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Higher Education
How social media engagement helped Bayes navigate a sensitive renaming project

The London-based, internationally-focused business school used Talkwalker insights to inform news updates and correct misinformation.

  • 93.7.%
    Net sentiment*
  • 52%
    Media share for Twitter
  • 1,100
    Views on Instagram of rebranding video on day one

Who they are

Bayes Business School is part of the prestigious City, University of London, and one of the UK’s leading business schools. Previously known as Cass, the school was renamed in September 2021 after it was found that some of Sir John Cass’s wealth was obtained through his links to the slave trade.

The new name is intended to create a fresh start for the school. Thomas Bayes (1702-1761) was a nonconformist theologian and mathematician best known for his foundational work on conditional probability. Bayes’ theorem suggests that we get closer to the truth by constantly updating our beliefs in proportion to the weight of new evidence. It is this idea —not only the person—that was the motivation behind adopting this name. Hootsuite and Talkwalker are essential in helping Bayes track social media sentiment around the name change. In tandem, they have proved crucial in enabling the school to correct misinformation and engage in conversation with stakeholders worldwide.

What they did

Bayes Business School is not new to social media. The school has 4,000 students, 300 staff and 50,000 alumni. It is international; 60% of undergraduates and nearly 80% of postgraduates come from overseas, and social media allows the school to extend its engagement beyond London. For the rebranding, Bayes wanted to understand stakeholder sentiment throughout the process. Where there was positive sentiment, it wanted to amplify this to strengthen its own message. Where there was misinformation, it wanted to be quick with a correction. “It was important for us to engage with the whole school community,” says Rita Mahli, postgraduate & corporate marketing manager at Bayes Business School. “Those that supported the change, and those that didn’t. We wanted to be open and transparent with our actions every step of the way.”

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How they did

Bayes reached different audiences by creating and sharing content across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. It wanted to track sentiment across these channels, respond to misinformation and prompt conversations around
the wider subjects of diversity and inclusion. “Word-of-mouth is so important in this kind of project,” says Ryan Taylor, head of digital at City, University of London. “Everyone has an opinion and social enables people to share it.” Hootsuite was central to Bayes content creation and distribution. It provided a platform on which to manage all social channels, enabling Bayes to engage with audiences consistently and at scale. Talkwalker was then used to track sentiment across multiple conversations. In tandem, this delivered real-time understanding of engagement and mood.

Quickly identifying and correcting misinformation

As much as possible, Bayes wanted to control the news agenda, but it recognised it was not its place to attempt to steer existing online conversations. While Hootsuite helped structure social media content; Talkwalker proved invaluable in identifying misinformation. “The school can live with negativity,” says Esen Bozdagli, social media manager at City, University of London. What is important is that it is proactive in correcting untruths, particularly where they risk derailing progress or hijacking the news agenda.

Tracking stakeholder sentiment throughout the change process

Renaming of the school was not done overnight. While the Cass name was removed in the summer of 2020, the Bayes name was only unveiled in April 2021 and implemented in September 2021. In the interest of openness and transparency, the school needed to communicate progress and its reasoning behind any decision. Bayes used Hootsuite to schedule and distribute content across social media channels while monitoring responses and sentiment with Talkwalker. “Sentiment has been positive,” says Bozdagli. “We have been able to identify differences in social channels. Twitter, perhaps surprisingly, has been the most positive. Many of the biggest advocates seem to be on Twitter. Instagram was the most negative.” The school recognised that the name change might be contentious, and that early views may be polarised. Overall, net sentiment, which considers both
positive and negative sentiment towards the brand, stands at 93.7% after nine months.

Reassuring management and stakeholders

Clearly, Bayes does not operate in a bubble. Besides being a place of education, the school works with funders, corporate sponsors and industry. Its subject focus and location—between London’s tech and financial hubs—means it has built strong ties to business. Diversity and inclusion are important subjects not just for education but for all corporations and wider society. By tracking sentiment, responses and shares with Hootsuite and Talkwalker, Bayes has been able to demonstrate that its message is getting out into the world, and that positive progress is being made. Regular updates with these insights have given critical reassurance to corporate sponsors and management on what could have been a potentially ruinous reputational risk. “The whole process has demonstrated to management the power, reach and influence of social media,” says Taylor.

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What's next

The facts around Sir John Cass took Bayes by surprise, and perhaps reflect an absence of due diligence 20 years ago when the Cass name was adopted. The drama could have turned into a full-blown crisis if not for the school’s quick and decisive response. “We knew those were not the values we want associated with the school,” says Sophie Riordan, marketing executive at Bayes Business School, City, University of London. The hope is that the Bayes name will be associated with the ideaof getting ‘closer to the truth by constantly updating our beliefs in proportion to the weight of new evidence’, rather than with the man.
The school has changed its strapline to reflect this: Always Learning. The belief is that Bayes is now better prepared to stay ahead of issues. It has a better understanding of the nuances of different social channels and the process of change management. Using social media to engage with stakeholders and contribute to conversations will enable the school to include its international audience in future decisions.

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