Understanding the Impact of Social Media on College-Bound Youth

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1 Understanding the Impact of Social Media on College-Bound Youth David S. Peck, MBA Associate Vice President Azusa Pacific University Pamela Kiecker, PhD Head of Research Royall & Company

2 Overview When we say social media, what are we talking about? When we think about college-bound youth, what are the important trends in their media use? What do we need to know/do about social media to best serve prospective students and their families? 2

3 Overview When we say social media, what are we talking about? When we think about college-bound youth, what are the important trends in their media use? What do we need to know/do about social media to best serve prospective students and their families? 3

4 What is social media? Social media is... the combination of activities that use one or more our senses of sight, sound, or motion to create (1) visual displays, (2) picture-sharing opportunities, and (3) shared meaning through words and pictures. Social media involves... online communities that are participatory, conversational, and fluid. These communities enable members to produce, publish, control, critique, rank, and interact with online content. Social media draws upon... the wisdom of crowds to create information in a collaborative manner using text, images, audio, and video to provide context and meaning. 4

5 But for many, social media is simply Facebook!

6 Facebook Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family, and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Source: Facebook.com

7 About Facebook More than 100 million active users Most-trafficked social media site in the world Over 55,000 regional, work-related, collegiate, and high school networks More than half of Facebook users are outside of college The fastest growing demographic are those 25 years old and older Maintain 85 percent market share of 4-year U.S. universities Sources: Facebook.com and comscore

8 But, it really is more! Social Networks Facebook, MySpace, YouTube Virtual Worlds Second Life, There, Kaneva Social News Sites Digg, Del.icio.us, Stumble Upon Social Opinion-Sharing Sites Epinions, College Confidential, Student.com 8

9

10 30,875,318 views since May 2008

11 1,432 new members to APU

12 New Dance Fad Is Stepping Out When Cliff Sheckles decided to host a dance, he didn t call everyone he knew and invite them. He didn t put up posters or hand out fliers. He just logged on to Facebook. Large-scale private dances, like the one he coordinated, have been easier to promote since Facebook opened its doors to high school students several years ago. Sheckles, who says he grossed more than $13,000 in cover charges at his April dance, isn t the only Seattle-area youth coordinating events. A number of high school and college-age students are making thousands off the parties. Facebook s event feature, like its group feature, creates a page that is linked to the user s page. Users can plan to attend an event by accepting an invitation or simply going to the page and clicking on attending. Having joined, they can invite as many of their friends as they want. Source: Seattle P.I.

13 When we say social media, what are we talking about? When we think about college-bound youth, what are the important trends in their media use? What do we need to know/do about social media to best serve prospective students and their families? 13

14 Youth Technology Trends

15 More than half (55%) of all American youth online, ages 12-17, use online social networking sites. 48% of teens visit social networking websites daily or more often; 26% visit once a day; 22% visit several times a day. 91% of all social networking teens say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they see frequently, while 82% use the sites to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person. Use of Social Networks Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2007 On many campuses, upward of 80% of students use social networking sites on a regular basis. Source: emarketer, 2007

16 University Research Partners urcompass Panel Findings 16

17 Last year, 55% of urcompass panelists indicated they used social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. We asked for an update in July: Do you have an account on a site like MySpace or Facebook? High School College Yes 84.0% 93.6% No 16.0% 6.4% High School College Facebook 42.6% 84.2% MySpace 55.9% 14.9% Other 1.5% 1.0%

18 How do you use social networking sites? High School College To keep in touch with friends I don t see very often 85.3% 99.0% To communicate with friends I see a lot 76.5% 76.2% To view and read other peoples profiles and pictures 73.5% 74.3% To search for old friends 60.3% 73.3% To post personal pictures 42.6% 57.4% To make new friends 42.6% 23.8% To get announcements about upcoming events and news 42.6% 59.4% To instant message with friends on the site 41.2% 39.6% To get information about entertainment (bands, shows, movies, etc.) 39.7% 20.8% To be part of groups of people who have similar interests 30.9% 44.6% To learn about things of interest to me 26.5% 20.8% To play games 11.8% 20.8% To get information about colleges 2.9% 6.9% To enter contests 2.9% 5.0%

