Selective openness, branding, broadcasting, and promotion: Twitter use in Canada’s public universities

George Veletsianos, Royce Kimmons, Ashley Shaw, Laura Pasquini, Scott Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Higher education institutions have embraced social media platforms. Yet, little research has examined the characteristics of institutional social media accounts and the narratives their posts construct for faculty and student life. By investigating these topics, researchers can better understand the actual and potential roles of these tools in contemporary universities. This study focused on understanding how Canada’s public universities use Twitter, reporting descriptive, inferential, and qualitative analyses of large-scale Twitter data. Findings show extensive variability in participation patterns among institutions. Although rhetoric surrounding Twitter suggests an interactive platform, institutions mostly use it to broadcast information and construct overwhelmingly positive representations of institutional life. While the identified representations are partly authentic, they are also incomplete and misleading. Such representations suggest difficulty for students and faculty seeking to use social media to accurately anticipate campus life or to interact online in these spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Media International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 International Council for Educational Media.


  • digital participation
  • higher education
  • networks
  • Social media
  • technology use in higher education
  • Twitter


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