A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on how educations institutions can get started with social media. This week our focus is on measuring success.

In order to know that any action is having a positive effect, you need to be able to link it to positive business outcomes. For example, you might have a lot of Likes on your Facebook page or a lot of followers on Twitter; but if you can’t show how those numbers are helping to boost awareness, applications, and enrollment, nor how it increases retention and involvement from the outside community (parents, donors, and alumni, perhaps), you’re not really able to prove success.

To measure success, first pick a framework. Look at the input and ask yourself what you’ve done with this channel so far. How have you built it out? Next, identify your reach by determining how large an audience you’ve built. Furthermore, how engaged is that audience? Finally, what kind of impact is each channel having? If the audience is large and engaged (the ideal situation), are they doing what you’d like for them to be doing?

Second, focus on use cases. This is a cycle of sorts:


  • Understand the market
  • Listen to and monitor conversations
  • Identify key influencers


  • Extent the reach of your programs
  • Influence the university’s perception


  • Get to know the community (students, parents, alumni, etc.)
  • Manage and engage (respond to comments, answer questions, elicit interaction in the community


  • Help to make connections (alumni, parents, faculty and staff, students)
  • Support that community

Finally, resist analysis paralysis and think progressive disclosure.

There are multiple tools out there that can help universities and other educational institutions provide a useful and enjoyable cross-channel experience for their social communities. With just one integrated platform, it will be easy to analyze, engage, and integrate your social activities with traditional ones.

For some further reading on the subject, check out…

Finally, if you’d like to take a look at how some other universities are making social work for them, there are any number of great examples out there. Have a look at the following case studies, which will hopefully help you to start thinking about what similar strategies might work in your own institution.

These framework questions, along with the key points that accompany them here, should serve to help you get organized in your social media endeavors. They will help you identify why, specifically, you want to use social media at your institution. This knowledge will, in turn, help you to tailor your efforts and see more success. Also have a look at Social Media for Educational Institutions on Slideshare.

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