The value co-creation concept has become a marketing answer to today’s challenges, the economy is facing. The field of higher education (HE) is experiencing the same pressure of outer factors as any other service industry. As a result, service providers (colleges and universities), as well as customers (students, graduates and employers) are dissatisfied with the quality of services and the level of generated value. The authors discuss how universities can use value co-creation concept to improve the situation and consider social media to become engagement platforms for enabling value cocreation. Therefore, the paper discusses their current usage and perspectives for Ukrainian HE in creating mutual value. Top-five Ukrainian universities in the Webometrics rating are analyzed in terms of their SM activities on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. The value itself is considered a multi-dimensional category and the co-creation directions are analyzed in terms of the theory of consumption values (TCV) and from the perspective of two customer groups - students and employers. Recommendations include practical tools on engaging students and employers to the VCC process, grouped by the type of the value obtained.
To analyze the current role of social media on the HE market in Ukraine in regard to VCC, we identify institutions and social media to be considered by referred to the current statistical data by Statcounter and Similar Web as well as the last edition of Webometrics rating.
According to Statcounter monitoring (2018), the Top-5 used social media platforms in Ukraine as of September 2018 are Facebook with 53.11% of users, Instagram with 16.79%, Youtube with 9.1%, Pinterest with 8.88%, and Twitter with 5.8%.
Webometrics is aimed at ranking all the higher educational and academic establishments in the world according to their presence on the Web. For the purpose of our paper, we are interested in top 5 Ukrainian Universities, listed in the rank, although their place in the global rank is rather low. Ukrainian web leader - National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv takes 1271 position in the global Webometrics rating.
Based on the Webometrics data, further research will take the following list of the universities into account:
SM of Ukrainian Universities: analysis and findings
Facebook activity metrics are given in Table 1.
Instagram activities are summarized in Table 2.
YouTube turned out to be the social network with the least level of cooperation amongst actors (see Table 3).
The analyzes of current SM usage in Ukraine showed that HE institutions, as well as students and employers, are rather passive in the process of value co-creation. Having their corporate pages on top three SM platforms in Ukraine - Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram - universities do not actively use them to stimulate resources’ exchange and therefore experience low user involvement and value co-creation. Figure 2 shows the current roles of all three actors in VCC of HE through SM platforms.
These roles, supported by numbers, analyzed in section three of the paper, demonstrate, that VCC in HE through social media can not become significant without university management function. The level of UGC, currently generated by university workers, students and future employers is extremely low and should be purposefully stimulated.
To gain from VCC through social media platforms, universities should understand the exact value which is generated in this process.
In Table 2 we outline value dimensions for HE market, that can be addressed in the process of VCC on SM platforms. These value dimensions were identified by Shet et al. (1991) in the theory of consumption values (TCV) and include 5 dimensions of value that influence consumer behavior: functional, social, emotional, epistemic, conditional. The co-creation process with the help of social media can benefit for each type of the value, mentioned below and for both groups of the target audience - students and employers.
Given the wide range of value dimensions that can be co-created through SM, all actors are interested in the process. But universities’ management should concentrate more on stimulating other users to participate. Covering mostly university events and other internal issues through SM, universities limit the number of people, interested in their page updates, willing to react and generate content. On the contrary, research results, up-to-date social and economic issues, and business cases could motivate employers, students and university staff to generate content and become more active in the process of value co-creation. University staff, currently demonstrating the lowest level of engagement on SM platforms, may need additional extrinsic motivation tools to be applied. Corporate online training programs, showcases, joint lectures with distant speakers, creation of a premium fund can be among the steps, taken by university management to encourage employees to use SM in their teaching process. Consequently, employee engagement in value co-creation through SM will lead to corporate culture shifts, essential for further digital transformation of the universities: frequent sharing of insights, successes, and failures; freedom to make small moves on the front line; becoming less afraid of failure (Bughin, Catlin, LaBerge, 2019). In turn, broadening the borders of educational process from campus to SM gives universities an opportunity to improve teaching methods. Interactive changes and new methods, corresponding with current global and local trends may become a source of competitive advantage and additional value in HE.
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