College Admission Offices lead the way with social media!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 01-20-2009


I am very excited to share with you a recent study that comes from UMass Dartmouth, which looks at social media usage within college admission offices at 4-year universities.

Guess what? We’re doing pretty good. :)   As one who has been advocating and pushing the usage of social media in higher ed recruitment for a few years now, I just wanted to pass along some information from the study as well as a ‘thank you!’ to all of you out there helping to make it happen.

[Link]: Social Media and College Admissions: The First Longitudinal Study

According to the 10 page document, which states “The new study compares adoption of social media between 2007 and 2008 by the admissions offices of all the four-year accredited institutions in the United States”, in 2007 “institutions of higher education were outpacing the more traditional Fortune 500 companies as well as the innovative Inc. 500 companies in their use of social media to communicate with their customers (i.e., students).”

In 2007, 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 19% of the Inc. 500 and 32% of college admission departments.

In 2008, 13% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 39% of the Inc. 500 and 41% of college admission departments.

Some statistics to note

  • More private schools have blogs than public schools (72% vs. 28%)
  • 50% of schools with undergrad enrollment <2,000 have blogs.
  • Only 8% of schools use an internally developed application for a blog platform.
  • More schools are allowing comments on their blogs in ’08 vs ’07 (61% vs. 72%)
  • 54% of schools monitor the internet for buzz, posts and conversations about their institution (still not high enough, in my opinion!)
  • 29% of admission offices used social networking in 2007. 61% of schools did in 2008.
  • The % of schools not using any social media in their recruitment strategy dropped from 39% in 2007 to 15% in 2008.
  • 85% of institutions are using at least one form of social media. Usage is up for every tool studied.

I’ll leave some for you to look at. Make sure you download the PDF or DOC at the bottom of the link above and check it out.

I look forward to seeing these numbers continue to rise!

Comments posted (12)

Not to downplay the awesomeness of admissions offices, but is it really a valid study if they’re only looking at admissions offices? Isn’t that like only looking at marketing departments and companies and then praising corporations for knowing how to write from it?

Great question. They state:

“communicate with their customers (i.e., students).””

But don’t we all? Academic Advising, Alumni, Development, etc. A customer is a customer, and the student continues through that lifecycle and hits all areas of the college at some point.

I think there is validity to it and it is well-conducted research, but it probably could be broadened or expanded to other areas of the higher ed arena.

It looks like our lack of funding is turning around to shine a positive light. *Good Karma* Fortune 500 companies have HUGE budgets and can afford the flashy in your face marketing and advertising. College and University admissions on the other hand, do not. We had to create/look for new avenues to reach our audience that didn’t break the bank.

Looks like we are becoming the better for it! We now have wonderful relationships and new ways to communicate are being created daily. We are moving ahead with the times while the “big guys” are dragging their feet in the mud.

[...] I’ve seen surveys and research done on organizations that use social media. Brad Ward posted this today, just in time for my post: College Admission Offices lead the way with social media!. [...]

It’s always good to see some objective, third-party validation of what we do. But like Karlyn, I too would like to see a broader study. In our instance, we (the communications staff) have been leading the way with social media, and the admissions office has been lagging. But I suspect that if one were to conduct a massive study of higher ed “institutional” PR/marketing efforts, you’d find that PR/marketing isn’t doing so great. I could be wrong, though. I have no research to back my suspicions.

Can someone tell me when the study mentions admissions offices are “using” social media, what does it mean exactly? Are they saying admission offices are doing research on students using social media tools, or does it mean schools have some branding presence on Facebook and the like, or are they saying admissions offices are actively communicating and “marketing” to prospective students through blogs for the purpose of student recruitment. Or is it all of the above?

CyHyoung – I would lean towards ‘all of the above’. It seems that simply having an account/presence on a site qualifies as ‘using it’ in this survey.

Thanks, Brad. It would have been cool it they had a bit more detail on the usage so we can better understand the depth of penetration of social media, not just the width.

[...] College Admission Offices Lead the Way with Social Media by Brad J [...]

Thank you for this post! This corroborates what I have found in my own research. Hope you don’t mind my linking to you – in October I did a post on Web 2.0 in Higher Education, and this warrants an update! I agree more data is needed on depth of penetration, but it does make some trends very clear!

Hi -

Another question: Do you have any data/research regarding regulation/guidelines for admissions office use of social media?


Thanks for your write-up. What I want to comment on is that when you are evaluating a good on the net electronics store, look for a site with entire information on important factors such as the security statement, safety measures details, any payment methods, and also other terms and policies. Continually take time to browse the help and also FAQ sections to get a far better idea of the way the shop works, what they are capable of doing for you, and just how you can maximize the features.

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