When coupled with the current measurement tools, managers can see and understand the Return on Engagement (ROE) of activity.
Social media users
The 13-17 age range of teenagers makes up 15% or 72 million of all Facebook's 500 million users (prospect students). The 18-24 age range (current students) makes up 30% of users with 25 and over (alumni) making up 54% of users. Source Mashable.
Of social media users, 93% of teenagers and 87% of adults have an account on Facebook. This is by far the most popular social network site for those who use social networking. Source Pew Research.
Delving further into the use of social media by teenagers, research shows that older teenagers in the 14-17 age range (who are a key demographic for higher education) use social media more heavily than younger teenagers in the 12-13 age range, in all activity areas except playing games. Source Pew Research.
Harness the power of social media
Universities should develop and implement a strategy to harness the power of social media by connecting with the prospects who use it.
Social media was built for individuals not organisations, so universities need to get individuals (staff, students and alumni) to do the work of building relationships. This can result in the creation of a substantial prospect base via high networked individuals.
Social media goals for universities
When developing your Social Media strategy, make sure you set objectives that can be measured. In addition here are some goals that can be included to maximise the amount people talk about your courses and campus life.
- Encourage existing students to talk about you on their social network sites, this can be facilitated with formal Q&A sessions.
- Keep the chat going with past students. Host online reunions for students to advocate the university.
- Conduct student interviews and post to YouTube then embed on your site and eNewsletters.
- Find those that comment favourably and convert them to advocates.
Gaining advocates using social media
Social media is best used to build relationships. By bringing social media on to your website with Facebook connect or open graph you can facilitate interaction on your site where all your marketing messages are placed. You are then more likely to convert users to perform an action.
Online actions might include:
- Registering to attend an open day
- Signing up to a newsletter
- Registering for a webinar or guest lecture
- Ask a question (via LiveChat)
Most of these activities can also occur on social networking sites like Facebook. However, by engaging a prospect in as many meaningful activities as possible on your website, you are more likely to convert them.
Who to target
You don't need to target every contact you have. Be selective and target specific individuals, those that are already engaged, and use their communities to extend your reach (schools, churches, campuses, neighbourhoods etc). You don't need to create new communities. The communities already exist on social networks and your prospects will already be a part of them and can influence them.
It is vital that universities maximise their use of social media in a planned way and leverage the best prospect, current and past student networks for extended reach. By doing this successfully, conversion rates can be improved, the university message can be spread wider and individuals will want to engage with you more which will deliver a meaningful Return on Engagement (ROE).
Posted by Pete Stevens 11th January 2012