19 Some colleges and universities have their own pages on social networking sites. Have you ever visited one of these pages? High School College Yes 16.2% 43.6% No 83.8% 56.4% Do you think it is a good idea for colleges and universities to have their own pages on social networking sites? High School College Yes 94.1% 83.2% No 5.9% 16.8%

20 Why do you think it is a good idea for colleges & universities to have their own pages on social networking sites? High School % It would provide easy access to information about colleges and universities 60.0 It s a way to communicate on the student s level or in a medium that they already use 31.7 There is heavy traffic on these websites from the target market of colleges and universities 25.0 It would make it easy for prospective students to contact current students 15.0 It would make contacting the school easy 8.3 It would be a more personal form of communication 3.3 College % Such websites are a great source of information for current and prospective students 61.0 Using such sites puts the information on the student s level 37.3 Such websites help facilitate student interaction and planning 23.7

21 Colleges on Social Networking Websites 15.7% of students indicated they have visited a college or university page on a social networking website The highest percentage of students found the page by: Searching for the school using the social networking website s Search feature (40.0%) Linking to it from a friend s page (32.0%) Linking to the site from a communication sent from the specific school (21.9%) 21

22 Students Interest in College Pages The majority of students are interested in a college or university page on a social networking website for the following three reasons: 1. To see current students profiles to determine what kinds of people attend the school (65.6%) 2. To learn more about the school by gathering information posted on the site (62.9%) 3. To communicate with students enrolled at the school (53.4%), admissions counselors (41.3%), other students interested in the school (38.2%), and faculty members (26.6%)

23 Trustworthiness of College Information on Social Networking Websites Most students indicated information needed to be taken with a grain of salt, and they said they believe the credibility and trustworthiness of the information depends on who is posting the information. 23

24 Do you believe information on these sites? (verbatim responses) For the most part yes, but then again, it depends on who is providing the information. Some students are biased, while others give you the true facts on school and campus life. Depending on who the information was posted by, I think for the most part, the information can be trusted. I don't see why a student would post information that they didn't feel was true, since they would have very little motivation to do so. To a degree, yes, but I would have to take everything with a grain of salt because they are trying to sell the school to me.

25 In your opinion, what are the best sources of information about colleges provided on social networking sites? High School College Current students % 85.7% College or university officials 67.4% 71.4% Former students/alumni 51.0% 57.1% Other prospective students 0.0% 28.6%

26 In what ways would you like to communicate with current students on a social networking site? High School College Read their bulletins or blogs/notes on the website 66.2% 54.0% Instant messaging via the website 58.5% 51.0% Post comments on their page or wall 53.8% 63.0% Give your address and communicate via regular 47.7% 33.0% via the tool on the website 46.2% 52.0% Get their address and communicate via regular 33.8% 38.0% Get their cell phone information and communicate via text message 15.4% 16.0% Give your cell phone information and communicate via text message 12.3% 11.0% Get their telephone information and communicate via phone 10.8% 8.0% Give your telephone information and communicate via phone 3.1% 9.0% I don t like the idea of communicating with current college students through a social networking site 9.2% 8.0%

27 Have you ever visited a discussion board, message board, and/or forum that provides college information? High School College Yes 32.1% 56.7% No 67.9% 43.3% 27

28 How helpful was the information on these discussion boards, message boards, and/or forums? A three-point scale was used, where 1 = Not at all helpful and 3 = Very helpful High School Mean College Mean CollegeConfidential.com Ratemyprofessor.com SparkNotes.com CampusDirt.com* *Since this study was conducted, CampusDirt.com has been taken offline for unknown reasons

29 What do you think of the idea of colleges having discussion boards, message boards, and/or forums? Check all of the following statements you believe are true. High School College It s a good way to get questions answered by a large group of people 66.7% 58.7% It s a good way to remain anonymous when asking questions about a college 60.3% 47.1% It s a great way to get the real story about a campus and its students 47.4% 44.2% It s a more personalized approach to sharing information with prospective students 43.6% 33.7% It s too anonymous; you don t know who s really answering the questions 29.5% 29.8% It s a more credible source of information about the schools 23.1% 19.2% It s a less credible source of information about the schools 16.7% 30.8%

