Top MBA programs are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more in their quest to recruit the best students possible. Only 1 in 3 however, are using tracking methods that tell them how many applicants result from early contact with the program’s social media efforts. This was among the key findings of the latest study conducted by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Senior Fellow & Co-Research Chair of the Society for New Communications Research and Director of the Center for Marketing Research at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and co-author Stephanie L. Jacobsen.
The new report is the outcome of a statistically valid study of the 2012 US News Top MBA Programs. The study examined these programs to quantify their adoption of social media tools and technologies. It also looked at what they considered to be effective and how their investment in social media would look in the next year.
- All 70 schools studied are currently using at least one social media platform or tool to market their MBA program. The top three tools used by MBA programs are Facebook (100%), Twitter (96%) and LinkedIn (87%), used primarily for alumni relations. Three quarters of the schools maintain an MBA blog. Some programs reported using Flickr (30%), Google+ (16%), mobile apps (14%), and Foursquare (13%).
- While only 16% of schools are using downloadable mobile app’s, these are rated among the most effective tools studied.
- 65% of schools using social media to market their MBA programs do not track the number of perspective students using social media who in turn complete applications.
- 41% of these top MBA programs describe social media as playing a critical or major role in their MBA marketing efforts. 42% have no written policy governing the use of social media for their program and 29% do not use any monitoring tool to track buzz or conversations about their program.
- Most MBA programs studied plan to increase their investment in social media in the next year (82%) and every school agrees that social media is worth the investment they make in it. Less than half of the schools, however (44%), feel social media cuts the cost of traditional advertising or marketing for their programs.
- 94% report recruitment is the number one goal of their social media efforts, yet the top 4 measures of effectiveness do not include tracking prospective applicants.
“It is interesting that the #1 goal for using social media in top MBA programs is recruitment, but the most popular measures of effectiveness are friends/followers, hits and comments rather than resultant applications,” stated Barnes.
Jacobsen added, “While fans, followers and hits are among the most common measures used to assess effectiveness of social media programs, these measurements will not accurately calculate how many prospective applicants apply to a school prior to using their social media. Other tools such as a “how did you hear about us” on the application, as well as software packages allow schools to measure if social media is actually improving recruitment efforts.”
A full copy of the new research report as well as an infographic summary can be downloaded at: http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/