Huntsman Post

Huntsman School's Social Media Efforts Outrank Hundreds of Schools

When it comes to social media—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube—the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business has vaulted into the ranks of the top 30 AACSB accredited business schools in the United States, thanks to the efforts of one graduate student. In April 2012, the Huntsman School ranked 8th in Twitter followers, 15th in Facebook followers, and 29th in YouTube views. This puts it ahead of all other Utah business schools combined.

This all comes thanks to a single student, Sterling Morris, who recently graduated in May of 2012 with a master's in management information systems (MIS). Sterling said he has little interest in his own personal social media presence. And yet, thanks to his efforts, his school can boast that its Facebook and Twitter communities are outdoing some major business schools.

“Creating a social media community can be rewarding because, to some extent, you can keep score,” Sterling said. “It’s nice that we can say that our Facebook site has more followers than business schools from universities like University of Southern California, Duke, Cornell, Georgetown, and Northwestern.”

Sterling Morris expanded the reach of the Huntsman School's social media efforts

It wasn’t long after Sterling was hired to help out with the photography needs of the Huntsman School of Business in 2010  that he took an interest in the school’s Facebook and Twitter presence. While he neglected his own personal Facebook page, he was fascinated to see the impact things like Twitter and Facebook were having on businesses and organizations.

In April of 2012, just two years after he started, Sterling did his own study to find out how the Huntsman School of Business Facebook site compared to other business schools. At that point it had more than 5,000 Facebook followers making it number 15 in the nation among the nearly 500 business schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). That was a 967 percent increase from when he started helping out.

He found the school’s new Twitter account had 280 followers in 2010 and now has more than 9,000 followers, ranking it number eight in the country among accredited business schools in April of 2012. The school has more followers than all other Utah business schools combined. He launched a YouTube account that has drawn more than 40,000 views, which ranked it at #29 in the nation.

Sterling said he started by studying what other business schools and major companies were doing to make their social media efforts successful. He said he discovered three core things they were all doing well.

“I discovered a well-managed social media presence is consistent, is responsive, and it’s engaging,” he said.

He said he doesn’t measure success just by how many people have “liked” the Huntsman Facebook site. He said real reach is better identified by the type of content that generates responses and discussions. He began to experiment and to tailor his messaging to meet the needs of his audience. He said such experimentation is necessary because what works for one company may not work for another organization.

He said that while a serious Seahawks fan, for example, may be thirsty for every tweet that comes out about his team, a loyal Goodyear customer may not want to hear from a tire company every day. By experimenting and paying attention to his numbers, he made progress.

“Look at the numbers and you can discover interesting facts and trends that aren’t intuitive,” he said.

He said he discovered that the Huntsman community was interested in positive news about the school and photos of events happening on the Logan campus.

“Our business community makes a huge investment in the business school, from tuition dollars to the time people invest in the business school,” he said. “Through their career they carry their degree with them. The Huntsman School community is heavily invested and very proud of the business school, and people want to hear about what’s going on here.”

Sterling has a knack for identifying needs of his audience and finding ways to meet them, according to the Huntsman staffer who was his supervisor, Steve Eaton.

“The key to unleashing Sterling’s success was to get out of his way,” Steve said. “He gave our social media a voice, and it became a resource to students who wanted to know what was going on and who was in the middle of it. If someone tweeted a question, Sterling always found the answer.”

Sterling also went out and followed others and engaged online with other people who were interested in business news in Utah, even if they were not necessarily interested in the Huntsman School of Business. He cultivated a network of people and shared through social media information helpful to their careers, whether they were students or alumni in the workplace.