When the Colgate University Class of 2018 moved in to campus last week on a rainy Saturday, they used their net-ready devices to surf the web, listen to music, play games, watch videos, and to engage via social media. WiFi usage data provided by the university shows that incoming first-year students favored Facebook as their top social platform, followed by Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter. Consuming media via YouTube and Pandora, students also used Steam and Xbox Live for web-based gaming. Additionally, and perhaps not too surprising, on the first day that students could move in, Skype was the second-most-used platform for Colgate University first-year students.
On Sunday, August 24th, the Colgate Class of 2018 switched gears. While the previous sites from Saturday were still in high demand, Netflix usage skyrocketed with more than 260 gigabytes of wireless-based consumption. According to Matt Hames, Colgate's Manager of Media Communications, the two-day-usage period looked like: "Saturday - say hello, phone home, download a game. Sunday - the sun is out, parents leave, Netflix wins."
Hames plans on using this type of usage data to determine Colgate's internal social media communication strategies. With Facebook making a strong showing among first-year students, Hames said that the university intends to "generate episodic content" that is specifically for Colgate students. The institution's primary Facebook page will house this content and content targeting will take place via the Facebook target "people in College." Types of student-focused information will include content on/from career services, diversity, off-campus study, wellness and counseling, athletics, religious life, alternative programming, and volunteering.
In addition to using Facebook for student engagement, it will be interesting to see if Colgate University implements communication strategies using Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter as all 3 sites were used by incoming students during their first two days on campus.
Data collection that pinpoints student usage of social media sites can tell campus communicators where to direct their engagement efforts. Usage data can also inform educators about sites that students may need more exposure to and education about, e.g. using Twitter for career exploration and digital identity development.
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