Need research on social media?

Every day, on college and university campuses everywhere, dedicated people like you are making the case for effective communication with key audiences. On a good day, you get a brilliant idea about a new way to connect with the people you want to reach. Sometimes the idea is so gloriously brilliant you need to secure buy-in and approval. Remember, when you pitch new ideas outside the comfort zones of your leadership team, it’s good to go in with evidence.

Maybe 2014 is the year for stepping up your social media strategy. If so, consider data from the Social Media in Advancement Survey conducted by Huron Education and mStoner in partnership with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Annually, I’ve observed Michael Stoner committing time and talent to this important project and I know he’s grateful to the many of you who participated in the most recent survey.

In late March, highlights from the fifth annual survey will be released at the CASE Social Media and Community Conference. Until then, the 2013 research comes in handy. I reacquainted myself with the top-line findings from 2013 and they are the subject of this post. For fun, I decided to highlight a few of the questions asked and make some predictions about what we might see in the 2014 results. We’ll call these Susan’s Hunches.

My hunches about the 2014 results for a few of the survey questions:

Question 9. Which types of social media do you use (for any audiences you want to reach)?

  • In 2013, 27% of survey respondents used Instagram. I predict this number will be up by at least 15% in 2014.
  • Tumblr was used by only 9% of respondents. I predict the use of Tumblr will increase by about 10%.
  • Not even on the list in 2013, I think we’ll see Snapchat responses in the 2014 results.

Question 16. In what types of campaigns have you used social media?

  • In 2013, 41% of respondents used social media for admissions campaigns. I predict an increase of 5% for 2014.

Question 30. For which types of development and fundraising activities does your institution use social media?

  • Of respondents, 14% used social media for capital campaign solicitations. I think we will be see a 15% increase to this percentage in the next survey. (I know, it’s a big jump. This is the hunch I’m least confident about.)

Question 44. How many full‐time people does your institution have working on social media that are 100 percent dedicated to it (all of their job responsibilities relate to social media)?

  • In 2013, 67% of those surveyed had no one who was 100% dedicated to social media work. My hunch is that this number will come down by 8% in the 2014 results.

Here’s a convenient summary table of Susan’s Hunches:

  • Use of Instagram: +15%
  • Use of Tumblr: +10%
  • Use of Snapchat: on the list!
  • For admissions campaigns: +5%
  • For capital campaign solicitation: +15%
  • No person 100% dedicated to social media: -8%

Check back in late March if you want to see how I did. If I’m close on a lot of these predictions, you’ll probably see another blog post. If I’m way off, I’ll quickly move on to other topics. The point is, use research for pitching your ideas. It’s out there!

More on the annual Social Media in Advancement Survey:

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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