HOW TO ENGAGE STUDENTS IN YOUR MBA PROGRAM? UNIVERSITY MARKETING VIA SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES
1 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (SPAIN)
2 University of Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The level of competition in higher education market is increasingly severe which pressures top-ranked universities to adopt more persuasive communication tools. The primary objective of this study is to explore the utilization of top five most popular Social Networking Sites (SNS) in university marketing strategies by US higher learning institutions. While similar research projects regarding standardization versus customization of commercial Websites, scant attention has been paid to their educational counterparts. This paper therefore focuses on a very unique and distinctive target group; the Top 20 Global Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) Programs in the US. The complete list of Global MBA programs, compiled every year by the Financial Times, represents the top 100 Global MBA programs throughout the world. This paper singled out the US programs on the list, choosing to focus even further on the top twenty for the sample. We believe that this study fulfills an important research gap in existing literature as it provides an actual picture of SNS usage among the most competitive educational market in the world.
In order to gain better understanding on how these organizations effectively and efficiently connect and communicate with their present and future students, Website content analysis is performed. The rationale for our content analysis lies in two points: (1) All of the SNS represented in the study were originated or first implemented in the US, therefore North American Universities would have had the most amount of time to explore and use these services; (2) In order to narrow the scope of the project to a manageable size and ensure the results were standardized, it was essential to choose a single country to observe as well as a set number of SNS to scrutinize. The coding categories include the frequency of SNS interactive tools, such as university profiles, security features, networking features, search engine, help/support, and legitimate friend focus. Perceptual differences in terms of innovation and creative appeals were also examined. Both dichotomous and semantic differential scales are used to capture the frequency and impressions on SNS-based communications by top US universities. The results show that top US universities are active users of SNS who skillfully combine persuasive tools and emotional appeals. The findings of our content analysis collectively indicate that SNS can be a useful tool that makes students actively involved and engaged in the MBA program in terms of study motivations, information dissemination and program promotion.
Keywords: MBA, Higher education, Post-graduate program, Social networking sites, Student engagement, University marketing.