The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

Northeastern University Research Brand Elevation

Finalist in Mid-Range Media Buying Strategy


Northeastern University is a global research university powered by experience. We sought to elevate our research brand and increase awareness of the cutting-edge, innovative work done by our faculty among their peers in the fields of medicine, robotics, engineering, network science and marine science.

Strategy and Execution

Due to the extreme focus of our target audience, we turned to the audience-identifying capabilities of Facebook and Twitter for a two-channel approach to finding our desired audience and serving them content relevant to their field that aligned with our research brand elevation goals.


Facebook's available targeting tools, and the layering available within them, allowed us to identify elite academics, researchers and subject-matter influencers with an interest in Northeastern's areas of research expertise. We served a series of research articles to relevant audiences, in order to educate those audiences about the advancements being made at Northeastern.


Twitter's advertising targeting tools were not robust enough to allow us to do the extreme micro-targeting needed to achieve our objectives, so we turned to the expertise of the network scientists at the university. They analyzed Twitter firehose data to identify networks of people using Twitter to talk about the areas of research that are important to the Northeastern brand. Within those networks, they employed proprietary influence-measuring and bot-eliminating formulas to identify lists of micro-influencers in the selected academic fields. We used those lists as the target audiences in Twitter ad campaigns to serve research-related content that would impact the target audience's perception of Northeastern's research brand in a positive way.


To measure the impact of this campaign we considered its overall reach and engagement and compared the performance of each piece of content when delivered organically against its performance when it was delivered to the selected target audiences.

Facebook Targeting Compared to Organic Results

366% increase in people reached

3,038% increase in link clicks

2.47% increase in click through rate

822% increase in shares

20.5% increase in time spent on page for sponsored content

Twitter Targeting Compared to Organic Results

1,881% increase in impressions

1,266% increase in link clicks

31% increase in engagements


Impressions: 1.725M

34,186 link clicks

23,748 engagements

11.2% increase in follower growth of @ResearchatNU Twitter account

The most impactful results that this campaign generated are the conversations about Northeastern research that it sparked among the target audiences. Every retweet or share that resulted from our efforts acts as an endorsement of Northeastern's research brand and the noteworthiness of our research efforts and extends the success of this media buy beyond what is measurable into the sphere of third-party endorsement by subject matter experts that is invaluable to our brand-elevation efforts.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Northeastern University


Entry Credits