Social Media Innovation in Higher Education

Engagement with a broad audience is becoming increasingly more important to spread messages, raise awareness, and maintain a presence online for public and private sector institutions. By reaching a broad audience, organizations can begin to reach new markets, continue to identify loyal followers, and use digital engagement strategies to meet their organizational goals. Universities are utilizing these new outlets to gain revenue by engaging fans.

In a recent survey, 100% of universities are now using some form of social media. They have figured out that with proper use of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, tumblr, and YouTube, there are endless ways to reach an audience. NASA is a great example of an agency that used social media by creating a viral video to communicate and educate citizens. See Pat’s blog post about it here.

How does higher education utilize social media? In the classroom with postings of assignments and student collaboration efforts. Marketing school pride by offering giveaways, creating profiles for mascots, and driving discussions. Reaching potential students with virtual recruitment days, Foursquare campus tours, and specialized media are becoming the norm. Some great examples include:

  • Harvard University has “The Harvard Social Media Dashboard” that allows people to view tweets, posts, and videos. This innovative resource may point to why Harvard has more than 187,000 followers on Twitter.
  • Texas A&M University integrates Foursquare into its overall social media strategy rather than operating as its own initiative.
  • The George Washington University is offering a unique way to experience inauguration day. The GW Inaugural Challenge awards points for completing inaugural day challenges, similar to a social media scavenger hunt, around Washington, D.C. and awards prizes to the winners.
  • Yale University posted a music video, “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” on YouTube offering a different perspective for potential students; it has received over 1.2 million views.

It’s clear that universities are realizing the impact that social media can have on prospective, current, and former students, and a diverse community-at-large.

What can government and businesses learn from the success of university social media use?
Does your alma mater or agency have innovative uses for social media?

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Kate M. Long

Thanks for sharing the Yale video. It’s interesting to see so many Ivy League schools– usually thought of as old world and stuffy– embracing various social networking sites.