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Social Media

Just because your institution maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter account does not mean that you’re utilizing social media channels to the maximum benefit of your college or university. While establishing a platform for the university as a brand, attracting prospective students and faculty, and reaching out to students on the channels of their choice are all great uses of social technologies, there’s far more—and broader reaching benefits—to social media than simply posting news and campus happenings.

The experience students have on campus is what will keep them coming back, both while enrolled and after. But even if they love their classes, that joy can be overshadowed by frustration dealing with student services offices. The new report “Making the Grade: Optimizing the Higher Education Student Experience” from Oracle checks in on how administrators and students think higher education institutions are doing. The good news: 60 percent of students surveyed say their school meets their customer service expectations.

Postcards promote a Presbyterian College  microsite that can be personalized via Facebook.

As some colleges and universities sprint into the digital viewbook model, others are tiptoeing into a new model that bypasses the traditional print viewbook for other millennial-friendly approaches.

Have you heard about the analytics revolution in higher education? Ready or not, it’s coming to your institution—if it isn’t already there. Whether you work in an academic, business, IT, marketing, or web office, the data-driven movement is slowly but surely making its way in to the hearts and minds of top executives faced with serious strategic and financial challenges.

Think this is just wishful thinking from the higher education online analytics evangelist I’ve become over the past two years?
Educause begs to differ.

Roanoke Pinterest board

Colleges and universities are rushing to use Pinterest, the fast-growing social media innovation, but many remain uncertain of where it fits in their promotional mix. A key factor appears to be how important they consider adult women to be in their marketing outreach.

At The University of Vermont­, a small public research university, officials had realized that mobile would become very important to our stakeholders. It was 2007 and mobile adoption rates had begun to skyrocket. Smart phones had begun to proliferate nationally and at the institution, which has an average combined enrollment of 12,500 undergraduate, graduate, and medical students.

Social media gurus and CRM providers share a vision for a future where CRM and social media go hand in hand. But the idea is in its early stages.

“The CRM system assumes that everything is data, whereas most of what you’re talking about is people and conversations with people,” shares Michael Staton, founder of Inigral, creator of the Schools App. The goal? “A CRM where the entire premise is that you’re interacting, you’re not just logging data about accounts and tracking potential revenue,” he says.

Last August, when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook Virginia, people in offices up the East Coast were reading about the quake before they felt their desks not-so-mysteriously begin to wobble. How? Chalk it up to another feat of Twitter (by this time it had already helped topple unruly regimes in the Middle East). During the earthquake, users tweeted at a rate of 5,500 tweets per second, with 40,000 tweets hitting Twitter timelines and TweetDecks in just one minute.

After a somewhat slow start, higher education institutions are increasingly taking advantage of social media to market themselves and keep constituents aware of what they are doing. A recent social media adoption study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth shows usage rates are increasing steadily in every year. For example, university Twitter usage jumped from 59 percent in the 2009-2010 school year to 89 percent in the 2010-2011 school year. Similarly, Facebook usage increased dramatically from 61 percent in 2008-2009 to 98 percent in 2010-2011.

What difference can a year make? When it comes to the mobile web in higher education, it seems that it’s all it took to switch gears and respond to the needs of an increasing mobile user population on campuses—and elsewhere.