Survey Results Point to Tensions, Opportunities

We believe social media helps us achieve our goals, yet we’re measuring success by numbers rather than actions.

We like our independence managing social media but would welcome more coordination and planning across our institutions.

We say the greatest barrier to effective use of social media is lack of human resources, yet we don’t think our institutions will provide those resources in the immediate future.

These findings, culled from the results of the first survey on the use of social media in educational advancement, offer a look at the state of social media today – or at least in June, when the study was conducted by mStoner, Slover Linett Strategies and CASE. The results are presented in a newly released white paper written by Cheryl Slover-Linett and Michael Stoner.

Not surprisingly, the survey results tell us that most institutions are on Facebook and most are engaging alumni and friends among their primary audiences. Fewer are engaging employees or parents through social media. Fewer still are using social media in crisis and issues management (a use just added to Andy Shaindlin’s evolving matrix on the impact of social networks on alumni relations).

The more intriguing findings may sound a bit familiar to those of us who were around when we were helping our campuses figure out the web: How do we measure? Who’s in charge? How do we get it done? Arguably, the need to explore and understand the answers to these questions may be more urgent today than it was then given the rapid pace of change and the accompanying cultural shift in how we interact with our constituents.

In addition to calling attention to the challenges and tensions associated with the evolution of social media in advancement, the survey findings suggest that we want our social media initiatives to be more strategic, more collaborative, more integrated and better resourced. Perhaps the results can be used to start campus conversations about opportunities on all of these fronts.

The white paper looks at how we’re using social media and for what goals, how effective we think we are, how we manage and deploy social media, perceived barriers to success, how we determine success, and what we see happening related to social media in the coming year.

It also includes thoughtful feedback on the survey results from Andrew Gossen of Cornell and Charlie Melichar of Vanderbilt, co-chairs of the joint CASE commission task force on social media, and by alumni relations commission chair and Alumni Futures guru Andy Shaindlin. And it features case studies that take an in-depth look at how four institutions are using social media. Download it from the CASE website.

What findings did you find to be most surprising? Most enlightening? Most helpful?

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