Media and Social Media

28 February 2023
The Media and Social Media team: (from left) Ridovhona Mbulaheni, Elijah Moholola, Manisha Govender, Sinethemba Phiri, Nombuso Shabalala and Thami Nkwanyane. <b>Photo</b> Lerato Maduna.
The Media and Social Media team: (from left) Ridovhona Mbulaheni, Elijah Moholola, Manisha Govender, Sinethemba Phiri, Nombuso Shabalala and Thami Nkwanyane. Photo Lerato Maduna.

The Media and Social Media unit communicates to internal and external audiences about university programmes, research and the activities of faculties, staff and students. Working closely with UCT’s executive management, we release news and information through both traditional and social media.

This report provides an analysis of the media, social media and executive communication at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2021.


Throughout 2021, the University of Cape Town (UCT) accounted for most of the media coverage in comparison to the universities benchmarked against (Stellenbosch University, University of the Free State, University of Johannesburg, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Pretoria (UP), University of the Western Cape and the University of the Witwatersrand). Compared with other institutions, UCT had 26% of the coverage in the period from January to December 2021, followed by Wits (19%), UP and Stellenbosch (both with 13%).

CMD Annual Report 2021 - Media and Social Media Infographic
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UCT generated 28 068 media clips (24 469 in 2020), resulting in an average of 237 525 clips (print, broadcast and online) per month. The highest tally was 4 384 in April (attributable to the #UCTFire) and the lowest was 1 332 in January 2021.

The total advertising value equivalent (AVE) for coverage on UCT in 2021 was R1.9 billion (R1 923 189 591), while the total combined reach was 57 billion (57 040 266 931). Proportional AVE, which is a measure of quality of mention, was 42% for UCT, followed by Stellenbosch University with 41%.

The leading media platform for UCT was print, with 12 151 clips, contributing 43% of overall SOV, followed by online media with 11 012 clips (39% SOV), while broadcast coverage had a total 4 905 (18% SOV). Online had the highest reach, followed by broadcast.

CMD Annual Report 2021 - Media and Social Media Infographic
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Print media was led by Die Burger (760 clips) and Cape Argus (525 clips). Broadcast media was led by Cape Talk (842 clips) and eNCA (418 clips), while online coverage (excluding the UCT website) was led by IOL (861 clips), followed by News24 (662 clips).

The media release that generated the highest clips (184) and highest AVE (R8 753 199) was in the month of July, which was on the UCT Online High School.

The rest of the top performing media releases for each month were as follows:

  • January: Gigantic galaxies discovered with the MeerKAT telescope (14 clips, R466 953 398 AVE, 176 188 420 reach).
  • February: UCT approves Sexual Misconduct Policy to scale up sexual offences response (6 clips, R335 725 854 AVE, 2 072 310 493 reach)
  • March: New SARS-CoV-2 variant may have emerged from the Eastern Cape after first wave, study reveals (5 clips, R519 322 560 AVE, 99 126 400 reach)
  • April: UCT’s first-ever Google Research Scholars Program recipients (13 clips, R143 209 AVE, 1 400 999 reach)
  • May: South Africa’s longest-running public arts festival is back to (Un)Infect the City (8 clips, 138 022 AVE, 1 115 036 reach)
  • June: Clarity of facts related to Athol Williams’ repeated allegations about UCT (9 clips, R455 633 AVE, 1 732 259 reach)
  • July: UCT Online High School launched (184 clips, R8 753 199 AVE, 34 695 642 reach)
  • August: Deeply shocking Nosicelo murder strikes too close to home for UCT on anniversary of Nene murder (86 clips, R839 468 517 AVE, 4 880 062 015 reach)
  • September: UCT Vice-Chancellor unreservedly apologises to the LGBTQIA+ community (R541 762 598 AVE, 7 641 328 546 reach)
    Yet another international ranking body places UCT top in Africa (29 clips, R197 689 732 AVE, R6 297 563 197 reach)
  • October: SSA energy sector has the highest carbon intensity of any G20 nation – Climate Transparency Report 2021 (4 clips, R112 754 AVE, 791 711 reach)
  • November: The Algorand Foundation partners with UCT to develop the UCT-Algorand Fintech Innovation Hub (3 clips, 69 382 AVE, 45 603 reach)
  • December: UCT engineering graduate overcomes imposter syndrome and ill health (1 clip, R8 650 AVE, 134 131 reach).

