Survey: Colleges’ social media use narrows

One-third of schools raised $10,000 through social media.

Social media sites outside the big four — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube — had a tough time in higher education last year.

Colleges and universities seemed less willing to experiment with small, less ubiquitous social media platforms in 2012, as blogs and Flickr use in higher education dropped by 13 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to a  fourth annual CASE/Huron Education/mStoner social media survey, conducted in February and March.

Smaller social media websites saw a usage drop in higher education as 96 percent of schools used Facebook, 82 percent used Twitter, 74 percent used LinkedIn, and 71 percent were on YouTube in some form. The CASE study suggested that colleges have whittled down on their social media options as return on investment has become clearer over the past year.

“Institutions have moved beyond just wanting to have a presence on social media to thinking more strategically about the value of each platform to their institution as part of an overarching strategy,” said Cheryl Slover-Linett, a consultant at Huron Education.  “They do, however, recognize the need to act quickly when a new platform, such as Instagram, emerges that will allow them to engage with a specific audience.”

Social media hasn’t been the fundraising boon some believed it would be several years ago. Thirty-three percent of survey respondents had raised more than $10,000 using social media platforms in 2012.

Colleges have continued to struggle in hiring employees dedicated to social media development and using the sites to raise money from private investors and alumni. One-third of institutions that responded to the CASE survey said they only had one person dedicated to social media.

Seventy-two percent of respondents — an 11 point increase from 2011 — “believe that a champion is essential to the successful implementation of social media,” according to the survey.