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

Anything new that we do, any new project or idea, is always coming from them, and I think what happens is the freshmen arrive and they are just so excited to do new things. We started Twitter because a student told me we should be on Twitter. We created a Flickr account because a student said we needed more pictures.

DT: Which departments at Johns Hopkins oversees the social media communities?

DC: At Johns Hopkins, we are decentralized in a lot of ways. Each office runs its own shop. The Hopkins Interactive site and all the students—that is run out of the Office of Admissions. I’m actually the only person in admissions who oversees them.

Other offices on campus are using social media for internal dialog, whether it be using a Twitter account for a specific class, updates, or Facebook pages. We’ve seen social media expand with student groups and faculty, but that’s for the internal community. The development office and alumni office are beginning to use social media to do outreach to their communities. The central communications office at Hopkins has been using a very active Twitter [account] and a very active Facebook page.

There’s no real central social media agenda for the entire university; it’s just different populations.

DT:  Is there a social media policy or guidelines in place?

DC: We’ve been talking about it for a really long time about whether or not one should be created, but we haven’t put any pen to paper yet on a general philosophy across the campus. To some extent, it is difficult to do, because there are so many different agendas and initiatives at each of the different offices of a large university like Hopkins that you would have to deal with.

DT: How would you define social media success for you and what you’re doing at Hopkins?

DC: We incorporated analytics only about a year and a half ago. In terms of raw data, I won’t feel comfortable reporting data for another couple of years when we can compare a year-to-year cycle. In many ways, success has to be defined differently. The way that I feel, we’ve been successful; I always say there are three things:

1. Have we provided a good overview of what life is like at Hopkins in a candid way? I think we do that very well.

2. That we’re engaging our prospective community.

3. That we stay up-to-date with whatever the technology is.

DT: How has social media changed the admissions process?

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