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Higher Education Marketing

Social Media Use Soaring at US Schools

Date posted: September 15, 2011

Millennials, as the generation born after 1980 are often called, are far less likely to have land-line phones than the generation that came before them. They are, however, very likely to a presence on Facebook and Twitter. This is a significant shift from generations past, and it’s forcing higher education institutions to change their recruitment strategies. Do you really expect to connect with these students with traditional print and radio ads? No, you need to engage them through the use of social media and new communications tools (like mobile devices).

To illustrate this, let’s look at the most recent study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. They were the first to conduct statistically-significant studies on the usage of social media by US colleges and universities, with a study released in 2007-2008. Their man focus was on was how colleges or universities should now be recruiting.

Note: the study involved schools in all 50 states, with both public and private institutions and a wide range in average tuition. The findings are based on 456 interviews and are valid within the range of +/- 4%.

The 2010-2011 study found that:

  • 100% of colleges and universities studied are using some form of social media (This is up from 95% the year before, and 61% in 2007-2008)
  • 98% of colleges and universities have a Facebook page (up from 87%)
  • 84% have a school Twitter account (up from 59%)
  • 66% have a blog (up from 51%)

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Twitter are the main social media tools for US higher education institutions, and they all saw big increases. The growth of blogging also points to more and more schools trying to integrate all of these social media platforms into one seamless strategy. Often the school blog is at the heart of these strategies. Interestingly, other sectors of business have reported a leveling off of blogging, but this shows that more and more by colleges and universities are turning to their blogs.

  • Podcasting is being used at 41% of schools (from 22%)
  • 47% of admissions professionals are using LinkedIn (up from 16%)
  • Only 8% of schools are using MySpace (down from 16%)
  • 85% of schools are using YouTube

This is the first time that YouTube made an appearance in this study, and, together with the increase in podcasting, it’s clear that schools are using these tools to try to represent the experience of being on campus.

What does all this mean? It means that schools in the US are well aware of the technology being used by their target audiences, and they have been very quick to adapt. Most are now using an integrated social media approach to increase their share of social media voice, and connect with prospective students, alumni and staff. This approach means maintaining and monitoring a school blog, Facebook profile, and accounts on Twitter, Youtube, Flickr and more.

What is your school doing to increase its share of social  media voice?

Contact us today to find out more about social media monitoring and engagement.