Institutions around the world use various social channels—blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and many others—as an integral part of campaigns designed to achieve important outcomes. This article describes some of what the author has learned about using social media as part of a campaign. It also presents three abridged case studies from the book Social Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students and Get Results (EDUniverse Media 2013):
- College of William & Mary: High school seniors and their families see countless mailings from admissions offices across the country that lack individual impact. Admissions leaders at the College of William & Mary knew this when they tackled a project to create new undergraduate recruitment materials. They needed a solution that stood out from the competition, had immediate visual impact, and drove traffic to the college website. Enter the Ampersandbox, launched in August 2011. This unique campaign concept tells stories about William & Mary through highly interactive print and web components while allowing visitors to share their own stories.
- Florida State University: Three months of planning doesn’t sound long enough to prepare a 36-hour fund-raising campaign to raise $161,000. Yet this was the challenge that faced Florida State University’s then-director of annual giving Chad Warren and his staff of two fund-raisers in 2011. In January 2012, FSU’s annual giving team surpassed that goal and reached $186,000 while attracting hundreds of new donors. This was the “Great Give,” FSU’s first online-only campaign—and its foundation was social media.
- Missouri University of Science and Technology: When a crisis hits, social media can deliver important messages to many audiences at a rapid pace. However, with all the messaging that occurs on multiple channels, the atmosphere appears ripe for confusion. How can a university or college break through the virtual noise and make sure its constituents are receiving important emergency messages? On May 12, 2011, a remarkable example of social media crisis management began to unfold at Missouri University of Science and Technology when an active shooter drove onto the campus.
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