In student affairs, social media remains a common tool

Seventy-one percent of student affairs professionals use Facebook at work, according to a survey conducted by NASPA Tech KC.

The number of teenagers using Facebook has sharply declined, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center in May. The annual E-Expectations Report also recently found that college-bound high school juniors and seniors are using Facebook less, as well as Google Plus and YouTube.

But while student use of many social networking services may be down, those who work in student affairs say they are still frequently using the sites – both on and off the job.

Seventy-one percent of student affairs employees use Facebook professionally, according to a survey conducted by NASPA Tech KC. Nearly half of the survey’s respondents said they use the video site YouTube, and about two-thirds said they use the micro-blogging service Twitter. (Twitter use is also up among college-bound high schoolers.)

“While these numbers are not as staggeringly lopsided as those in personal use, they still show that, among respondents, social media is an important part of the work environment,” Kevin Valliere, a graduate student at Texas A&M and one of the team members behind the survey, wrote in a blog post.

See Page 2 for how important the respondents think social media actually is to their job.

As for personal use, Facebook was the most popular form of social media among the respondents. Ninety-six percent of the participants said they use Facebook at home. Eighty-two percent said they use Twitter, and slightly more than 80 percent said they use YouTube.

Many respondents also listed “knowing how to use social media strategically to build a professional network and use it as a tool to communicate effectively with the students they serve,” as critical skills for new student affairs professionals.

Ninety-five percent of the graduate students said they believed Facebook was important to engagement, and 93 percent said they believed Twitter was.

As the survey was primarily spread by word of mouth through eMail, Facebook, and Twitter, its results were likely skewed toward professionals who were disposed to use those forms of technology, Valliere admitted. But the survey did include 315 people in various areas of student affairs, including residence life, student activities, and orientation.

“The numbers are significant,” Valliere said. “Even if we assume that the average survey respondent had an above average skill level with technology, the sheer proportion of those who believed that social media and other technological platforms had a real place in student affairs says quite a bit about where we might expect our profession to be heading in the next several years.”

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