The value of social media: are universities successfully engaging their audience?

Krista Ann Voss, Anil Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand how American universities are engaging their audience via social media platforms in relation to seven significant themes: engagement, listening, relationships, trust, authenticity, visibility and branding. The study will answer the question: how are universities utilizing social media to engage with their target audience and what value does social media create for universities? Design/methodology/approach – Content analysis was used to study 30 national universities’ and liberal arts colleges’ use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Their use of these social media tools will be analyzed on criteria that speak to the seven consistent themes stressed in the literature of social media use by organizations. Findings – The results showed that while a presence in the social media platforms were high, engagement was lacking. Originality/value – In a time when social media are becoming prevalent forms of communication, it is important to understand how to properly use such tools. With limited literature in the field pertaining specifically to social media usage by universities, this study helps to understand what universities are doing with social media and lays the foundation for how universities can create value from social media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-172
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 23 2013


  • Colleges
  • Engagement
  • Facebook
  • Social media
  • Twitter
  • Universities
  • Web 2.0
  • YouTube


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