Social Media in Higher Education

Many colleges are coming around to the fact that there is a place for social media in higher education. One of the main areas that are catching on is for marketing purposes. The majority of the users on the Internet now have at least one if not multiple social media accounts. Facebook has over a billion users worldwide, and while it’s the largest, it’s not the only social networking site by a long shot. YouTube is not a video-only site, there are many social aspects to YouTube, and something college marketers should not take lightly. YouTube is quickly becoming the primary source of information for the younger generation. More teenagers watch YouTube than they do TV and that is only going to grow over time.

In the latest Noel-Levitz survey, 74% of the high school seniors use YouTube at least once a week and 70% of the same population use Facebook. You may see some reports that Facebook is losing favor with the younger generation and that is accurate while it’s not the player it once was with this age group, this is still a significant player. Not only to mention while as many of the kids may not be spending hours each day on Facebook, but their parents are also spending a lot of time. When deciding which school to attend, many students trust the opinion of their parents above any other resource.


Top 5 Social Media Sites in Schools

The top 5 social networking sites for college applicants are as follows:

  1. YouTube – 74%
  2. Facebook – 70%
  3. SnapChat – 54%
  4. Instagram – 53% ( Facebook owns this site)
  5. Twitter – 46%

Students surveyed, stated they visit these social networks at least once a week; this along is proof that using social media in higher education is a relevant concept.

The students completed the survey about using social media to research colleges. A similar list came up, with Facebook taking the top spot there. The social networking sites best for researching colleges ranks as:

  1. Facebook – 54%
  2. YouTube – 31%
  3. Twitter – 27%
  4. Google+ – 22%
  5. Instagram – 19%

The college website remains the most effective way for a potential student to research colleges. Social media is gaining ground at an increasing pace. Every year this report has been published these numbers continue to grow. In a few years, social networks will have even more power in attracting students to a particular school. This increased usage can prove to be one of the advantages of social media in education and something not to be ignored.

This applies in particular to community colleges where a significant percentage of students will come from the local area. With Facebook’s local advertising features, it is straightforward for a school to put their message in front of this audience. If your school is not dedicating resources to building up an extensive social network in these channels, then you may continue to have lackluster results.

What Colleges are doing in Social Media

Many colleges are taking it further than just advertising; they are using social media in education as a teaching tool. Not all these channels are suited for such activities you have to be careful of FERPA regulations, but platforms such as Google Classroom are full-fledged learning management systems and have social aspects built into its features.

You can also use Office 365 Yammer to build a private social network, and a lot of schools are taking advantage of these functions. Microsoft Office 365 is free for educational institutions although there are some costs with getting everything set up regarding staff time.


The social media platforms are maturing, and they are rapidly becoming the primary method people obtain new information, it’s time to develop your social media strategy to take advantage of this trend. There is a role for social media in education



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