From inventive hashtags to social media sites that drew droves of alums to campus to a widspread sharing on the college experience on popular social platforms, elite universities are leading higher education in social media use, according to a new national ranking.

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Twitter use was a key in the 2013 rankings.

Prestigious schools, including Harvard, Duke, Stanford, and Yale universities, cracked the top-10 of an annual social media ranking created by StudentAdvisor, a company that tracks how colleges and universities use social media to communicate with students, faculty, and alumni.

Several public and for-profit schools made StudentAdvisor’s top-25 social media colleges, including the University of Oregon, the University of Florida, and the for-profit Full Sail University.

Harvard claimed the top spot in StudentAdvisor’s rankings thanks to an impromptu — and incredibly successful — use of a Twitter hashtag in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing that closed down much of the city.

The citywide lockdown prevented accepted Harvard students from visiting the historical campus, so the university instead created the #virtualvisitas hashtag that allowed current and future students to share videos, images, and text documenting their on-campus experience.

The university’s creative use of Twitter netted Harvard its largest incoming class since 1973, thanks in large part to the online sharing that substituted for the in-person visit.

See page 2 for details on how Duke rocketed up the annual social media rankings…


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