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Founded in 1984, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ideas worth spreading. What was once an annual conference has now transformed into a global platform—home to several successful international initiatives including TED-Ed, an award-winning online educational platform that serves a network of over 250,000 teachers each week.

TED-Ed uses its social media channels to push out its original content (TED talks, animated TED-Ed videos, etc.) and to host weekly conversations among teachers and TED fans alike.

We aimed to understand the role of Twitter as part of TED-Ed’s overall social strategy and determine which types of content receive the most engagement. Engagement is here measured as average number of retweets per post. We analyzed the online conversation that occurred between September 1 and November 1, 2016.

We categorized all of the sent posts by Content Type into the Educational (math, science, history, etc.), Instructional (classroom technology and teaching strategies), Self-Promotional (TED-Ed specific), & Holiday (Labor Day, United Nations Day, etc.) categories.

Tweets categorized as “Instructional” accounted for only 49 of the 273 sent posts, but averaged 41 retweets per post. What makes this finding significant is that while engagement of Instructional Content is almost equal to that of Educational content, it accounts for half as many sent posts. A 41 average retweet count to just 49 posts is a strong ratio that proves the higher engagement for Instructional posts.

In order to increase overall engagement, TED-Ed should cater more of its content specifically to educators by providing instructional resources and teaching strategies for their classes.