cp_headshot (1) Christina Philbert is co-owner of bpcp Consulting and is an experienced and passionate non-profit and higher education administrator.

While social media has permeated nearly every industry and most brands maintain a presence online, the world of higher education as a whole has shied away from the new social-digital paradigm. Even though colleges and universities are on the cutting edge of scientific and other research, they also are on the conservative side of things.

Many times concerns from administrators include problems like loss of control. Social media is fast and there is no way to remain in total control at all times. But that’s ok. Remember the old adage: any publicity is good publicity. If people are talking about you, you can direct the conversation. The financial and time commitments to real-time response are also scary. It seems like every week a new report is questioning the return on investment that students are getting from their degrees.

So can colleges and universities spare the time and money on a solid social media strategy? The answer is, of course, yes. Consider the benefits of social media!

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What better (faster, and cheaper) way is there to run a recruitment campaign? Create a simple hashtag, recruit faculty, staff, and students to participate and presto: you’re engaging, just like you should. One of the biggest challenges in higher education today is retention. Lots of students come in, but fewer and fewer stay. Imagine giving students, faculty, and staff the chance to interact in a platform that students are already engaged in.

A campus is a community, and giving members of the community a chance to network via social media should be the ultimate goal of all social media campaigns. Finally, social media offers huge academic possibilities, too. Between audio and visual learning, flipped classrooms, and online classes and cohorts, social media can be an educator’s best friend. It’s all about learning, using, and perfecting the tools available.

So, the next time you’re tempted to shrug off the possible impact of a social media campaign (or you hear another staff or faculty member at the university denigrating Twitter or Facebook), instead just think of how a successful social media strategy can get you into the hand of a prospective student–and deepen the connection and level of engagement for current students.