Has Advancement Advanced in Social Media Use?

Michael Stoner is the president of mStoner and a faculty member for the CASE Social Media & Community conference.

Last year, CASE members reported that nearly all institutions (94 percent) were using Facebook to connect with important audiences. Their main purposes for using social media were engaging alumni (86 percent), strengthening their institutional brand (72 percent) and increasing awareness/advocacy/rankings (58 percent).

These were just some of the findings from the first survey of social media in advancement, conducted through a partnership between CASE, mStoner, and Slover Linett Strategies. We’ve reported on the results elsewhere and wrote a white paper, “Succeeding with Social Media: Lessons from the First Survey of Social Media in Advancement,” that digests what we learned and provides some additional insights.

We’re now busy analyzing the results from the second survey, which launched in February and closed in early March. I’m not going to share too many of our findings—we’ll release the results on April 13 at the CASE Social Media & Community conference in San Francisco. Cheryl Slover-Linett and I will open the conference with a presentation of findings from the new survey.

What I will say is that it’s interesting to see what’s changed in a year. And how much hasn’t. In general, the shifts are smaller than I would have anticipated.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of institutions consider Facebook the most successful social tool for meeting their goals (87 percent in 2011 vs. 85 percent in 2010). There are a few shifts in the ranking of other social tools, but not big ones. I could say much the same thing about the changes in other areas of the survey.

Here’s an example of a place where I expected to see more change occurring in the future: “Is the use of social media developing spontaneously or is it the result of planning in your unit?” In 2011, 7 percent of respondents indicated “highly spontaneous” and 17 percent “highly planned.” Last year? It was 8 percent “highly spontaneous” and 13 percent “highly planned.”

It looks as if the majority of institutions are still relying on counting measures (number of comments, tweets, etc.) as indications of social media success. Compare that with the Altimeter Group’s research on the measures corporate social strategists are using to measure social media engagement:


So what does this mean? We are still combing through the data and don’t have all the details yet. Stay tuned for the results of the second survey in April.

3 responses to “Has Advancement Advanced in Social Media Use?

  1. I agree 100 percent. Of course, the key phrase is: if you are already measuring your traditional marketing objectives …. Its really essential to stop counting and start looking at what what really matter!

  2. Agree with Andy–I don’t think there’s a big trick to measuring, if you are already measuring your traditional marketing objectives–same principles apply. Trouble is, many people don’t know how to match a tool (metric) to a specific objective and end up trying to create the objective to match the tool. Measuring gurus like Katie Paine (Measure What Matters) are sounding the cry to get back to good research-driven measuring methods that match objectives, not the other way around. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say in SF.

  3. Looking forward to hearing your detailed update in San Francisco, Michael. Advancement offices are going to have to invest in more traditional style “customer satisfaction” measurement in order to assess alumni and friends’ sentiment. Part of the trick, though, will be establishing meaningful goals for engagement. Also, this kind of research won’t be useful unless surveyed audiences are segmented so that future outreach can be targeted by style, content, and platform.

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