College News

Facebook still the dominant form of social media in higher education

TERMINALFOUR who conducted the report, surveyed 257 marketing, web and leadership professionals from more than 150 higher education institutions in Ireland, UK, US, Canada, Australia and South Africa. 
The study revealed that 44% believe that Facebook will still be the most important social media account in 12 months’ time. This is closely followed by Twitter at 29% and Instagram at 11%.  Vine, Snapchat and Pinterest were the lowest concern for institutions surveyed, receiving <1% each.
Piero Tintori, CEO and founder of TERMINALFOUR, said, “There have been lots of rumblings about Facebook losing its appeal among the millennial generation in favour of newer platforms. In fact in our 2014 survey, 27% of respondents stated that Facebook was less effective today than it was 12 months ago, but the reality is that in terms of pure performance and meaningful metrics, no other platform has quite stepped up to the plate.
“Facebook is clearly resonating with students, and therefore higher education is responding accordingly. The challenge for other platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn, is to transcend beyond creating awareness towards driving action.
“As these platforms continually improve their analytics, I believe they’ll become more prominent in terms of university marketing budgets. However, today Facebook is still proving its worth in terms of supporting student recruitment efforts,” Tintori continued.
The survey also uncovered prevailing attitudes to traditional marketing efforts, such as print advertising, billboards and TV/radio. Of higher education respondents, 63% recognised that traditional marketing is still ‘fairly important’ to their institution. Almost a quarter (24%) cited traditional marketing as being very important, with 5% believing that they were as important as online marketing efforts. In contrast, just 8% believed they were no longer important.
Commenting on these findings, Piero Tintori said, “As web and social strategies continue to usurp the marketing budget, there’s definitely more conversation about cutting the traditional marketing budget in favour of more measurable and cost effective online activities. Our survey highlights what a battle this might be, as there is still a huge commitment and belief in offline. If, when and how people take that final leap will be something we’ll be watching over the next few years.”
Further results from the survey show that 53% of higher education (HE) institutions have invested in a website transformation project within the past 12 months.  The US is leading the way in this, representing 55% of this figure and the UK following with 38%.
Interestingly, 10% of respondents stated that their institution had not undergone a web transformation project in the past five years.  
Of the 55% of institutions that underwent a project in the past 12 months, 32% of these projects were carried out in-house only, 53% were a combination of in-house and an external agency, while 15% solely relied on an external agency.
Piero Tintori, CEO and founder, TERMINALFOUR, said, “Many universities and colleges have been in a holding pattern the past few years trying to weather the storm of the global recession. While understandable, it’s a dangerous and counterproductive stance to take in order to remain competitive.  The reality is that with advances in web and digital marketing technologies, the evolution of web design and the changes in user experience expectations, there is no such thing as standing still. You’re either investing in online to keep pace or you’re resigned to falling behind.
“That 53% of respondents have undergone a web transformation project in the past 12 months is extremely encouraging and highlights recognition that investment in digital strategy is an investment in the business success of universities and colleges,” Tintori continued.
The full TERMINALFOUR Higher Education Web Survey is available for download here.
Photo Caption: Piero Tintori, director and founder of TERMINALFOUR is pictured at the launch of the TERMINALFOUR Higher Education 2015 Survey Results