Social media decision making (Click to see full graph)

[Report] How Social Media Fits Into the Admission Process

A new report by The Chronicle of Higher Education on College Admissions in a Social Media Age attempts to get a better understanding on how college-bound high school students want to use social media in their college search. Because we consider interactive campus maps and virtual tours vital to the recruitment process, anytime we see information come out related to schools online recruitment efforts we take notice. A few things in this report really stood out to us as relevant in sharing.

Has YouTube Overtaken Facebook in Importance to Prospective Students?

General Social Media Usage (Click to see in full)

General Social Media Usage (Click to see full graph)

As the chart to the right can show a subset of users who are more loyal to Facebook, Youtube reaches a larger audience. Another section of the report stated that, when asked if they would rather look at photos and videos or read posts about a college, more than double the number of respondents—68 percent versus 32 percent—said they would rather see photos and videos. Internet users don’t read, they scan. And when presented with the opportunity to watch a video and interact with something they prefer that above reading also. To go along with this thought, the students also reported that viewing photographs was their most favored activity on colleges’ admissions pages on Facebook. Fifty percent of the respondents said they would most like to view photographs.

The Website is Still the Best Source for Information

Despite all the buzz around social media the fact that 53% of students reported that a college’s social media efforts had no influence on their decision to apply still speaks volumes that over half of all prospects don’t put a lot of weight on this channel. Now you could easily spin this stat around and assume that a channel that provides 21% of high influencel. But there are a number of other channels that are worth a great bit of attention. These same students still said that college websites were the best source of information on academics, cost, admission deadlines, news and events. We’re not really surprised by this at all as it is consistent with other reports we’ve seen over the years.

Social media decision making (Click to see full graph)

Social media decision making (Click to see full graph)

After all, your website will continue to remain your 24/7 store front. Individuals can visit it anytime from anywhere and it is one of the least taxing ways to interact. A website is almost always easier to find than a school’s social media account and the fact that it will always have the exact and updated information makes it a very reliable source.

Social Media is Most Valuable Late in the Admission Process

Ashley Hennigan, assistant director of admissions at Rochester Institute of Technology had the following to say, “the importance of social media varies from student to student, but virtual contact will never replace campus visits and meeting people face to face.” What we took away from this, and a few other comments around this subject, is ultimately social media isn’t going to help a prospective student decide what schools make his or her list of possibilities. It can assist in making the final decision out of a handful of their favorites.

Students still need to make up their mind and physically visit the campus that they care about, but allowing prospects to have some level of engagement can be vital in that make or break decision time. This ability to easily and quickly engage late in the process is what really stood out as a value of social media that may be overlooked.

What Does This Have to Do With Campus Marketing?

Besides these three takeaways there wasn’t really a lot too surprising in relation to social media recommendations in this report. The common tips were authenticity, honesty, test different networks to see what works best with your audience, and ultimately use social media to tell your story, which is nothing we haven’t heard before.

We will always believe that campus marketing is a central theme to any school marketing. It also fits nicely into social media marketing of the school. If you are sharing out pictures of a gorgeous sunset over campus or sharing information about an upcoming event on campus these are all directly related to campus marketing.

Another resounding takeaway is that a picture is worth a thousand words still. This also extends to videos and yes, even a campus map. The report also stated that social media is the best source for students to see life on campus. We don’t disagree with this too much. Social media allows remote people to get a sense of what could have happened in the last week through pictures, videos and stories or promote upcoming events that really allow an outsider to understand the activities and events that are part of a college student’s life.

If you’re looking to take your campus marketing efforts to the next level maybe we can help!

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