This is a guest post by Kelly Price, an online contributor to the recent November-December issue of Academe. Price is a marketing professor at East Tennessee State University. She has served as a college of business and technology faculty senator and is the current faculty advisor to Sigma Kappa Sorority at ETSU.
If you read my online Academe article, “An Academic Winter Session: A Student Survey”, you may notice the different ways students heard about an academic winter session at a particular university.
Looking at the results, it may not surprise you that email and the winter session web site were major platforms where students heard about the session, However, it may have surprised you that social media only constituted 1% of how students heard. Is it really possible students talked to their professors rather than read about it on social media?!
The social community (where social media resides) is a vast place full of numerous platforms, diverse users and many digital marketing strategies to match. So, did this university market the winter session poorly despite its best efforts to utilize the biggest and best social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter? No. In fact, this university was and still is active with both platforms with engaging posts and tweets.
However, the results point to the fact that even though this session is 100% online, held during a time when the population on campus is low and is a shortened session, personal interaction was important for telling students about the winter session. Higher education and business in general continue to make digital marketing (including social media) the new traditional way to market. However, it must be remembered that personal and human interaction with a favorite professor, a trusted advisor or a dependable peer can have just as much influence (if not more in this case) than any social media can produce.
This university plans to continue to use these particular social media and is considering others for the future. However, it should be remembered that good old “word-of-mouth marketing” still rules.