Higher-Ed Continues to Beat Business in Adoption of Social Media Tools, According to New Research Study

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Ninety-five percent of colleges and universities use at least one form of social media to recruit prospective students. This was among the key findings of the study, “Social Media and College Admissions: Higher-Ed Beats Business in Adoption of New Tools for Third Year.”

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Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, Senior Fellow, Society for New Communications Research & Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

“There is continued evidence of enthusiasm and eagerness to embrace these new communication tools, and there is also evidence that these powerful tools are being utilized more effectively each year,” stated Barnes.

Ninety-five percent of colleges and universities use at least one form of social media to recruit prospective students. This was among the key findings of the study, “Social Media and College Admissions: Higher-Ed Beats Business in Adoption of New Tools for Third Year,” conducted by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Research Chair of the Society for New Communications Research and Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Eric Mattson, CEO of Financial Insite Inc., a Seattle-based research firm.

The new report is the outcome of a statistically sound study of the nation’s 4-year accredited colleges and universities. The study examined these institutions to quantify their adoption of social media tools and technologies. This is the third year that Barnes and Mattson have tracked social media adoption by the higher education sector, and theirs is the only statistically sound longitudinal study of its kind. The findings are based on 478 interviews and are valid within the range of +/- 4%.

The research shows that colleges and universities continue to embrace social media as their adoption of blogging again outpaces both the Fortune 500, 22% of which have a corporate blog, as well as the Inc. 500, where 42% have a corporate blog. Meanwhile, this latest research shows that 51% of colleges and universities’ admissions offices maintain a blog for their schools.

The study’s key findings include:

  • 95% of college admissions offices use at least one form of social media; a 10% increase over 2008 and 34% growth over 2007.
  • Usage increased for nearly every social media tool included in the study.
  • Social networking is the most common form of social media used by colleges and universities, with 87% of admissions departments using it.
  • 59% of colleges’ and universities’ admission departments have a Twitter account
  • 51% of colleges’ and universities’ admission departments have a blog. Almost all of those using a blog are using other forms of social media as well.
  • 46% are using online video to deliver virtual tours of campuses, virtual visits to the dorms and sample lectures from the faculty.
  • 38% of colleges’ and universities’ admission departments use message boards; 22% use podcasts and 13% use wikis. (Many respondents report that students and faculty often use wikis to collaborate on projects, but this is not a commonly used tool for recruitment.)
  • 91% of respondents consider social media to be important to their recruitment strategies, a 3% increase over 2008

“There is continued evidence of enthusiasm and eagerness to embrace these new communication tools, and there is also evidence that these powerful tools are being utilized more effectively each year,” stated Barnes.

“Schools using social media are clearly studying the ‘rules of engagement’ in the online world in order to maximize their effectiveness at recruiting prospective students,” added Mattson.

A full copy of the new research report can be downloaded at:
http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/

Additionally, Barnes and Mattson will publish a paper based on the findings in an upcoming issue of the Society for New Communications Research’s Journal of New Communications Research and will present the findings at the Society for New Communications Research’s Annual Research Symposium.

About the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

To facilitate the economic development of the region by providing an affordable, high-quality economic alternative to meeting business needs for research, training, and consulting in any and all aspects of Marketing. The Center for Marketing Research is associated with and maintains a close relationship with the Chambers of Commerce within southeastern Massachusetts. This unique relationship provides the Center with an effective business networking capability. For more information, visit http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/.

About the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR)

The Society for New Communications Research is a global nonprofit 501(c)(3) research and education foundation and think tank focused on the advanced study of the latest developments in new media and communications, and their effect on traditional media and business models, communications, culture and society. For more information, visit http://sncr.org.

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