Intelligence
Social Media & Advancement 2015 White Paper Released

Intelligence

Social Media & Advancement 2015 White Paper Released

Nov 05, 2015By Michael Stoner

Today marks the release of the white paper for the 2015 Survey of Social Media in Advancement that we conduct in partnership with CASE and Huron Education. Its title — “Refining, Prioritizing, Expanding: Social Media and Advancement in 2015” — gives you a good sense of this year’s research findings.

Download the white paper.

Essentially, the results support our observation that social media is now mainstream, a foundation for many significant advancement activities, including fundraising. At the same time, a significant number of institutions still struggle with how to measure their success.

Some of the most significant findings from this year:

  • More institutions than ever are using social media in campaigns. This year, 70 percent of respondents said they incorporated social media into “a broader, planned campaign to achieve a specific goal.” That’s up from 50 percent in 2012 and 59 percent in 2014.
  • More schools, colleges, and universities are using social media for fundraising. This isn’t surprising, given the widely reported success of Columbia University’s Giving Days and successful giving days at other institutions. This year, 57 percent of institutions used social media to raise money, in contrast to 47 percent last year and 43 percent in 2013. And they’re using an array of techniques to do so, as Figure 1 indicates:

The figure shows the use of various types of social-media-powered fundraising by #highered in 2014.

  • The growing number of videos in your Facebook feed, the interest in Vine, Meerkat, and Periscope, and the explosive growth of Instagram are all testaments to the explosion in the use of image and video content online. Higher ed, like the rest of the world, is responding to this trend by posting more images and videos as a percentage of its web content, as Figure 7 from the white paper indicates:

The figure shows the change in the amount of text and images used in social media posts from 2012 to 2015.

We’ve conducted this research for the past six years. When we began, little information existed about the ways in which schools, colleges, and universities used social media in their advancement activities — communications, marketing, fundraising, alumni relations.

It’s particularly revealing to watch how institutions have gained experience in using social media and used that experience to become more proficient and successful in their approaches to this essential communications and engagement tool. Over the past two years, our findings indicate a growing sophistication with social media in many aspects of advancement.

One good example is the fact that many institutions are becoming more adept at assessing the impact of their social media activities. Even those that don’t are aware of how important it is to do so. Not surprisingly, institutions that are more successful using social media do much more planning and assessment than those that aren’t.

In addition to taking a deeper look at what’s happening with the use of social media in fundraising, the white paper explores what institutions that are successful at using social media do, in contrast to those that aren’t. Our report also showcases two popular social-powered fundraising approaches — giving days and micro-funding.

Download your copy of the white paper.


  • Michael Stoner Co-Founder and Co-Owner Was I born a skeptic or did I become one as I watched the hypestorm gather during the dotcom years, recede, and congeal once more as we come to terms with our online, social, mobile world? Whatever. I'm not much interested in cutting edge but what actually works for real people in the real world. Does that make me a bad person?