You would expect that if anyone has gotten deeply into social media, it would be college admins. For the past several years, researchers from University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth's Center for Marketing Research let by Dr. Nora Barnes have looked at how quickly this adoption has happened, and their latest report shows almost total immersion. The researchers interviewed 456 college social network administrators from last November to May at all sizes and kinds of institutions.

They found that colleges are using social media to recruit and research prospective students, and that schools are becoming more sophisticated about which tools they choose to use. "Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogging and podcasting are the tools of choice for US institutions of higher education. All of them have realized double-digit increases in adoption in the past year," according to the report.

What is astounding is how quickly the admissions officers have adopted LinkedIn: from 16% last year to 47% most recently. Also interesting is how schools have evolved in their use of blogs. Back in 2007, 37% of those schools that had blogs didn't accept comments, but now that has dropped to only 15%. "Schools are mastering the tool and embracing its true spirit of two-way conversation. For students or their parents looking to have a conversation online about particular aspects of university life, this increased interaction through comments can be significant." Barnes also saw increases in usage of RSS feeds and email subscriptions on the school websites. Barnes surveys other market sectors about their online use and the higher ed sector is the only area where blogging continues to increase. (Click on the graphic for a larger version, showing the differences in usage in each sector.)

When Barnes first started studying this sector back in the 2007-8 academic year, 61% of her respondents reported that they used at least one social network. Now it is 100%, to no surprise, given the ubiquity of these networks in the hands of their student population. Facebook is used in 98% of institutions, up from 87% last year. Podcasting has risen from 22% to 41% in just the past year. Clearly, college admins are living in the world of their students, but more importantly, they understand how to use these online tools and developing them to fit their particular needs.