Social Media is not a Waste of your Admissions Office’s Time

Not only is our interaction with students via social networks going to grow but the fact of the matter is that it is much more effective to interact with students via social networks and here’s why…

Many admissions recruiters have this idea that social media (web 2.0) is not a productive use of time.  One example of this is the apprehension admissions offices have of setting up a Facebook page.  Some of the offices I have spoken with feel that if they run a Facebook page they will be wasting time having to moderate slanderous comments left by visitors or even have to interact with more prospective students.

Rather than worrying about having to respond to all these comments positive or negative we should realize that these interactions are a great opportunity for us to reach tens, hundreds even thousands of prospective students!

Let’s imagine we are in New Delhi giving a presentation about our school to a group of 100 prospective international students.  100 students are sitting, listening attentively to how our school offers international students a life changing experience.  We talk about how our school is connected to job opportunities in various fields like, the sciences, engineering and finance.  We talk about how easy it is to get involved in the current international student community.  We talk about how many great international student events and student groups there are.

As we wrap up the presentation we ask if anyone has any questions.  One student raises their hand and asks ‘I want to know what I can do to improve my chances of being accepted to your school.  What kind of extracurricular activities do you like to see?  Which test scores do you look at closely?  What range of scores would give me the best chance of being accepted?’

As we prepare to answer this question we think if it would be easier to talk to the student one on one after the presentation or if we should answer the student right there and then?  This decision is a very important one!!!

If we decide to answer this question right there and then, 100 people get to hear our answer.  That is 99 more than if we answer the students question after the presentation!  Remember how our teachers in school would tell us not to be afraid to ask a question because 10 other people in the class probably have the same question? Well the same goes here, there are many other students with similar questions who might be afraid to ask so it is always important to answer as many questions as we can in front of as many people as we can.

So how does this relate to social media (web 2.0)?  Say on our Facebook page someone writes a comment on our wall asking the same question as above.  Or consider someone posts a comment about our school that is false and we now have to take a few minutes to share the truth.  By answering the question or the comment on our wall (not a private message or e-mail) it is as if we are answering that question in front of a large audience like in New Delhi.  Just because we are responding to one student doesn’t mean that tens, hundreds, even thousands of other students aren’t reading our answer!

Think about that for a minute.  Any time we respond to a comment left on one of our photos, videos, wall, etc. there is a possibility that there are tens, hundreds, even thousands of people who are reading what we write!

That is the power of social media (web 2.0).  Even though we aren’t aware of all the people who are reading what we write on Facebook, the effect of our communication via that medium is much more effective than writing e-mails or private messages in response to each individual student’s question or comment.

Consider this thought:

E-mail response = 1 person hearing the answer to a question

Social media response = tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people hearing the answer to a question!

Which do you prefer?

Photo by Hoong Wei Long

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8 responses to “Social Media is not a Waste of your Admissions Office’s Time

  1. This same paradigm has been experienced by disaster relief organizations – instead of answering the phone 100 times to give out the same answer, they cut their call volume in half by having that information readily available on their website, blog or via email notification.

    Adding new technologies, such as Facebook and Twitter, will only serve to improve the process.

  2. Absolutely! I lived in Bangladesh for a while as well and learned so much about the use of social media in developing nations within the disaster relief space. I especially found the use of sms messaging truly incredible. The power of an organization to get a message out to the masses via sms messaging as opposed to traditional media is staggering.

  3. @global patriot – I believe it was AT&T who did a study that said any organization that uses a customer support community will reduce customer service costs by 87%

    As a once upon a time admissions counselor, it always surprised me how far removed administrators are from actual students. If you’re going to fish, go to where the fish are swimming. In today’s online world, pools like Facebook and message boards like Collegeboard or College Confidential offer admissions representatives direct access to the demographic they’re targeting. Why it hasn’t become a widespread practice in higher ed is still a mystery to me.

    That said, check out the first longitudinal study on social media adoption and admissions here: http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/blogstudy5.cfm

    • Alexa, completely agree with you. I think there will be a transition over time albeit a forced one as the older generation who is running the admissions office is less likely to change their current ways. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

  4. It’s also worth mentioning Kaplan University’s recent commercials and how they’re trying to reinvent experiential learning. See http://ariwriter.com/2009/02/rewrite-the-rules/

  5. Just found this post thanks to Square Pegged’s Carnival of College Admissions post.

    Very good point about reaching many through answering one person’s question or responding to one person’s comment through social media. Shows you how powerful and time-efficient it actually is!

    • Hi DW, thanks for the comment. I really enjoy reading your blog as well. I always find great insight and ideas from what you talk about.

      Regarding this post, I think it is so important to translate to universities how social media works because unless the principles of the technology are understood employing the various tools will not have the expected positive effects!

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