September 1, 2011 By BJ Cook,

Everyone is using social media to get their message across; people use it, businesses use it, celebrities use it, and now even universities are using it. The use of social media by higher education institutions is an obvious choice - the main users of social media are young adults, specifically college aged students. These institutions have so much potential to connect with students and really speak to them in an environment where they spend a good portion of their time. The opportunity to attract new students is the most appealing aspect of social media usage by universities. In a study put together by, 77% of questioned universities said if they were to have a Facebook account it would be targeted toward prospective students. This account would provide a place to ask questions, get an informal feel for the school, and communicate with the school staff as well as current and alumni students. Twitter is also used in the same manner. Like businesses, colleges want to create leads and meet potential “customers” in real time. On Twitter, institutions can promote their school and track what people are saying about them. Through social media, colleges can create a buzz about events, send out important information, post photos, videos and articles directly to where students are spending most of their time online. More recently as colleges are discovering the importance and power of utilizing social media, different departments at these institutions are creating their own Facebook and Twitter pages. Thus becoming more specific to reach an exact audience within the student community. For example at San Diego State University many different offices and organizations have their own Twitter accounts such as: the Admissions Office @SDSUAdmissions, the Athletic Department @GoAztecs, general campus news @SDSU_NewsTeam, the Bookstore @SDSUBookstore, the Library @sdsulibrary , the dinning services @SDSUDiningServ, the student governing body @as_sdsu, campus events @AztecNights, etc. With each account having their own audience, the buzz around San Diego State University grows. More information can be distributed and students have the option to connect with exactly who they want to talk to. Social media platforms are quick and easy ways to get the word out. Social Media 101: 1. Don’t jump in blind. Make sure you research and explore what people are already saying about your school and where you stand in the online world. 2. Combine marketing efforts. Be sure to include urls and information to find your Facebook and Twitter on printed material. A consistent message is important. Make sure everyone is on the same page. 3. Remember to be social. There is a person behind every user, if you don’t interact like one you will be considered spam. This is not a hard sell, but a way to give information about the school in a non formal setting. Be genuine.

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