Radicalising the Marketing of Higher Education: Learning from students - generated social media data

This source preferred by Elvira Bolat, Chindu Sreedharan and Helen O'Sullivan

Authors: Bolat, E., O'Sullivan, H. and Sreedharan, C.


Start date: 4 July 2016

The HE environment is experiencing a period of great change. Changes to student tuition fees, the de-regulation of student number controls, questions around contact hours and value for money, and trends towards large-scale marketization and viewing the student as the consumer are to mention but a few (Tomlinson, 2016). To maximise marketing opportunities HEIs are sought to understand and commit to continuous listening of students’ conversations, in which true stories and illustrations of students’ relationship with HEIs are revealed (Tomlinson, 2016). In doing so HEIs will optimized marketing impacts through business decision which are based on consumers’ data (He et al., 2015). Tomlinson (2016) highlights that HEIs put less emphasis on understanding how students form their relationships with HEIs. Undoubtedly 21st century students are active, digitally savvy choice-makers whose expectations, motives and experiences are socially constructed (Kandiko and Mawer 2013). Social media landscape, therefore, creates opportunities for HEIs to amplify psychological engagement with students and to increase influence impressions by following student(s)-to-student(s) conversations and stories (Ashley and Tuten, 2015). Extensive studies on social media in the HE sector have been conducted (Ngai et al., 2015) with primary focus on exploring the pedagogical value of social media in facilitating learning and supporting teaching practices. Surprisingly, evidences of understanding how HEIs can utilise students-generated social media data for the HE marketing and branding purposes is underexplored. This paper adopts a case study research method to illustrate how social media artefacts created by students in the form of dialogues and content can be analysed by the HEIs to listen, engage further and influence students’ impressions and views.

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