Takeaways from the CASE/Huron Education/mStoner Social Media Survey

Janna Crabb (@jcrabb) is the director of online communications at CASE.

What is your institution doing on social media? How do you compare with other institutions? Michael Stoner, president of mStoner, and Cheryl Slover-Linett, consultant at Huron Education, presented the findings of the fourth annual CASE/Huron Education/mStoner social media survey April 17 at the CASE Social Media and Community conference in Boston, Mass. The survey was taken by more than 1,000 CASE members in the areas of fundraising, communications, marketing and alumni relations. Eleven percent of survey respondents work outside of the United States and Canada. After listening to the presentation and reading the results, here’s what I found most interesting:

  • Facebook is still king, despite what we’ve been hearing during the past year about its projected decline thanks to frequent privacy policy and layout changes. Ninety-six percent of institutions still use Facebook as their primary social media platform.
  • LinkedIn use is growing rapidly with a 7 percent increase over last year. Anecdotal evidence from the conference suggests that more institutions are using it for career services, to help alumni connect with other alumni and their institution and as a prospect research tool.
  • Institutions are using blogs more infrequently (13 percent decrease over 2012)—regardless of whether they are student, alumni or faculty blogs. Informal conversations suggest that this is, in part, because blogs are not easy wins—they are time-consuming to manage, particularly when bloggers are students, faculty or alumni rather than communications or alumni relations staff.
  • Institutions realize the value of the use of photos on social media— particularly with Instagram, which is seen as an easy win. Students and alumni enjoy using it, minimal time investment nets audience engagement, and it integrates well with platforms other than Twitter.
  • Survey participants are struggling with the ROI question—38 percent feel that it is difficult to measure success, especially in terms of dollars fundraised.
  • While more work hours are being dedicated to social media than last year, under-staffing is still an issue—67 percent of respondents do not have staff members dedicated to social media. Respondents feel, overall, they’d be more successful with a dedicated champion who understands the big picture.
  • Those managing social media at institutions are being more thoughtful about where they dedicate resources—they think strategically before launching presences on new platforms and evaluate potential success based on audience and resources.

Audience members weighed in during the presentation with their opinions and experience:

  • Fascinating to find that LinkedIn continues to grow as go-to-tool in higher ed compared to other tools.—@florenciapp
  • See great institutional power w/ Pinterest, but harder to invest with smaller departments.—@alliemorse
  • Can support the Instagram findings-our new account is doing great with comparatively little time invested.—@kriskayoo
  • Speaking for myself, I guess. I know my limits. 🙂 To engage the way I want to, I have to limit social media channels.—@hewanderson
  • Measuring ROI is harder now that our sector has developed more demanding goals and objectives for social media.—@sirinyamatute

Want to know more? Read the top line findings and conference presentation.

I’d love to hear about your institution’s experiences and learn more about what your takeaways were in the comments.

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