Umass Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research Blog

US Colleges and Universities Report Social Media ROI, Decreases Costs and Increases Efficiency

Ninety-two percent of Undergraduate Admissions Officers Agree That Social Media Is Worth the Investment They Make In It

US Colleges and Universities are using Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Downloadable Mobile Apps to recruit and decreasing their use of newspaper, television, radio and printing. One in 3 schools say that social media is more efficient than traditional media in reaching their target audience. These were among the key findings of the latest study conducted by the Director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Marketing Research, Nora Ganim Barnes and the Center’s Associate Director, Ava M. Lescault.

The new report is the outcome of a statistically valid study of 4 year accredited colleges in the US. The study examined these schools to detail their adoption of social media tools and technologies. It also looked at how using social media impacted their budgets and how their investment in social media would look in the next year.

Key findings include of this study include:

  • Ninety-two percent of undergraduate admissions officers agree that social media is worth the investment they make in it and 86% plan to increase their investment in social media in the next year.
  • One in 3 schools say social media is more efficient than traditional media in reaching their target audience (this number increases to 44% for top MBA programs).
  • Reduced costs for traditional media are attributed to use of social media.   Schools report 33% less spent on printing, 24% less spent on newspaper ads and 17% less spent on radio and TV ads.
  • The most useful tools for recruiting undergraduates include Facebook (94%), YouTube (81%), Twitter (69%) and Downloadable Mobile Apps (51%). Mobile apps are a favorite of top MBA programs with 82% citing them as an effective recruiting tool.
  • Monitoring the schools name and relevant online conversation has declined over the past few years.  In 2009-2010, 73% reported monitoring their brand.  In 2010-2011, that number dropped to 68% and now is reported to be 47%.  This could have consequences for any school that becomes the target of negative online buzz and is unaware of that conversation.
  • Less than half of those surveyed have a written social media policy for their school. In the 2009-2010 academic year 32% had such a policy.  That number increased to 44% in 2010-2011 and now stands at 49%. While this increase is encouraging, it is disconcerting to note that less than half have a social media policy and that 19% of the undergraduate admissions officer report they did not know if any such policy existed at their school
  • Twenty-nine percent of the schools surveyed report having NO social media plan in place for their Admission Office. An additional 15% of schools surveyed report not knowing if there is a social media plan in place.              
  • Seventy-eight percent schools surveyed that these tools have changed the way they recruit.

“This is the first time a study has documented ROI for those using social media in the high-ed sector,” stated Barnes.  “It is interesting to see that colleges and universities are moving away from printing and other traditional media tools and moving towards using social media tools”, added Barnes.

A full copy of the new research report as well as an infographic summary can be downloaded at:


Filed under: Happenings at the Center

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