If you sensed a trend that more and more campuses were jumping on the social networking bandwagon, some recent research by BlueFuego will confirm your suspicions.
BlueFuego (Brad J. Ward and Joe Gaylor) wanted to find out what colleges and universities were using social web “callouts” (those invitations to “Friend us on Facebook,” “follow us on Twitter” or “stalk us on MySpace” that you find on many school sites these days, or just the icons for various social media sites).
BF looked at the websites of 1,387 four-year colleges and universities, focusing on these campuses’ use of callouts on the institution’s homepage, main admissions site and main alumni site. Comparing the numbers of callouts from March 1 to August 1, BF recorded a doubling in the number across all three categories.
Brad and Joe pulled together a lot of great data (click through their slidedeck or see their own thumbnail analysis for more detail) but the key takeaway for me is that yes, there is a move afoot among colleges and universities to connect their institutional sites with the popular existing social media platforms. This sort of cross-pollenization is a good thing for campuses, because it indicates an effort to reach out beyond our own institutional sites and to connect with audiences on different turf.
It will be interesting to see how the social web callout trend goes in another six months, and what other research related to these observations BlueFuego will share with us next.