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As we discussed last week, the use of social media is soaring at US colleges and universities. It’s clear that most of these institutions of higher education have been very quick to adopt new technology, with the majority developing some integrative strategies that combine multiple social media tools and sites. An example of this was in the indication that blogging was on the rise at US schools. We have talked about why your school should have a blog, but how do you use it effectively? How do you increase your share of social media voice with it?

The key is engagement and conversation. If you do not do this, you’re not going to maintain your audience.  This is a lesson that schools are learning. According to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research‘s annual studies, the number of blogs who not accept comments has shrunk every year, going from 37% in 2007 to 15% in 2010. You might not think it’s a big deal to simply allow comments on your blog, but this small change can be significant, and it can help create a two-way conversation about a wide variety of topics, events and school life.

Another important characteristic to increase conversation is the use of RSS feeds or email subscriptions. Again, this may not seem like much, but doing so simplifies things for your audience, allowing them to stay informed of your posts without having to check the blog on a daily basis. Like the school blogs allowing comments, the inclusion of an RSS feed and email subscription has risen every year for the last four years, with 77% of US school blogs now incorporating RSS subscriptions and 54% allowing email sign-ups.

All of this would seem to indicate that schools are becoming much more sophisticated in their recruitment and retention strategies, and, more than simply using social media sites, they are now refining each process to increase their share of social media voice. Are you using your school blog effectively?