How Johns Hopkins has become a leader in social media use for admissions

Johns Hopkins has a competitive program for social media-savvy students.

Dean Tsouvalas, editor-in-chief of, recently interviewed Daniel Creasy, associate director of undergraduate admissions at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins was ranked No. 1 on the Top 100 Social Media Colleges rankings released in fall 2011 and is recognized as a trailblazer in social media use among colleges.

This is the latest Q&A from StudentAdvisor, which has teamed up with eCampus News to share the latest social media strategies and trends in higher education in this monthly feature.

Here’s what Creasy had to say, including his philosophy that “more is better” when it comes to social networking platforms on campus.

DT: When did Johns Hopkins incorporate social media into the admissions process, and how did it all begin?

DC: December 2005 is when we first launched the Hopkins Interactive website and Hopkins Insider Admissions blog. Hopkins hired me two years prior in August 2003, and at my previous institution, American University, I dabbled in what we were calling at the time “e-Recruitment.” In 2001 and 2002, the number of social media that were out there was very limited and weren’t even called social media at the time.

When I got to Hopkins, I talked to my dean about using these technologies, and the one thing I really wanted to do was blog. He said, “Absolutely. Start looking into it.”  His best advice to me was, “Take a year where you’re just learning how to recruit and evaluate for Hopkins. Be an admissions person for one year, and then go into it.” It was in my second year that I started to plan.

The best idea that I ever had was to bring in these students who would incorporate discussion and brainstorming of what we wanted to do.

The first site was not even close to what we have today. It was launched with a number of student blogs, a few student profiles. It was really just one page that linked off to the different blogs, and then it had the admissions blog that I was writing. We took off a couple of years later when we started doing Twitter and YouTube.

DT: Tell me some of the things you’re doing now at Johns Hopkins.

DC: Basically, our philosophy has always been more is better. Currently, we have 13 upperclassmen who are writing their own blogs. We have nine freshmen who have a shared blog. We also have an admissions blog and three other kinds of university-related blogs: a guest blog, an alumni blog, etc. We also have all of our archive blogs. We’ve amassed more than 4,000 individual entries between all of the blogs that we’ve had since 2005.

We have 25 student profiles on our main web site, and a very active message board where you directly ask questions of these students. We have an entire YouTube page with more than 80 videos that have all been student-created.

We have six students who are using Twitter, as well as a university Twitter account and a Twitter account that I [operate] as well.

We have a Flickr page with more than 500 pictures that have been student-submitted. All of these are pretty much run by a student group, which consists of 25 current students. They’re the ones who work behind the scenes and create all of the content.

DT:  People talk a lot about protecting the information. Many schools don’t allow comments on their blogs. How do you respond to that?

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