Universities seem to finally be getting the picture that use of social media is vital to reaching their core constituents, especially given that Facebook and other social networks have surpassed e-mail as the best way to reach many of the university’s core audiences: students and alums.
Yet despite the idea that Facebook and Twitter are gaining popularity, universities still struggle with how much prominence to give these tools. Brad Ward’s blog had a great post on this subject in February, with some intriguing preliminary research on how social media tools are built into university Web sites.
Of almost 1400 schools investigated, only 20% had any kind of social media component built into their homepage, alumni page or admission page. While that seems like a pretty good amount, consider the fact that that leaves a whopping 80% of universities and colleges that don’t have any kind of social media component on any of these three key pages! What is even more amazing is that only 56 schools… 4% of the schools… had a social media component on more than one page. That means if alums get to your site they see it, but potential students don’t, or vice versa. These schools have forfeited huge chunks of their visitor population.
Our question today is… why? If schools recognize the importance of online tools, why aren’t they using them better? And if they’re not using them, what is the main barrier to adoption? Are there more professors and admissions people using these tools but higher levels of administration don’t buy it yet, or are there perceptions of this being a fad and schools are hesitant to jump as far as including these tools where the primary core of their web traffic would actually see and interact with the tools?
How are you seeing social media being used in higher ed?