Eduventures® Research Reveals the Role of Social Media in Higher Education Recruitment Marketing

February 5, 2019

New Research Shows That the Influence of Social Media in College Recruitment Varies Significantly by Platform

February 5, 2019


The National Research Center for College and University Admissions™ (NRCCUA®), an educational data science and research organization that was recently acquired by ACT®,​ ​today announced findings from its Eduventures® Research division. The 2019 Social Media Report focuses on the use and effectiveness of social media for the purpose of college search. The report builds on initial findings from the annual Student Sentiment Survey™ and reveals the impact of social media recruitment practices based on specific student populations. With current high school students active across a variety of popular social media platforms including Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, research shows that the influence of social media in college recruitment varies significantly by platform.

Key findings in the report include the following:

  • Currently, nearly one-third of students say social media is influential in their college searches.
  • The same number of students plan to use it when deciding where to enroll.
  • Some student populations are more likely to be influenced by social media:
  • African American and Hispanic or Latino populations
  • Career Pragmatist and Exploration and Meaning students as defined by Eduventures Student Mindsets™
  • High school sophomores
  • An emerging trend illustrates that one-third of prospective students find college sponsored ads on social media helpful in their searches.

According to Johanna Trovato, Eduventures Senior Analyst and author of the study, “Technology and social media play an important role in the way colleges and universities communicate with students and share information. Today, the savviest schools are using social media platforms to reach students at every stage of the student lifecycle, from awareness, to enrollment, to graduation. Colleges and universities have learned from other industries about the power of branding and digital marketing, using social media to attract students and keep them engaged throughout the course of their education and beyond.” But, Trovato warns, “Social media is most effective when used as one part of a holistic outreach strategy and mindful about the specific target audiences it will reach.”

Applying the Data 

The data on social media preferences confirms the dawn of the digital advertising age in undergraduate recruitment. Other engagement channels, including website, print collateral, and face-to-face outreach must complement social media as a way to influence prospective students.

Quantitative Research that Matters 

The cornerstone of Eduventures Research is the quantitative research that is conducted across multiple disciplines within higher education. A team of experienced quantitative research analysts collects and analyzes data from both prospective and current students.

Eduventures Research conducts a wide array of scientific survey projects each year, from highly-targeted single-client surveys to large multi-client studies that include tens of thousands of prospective students. It provides a combination of robust measurement tools, custom data cuts, data analysis, and ongoing client advisory services to help private, public, nonprofit, and for-profit institutions accelerate their recruiting strategies, boost program growth, and create compelling messages for their target audiences.

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