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Social-Media Use Grows at Colleges, Despite Little Dedicated Staff

Colleges may still be unsettled by the prospect of MOOCs, but they are increasingly comfortable with another Web-based game-changer: social media.

On Thursday the Council for Advancement and Support of Education released its latest annual survey of social-media use by colleges, with more than 1,000 institutions responding. (The full results are here.) Colleges may be more social-media savvy, perhaps even social-media dependent, but at most colleges it’s still something employees do on the side.

Not surprisingly, the two most popular social media used by colleges over all remain Facebook (used by 96 percent) and Twitter (82 percent). The use of the photo-sharing site Flickr has declined, from 51 percent in 2012 to 38 percent this year. While colleges have begun to use newer (and younger-skewing) social media such as Instagram and Tumblr, which were not included in the CASE survey last year, the percentage that do so remains relatively modest: 27 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

The number of colleges that make social media an integrated part of their outreach has grown, from 41 percent of respondents in 2012 to 52 percent in 2013. But while 47 percent of colleges surveyed use social-media channels to raise money from donors, direct results from that effort remain elusive for most: 67 percent of respondents raised $10,000 or less through social-media appeals last year. Success on Facebook was more likely to be measured in “likes.”

At most of the colleges surveyed, maintaining a social-media presence is still a part-time job: 67 percent of respondents had no full-time employee dedicated to social-media activities. And yet staffing for dedicated content management was cited by 55 percent of respondents as “quite a bit” or “extensively” a challenge for social-media success.

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