You Already Spend Money on Social Media. A Lot of It.

In the CASE Social Media Survey released in July 2010, there’s a strong indication that you’re already spending a large sum of money at your institution on social media.

20% of institutions report between 6-10 full time staff work on social media, 6% report between 10-20, and 10% report more than 20 full time staff are working on social media.

If you assume that a full time staff member costs an institution $80K to pay salary, benefits, and overhead, this means that 36% of institutions are spending between nearly $500K and over $1.5 million dollars on building out and maintaining social media presences.   Even if they were only spending half of their time on social media, that’s still between $250K to $800K.  Yet, “staffing for day-to-day content management” “staffing for site development” and “lack of relevant human resources in my unit”  are the top three barriers to successful use of social media, according to the study, with over 50% of respondents supporting those statements.

So, how much is optimal spend to be running Facebook Pages that have nebulous results?

This kind of investment is strange where 48% of respondents wish they had more quantitative measures of success, 63% of all respondents said their measures of success are only qualitative in nature, and 71% agree that a “return on investment” is difficult to measure.  The most sophisticated measures are only the number of members and the volume of participation.  No wonder a huge 64% of respondents will only call their efforts “somewhat successful” while 13% would call them not very to not at all successful.

71% of administrators surveyed would like to see their social media efforts be MORE PLANNED, and 50% of respondents are considering “creating a comprehensive social media plan.”  But planning takes time and effort.  Lots of it.  In an environment where the iPhone App Store and Facebook Connect were released a mere two years years ago, Social Plugins were released a mere five months ago, you can’t really spend a lot of energy planning.  It’s just a waste of time and money.  You should spend money and time trying, testing, buying, playing, launching, and figuring stuff out.  It’s a spaghetti against the wall approach.

The main point is that people are already spending a veritable fortune using products that ARE NOT designed to meet the needs of higher education.  Why would you hesitate to invest in a product that IS designed to meet the needs of Higher Education?