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Social networking tools are everywhere, and a new study documents which ones are being used (and how prominently they are displayed) on the websites of highly ranked colleges and universities.

Facebook is by far the most popular tool, but most colleges are using more than one tool, and appear to have different philosophies, according to the study, in The Journal of College Admission, which is published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Of the top 100 colleges and universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 92 make use of social networking on their websites, and the average number of social media sites being used is 3.7. One college is making use of seven social networking services.

Number of Social Networking Sites Linked to by 100 Colleges

1 1
2 9
3 18
4 38
5 13
6 12
7 1

While Facebook is the most popular, Twitter and YouTube are close behind.

Social Networking Sites Most Commonly Linked to by 100 Colleges

Facebook 91
Twitter 88
YouTube 79
iTunes 47
Flickr 31
LinkedIn 18
Foursquare 9
Other 6

In an analysis of the figures, Grant Greenwood, an admissions counselor at Hardin-Simmons University who conducted the research, wrote that the question for colleges isn't whether to use social media, but how many and which ones. "Prospective students are using these sites and have come to expect them in the recruiting process and as a result, universities must be willing to adapt their efforts to satisfy these expectations," Greenwood wrote.


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