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Social Media

More than one-quarter of teenage cell phone users have gone online with their devices, and online usage is greatest among students in households with less than $30,000 annual income, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, released in 2010. While that’s based on 2009 data, a May 2011 Pew survey of American adults revealed that more than one-third own a smartphone, so it’s likely teen use has increased also. Are prospective students using their mobile phones for the college search?

American colleges and universities are breeding grounds for innovative ideas and open information sharing. Pair that with a large number of systems on a given network and a vulnerable student population with fresh credit and you've got an appealing target for identity thieves.

Just 30 percent of financial aid professionals reported using social media to provide financial literacy content to students.

Financial aid offices that invest time on the major platforms say social media lightens the workload. On a higher level, social networks represent another way to provide students with financial literacy education that can advance institutional goals, including better retention and lower cohort default rates.

Michigan State University ran a Facebook photo contest so students could show experiences made possible by financial aid.

Michigan State University

Social experiment: Facebook Photo contest

Facebook.com/msufinaid/

The idea: To show the positive side of financial aid, Michigan State held a contest that asked students to share a photo of an experience that would not have been possible had they not received aid. Ten students won $500 each.

There are some 4,140 colleges and universities in America. If each spends an average of $50,000 per year in presenting speakers and lecturers--this becomes an annual investment which exceeds $200 million. In the campus public speaker marketplace, the majority of presenters receive fees and compensation of about $10,000 per engagement. Some receive $25,000+ and some earn $3,000-$5,000.

Without a doubt, social media has become one of the, if not the most, effective and efficient way for colleges and universities to communicate. Connected institutions can conduct “digital conversations” while sharing and collecting thoughts, ideas, information, opinions, images and video.

Have you heard about Periscope yet? If you follow tech early adopters, journalists, celebrities or even politicians on Twitter, you might have already seen Periscope notifications for live broadcasts in your feed.

Acquired for $100 million by Twitter in March 2015, the live-streaming mobile app could be either the next big thing or the latest social media fad (remember SecondLife?). But when you work in digital communications and marketing for a university, you can’t afford to ignore change.

When it comes to fundraising, most colleges and universities surveyed (59 percent) boost their effort through social media.

Also popular are social media-based days of giving and crowdfunding events. Of the 42 percent that held a day of giving, more than one-third raised over $50,000 that day. And of the 15 percent that crowdfunded, half earned more than $10,000 per year.

In March, Twitter unveiled its newest acquisition, a live video streaming app called Periscope. Following closely on the heels of a rival app called Meerkat, Periscope made waves by enabling anyone with a mobile device (iOS or Android) to broadcast from virtually anywhere. The apps allow viewers to interact with broadcasters through a chat feature.

Karine Joly is the web editor behind www.collegewebeditor.com, a blog about higher ed web marketing, public relations and technologies.

Most institutions think they measure the impact and the performance of social media, but only a few have shown they are ready to invest the necessary time and resources to measure what really matters. How your school defines social media measurement ultimately determines how strategically it uses social media.

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