University News

U. ups social media presence

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The University ranked 25th on’s 2011 list of Top 100 Social Media Colleges. Since then, its use of social media has expanded to help prospective students connect with faculty members, administrators and current students. 

“Social networks are an information platform,” said Rebecca Whittaker, director of outreach for admission at the Admission Office. “We post for students who can’t have physical interaction with Brown.” 

The University’s Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and videos on YouTube serve to provide information to prospective applicants. High school students can find out when admission officers will be in their region and can contact them accordingly, Whittaker said. For example, admission officers will be touring Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in early October, and students in the area will be able to find out the dates of their visit through the University’s Facebook page and website. 

John Murphy, the University’s social media specialist, said he has found that students post their questions on one of the University’s 20 Facebook pages, and their questions get answered publicly. “You can see almost everything on our Facebook pages,” Murphy said. “We upload pictures of our latest events for people across the globe to take a look.” 

But the results of the social media recruitment efforts may be mixed. 

While some students feel that their process of connecting with Brown using social networks has been useful, others feel that Brown needs something more developed. “If there was a single forum for faculty members, college alumni and prospective students to put themselves forward, it would be more beneficial than having a dozen Facebook pages,” said Shreena Thakore ’16. “It’s great to have photos posted online and have people click on the ‘like’ button, but one single information system directed just for prospective students would prove more efficient.” 

A recent survey of 7,000 college-bound high school seniors conducted by the online startup Zinch assessed social media’s impact on these recruitment efforts, finding that different tools may have a differential impact.

“While it might be free to create accounts on these new, popular social media sites, universities should focus recruitment efforts on where they’re going to get the highest return on investment,” Gil Rogers, director of college outreach for Zinch told Inside Higher Ed in an interview. “You can post a picture of an athletic event, but you also want to be able to connect students to ways that they can be part of that event or be part of that campus,” Rogers added in the interview. 

Brown currently has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, iTunes, LinkedIn and Instagram, its most recent social media outlet. The Office of Public Affairs and University Relations keeps a close tab on the success of each of its sites. 

There are two ways of analyzing the success of a page, Murphy said. “The first is face-to-face interaction. We have people coming up to say, ‘We really like what you’re doing,'” Murphy said. “The second is more analytical,” he added. The office looks into the number of posts and likes on a page. The number of people communicating through posts and comments gives an indication of how a page is progressing, Murphy said. 

The University’s revamped website, which was unveiled in 2010, provides another source of information to prospective students, posting lists of college faculty members, a timeline with important events during the year, upcoming deadlines and new findings by research teams. 

“The University website helped me with the application process in general, giving me bits of information so that I didn’t have to call the Admission Office for every question I had,” said Alexandra Sepolen ’16. 

Many students said they find social media helpful in the application process, even if they don’t use the University’s social networks. Samantha Ramsey ’16 said she found a sophomore at Brown via a Facebook page for admitted students and asked her questions before applying. “Friending current students at your prospective colleges is always helpful,” she said. “They help you out.” 

  • Anonymous

    This is a good initiative. Hopefully someone will take time to edit Brown’s Wikipedia entry. The prose is awkward and the content not particularly well presented. It reflects poorly on our school.