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Social Media Pervasive in Admissions Practices

The use of social media in admissions has grown more than 50 percent since 2007 to the point where, for all intents and purposes, it's ubiquitous in higher education. A full 95 percent of higher educations admissions offices are incorporating some form of social media into their recruitment efforts, according to new research out of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. That's up 34 points from a study published in 2007 by the same group.

The report, "Social Media and College Admissions: Higher-Ed Beats Business in Adoption of New Tools for Third Year," was authored by Chancellor Professor of Marketing Nora Ganim Barnes, director of the Center for Marketing Research at U Mass Dartmouth.

What it found was that, based on the most recent data (2009), not only is social media pervasive in admissions, but the vast majority of admissions representatives--91 percent--consider it to be "very important" (50 percent) or "somewhat important" (41 percent) to their recruitment strategies.

It also found that in the case of one form of social media--blogs--schools admissions offices are ahead of Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 businesses. More than half of educational institutions--51 percent--have an admissions blog; only 22 percent of Fortune 500 and 42 percent of Inc. 500 companies operate corporate blogs.

In educational institutions, over the last year, the use of social media has increased in every category except one: video blogging, which decreased two points from last year's study to 46 percent, although still up dramatically from 2007's figure of 19 percent.

Other notable usage statistics included:

  • Blogging jumped 10 points over last year's figure to 51 percent;
  • Social networking is the most pervasive form of social media, in use by 87 percent of American admissions offices (up 26 points from 2008 and 58 points from 2007);
  • Message boards increased slightly to 38 percent, up from 36 percent in 2008 and 27 percent in 2007;
  • Podcasting increased slightly as well, up six points from last year, to 22 percent; and
  • Wiki use increase three points over last year to 13 percent.

Additionally, 59 percent of admissions offices reported using Twitter. (There was no information about Twitter use available for previous years.)

For the report, researchers surveyed 478 admissions office representatives from United States colleges and universities. The survey was also conducted by research firm Financial Insite Inc. There is a margin of error of ±4 percent for the results.

The complete report, which includes information about social media policies, the use of social media to research applicants, monitoring of social media, and other considerations, can be downloaded from U Mass Dartmouth's site here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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