To say social media is a driving tool in how we communicate, share information and speak our minds is an understatement. Everyone from your mom, boss and co-workers have Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagrams (do I need to keep going?) and so on. Now you can add your institution to the list.
According to a recent study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 100 percent of universities surveyed have used social media to communicate with students. The numbers slowly rose over the years, beginning at 61 % in 2007-08, and 95% in 2009-10.
“Social media is past the fad phase,” said Nora Barnes, director of the center. “The numbers speak for themselves.”
So how are colleges using these social media outlets? Johns Hopkins University (number one in Student Advisor’s List for Top 100 Social Media Colleges) has a student-run site called Hopkins Interactive, where students blog about student life on and off campus. The site also features student profiles, from freshmen to seniors. Colleges have used the leverage of teens and prospective students’ engagement of social media as a way to recruit them.
When some students can’t afford to travel to a campus tour, they check out a website or see what other people have to say about a prospective college. VSU has that online presence, but what makes it so special? Nothing….yet. Our presence is just as vague as a YouTube comments section. So what can we do to fix this?
VSU, while having a decent Facebook page, also has a Twitter (@valdostastate) and well, that’s really it. On its homepage it has many of the stories that were on its Facebook and Twitter. They have recently formed a Taskforce on social media. The taskforce will explore its presence in social media and conduct proper uses on all of their social platforms.
One way to pop online is to give the page personality. VSU should respond to accepted students, or engage in more conversation on its sites. Make it personal. While there are pictures of our Women’s Volleyball game on Flickr and the Happening—that is all there is.
To have the platform that VSU has (over 1,500 followers on Twitter and 11,059 likes on Facebook) there should be updated material for both sites. Links don’t necessarily count as tweets. Add some flair to a tweet or post a picture with an upcoming event. VSU can even host an online forum for prospective students. Answer questions that the website can’t. One of the most special tools VSU can use is right under their noses—the students.
Some of us have had MySpaces, Live Journals and blogs when were in middle school to high school, so we know the basics about getting attention to a page. Let students tell their stories, voice opinions and show prospective students our Valdosta, our school and why we chose to come here in the first place.
We see that VSU is trying, but compared to some of the schools in our division, VSU should not drop the conventional and traditional ways on recruiting students, but instead modernize them with social media.