My two least favorite words in social media: Chance Me. Or at least they were a year ago. For an entire year they were often how I started my mornings. For any of my fellow admission peeps who troll the vast online land that is College Confidential (CC), these two little worlds will be all too familiar.
In the summer of 2011, our annual matric and non-matric surveys revealed that after the William & Mary website and our campus visit, College Confidential was the third most popular source from which our applicants gathered information. As the dean tasked with overseeing our office’s marketing and communications efforts, I was intrigued. Sure we had a presence on the more traditional social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the Admit It! Blog) but here was an entirely new arena for us to explore – and it was an arena in which our students were actively interacting and searching out information about us…bonus!
So I created a username (and here’s the big reveal, W&M Admission is me but please don’t tell anyone, it’s supposed to be confidential after all) and subscribed to the College of William & Mary forum. Each morning, I replied to every new comment posted on every thread. I also replied to every visitor and private message. College Confidential had been running for quite some time without any official W&M presence (that being said big ups to soccerguy315, frazzeled1, squiddy and the other dedicated W&M fans on CC) and there was a lot of misinformation throughout the William & Mary forum.
And the results were positive. Prospective students and families really seemed to appreciate the time our office took to respond to their questions. We were able to put forward a great deal of accurate and up-to-date information. We also had the opportunity to promote W&M through starting new threads, through featuring other W&M social media and through sharing anecdotes about our campus.
But as we all know, time is a valuable resource, and after one year, mine could no longer be spent replying to every post and to every new comment. So with a year’s worth of good information uploaded into cyberspace, we transitioned to being a lesser presence on the site. I still respond to any visitor and private messages, and I check the W&M forum each morning (and I’m on the site full blast when we release decisions) but I respond only to admission questions. We also have a “News and Updates from W&M Admission” thread which is permanently pinned to the top of the forum where I post about approaching deadlines, need-to-know application information, campus visit opportunities, etc.
So what are the lessons learned?
I’d certainly be interested in other admission offices’ perspectives on this topic and how other schools are making use of College Confidential or if they’re not present on the site, why not. But I put this out there to the EDUniverse because when we discuss social media and admission it’s not usually a platform that springs to mind, yet it offers a lot of possibilities and potential benefits for both the school and the student. And in admission, isn’t that what it’s all about?