Let it snow, video and the power of social media for student engagement

15 September 2022

Andrew Crisp looks at social media usage trends in CarringtonCrisp’s forthcoming GenerationWeb report.

Fifteen years ago, CarringtonCrisp published their first GenerationWeb report (then titled WebWorks) examining best practice on business school websites. Even then social media was already having an impact on prospective students with facebook being regularly highlighted in the research.

The new GenerationWeb report, to be published next month, shows how much has changed in just 15 years. Facebook has been joined and passed by a host of other services. Instagram used by 84% of the respondents is the most popular social media tool with facebook only used by 64%. Among the 24 business schools who took part in the study, two now have their own TikTok account.

Perhaps even more striking is the use of video by business schools, whether on social media sites or school websites. Just under three-quarters of those taking part in the study say they watch video on business school websites, up from 57% just two years ago. With campuses shut because of COVID and open days having moved online, the acceleration of video usage is not surprising, but it seems unlikely to diminish. Almost six in ten (59%) search for business school videos on YouTube and other video sharing platforms, also up from last year (50%).

When prospective students use social networking sites, more than six out of ten (66%) search for information about business schools. A third consider the sites essential to get an authentic view of a business school, 43% see them as a useful addition to other tools and channels, while only 5% believe they add very little and largely disregard them.

Of course, much of the content on social media sites and the videos watched by prospective students is generated by the users, the current students, the alumni and the faculty. It’s almost impossible to police such activity and except for a few instances probably not worth trying, but this doesn’t mean schools don’t need a social media strategy.

When social media tools are so widely used by prospective students, schools need to be clear what they communicate, when, to whom and on what channels. Social media posts can be powerful parts of the communication mix; a Dean once told me that on the first day of the new academic year in a speech to students that if the school was going to be closed in the winter because of snow it would be announced first on his Twitter account – the next day he had 1,000 new followers!

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