After a recent interview with Campus Technology magazine, "Recruitment Marketing Calls for Smarter Spending," a person commenting, "mktgdirector," asked for examples of professional and graduate schools using social media effectively in social networking and recruitment activities. I promised to post more information on the blog. This first installment reviews the way that graduate and professional schools are using Twitter.
The 9 schools included here were taken from the ones I'm following now on Twitter. Excluded were sites for entire colleges or universities or those specialized for admissions (several) or alumni (a few). Individual schools are presented in the order of their most recent tweet earlier today. All, or nearly all in the case of the McCombs School, were scanned quickly for a qualitative estimate of the frequency of links and retweets. Other more specific information is included with each school below.
One school stands out from the rest: the McCombs School at the University of Texas. With one exception, it is also the oldest by several months and so has had more time to develop.
Overall conclusions that emerged from the review:
- Tone: Maintaining a balance between formal news items and informal personality and conversational tone in the postings is a challenge. It isn't surprising that most of these posts are more formal or "business like" than not.
- Content: In most cases, tweets focus on activities taking place within the schools, including recruitment activities, speakers, faculty awards and honors, alumni recognitions and similar events. The McCombs School has reported the results of a survey that pretty much says this is exactly what followers want to find as Twitter posts. Information rather than entertainment is the reason people follow. That would also tend to validate the more formal tone used here.
- Linking: The great majority of posts on all the sites either link to more information about the topic covered or are retweets.
- Bio: The "bio" spot on Twitter is used in very different ways and I've included the exact words for each school. As you'll see, some could do a better equivalent of an "elavator speech" brand message in this space. The McCombs School adds a nice personal element by naming the person who maintains the site.
- Followers: None of these have yet reached 1,000 followers and some that are more recently started have far fewer than that. Tracking the increase in followers is one way to measure the reach and effectiveness of Twitter as a marketing tool. The schools included here are very different in size so that direct comparisons based on followers between one school and another can't be made.
- Competitive Intelligence: Twitter offers a competitive intelligence opportunity by following the posts of rival schools. All of our examples appear to follow similar institutions based on a quick visual scan.
Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business
The newest of the group started 24 February. Five tweets were made since then. So far, 22 people are following while Baruch follows 34 people or places.
University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business
Started 28 August with 666 updates since then, this is definitely the most robust of the ones I'm following with 753 followers and 485 others being followed..
McCombs reported today the results of a survey reporting that people wanted tweets on "student news, campus events/speakers, alumni events, faculty accomplishments & major McCombs news."
Bio: "News from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, tweeted by Tracy in the McCombs Communications office."
Texas A&M University Mays School of Business
Started 3 November with 61 updates since then. Mays has 289 followers and is following 96 others.
Bio: "Texas A&M University's Mays Business School educates 4,800 undergraduate, master's and doctoral students."
Thunderbird School of Global Management
Thunderbird started 16 December and has posted 194 updates since then. Thunderbird has 422 followers and is following 463 others. That number of followers seems especially strong given the relatively recent start.
Virtually all posts have links to web pages.
Bio: "Thunderbird School of Global Management is dedicated to educating global leaders who create sustainable prosperity worldwide."
University of Chicago Law School
The Law School started 25 November and has made 259 updates since then. Followers are at 263 and 174 are being followed.
A conspicuous topic stood out... links to faculty blogs are frequenty made.
Bio: "Life of the mind? I'll show you the life of the mind."
Webster University School of Business and Technology
Webster started 20 February and has made 34 updates since then. Followers number 46 and the school is following 112 others.
Bio: "Communications director for Webster University's School of Business & Technology"
College of Charleston Graduate School
This site started 3 December, with 51 updates since then. Since then it has gained 85 followers and is following 116 others.
Bio: "We're the graduate school of the College of Charleston!"
Penn State University World Campus
The World Campus was the oldest site reviewed, starting over a year ago on January 8, 2008, with 112 updates since then. 138 are followers and the World Campus is following 133 others. Since the site has been up for more than 13 months, the number of followers seems low.
Conspicuous posts: Recent links to/about Second Life activities after a 28 January 2009 launch.
Bio: "Penn State Online and Distance Education"
University of Illinois College of Business
The College of Business started 27 January 2009 and has made 61 updates since then. 135 followers are listed and the College is following 82 others.
Bio: "The College of Business at the University of Illinois has outstanding programs in accountancy, business administration, and finance."
That's it for now.
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