Social media and student recruitment… in the for-profit sector

Social media and student recruitment: Expanding Interest Among For-Profit Schools

Back last night from the Career College Association conference in Orlando, where I was part of a panel discussion hosted by Google on “Building Your Online Student Community” about the potential and the pitfalls of integrating social media into overall marketing activities.

At breakfast before the session we briefly discussed differences in marketing and recruitment approaches between the “for profit” and the “not-for-profit” sectors of higher education. We covered the usual points… including a more sales oriented approach on the “for profit” side in which admissions representatives play a different role than what is customary according to NACAC guidelines that most “not-for-profits” follow.

Fear of negative comments

At the actual session, one element was evident that overlapped boundaries:

  • People are not yet comfortable with creating a social media site and opening themselves up to possible negative comments re the experiences of their students.

Interest was high… people were standing along the back wall of the room. And my sense was that many and maybe most in the room sense the inevitability of social media conversations. They will take place whether sanctioned or not. Might as well have them occur where it is easiest to monitor them and where satisfied students are more likely to contribute positive responses. Might as well build sponsored sites.

Staffing and ROI Concerns

Two other points of interest surfaced:

  • What are the new requirements for staffing social media marketing activities?
  • How do we measure the ROI?

All in all, an interesting morning and for me personally, a introduction to a segment of the market that I don’t often visit.

Thanks to fellow panelists Clay Gillespie of Career Education Corporation and Joe Charlson of Education Management Corporation who reviewed what was already happening among their schools. And thanks to Google moderator Sam Sebastian (a very major Ohio State fan!) and Deb Powsner who admirably herded the cats and managed the details.

University of Phoenix has a strong social media presence, although few can match the resources of that goliath. Nevertheless, expect to see more CCA members moving more strongly in this direction as social media in the marketing mix continues to expand. 

That’s all for now.


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