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Another Take: Social Media ROI in Higher Education

This week, I’m completing our latest “Take Two,” a back-to-back series of blog entries between me and  Shannon, with my take on social media ROI in higher education.  To see the first entry, check out Take Two: Social Media ROI in Higher Education.

As Shannon pointed out last week, it’s both important and challenging to measure the ROI of social media in higher education.  The thing that strikes me most is the idea that many departments, from student services offices to various groups in academic affairs, use social media.  It’s also often the case that each have unique reasons for doing so.  Some may be focused on building awareness of services & activities, while others may be set on growing the number of applicants or donations.  Although altogether they make up one institution, they often vary in individual goals that contribute to the larger ones.  In that way, it’s a little bit like bringing the puzzle pieces together to create one beautiful picture.  That’s part of the challenge in higher education.

Since Shannon did a great job kicking off a discussion about the big picture, I thought this week I’d share some tools and ideas for measuring social media with higher education in mind (all free tools!).  Recognizing this won’t be all encompassing in one blog entry, consider how you measure social media while you’re reading and think about sharing it with us in the Comments.

Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights is a dashboard of metrics for a Facebook Page.  With Insights, a Page administrator can measure things like growth rate of Fans, interactions on a Page, and much more.  As is the case with measuring anything, Page administrators need to know what their goals are in order to determine what to look for in Insights.  As an example, let’s say I’ve created a Page with the goal of building awareness of office services to traditional age undergraduate students.  One thing I should look at it is the demographic of my Page Fans.

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A sample of demographics in Facebook Insights

These demographics would look pretty good for my target audience.  As you can see, the majority of the Fans are in the age bracket 18-24, which is the group I’m trying to reach.  Facebook Insights will also tell you the Countries, Cities, and Languages of your Fans, so that may help me even further determine if I’m reaching people in the right age in the right region.  I’ll need to look at more in Insights to determine whether or not people are viewing my posts, but at least with demographics, I’ll know if I’ve got the right audience in front of me.  For more on Facebook Insights, here’s a guide on the subject from Mashable.

Tweetreach

When it comes to measuring Twitter, one tool I like to explore is TweetReach.  On the site, type in your Twitter name in the search bar and click the search button.  It may take a few moments, but shortly TweetReach will show you the reach, impressions and more of your 50 most recent tweets.  You can also see a collection of the people retweeting you, which may enable you to determine whether or not those people are your target audience (students, alumni, colleagues, etc.).  For investigating awareness or even engagement, TweetReach is an interesting place to start.

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A sample of the results page of TweetReach

Social Mention

Social Mention refers to itself “real-time social media search and analysis” and aims to pull together all the times a set of keywords has been mentioned in online social spaces.  Social Mention even allows you to set up an alert (kind of like a Google Alert) so you can be notified when the words you’re following are being mentioned.  You can type in the name of your university, office, department, etc. and see if it’s being discussed online on social media.  I’ve just been tinkering with Social Mention more as of late, and so far I am very intrigued.

So, what are your tips for measuring social media in higher education?  Let us know your take.

By Kevin

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