COVID-19 related coverage, in addition to research and academic opinions, were key narrative drivers in the overall media landscape. UCT generated the most coverage (26%) related to COVID-19. This is 27% of their overall coverage. Wits followed with 24%, which is 36% of their overall coverage.

CMD Annual Report 2021 - Media and Social Media Infographic
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The faculty that received the most coverage is Health Sciences, followed by Humanities, and then Science.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng had the highest share of voice with 1 884 (76%) media clips compared to other vice-chancellors. Professor Zeblon Vilakazi (Wits) followed with 237 clips and an overall SOV of 10%, with Professor Tawana Kupe (UP) generating the third highest number of clips (156 clips and an overall SOV of 6%).

The total advertising value equivalent for coverage on Professor Phakeng in 2021 was R108 047 583, while the total combined reach was 5 773 574 535.

CMD Annual Report 2021 - Media and Social Media Infographic
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The online media space generated the most coverage for Professor Phakeng (927 clips), followed by the print media space (630 clips). Broadcast (329 clips) generated the least amount of coverage.

Excluding the UCT website, IOL led for Phakeng with 78 media clips. Cape Argus and Die Burger followed, with 68 clips each. eNCA generated 38 clips, followed by CapeTalk with 336.

Social media

UCT social media pages have a total of 760 969 followers across the prominent social media platforms.

Audience growth have been noted across all platforms. Facebook followers grew from 213 775 on 31 December 2020 to 224 695 on 31 December 2021; Twitter followers from 210 262 to 219 479; LinkedIn followers from 248 401 to 293 028; and YouTube subscribers from 11 639 to 15 800. Instagram was introduced in 2021, with 4 136 followers on 31 December 2021.

Social media followers across platforms have grown by 76 497 users and 17.3% in 2021 as a result of the proactive university wide campaigns and efficient response rate by the social media team.

UCT social media presence summary

In 2021 content placed on UCT social media platforms had a combined reach of 57 406 748 (46.3% increase), 2 182 169 engagements (10.2% increase) and 381 601 link clicks (27.1 % increase) across the prominent social media platforms when compared to the stats for the same period in 2020.

CMD Annual Report 2021 - Media and Social Media Infographic
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UCT social media combined impressions, engagement and link clicks

Impressions refers to the number of times that content is displayed to users. Impressions across the platforms increased by 46.3%. The highest increase in impressions derived from Facebook, which increased by 54.1.%, followed by Twitter with 38.1% and LinkedIn with a 25.2% increase.

Engagement refers to the combined number of likes, shares, comments and retweets on social media posts across platforms. Engagement is an important measurement as it indicates that social media users are interacting and engaging with UCT’s content on social media. It is also important for users to engage with UCT on social media as when they do, the social media platform algorithms pick up that they like the content and start to show more of it on their home pages. The total engagements across platforms increased by 10.2% in 2021. UCT received the most engagement on its LinkedIn page, which increased by 48% compared to the same period in 2020. There was also an increase in the Facebook page as followers engaged with the content 7.5% more than they did in the same period in 2020. These engagements consisted of comments, likes and shares of UCT generated content. Engagement with UCT’s content on Twitter increased by 1.4%.

Post link clicks refer to the number of times users have clicked on links published on UCT platforms. The total post link clicks increased by 27.1% in 2021.

