"Meltdown": A Twitter Case Study

December 20, 2012

"Meltdown," a post written in October on the MIT Admissions blog, evoked a lot of responses via social media. One benefit of social media is the data they provide on reactions and thoughts about a piece of news. It's like listening in on what people are saying to each other about a particular topic. Between October and December 2012 many people shared the post using the share tool beneath the post. More than 4,300 individuals "liked" the post on Facebook, more than 1,000 individuals posted the link on Reddit, and the article was sent through the email share button more than 500 times. The post received over 200 comments, including a comment from MIT President Rafael Reif. The reaction on Twitter By clicking on the Twitter button below the post, a pre-written tweet pops up for the user that says: "Meltdown | MIT Admissions via @sharethis," with a shortened link. However, many users can write their own tweet. Although the article pointed out negative stress students experience at MIT, the reaction was positive. 

The reaction on Twitter was positive for several reasons:

  1. Twitter reactions showed that the post resonated with students around the globe, not just at MIT. Several individuals retweeted the same phrase: "MIT 'Meltdown' Blog Resonates with Stressed-Out Students." This indicates that posting about this difficult subject, even exposing some of the negative parts, is actually a service for students. This makes sense coming from MIT, which brands itself as a global university addressing the world's greatest challenges, including challenges from which MIT students are not exempt (like stress in college).
  2. Twitter reactions showed that the post resonated with people in general who experience stress.
  3. Twitter reactions showed that the post supported MIT Admissions' positive reputation, of which transparency is a key component.
  4. Some tweets indicated that other MIT students acknowledge the difficulty as something to be proud of. For them, the endearing term "IHTFP" means the experience was hard, but worth it.
  5. Lydia – as the quintessential MIT student – overcame the challenge, so her post serves as a guide teaching students how to cope successfully. Many of the reactions specifically focused on Lydia were also positive, such as one tweet calling her "brave".

Posted By
Stephanie Hatch Leishman

Stephanie Hatch Leishman

Former MIT Social Media Strategist

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