Published: 19th June, 2020
According to new research on social-media activity during the 2018 USS pension strikes, Leicester UCU is a top-11 influencer. The researchers – University of Leicester scholars Athina Karatzogianni and Khamis Ambusaidi, in collaboration with Torsten Geelan, who has just moved from Leicester to University of Copenhagen, and Ioanna Ferra of Coventry University – were interested in understanding how the ‘battle of ideas’ between the various actors involved (national UCU, local UCU branches, employers and Universities UK) unfolded over time. They used ‘big data’ analysis tools to track the dissemination of and engagement with more than 64 thousand original Twitter posts between mid-February and mid-April. Overall, they studied 313 thousand ‘engagements’ and more than 85 million ‘impressions’.
Their research demonstrates the power of single individuals – notably Jo Grady, who became UCU general secretary a year later – and UCU branches in online networks formed around the dispute.
The researchers then turned their attention to UCU branches, analysing a subset of almost 18 thousand Twitter posts and engagement, generating almost 3 million impressions. From this they generated an ‘influencers’ network’ and ranked the most influential branches – in terms of Twitter engagement and impressions.
Top Influencers, 16 Feb–18 April 2018
Leicester UCU appears at number 11 in this ranking.
Leicester UCU’s campaigns and social media officer, Deborah Toner said: “we’re delighted with this result; it’s a testament to the hard work of my social-media team and shows that a relatively small branch like Leicester can really punch above its weight. We’re determined to build on this success: our recent prize-winning tweet on the REF garnered international acclaim, and we’ll soon be launching a flagship strategy, Making Communication Heroic (MCH), to further improve our social media influencing excellence.
Branch chair Sarah Seaton also expressed satisfaction with Leicester UCU’s high placing. “It’s good to see that our strategic decision to prioritise in branch communications has paid dividends. This result shows that Leicester remains a branch of choice for UCU members and well-worthy of our place in Jack Russell Group of tenacious and energetic branches. However, we cannot be complacent. We will continue to strengthen the team and our goal is to become a top-5 most influential branch within the next three years.”