharton Social Channel 01 resized 600

We’ve noticed something funny about how people think about social media. Often, they think about social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram but completely ignore the rest of the social web. That’s sufficient for some brands, but this analysis of business schools is a great example of why it’s important to remember non-network spaces like newspapers, blogs, and forums.

Anyone who has both a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile knows that people behave differently within each social space. As these differentiated networks grow in number and diversity, brand managers are beginning to put more thought and consideration into which social channel is suitable for their needs. For elite educational institutions, spaces like news sites, blogs, and forums are most likely more useful than Twitter or Facebook.

News sites provide more educated and formal discussions and authority that’s often hard to come by in other online spaces, and blogs and forums both cultivate the kinds of specialized audiences that discuss innovations in business at length. That’s why for this #ThursdayThrowdown, we’re judging each business school on how effectively they’ve penetrated those social spheres.

That would make Harvard Business School our winner for this facet of the contest. Twenty percent of the posts about Harvard take place on blogs, with another six percent located on news sites and three percent on forums. Wharton lags behind on penetration in these spaces, with less than fifteen percent of the posts about the school originating on blogs, news sites, or forums.


Global Reach

Harvard Wharton Social Breakdown 01 01 resized 600

Harvard and Wharton may be local graduate schools, but they’re perceived as global brands. Top-tier schools are looking to be discussed around the world, and their brand managers need to know whether they’ve successfully entered the global discourse. International market research was once prohibitively expensive, but insights provided by enterprise social media management tools such as Tracx make it easy to create a digestible snapshot of what’s being said around the world.

For this #ThursdayThrowdown, we wanted to answer two simple questions: “Is the social conversation about each school global or local?” and “Do their reputations extend outside their geographic territories?”

Online conversation about Wharton is almost entirely local, with over 90% of posts originating in the United States. Conversation about Harvard is more evenly split, with international voices contributing nearly a third of the online discussion.


And the winner is … Harvard

Location matters in both traditional marketing and in social media. A great reputation backed by social contract covers a lot of distance, but in this #ThursdayThrowdown between two schools with great reputations, the win came down to an ability to get that content into the right places: the authoritative social spaces around the world.

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