Using Social Network Sites for Higher Education Marketing and Recruitment

Using Social Network Sites for Higher Education Marketing and Recruitment

Natalia Rekhter (Lincoln College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4014-6.ch010
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In this paper, the author examines how the rapid penetration of Social Network Sites (SNSs) into everyday life affects higher education marketing. Among unique features offered by SNSs are unprecedented trackability of students’ interests, immediacy in responses, targeted personalization of marketing efforts, and low institutional financial obligations. Growth in Internet Penetration Rates and strong international SNSs membership suggests further globalization of marketing strategies and inclusion of lower income countries into targeted markets. Concerns associated with the use of SNSs include dearth of fluency in the sites’ content and operation among admission personnel, lack in users’ privacy, and absence of control over the content. The skyrocketing evolution of SNSs surpasses the corresponding research as do applications of SNSs for higher education marketing. As the result, this qualitative study had to draw information from the variety of secondary sources including blogs, web reports, group discussions, comments, forums, videos, etc.
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During the first decade of the 21 century social media or social networking -the terms are often used interchangeably- which is, in crude summary, a “socializing and networking online through words, pictures, and videos” (Reuben, 2008, p. 1) or a “mass democratization of information” (Bennett, 2011, slide 13) became an integral part of many people’s daily routine. Nielsen Online, an analytics firm that tracks social network activities, estimates the reach of social media to be over 700 million active users from all over the world with 212,001,960 users being between ages of 16 and 25 (Bennett, 2011).

Availability of hyper-connections and constant communications have been “fast and furiously” changing the way all population groups, but particularly teenagers and young adults are acquiring, processing, analyzing, and reacting on information. “The 16-24 year olds of today are constantly connected-plugged into digital music devices, cell phones, the Internet, instant messengers and social networks, perhaps all in the same device” (Barnes & Mattson, 2010, p. 1). Colleges and universities are quickly recognizing the growing power of social networks and seem to change their marketing strategies to response to the needs of their audience.

The above observation determines the goal of this paper which is to investigate the role of technology in the form of Social Networks or Social Media as part of the new trends in marketing higher education domestically and internationally. First, I’ll explore definition, historic development, and the use of Social Networks and Social Media for marketing of higher education. Second, I’ll examine how the use of Social Network Sites is being influenced by the different world regions’ and countries’ Internet Penetration Rates and these countries’ Gross Domestic Products. Third, I’ll investigate concerns and barriers associated with the use Social Networks and Social Media. Finally, the evaluation of how these complex variables can be used, and are being used, to support the access of international students to the HIEs in the U.S. will take place.

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