Oxford vs. Cambridge - the modern debate: who reigns social media marketing?

The infamous Oxford-Cambridge rivalry dates back almost a millennium; since then the two universities have been battling it out to see who can churn out the lion’s share of potty prime ministers, celebrated scientists and innovative entrepreneurs. 

But with their foundations rooted in ancient tradition, how have the two universities taken on the new, tech-savvy world of social media?

Education PR


Research forms the bulk of posts on both Oxford and Cambridge’s Facebook pages - which is hardly surprising given their rank as two of the world’s finest research institutions. Carefully woven between posts about the latest breakthroughs in medical research or deciphering ancient manuscripts, are captivating snaps of the picturesque university towns (if you haven’t seen the Bodleian Library or King’s College Chapel from every angle imaginable). 

However, Oxford’s Facebook is slightly more on trend, given its colourful, virtual celebrations of International Women’s Day, LGBT History Month; and even Valentine’s Day. It’s hardly surprising that Oxford generally sees better levels of student engagement on Facebook – amassing an astounding 3.2 million likes – dwarfing Cambridge’s 1.8 million. Talk about world famous institutions…

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Cambridge’s Instagram feed is diverse in every sense of the word. On it, you’ll find virtual tours of the 31 colleges, updates on the latest research and scenic snaps of the university town. Much of this diversity is down to the fact that Cambridge relies heavily on the work popular bloggers, including @camdiary, @cambridgestruggles and @styleofcambridge

Oxford on the other hand, has a knack for developing successful social media campaigns. One of our current favourites, #HiddenOxford, invites students to share snaps of their favourite secret retreats hidden around Oxford. A more festive campaign, #Oxmas, encouraged students to share their photos of an Oxford-themed Christmas, which included an impressive four-foot Christmas tree composed entirely of books!

Though Oxford’s approach typically generates better student engagement, Cambridge places current students at the heart of its feed. By utilising the work of student bloggers, including @JoeBinder96, @tmavideo and @ibzmo, Cambridge provides prospective students with a useful insight into the increasingly diverse social fabric of the university. 

Sorry Oxford, Cambridge wins this round. 

Education PR


There’s no debate to be had when only one university qualifies. @ImOxford, keep rocking your Snapchat student takeovers – you can add another accolade to your extensive list – university champions of social media marketing!

Gerard Kelly & Partners (GKP) is a communications consultancy specialising in education PR, social media, marketing and communications management for UK schools, universities and business.