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Internet Marketing and Web Development in Higher Education and other tidbits…

100% of Colleges and Universities are Doing Social Media

04 Aug 2011

written by Kyle James

100% of Colleges & Universities are Doing Social Media

The Millennial Generation is said to be constantly connected through the use of hand-held devices and online media. But how is that technology changing marketing strategies? Take a look at some of these interesting results on the use of social media in US colleges and universities nationwide. In the 2007-2008 academic year, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research initiated the first of its yearly studies analyzing the use of social media in US colleges and universities. This year they interviewed 456 admission professionals from private and public institutions, ranging in size from 4 – 54,000 students.

The Results

Between 2007 and now, they have found a significant increase in the use of social media in colleges and universities, from 61% of respondents in 2007-2008 using social media, to 100% in 2010-2011. The top social media network being:

  • 98% using Facebook
  • 86% using YouTube
  • 84% using Twitter
  • 66% of schools having a blog
  • 47% using LinkedIn
  • 41% using Podcasts (seeing an almost 100% growth in the past year)
  • 20% using Foursquare
  • 8% use MySpace (the only social medium seeing a decrease over the last year)

All of these results are right in line with the State of Higher Ed Social Media survey we did a few months back.

One interesting development has been the use of blogs, podcasts and videoblogs. While Fortune 500 and Forbes top charities show a shift away from blogging, higher education reports an increase in its use of blogging this year. And they are getting more savvy by implementing RSS feeds and email subscription, providing links to podcasts and video, as well as encouraging conversation involving more user groups and by allowing comments and using live chats.

trends in blogging 100% of Colleges and Universities are Doing Social Media

The use of blogs jumped by 15% just in the past year, reporting a success rate equal to that of Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook and YouTube show the highest success ratings, and while Foursquare is not widely used, it does report high success ratings amongst its users.

Schools use social media not just to inform and recruit prospective students and parents but also to research students and in some cases use that to evaluate students that are considering admitting to their institutions.

Lessons Learned

So what are some major takeaways from these statistics? First of all we see colleges and universities taking up the challenge of evolving recruitment and marketing strategies. Every school surveyed is doing something with social media, which is a 39% increase over the past four years! The adoption metrics have all gone up over the past four years (with the exception of MySpace) as schools get more comfortable with the platforms. But also, the statistics show that schools are evaluating and learning from their social media experiences and are applying appropriate changes as trends shift or grow. The only surprising negative was that only 68% are listening to what is being said about them online by monitoring the internet for news, conversations or buzz about their institutions. Overall the results represent a major shift in school marketing from press releases and news rooms towards a more social engagement through blogs, videos and social sharing websites.

A big takeaway for me was that despite the fact that 100% of you are using some form of social media we still beat up everyone in the industry for not using it enough.  As one specific graph showed in comparing high ed adoption of blogging versus other industries they are far and away doing more in this.  It’s practically impossible to say another industry out there has greater than 100% adoption of social media!  I think we’ve all gotten to a point where it’s ok to admit that colleges and universities are doing this and probably better than all other industries out there.  I’m not saying that there isn’t room to improve, but everyone should take a step back for a minute and pat themselves on the back.  Overall high ed is leading all internet marketers in adoption and uses of these technologies as an industry and that is worth taking a moment to celebrate.

The content of this post is licensed: The post is released under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 license

About the author

Kyle James

Kyle is the CEO & Co-Founder at nuCloud and formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. He also spent almost 4 years at HubSpot doing a range of jobs including inbound marketing consulting, sales, management, and product management.  Kyle is an active contributor in the social media spectrum. Although his background is technical, he claims to know a thing or two about marketing, but mostly that revolves around SEO, analytics, blogging, and social media. He has spoken at multiple national conferences and done countless webinars on topics ranging from e-mail marketing to social media and Web analytics. He's definitely a fairly nice guy.

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This post was written by Kyle James - who has written 274 posts on .eduGuru

  • karinejoly

    “Overall high ed is leading all internet marketers in adoption
    and uses of these technologies as an industry and that is worth taking a
    moment to celebrate.”

    Kyle, I’m not sure that using a tool for the sake of it should be seen as a major achievement for higher ed marketing. Some institutions are doing amazing things with social media, but for the vast majority, it’s a different story. As you know, marketing is more than just going through a checklist of cool tools or shiny objects to use.

    Let’s take the example of blogging with a 15-point jump since the previous survey.

    Is it such a good thing that admissions offices invest time on a tool that isn’t used by more than 75% of their target audiences - parents and students - according to another study you blogged about a week ago (The E-Expectations Study from Noel-Levitz)?

    When I compare the results of this study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research with the results of the State of Web and Social Media ANALYTICS Survey (n=358, ) I ran in May, I’m also a bit saddened by the fact that measurement hasn’t a bigger place in the picture.

    98% institutions use facebook, but only 59% track FB likes (which is the most tracked metric for FB according to my survey results).

    There’s still a big need for education in this area. And, I know that you’ve done a lot in this area, but we’re not there yet.

    • Kyle James

      I totally agree with you about measurement.  Point well taken.  I never said we were taking any more than a moment to pat our own back though. 

      As for the blogging not being used by 75% of their target audience I’d still argue about the importance of a blog being used for content creation purposes.  There are huge SEO benefits and it creates ways that this audience can find your school while doing other sorts of searches and discover you in ways that you never thought about.

      An example of this was I noticed a few years back that there was a big spike in our organic search traffic on a term that was something like “what to bring to college” and when I went to discover where this was going it was a blog post one of our student bloggers had written that was getting tons of traffic.  You can argue that this wasn’t qualified traffic because the students looking for this were probably going to another school but you can’t say it wasn’t the right audience searching for this information.  Now just imagine all the other things that prospective students and parents might search for that you should have blogs creating content and targeting.

  • UMassOnline

    We had a great presentation by Dr. Nora Barnes, the facilitator of the survey posted above. The video can be see here:

  • Mike Guerdon

    Kyle, the title of this post is very misleading. It is just not the case that 100% of colleges and universities are using social media, especially way back in August 2011. It MIGHT be the case currently, but I even suspect that is a falsehood. Now, 100% of colleges and universities that were surveyed are using social media could be a possibility, but to say that every college and university is using any means of social media is just not true, IMHO.

    Having said that, it is a good article on a very important issue in higher education.

    • Kyle James

      Mike - Click through and read the report I’m referencing in this article. Under the second section there is a bold sentence with these exact words. I’m not making up this adoption simply sharing what was reported.

      “In 2009-2010 that number rose to 95% and in the latest study, 100% of colleges and universities studied are using some form of social media”

      98% are on Facebook and the other 2% that aren’t are doing something else that is classified as social media.

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