5 major trends in higher education’s use of social media

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3.More Visuals Everywhere

A rising trend in college and university social media use is in posting more images and video across all channels. Thanks to the popularity of Instagram, Vine and Periscope, institutions are responding by posting more images and video and less text: This year, only 42 percent of respondents use text on social media, down from 65 percent in 2012. 46 percent today use images, up from 30 percent in 2012; and 12 percent use video today up from 6 percent in 2012.


4.More Channels, More Often

This year, the authors note that the number of social channels used by institutions is proliferating. Facebook (91 percent of respondents use), Twitter (81 percent), LinkedIn (76 percent), YouTube (67 percent), and Instagram (54 percent and the largest rising channel) remain the most widely used.

However, there have been declines in some channels, particularly in the use of blogs: Blogs peaked in 2012 at 55 percent and this year only 28 percent use blogs.

Colleges and universities are also posting more often to various channels. 49 percent of respondents post to Facebook at least once a day and 38 percent post a few times a week. The majority of respondents post to Twitter at least once a day, and the most successful tweet more than once a day. 44 percent post on Instagram a few times a week, with 67 percent posting on LinkedIn a few times a month. 86 percent post to YouTube a few times a month as well.


5.Fundraising—and How—is Big

According to the survey, 57 percent of institutions are using social media to raise money, versus 47 percent last year and 35 percent in 2013.

Colleges and universities are also using two relatively new kinds of fundraising:

  • Giving Day: A 24-hour fundraising event, often held on a day of significance to an institution, in which staff, volunteers, and donors attempt to raise money, defines the report. 42 percent of respondents reported holding a giving day, and 84 percent of those institutions said the days went well.
  • Crowdfunding: A technique exemplified by Kickstarter, this is becoming a popular way to raise money for everything from funding smaller initiatives at the institution to financing a program or project, says the report. 15 percent of respondents held a crowdfunding campaign and 87 percent of those institutions considered the project successful. 63 percent of respondents reported that there was at least some crowdfunding conducted independent of their unit at the institution, while 5 percent of institutions have a policy against independent crowdfunding.

However, the report reveals that outside of extraordinary giving day successes like at Florida State University and Columbia University, only 13 percent of respondents raised more than $100K through social media in the preceding fiscal year, while 64 percent raised $10K or less. 83 percent said that their social media-based fundraising represents 5 percent or less of their institution’s total.

Yet, for those who are experimenting with social media fundraising campaigns, some characteristics do lead to better success, such as motivating and involving key ambassadors on social media, establishing a student philanthropy month, and providing a direct-giving button on Facebook.

For much more in-depth information, read the full report, “Refining, Prioritizing, Expanding: Social Media and Advancement in 2015.”