An Examination of Internet Social Media Marketing in Higher Education Institutions

This study observes the social media network, a new phenomenon of marketing, as it transcends into a new tool for integrated marketing communications personnel and a way to reach target audiences (alumni, parents, recruiting purposes, current students, internal administration, faculty, and the community). The main purpose of this study was to explore how integrated marketing communications professionals at higher education institutions are using social media as a marketing, communications, and branding tool. The research design for this study was a three-part mixed methods design, an approach increasingly used in social science research. This study first examined the use of social media by using qualitative research methods. Interviews were conducted with representatives from three different institutions of higher education and their integrated marketing communications professional. The second part of the study used qualitative methods, including an examination of how integrated marketing communications (IMC) professionals at all of the California State University campuses use social media through administered surveys. The third part of the study examined the content analysis and any guidelines outlined by the integrated marketing communications professionals about social media. By combining interviews and surveys, this study obtained critical data that may dramatically influence the formation of uniform standards and guidelines for higher institutions' use of social media. The data results also indicated the need for social media marketing at higher education marketing departments.