Universities are out to prove the ROI of social media

colleges and social media

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research continues to do an excellent job documenting the social media progress of organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, INC 500 companies and non-profits. In a new research release, the team shows that universities continue to lead the way in the use of social media and its measurement.

If you think about, using social media at the university level is the perfect test case for what all our organizations may be seeing just a few years from now:

  • Its primary audience uses the social web as its primary tool for communication.
  • It is an essential strategy for connecting with, and nurturing, its “customers.”
  • The relatively low-cost effectiveness of social media fits with programs under constant budget pressures.
And, as this study shows, it’s starting to show impressive results. Some highlights:
  • Reduced costs for traditional media are attributed to use of social media. Schools report 33% less spent on printing, 24% less spent on newspaper ads and 17% less spent on radio and TV ads.
  • One in 3 schools say social media is more efficient than traditional media in reaching their target audience (this number increases to 44% for top MBA programs).
  • 92% of undergraduate admissions officers agree that social media is worth the investment they make in it and 86% plan to increase their investment in social media in the next year.
  • The most useful tools for recruiting undergraduates include Facebook (94%), YouTube (81%), Twitter (69%) and Downloadable Mobil Apps (51%). Mobile apps are a favorite of top MBA programs with 82% citing them as an effective recruiting tool.
  • Monitoring the schools name and relevant online conversation has declined over the past few years. In 2009-2010, 73% reported monitoring their brand. In 2010-2011, that number dropped to 68% and now is reported to be 47%. This could have consequences for any school that becomes the target of negative online buzz and is unaware of that conversation.
  • Less than half of those surveyed have a written social media policy for their school. In the 2009-2010 academic year 32% had such a policy. That number increased to 44% in 2010-2011 and stands at 49% now. While this increase is encouraging, it is disconcerting to note that less than half have such a policy and that 19% of the undergraduate admissions officer report they did not know if any such policy existed at their school.
  • 29% of the schools surveyed report having NO social media plan in place for their Admission Office and an additional 15% report not knowing if there is a social media plan in place.
  • 78% report that these tools have changed the way they recruit.

How are you seeing social media being used at educational institutions?

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