Social Web Callouts: 15 Month Review

Posted by Brad, CEO
It’s hard to believe it’s been over 15 months since we initially pulled data on Social Web Callouts across 1,387 college and university websites in the USA. Just as a quick recap, here’s what the research consists of. We look at the .edu homepage, the Admissions undergraduate homepage and the Alumni homepage for the 1,387 schools (4,161 total URLs) each quarterly and manually pull the data on which pages have SWC’s, and what those SWC’s are.

Our 15-month review has continued to show some interesting trends in higher ed promotion of social web presences via the official website. Here is a quick recap, or feel free to skip down to the slidedeck below!

  • For the first time ever, more than 50% of all three areas include SWC’s on their site. Alumni leads the way with 60.4% of Alumni homepages including SWC’s on their site.
  • 85.7% of schools (1,188) now have a SWC on one of the three pages we review. This is up from 20.5% (285) in March 2009. (We crossed into the majority around November 2009. Our research in August 2009 (562) found 40.5% of schools, and then  63.2% (877) in ?December 2009.)
  • More and more schools are including SWC’s on all three pages, which was not the case initially.  In March 2009, only .07% of schools (10!) had SWC’s on the .edu homepage, the Admissions homepage and the Alumni Homepage.  This suggests an increased web effort across platforms, but also the potential of an integrated presence/strategy between departments. Initially, we’d see 1 department of the three doing the web well. For example, Admissions would be using the social web heavily but Alumni wouldn’t be doing anything, or vice versa.  We’re now seeing schools using these tools throughout the entire institution.
  • Admissions continues to lag behind in promoting their presences via SWC’s directly on their site.  Our supplementary research with prospective students has shown that they are more likely to visit and join presences that are officially promoted by the institution.
  • Of the 769 institutions with SWC’s on their homepage, Facebook appears 96.1% of the time.
  • The presence of SWC’s has largely been fueled by standard template headers and footers across .edu sites.  This typically means the entire site is linking to one presence, which is detrimental to each individual area’s efforts. For example, in March 2009 there wasn’t a single undergrad admissions site with a LinkedIn callout. Now, 62 schools do and LinkedIn appears over 8% of the time on the 735 admission homepages.  This is due to LinkedIn being added to the global navigation, not because it’s becoming an effective or utilized tool for Admissions.  Subsequently, we continue to see a lazy approach of deploying SWC’s across the site, which means the Facebook logo on an Admissions header/footer links to a Facebook Alumni Page, not the school’s Facebook Admissions Page.  Targeted SWC’s are key to promotion.

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Social Web Callouts: 15 Month Review

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