The social media audience on all four platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube) has grown by 76 491 during 2021. It is interesting to note that the dominant age group on Facebook and Twitter is 25-34, while the dominant age group on YouTube is 18-24 years old. All the UCT platforms are dominated by South African users, and men dominate Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Facebook attracts the largest international audience (USA/UK) of the platforms.

The social media team responds to all information-seeking queries and factually incorrect posts picked up on social media. In 2021, the team responded to over 22 500 social media queries across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This is an increase compared to the 13 121 queries received and attended to in 2020. The team on average responds to 416 queries per week, with a response rate of 85% on Facebook. The majority of queries received via Facebook and Instagram were related to admission to the university (application date and process, application requirements, application status, degree suitability) followed by faculty/department-related queries (degree requirements/transfers/course credits/module specifics) and then fees (course fees, specific fee queries, scholarships and bursaries, financial assistance) as well as career services (students seeking career advice and guidance, seeking employment). The team also received queries related to the remote learning (data requests, clarity on teaching and learning, UCT support services available during COVID-19, other matters pertaining to UCT’s response to COVID-19).

The top 10 Twitter posts in 2021 were:

  • UCT selects first Uyinene Mrwetyana Scholarship recipient (1 146 015 reach, 32 859 combined engagement)
  • All UCT students evacuated from campus following #UCTFire (818 199 reach, 42 874 combined engagement)
  • UCT clarifies incorrect claims around FHS applicant (284 868 reach, 57 961 combined engagement)
  • Statement by the UCT Council on student registration fee block (208 615 reach, 6 375 combined engagement)
  • Live stream: VC Open Lecture by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (188 059 reach, 4 816 combined engagement)
  • UCT Vice-Chancellor unreservedly apologises to the LGBTQIA+ community (181 113 reach, 16 478 combined engagement)
  • Call for financial donations for the #UCTFire (153 062 reach, 6 636 combined engagement)
  • Launch of the Rhodes Must Fall Scholarship Fund public lecture (130 539 reach, 2 321 combined engagement)
  • UCT alum directs South Africa’s first gay rom-com (126 484 reach, 4 323 combined engagement)
  • UCT remains among top 1.4% of universities globally (121 544 reach, 6 078 combined engagement)

A total of 39 events were livestreamed on Twitter. The top 10 livestreamed events were:

  • VC Open Lecture: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (14 005 combined views, 1 293 live, 12 712 replays)
  • #UCTOnlineHighSchool launch (9 467 combined views, 3 206 live, 6 261 replays)
  • Virtual Graduation: Faculty of Commerce (5 449 combined views, 3 108 live, 2 341 replays)
  • UCT Chancellor’s Installation and Inaugural Address (3 692 combined views, 1 940 live, 1 752 replays)
  • Virtual Graduation: Faculty of Health Sciences (2 584 combined views, 1 764 live, 820 replays)
  • Virtual Graduation: Faculty of Humanities (2 129 combined views, 1 291 live, 838 replays)
  • #UCTForWomxnByWomxn event (2 125 combined views, 1 210 live, 915 replays)
  • #AfricaMonth Symposium (2 074 combined views, 1 591 live, 473 replays)
  • #UCTAwards2021 (1 583 combined views, 842 live, 741 replays)
  • UCT Parent Orientation (1 221 combined views, 467 live, 754 replays)

Other livestreamed events were as follows:

