Massive social media advertising campaigns have proven effective for colleges and universities large and small, and a new analysis shows that institutions that invest the most in social media ads spend less per student on marketing than do campuses who stick to traditional strategies.
Campuses considered “moderate-to-heavy” investors in social media marketing to alumni and current and prospective students—using popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—spend $83 per student on advertising costs, while “light-to-non-investors” spend $121 per student, according to a study released last month by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and Lipman Hearne, a Washington, D.C.-based marketing and communications firm that serves nonprofit organizations.
The higher-education market analysis also reported a rise in overall investment in social media advertising: Fifty-two percent of campuses surveyed spent more on social media marketing between fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2009, and 55 percent of colleges invested more in interactive online tools.
Donna Van De Water, chief operating officer of Lipman Hearne, said the ability to track page views and other metrics during an online marketing drive is appealing to college marketing decision makers because it “helps an institution understand where it sits relative to competitors, how to better manage reputation, how to shape messages, and how to maximize resources.”
Institutions that spent the most money on web-based ads on popular social networking sites had advantages in three of the most critical marketing areas: web site hits, positioning among colleges, and alumni giving.