Rachel Reuben wrote a nice post at .eduGuru asking whether colleges really need a social media strategy. To be clear, she isn’t suggesting that it might not be necessary for colleges to invest in social media. Like most who have watched the growth of SM, she takes it as a given that they do (and I would say that her post applies just as much to independent schools as it does to colleges).
She is suggesting quite rightly that rather than approaching social media as it’s own thing, schools should view it as a natural complement to existing marketing strategies. As she puts it, social media can be “a strong spoke in your marketing wheel.”
Rachel uses an admissions/recruiting example:
Most universities aren’t going to give up printing viewbooks in mass, going to large college fairs, and certainly wouldn’t dream of closing down their admissions Web site that reaches millions. The masses need information, and you can’t have individual conversations with every single prospect. Or maybe you can. Maybe you at least make it seem like you are. That’s where social media comes in. It’s not going to replace any of the traditional spokes in your marketing wheel. It’s not going to be “the one thing” that makes the difference in your recruiting efforts this season, but it can certainly make an impact, make your university seem more personal, and provide that higher level of customer service that could potentially knock the socks off a prospect.
Read her post for good insight into a practical approach to overcoming administrative reluctance to making social media part of the school’s overall marketing strategy.