Uses of Social Media in Higher Ed (Pt. 1)

The intent of this article is not to define the parameters of, or assign value to social media — but rather to identify unique use cases within the higher education environment where social media has been utilized.

At Inigral, the majority of our conversations with colleges and universities are dedicated to establishing the differences between the many uses of social media on campus. The stigma we most often face is rooted in the belief that social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are “checkboxes on a checklist,” and once you create your institution’s Facebook Page, you can check off the “Facebook” checkbox.

This is very unfortunate, and totally misses the bigger picture of what social media is capable of doing for your campus community. As a community we have to begin to look at social media in a more accurate light in order to begin to reap the benefits of it’s power. In this article, I outline five different uses of social media in the university setting in an effort to help us get the most out of social media on campus.

Social Media as a Marketing tool

The most common use of social media in higher education is marketing. The household names that our departments have deeply integrated into strategies are all being used to push out media and information to your community at large. From YouTube videos to tweets, the organization is able to have conversations with the community on mostly an organizational level, and sometimes on a personal level. But for the most part, information is being sent to the community in order to keep them up to date with what’s happening on campus. That is social media as a marketing tool.


Social Media for Teaching and Learning

Another popular function of social media on campus was born in the classroom. Teaching may be an intrinsically social activity. And companies have identified opportunities to incorporate social media into the teaching and learning process in order to encourage dialogues to carry outside of the classroom. While this primarily functions as an information exchange for faculty and students, there is a community building aspect of incorporating social media into the classroom that allows relationships to be built around academics. But this is a byproduct as opposed to a primary goal – which defines our next category: Social Media for Community Building.


Social Media for Community Building

While it’s proven that there’s an opportunity to build relationships inside of the classroom, a new area of social media is increasing in popularity that is focused on building relationships outside of the classroom. We call it Social Media for Community Building. And it’s the missing piece of the puzzle for Admissions departments, Enrollment Management departments, and Student Services departments that are seeking to engage their audiences using social media.


Social Administrative Tools

Another up-and-coming use of social media is to make administrative processes around campus more efficient. Just last week, we wrote about Florida State’s use of Hootsuite to streamline communications with admitted students.