Thursday, February 19, 2009

social media to reach students and alumni

This question from my talk yesterday at the Capital Communicators Group helped me make the point that audiences old and young are actively using social media--and universities and colleges are reaching out in both directions, to prospective students and to alumni. It helps that Facebook began as a platform for college students, and today, half of all college alumni users of Facebook return to the site daily (something few campuses can claim). Factor in that older audiences are the fastest-growing on Facebook, and you can see why universities are now using the site to reach prospective and former students.
I've helped several university clients consider how they might use social media tools for everything from student and faculty blogs to online video contests and Facebook groups and pages. Several university PR teams have taken advantage of my "get your toes wet" orientations to social media options, and added training to ensure their entire marketing, alumni and public relations teams are up-to-speed with new social media tools. The most effective of these sessions has included leaders as well as employees; cut across departmental lines; and included brainstorming pilot projects that will be manageable starts to social media use.
At the same time, some university public relations team have gotten caught behind the curve when using social media as a communications tool. Thanks to Joe Bonner, one of my Twitter team, I can share this Chronicle of Higher Education article on what college PR teams can do to rethink their use of the web--and web 2.0. Where's your university on social media adoption?

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