If you work in marketing, communications or admissions in higher education, you’ve probably been using social media tools (at least I hope you have been). You’ve also probably had questions about the value and Return on Investment of your social media activities. As institutions continue to face tighter and tighter budgets, it becomes even more important to justify activities – including social media.
I’ve had a couple of conversations over the past couple of weeks that have got me thinking about social media ROI as it pertains to higher education.
One conversation was with a faculty member that doesn’t believe in social media. He was asking how I could demonstrate success and justify my social media position. It wasn’t an attacking question, but more hypothetical.
The other conversation was specifically about being able to directly connect social media activities to the recruitment and enrolment of students.
If you Google “social media ROI”, you’ll find a bunch of content – 2.8 million pages to be exact. There is no shortage in discussions about this topic. However, I think the ways that higher education can measure social media success differ from retail businesses. This is because the nature of our business.
A two-year diploma at most institutions is several thousand dollars and requires a significant time commitment of individuals. For this reason, expecting one of your fans/followers to click your ‘Apply Now’ button on your website from an encounter on your social media account is folly.
It’s more likely that your fan/follower will connect with your institution, recognize value, establish a relationship and ultimately apply. Whereas with a traditional retail business, their product may be inexpensive and shipped right away. A direct correlation between social media activities can be made.
All is not lost
Your institution’s social media activities primarily will support the overall brand and reputation. But there are ways that you can directly support your institution’s objectives.
Continuing education enrolments: these require less financial/time commitment and if you have online ordering, you can easily track.
Event promotion: events that you have on campus can be promoted through your social channels and if you have an online event registration system, you can easily track activities.
Customer service: by responding to questions, complaints, etc. through your social channels you can reduce your call volume and/or serve more students.
Contests: run contests on Facebook or Twitter that require prospective students to supply contact information, thus building up your contact list.
While it may be difficult to make a direct correlation from social media to application, there are ways ‘soft sell’ prospective students.
How is your institution leveraging social media to recruit students?