Social media use today is widespread and is used for social connections and advertising, but the appearance of schools with Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and Instagram photographs has exploded in recent years. Universities and schools of all kinds want to appeal to high school students, young adults, and working professionals and with the growth that social media has experienced, it is unquestionably becoming the most effective way to get in contact with potential students.
Virtually all schools today have some sort of presence on a social media website, and schools are interested in more than just new applicants. Past students and alumni, who might provide needed donations and support, also interact with schools through social media. Some question the sort of leverage a learning institution might accomplish through the use of social media, but it’s difficult to consider such efforts as an activity in which schools shouldn’t engage.
It is certainly interesting to see universities that have long held to decades or centuries-old traditions embrace this new media with open arms. Colleges are starting to consider social media as an opportunity to increase brand presence, which is a concept usually associated with corporations and businesses. The “business” of education, however, requires just as much brand notoriety as any other type of service which relies upon new customers (or in this case, students) to survive.
In addition to broadcasting information across the internet about a university or college, social media also gives schools the opportunity to help students communicate on and around campus, and this often saves time and money for students, faculty, and administrators. Finding the answers to questions through digital options means less time spent trudging across a snow-laden campus or trying to find the right building.
Some of the rather innovative ways in which universities are using social media today demonstrate that much effort is being put into the best way to get a learning institution’s name and logo out into the digital realm. Rather than providing a series of static paragraphs about the college, many universities are starting to embrace advanced media like videos and pictures, and are going further with social media than many mainstream and commercial enterprises have considered.
For example, the University of Nevada created a series of highly entertaining profiles on Facebook that offered details about students who attended the school in the earliest years of the last century. In further evidence that schools today are embracing digital communication, some venerated colleges have even started creating Twitter feeds for their highest ranking members. David Leebron of Rice University and Renu Khator of the University of Houston both Tweet often.
Universities have also ventured into the blogosphere by encouraging past and present students to take part in blogging as well as providing forums for current faculty to speak to the world. Ithaca College has a number of frequently updated blogs as does Harvard University, which offers advice from students and faculty. But words on a screen aren’t the only ways that colleges are communicating with the public.
One of the very interesting uses of social media comes from Stanford University, which allows faculty to provide answers to questions that would ordinarily be asked during office hours via videos posted on Facebook. A number of universities are also jumping into “vlogging” as well (that’s a video blog), which means that students and non-students alike have access to the greatest minds of many colleges around the world.
Whether professors Tweet, students blog, or the university posts tons of pictures on Instagram, the different ways in which learning institutions may communicate with the public represents total acceptance of this new media by just about everyone in education. Increasing the valuable information shared from schools offers people who might never have considered various colleges a chance to see some of the hue and personality of the students and professors that inhabit a particular campus.