Publications & Products
Volume 1, Issue 4

Using Social Media Deliberately

Many community colleges are unsure how to manage their social media presence to achieve their institutions' strategic goals. CASE will host a webinar Nov. 8 explaining how community college advancement teams should use social media, both coherently and strategically, to grow enrollment and build brand.

Michael Barzacchini, director of marketing services at Harper College, a community college in Chicago's northwest suburbs that serves about 40,000 credit and noncredit students, will lead the upcoming webinar.

"We need to get ourselves beyond, 'Gee, do we have an institutional Facebook page?'" he said, discussing his social media philosophy. "We need to be looking at the practical applications of social media and think about using social media to help with enrollment initiatives or advance other causes."

The key to successfully integrating social media tactics into nearly every enrollment and marketing campaign, Barzacchini said, is to clearly define your message up front: what are you trying to accomplish, and how is your use of social media leading your audience to that goal?

"You wouldn't deliver 50,000 pieces of direct mail if you didn't think about what's written on them," he said. "You wouldn't give out a phone number if you didn't think about what's going to happen when people call it. But people often do think that way with social media because these tools come at no monetary cost. There is a cost, however. It's a time investment—both your time and your audience's time. It has to be done right."

Barzacchini also stressed that community colleges shouldn't use all social media tools in the same manner. For example, he said his institution has found that traditional-age students are more receptive to outreach via Facebook and YouTube, whereas older adults are more receptive to email and Twitter.

"Still, we have to be sure not to push too hard on Facebook and Twitter," he said. "This [younger] generation is becoming media skeptical. They've had more exposure to more marketing channels than ever before. You've got to give them something substantive. You need to try to think about building a dialogue here."

Finally, Barzacchini noted that social media must be leveraged with traditional approaches to achieve marketing success. For example, he noted that Harper recently marketed an enrollment initiative via email, YouTube and posters in local movie theaters with QR codes. He will present a few case studies of Harper's successful marketing campaigns that have used social media and traditional approaches together.

The webinar, "Growing Brand and Enrollment through Social Media: Tips for Community Colleges," will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT, Nov. 8, 2011. Register now.

This article is from the October 2011 issue of the Community College Advancement News.


Connect with peers on the community college advancement group on CASE Communities.

Follow CASE on Twitter.

Join the LinkedIn group:
CASE Community Colleges.


Who Does What?
The CASE InfoCenter is expanding its collection of organization charts and job descriptions for community college advancement-related jobs. To contribute materials, send documents or links to Paul Heaton.

CASE District Programs
Each CASE district offers its own set of programs and resources. Here are some upcoming special events:

District I
Generating Social Currency with Old Photos
8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Half-day workshop
Lasell College
Newton, Mass.

District III
Creating Scalable and Successful Philanthropic Initiatives in Challenging Times
Nov. 7, 2011
8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sandhills Community College
Pinehurst, N.C.

More Community College Resources
See the full list of CASE resources for community colleges.