Social Media Usage and Effectiveness

A new study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth reveals that colleges and universities are using social media, especially social networking sites, not only to recruit but to research perspective students. The adoption of social media by colleges and universities is being driven by their recognition of the increasingly important role of social media in today’s world. Below is a summary of the key findings.


100% of colleges and universities studied are using some form of social media. Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, blogging and podcasting are the tools of choice for US institutions of higher education. Facebook is the most common form of social networking being used with 98% of colleges and universities reporting having a Facebook page (up from 87% last year). 84% of colleges and universities reported having a school Twitter account (up from 59% last year) and 66% have a blog (up from 51% last year). Podcasting has risen from 22% to 41% in just one year.

Are colleges and universities using social media effectively?

Usage of social media by colleges and universities demonstrates consistent evolution over the past four years in critical aspects of the technology necessary to maximize effectiveness. Comparing the longitudinal data, there has been significant improvement, particularly with blogging. The increased use of RSS and email subscriptions indicates an increased sophistication in the use of blogging as a recruitment strategy.

Success of Social Media

When asked how successful social media tools have been for their schools, respondents spoke highly about their experience, especially Facebook (95% success) and You Tube (92% success). For most of the tools studied, a high degree of success was reported. The exception is MySpace which showed a decrease in perceived success from 42% to 34%.


There is an 18% increase in the number of colleges and universities reporting that social media is very important. Conversely, 4% of respondents (down from 9% last year) said these technologies are somewhat or very unimportant.

Student Research

A significant proportion of schools continue to research students via search engines (13%) and social networks (19%). Online research appears to be a new tool for marketing from which colleges and universities garner information that helps them better focus their resources on perspective students that might be a good match with their institution.

Are schools listening to what’s being said about their school online?

53% in 2007, 54% in 2008 and 73% in 2009 report they monitored the internet for buzz, posts, conversations and news about their institution. The latest research shows a slight decrease to 68%.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Article: Social Media Adoption Soars as Higher-Ed Experiments and Reevaluates Its Use of New Communication Tools

Edudemic Article: Study Uncovers How Schools Actually Use Social Media (And If It Works)

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