  • #UCTGrad2021 Faculties of Health Sciences and Law (1 190 combined views, 572 live, 618 replays)
  • VC Open Lecture: Tsakani Maluleke (869 combined views, 194 live, 675 replays)
  • Virtual Graduation: Faculty of Law (845 combined views, 165 live, 680 replays)
  • Annual Bongani Mayosi Memorial Lecture (828 combined views, 271 live, 557 replays)
  • VC Open Lecture: Professor Abhijit Banerjee (791 combined views, 218 live, 573 replays)
  • VC student engagement session on mandatory vaccination (481 combined views, 244 live, 237 replays)
  • #RhodesMustFall Scholarship Public Lecture (410 combined views, 200 live, 210 replays)
  • Staff engagement session on mandatory vaccination (391 combined views, 206 live, 185 replays)
  • VC Inaugural Lecture: Professor Isabelle Ansorge (388 combined views, 135 live, 253 replays)
  • #UCTGrad2021 Faculty of Commerce (326 combined views, 169 live, 157 replays)
  • Memorial Celebration of the life of Dr Stuart Saunders (323 combined views, 173 live, 150 replays)
  • #UCTGrad2021 Faculty of Humanities (310 combined views, 163 live, 147 replays)
  • VC Inaugural Lecture: Professor Muthama Muasya (284 combined views, 137 live, 147 replays)
  • Virtual Graduation: Faculty of Science (265 combined views, 162 live, 103 replays)
  • TB Davie Memorial Lecture: Professor Yunus Ballim (224 combined views, 156 live, 68 replays)
  • #GetToKnowUCTLeadership (218 combined views, 218 live, 0 replays)
  • Webinar: Understanding the legal framework of our digital world (217 combined views, 217 live, 0 replays)
  • #UCTGrad2021 Faculties of Engineering & the Built Environment and Science (197 combined views, 117 live, 80 replays)
  • Virtual Graduation: Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment (1 810 combined views, 1 170 live, 640 replays)

Executive communication

CMD issued 264 executive/internal communication items. These included 76 VC Desks, 34 DVC Desks, nine COO Desks and 74 campus announcements. Five Registrar’s Notices were issued.

Most of the VC Desks were, unsurprisingly, on the #UCTFire. A total of 11 VC Desks were issued on this, with eight issued in April. About 24% of the VC Desks issued were on positive developments, 14% were negative and 62% were neutral. The negative/crisis items related to the #UCTFire, mandatory vaccination, a missing UCT student, and allegations of sexual assault against a student. The broad themes among the positive items were UCT developments (50%), COVID-19 developments (22%), university events (20.5%) and executive appointments or updates (7.5%).

In terms of the 34 DVC Desks issued, 17 were on the teaching and learning portfolio, 12 on the research and internationalisation portfolio, and five on the transformation portfolio (including two by the acting DVC).

The total number of Chair’s Desks issued was eight. Of these, three were regular communications providing feedback on key decisions taken at Council meetings. Four were on UCT developments (historic fee blocks, #UCTFire, Smuts Hall renaming, VC’s LGBTQIA+ session), while the last one was a beginning-of-the-year Chair’s message to the campus community.

Fifty-eight In Remembrance Notices were issued, with 47 for staff, and 11 for students. Out of these, 14 were reported COVID-19 cases (noting that in some cases families opted not to disclose the cause of death).

The combined total reach for any campus communications sent to all students and staff in 2021 was 35 277. Generally, all VC Desks, Campus Announcements and In Remembrance notices are sent to all mailing lists. Campus communications that were sent to mainly the staff list reached a total audience of 7 447, while those sent to the primarily students lists reached 27 943 recipients.

Of the items sent to all mailing lists, the item with the highest open rate was the VC Desk: Impact of the adjusted Level 4 COVID-19 regulations on the academic calendar year, with an open rate of 56.5% (the highest previous open rate for the yearwas 48.5%). In contrast, the VC Desk: Inaugural Lecture by Professor Muthama Muasya had the lowest open rate of 32.1% (the lowest for 2020 was 19.8%).

Specifically for Council communications, the highest open rate was for the Chair’s Desk: Statement by the UCT Council on historic fee blocks at 52.5% (the highest read item in 2020 was 41.5%). On average, Council communications issued in 2021 had high open rates above 35%, with the lowest being the Chair’s Desk: Report on the UCT Council meeting of 16 October 2021 at 35.1% (the lowest for 2020 was 33.1%).

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