Following their initial embrace of social media, some businesses are taking the next step to sell through their tweets and status updates. Merchants are adding shopping carts and promoting special deals through new Web-marketing services that integrate social media. These services support one-day promotions and are offered requiring a minimum number of buyers - thus promoting social word-of-mouth. Call it the coupon-ization of social media.
The e-commerce trend is currently limited to social sites, Facebook and MySpace. Twitter and LinkedIn, don’t offer a direct sales platform. According to a recent article, merchants are offering contests and prizes to build their fan base following.
Think of the application to higher education. Twenty-five percent off of [insert name of one of your institution’s under-subscribed academic program] if you apply today … and bring 10 of your friends! (written with tongue firmly implanted in cheek)
The fever of using social media in higher education enrollment marketing has resulted in popularity reports from a number of sources. (See Jenna Johnson’s Campus Overload Blog from the Washington Post). Yet, as colleges and universities rush into social technology adoption, are they putting in corresponding plans to ramp up their ability to respond to, and service prospective and current students? Opening these channels presents an opportunity to disgruntled consumers “…who could also quickly blast their dissatisfaction to their network of friends,” according Michael Trusov, an assistant marketing professor at Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Hello Social media, let me introduce you to your superior, Mr. CRM strategy.
With any social media effort, it's important to understand the participation profile of your audience. In other words, what are the activities (not technologies) that your audience engages in daily? weekly? monthly? or never? DemandEngine research on the online profiles of students aged 16 - 50+ indicates that participation levels don’t match the current hype. Download our research on the communication preferences of adult learners. Research on traditional-aged students will be released later this month.
According to Edison Research and Arbitron, while nearly nine out of 10 Americans (87 percent) know about Twitter, just seven percent (17 million total) use it. This according to study data that includes three years of tracking data and a telephone survey of 1,753 conducted in February 2010.
By far the largest fraction of Twitter users – a third – are between the ages of 25 and 34, followed by 35- to 44-year-olds (19 percent) and 12 to 17-year-olds (18 percent). Twelve percent of Twitter users are between the ages of 45 to 54, and 11 percent are between the ages of 18 to 24. Women edge out men in the demographics: 53 percent to men's 47 percent.
The message? Your institution will not crumble if you are currently not using social media. Not everyone uses it and it’s better to do it well than to do it haphazardly. The use of social technologies has a place in higher education enrollment when it is used to convey what it is like to be a student. It’s a channel set that has application deeper in the enrollment or retention funnel.