Umass Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research Blog

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Filed under: Happenings at the Center, Higher Education Study, Social Media

Social Media Continues to be Used with Higher Education Recruitment

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research has released the findings from their 2009 follow-up study on the use of social media by college admission offices. This study is the third in a series beginning in 2007 that has tracked trends in higher education.

In 2007,the Center for Marketing Research conducted one of the first statistically-significant studies on the usage of social media by college admission offices. This study explored the fundamental question — How does a college or university recruit in this new, highly networked, constantly “on” world?

The first study of the schools and their use of social media revealed that institutions of higher education were outpacing the more traditional Fortune 500 companies as well as the fast-growing Inc. 500 companies. Only 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared with 19% of the Inc. 500 while 32% of colleges and universities were using this tool in 2007.

In 2008, a follow-up on the original study was one of the first statistically significant, longitudinal studies on the usage of social media by college admission offices. This study provided data stating that in 2008, 13% of the Fortune 500 and 39% of the Inc. 500 had a public blog. The college admission departments continued to lead the trend with blogs at 41% of U.S. colleges and universities.

This year, the first longitudinal study has been extended by adding 2009 data. This new study analyzes the most recent trending of social media adoption by the admission offices of all the four-year accredited institutions in the United States. As in all of the studies, the colleges and universities were identified using a directory compiled by the University of Texas.

The newly-extended longitudinal analysis shows that colleges and universities are continuing to embrace social media. Blogging again outpaces both the Fortune 500 (22% have a corporate blog) and the Inc. 500 (42% have a corporate blog).  The latest research shows 51% of colleges and universities have an admissions blog for their school.

However, blogs are not the only tools colleges and universities are implementing. Social networking sites have had a usage rate of 87% among the colleges and universities surveyed. Fifty-nine percent of schools also have a Twitter account.

How important is all of this information? In the most recent study, 91% of admissions departments feel that social media is important to their future recruitment strategies. This indicates that students are, and will continue to be communicated with and researched through popular social media tools.

Colleges and universities are using social media to recruit and research prospective students. It is clear that online behavior can have important consequences for young people and that social networking sites can, and will, be utilized by others to make decisions about them. Schools using social media are clearly studying the “rules of engagement” in the online world in order to maximize their effectiveness at recruiting prospective students. For the full report on this study, please visit

Filed under: Higher Education Study

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