University Business - March 2007 - (Page 25)

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Now, every time I turn around, it seems like people are talking about social networking and its possible use as a higher education marketing tool. But should colleges and universities make a foray into social networking? Before we go any further, let’s define social networking. The term was first coined in 1954 by sociologists to describe the process of how individuals connect and interact. The advent of the web a term that literally implies “network” has dramatically changed how we create, use, and fuel social networks. In most cases, the terms “network” and “social media” can be used interchangeably. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project www.pewinternet. org , which produces reports that explore the impact of the internet, a social networking site is an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users. Members use these media to share opinions, insights, experiences, photos and video, and perspectives with each other. It’s important to remember that this sharing is often unedited, instantaneous, and worldwide. In many cases, it is also unintended. The purpose of these sites, simply, is to build community. They are, quite literally, a place for members to hang, to get to know, and to be known. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions of www.universitybusiness.com I gine YouTube upload more than 65,000 new videos, and users view 100 million video clips per day. Before we look at the marketing implications of social networking, I want to offer a handful of observations gleaned from my research and interviews with both college marketers and students. OBSERVATION # 1: It’s about quality, not quantity. Big numbers attract attention, but the reality is this: As a college or university, you are interested in only a very, very small percentage of that big number. The challenge, of course, is sifting out the small percentage of students and others that are interested in your message in a way that is effective and efficient. So far, no college has cracked the code. OBSERVATION # 2: Members are notoriously finicky. There seems to be an “unwritten rule” of social networks: As soon as they become formal, predictable or rule-bound, the membership tends to melt. Edgy is king... and queen. OBSERVATION # 3: Members are very wary of the encroachment of business into what they define as personal, literally “my,” space. In 2005, Rupert Murdock purchased MySpace for $580 million. And in Rober t Sevier, a senior VP at Stamats Communications, is the author of Building a Brand That Matters: Helping Colleges and Unive r s i t i e s Capitalize on the Four Essential Elements of a Block-Buster Brand, available from www.strategypublishing.com. As soon as social networks become formal, predictable, or rulebound, the membership tends to melt. internet users. According to Pew, more than half some 55 percent of American youth ages 12 to 17 use online social networking sites. There are literally thousands of social networks around the planet. Cyworld in South Korea claims 15 million members. Classmates.com claims 40 million. Reunion.com has 25 million members. Friendster has another 29 million. For colleges and universities interested in social networking, the big two are Facebook and MySpace. Facebook claims 12 million members and MySpace claims 130 million. Amanda Watlington, an online social media guru, says that what is truly astonishing is the creative effort plowed into blogs, podcasts, and vlogs video blogs by members. Every 24 hours, she says, visitors to the popular video search en- March 2007 | 25 Mrktg307.indd Mrktg307.indd 1 2/21/07 12:10:30 PM Warning : Unknown : The session id contains invalid characters, valid characters are only a-z, A-Z and 0-9 in Unknown on line 0 Warning : Unknown : Failed to write session data files . Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct /var/lib/php/session in Unknown on line 0 http://www.pewinternet.org http://www.pewinternet.org http://Classmates.com http://Reunion.com http://www.strategypublishing.com http://www.universitybusiness.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - March 2007

Contents
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Editor's Note
Stats Watch
Sense of Place
Viewpoint
Marketing
Human Resources
Financial Aid
Money Matters
Community Colleges
Title IX Turns 35
It’s Electric
Lost in Space
Transportation Trends
Details of Retail
Business Technology
What's New
Calendar of Events
Direct Connect
End Note

University Business - March 2007

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