How Does A School Recruit The Highly Networked Generation?

This study acts as a great follow-up to our article on “How Social Media Can Revolutionize College Admissions.”

The youth of today, the “Millennial” generation, represents a tremendous communication challenge for everyone from parents and politicians to colleges and companies. Millennials thrive in an always “on” world filled with digital music devices, cell phones, the Internet, instant messenger and social networks. They are in constant touch, updating their friends with texts (80 per day on average according to Nielsen), tweets and messages on the “walls” of their Facebook profiles. This world of interactivity and hyper-communication has fundamentally changed how teenagers and young adults receive, process and act on information.

In 2007 and 2008,, fascinated by the dynamic created by all the new tools and habits of Millennials, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research conducted statistically-significant studies on the usage of social media by college admission offices. These studies explored a fundamental question — How does a college or university recruit in this new, highly networked, constantly “on” world?

This year, the Center’s first longitudinal study has been extended by adding 2009 data. This new study analyzes the most recent trending of social media adoption by the admission offices of all the four-year accredited institutions in the United States. As in all of the studies, the colleges and universities were identified using a directory compiled by the University of Texas.

The newly-extended longitudinal analysis shows that colleges and universities continue to embrace social media as their adoption of blogging again outpaces both the Fortune 500 (22% have a corporate blog) and the fast-growing Inc. 500 (42% have a corporate blog). The latest research shows 51% of colleges and universities have an admissions blog for their school.

The results are fascinating and continue to support what the 2007 study documented for the first time: Colleges and universities are using social media to recruit and research prospective students. It is clear that online behavior can have important consequences for young people and that social networking sites can, and will, be utilized by others to make decisions about them.

There has been a steady progression of development in social media, as seen by the following chart. So what’s next? Admissions officers are going to have to always be asking themselves these questions.

There is continued evidence of enthusiasm and eagerness to embrace these new communication tools and there is also evidence that these powerful tools are being utilized more effectively each year. Schools using social media are clearly studying the “rules of engagement” in the online world in order to maximize their effectiveness at recruiting prospective students.

Conducted By: Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Eric Mattson CEO, Financial Insite