30 Sources Used Most Frequently During College Search Websites of specific colleges and universities 82% Other students/peers 63% Letters from specific colleges 51% messages from specific colleges 42% Brochures and/or viewbooks from specific colleges 36% General Internet search engines 35% Teachers/guidance counselors 28% Third-party sources (e.g., guidebooks) 21% Campus visits 20%

31 Most Trustworthy Sources of Information about Colleges and Universities The institution s official website was the source trusted by most students (39.3%). Other trusted sources include: Current students and alumni (17.6%) Printed materials such as brochures (13.6%), and Admissions counselors at the school (13.2%). 31

32 When we say social media, what are we talking about? When we think about college-bound youth, what are the important trends in their media use? What do we need to know/do about social media to best serve prospective students and their families? 32

33 A Social Media Vocabulary Avatar = icon which represents a user in a virtual reality/ Internet setting Blog = short for Web log; online commentary Content = text, visual, or audio material that is published on a website Friending = requesting someone to be your friend on Facebook IM = Instant Messaging; real-time online conversation Page/Wall = user site on Facebook and MySpace, respectively Wiki = collection of web pages designed to be modified/edited by users

34 Six keys to using social media to serve prospective students and their families

35 1. Hang out in social media venues. Social media is a utility that connects people through communities. The only way to get to know a community is through participating. Play. Work. Join groups.

36 2. Look, Listen, Feel. Develop your intuition about social media. Looking at postings on your group/page as well as other groups. Check out pictures, see what is of interest, discover what others are posting about your campus.

37 3. Social media is a living, dynamic organism. Develop a sense of your brand, and how it s perceived. Add pictures, add words, add friends.

38 4. Research. It s difficult to measure the effects of social media. That doesn t mean that we shouldn t attempt to do it. Create a method to ask students regularly what they are doing, where they spend their time, and what matters to them. Some research can be done on your group or page. Use questions that allow students to share their words, images, etc. We want their stories and narratives to review. Sometimes it s primary research, sometimes it s secondary research, and sometimes it s anecdotal research.

39 5. Play. Create games. Have fun. Create a place that balances academic pursuits and purpose with some of the light-hearted activities on campus. In a community whether it is virtual or face-to-face play is a critical component.

40 6. Visit. All roads lead to campus (even if the behavior does not support it). Present multiple opportunities for students to come to campus and interact with your students. One downside of technology is that it may allow students to avoid face-to-face interactions. Don t let that happen. In every relationship, there comes a time when you transition to the next level. The highest level of a relationship can only be realized when people are face-to-face.

41 Social Networking Recommendations Use Facebook as a way for admitted students to connect and, thereby, work to positively effect melt and retention Find roommates Meet people from the same area Explore common interests Express hopes and dreams Demystify the process 41

42 Social Networking Recommendations If prepared, create a page on a social networking website like MySpace or Facebook Have staff or volunteers manage the page by updating information, answering questions, and engaging students Use the page as a portal for students (or parents) to get more information by directing them to contact a counselor, go to the website, and/or visit the campus 42

43 Edgewood College MySpace Page Page is run by an admissions counselor Links to the Edgewood website & other interactive media

44 Wikipedia Recommendations Monitor your school s information on Wikipedia for accuracy. Because the site is open for editing by anyone, it is important to make certain all information is correct. Add information about your school to strengthen your position, correct misperceptions, etc. Research shows a large number of students are using Wikipedia to learn about colleges and universities during their search. 44

45 Harvard University Wikipedia Page

46 Blog Recommendations Students are reading college blogs to learn more about the school Current students have great potential as blog authors, but they need to be managed If appropriate, have a diverse set of students (different genders, majors, ethnicities, etc.) author blogs Prospective students are looking to blogs to give them an image of how life would be like for them if they attended 46

47 Student Blogs at Ball State University

48 Message Board Recommendations Monitor what students are saying about your school on websites like CollegeConfidential.com While you cannot control what is being said, you will have information to guide your development of other marketing communications 48

49 Message Board on CollegeConfidential

50 Other ideas. Your suggestions. Success stories. Words of caution.

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