Keeping on the path of the Social Analytics is the NEW Black .. here is a great case study from our IBM Press Book entitled Get Bold! 

Seton Hall University (SHU) is a major Catholic university located in South Orange, New Jersey. In a diverse and collaborative environment, it focuses on academic and ethical development.

As a private educational institution, Seton Hall University relies on tuition as its primary source of revenue. Prospective students consider degree programs, reputation, location, and many other factors as they “shop” for a college. But a college education encompasses more than tangible product characteristics such as these. Much of the college experience is about the relationships students build once they arrive on campus[md]in the classroom, in the dorm, and through participation in on-campus events and organizations.

Seton Hall decided to try to increase their revenue by focusing on the relationship aspect of their university and decided to use Facebook as their relationship space. Seton Hall marketers used the capabilities of social analytics in an initiative to increase enrollment for the upcoming academic year. The project involved the launch of the Class of 2014 Facebook page. The goal is to extend the core one-to-one brand attributes of Seton Hall to prospective students, including a sense of community, feeling of home, diversity of experience, and, sometimes, simply fun.

The staff tagged custom Class of 2014 tabs making it possible to identify any visitors who had also interacted with Facebook. Using social analytics and reporting, marketers could then examine the behavior of these visitors. In addition, the Seton Hall staff began responding to prospective students’ requests for help, from orientation, to deposit status, to placement tests, to housing. Soon, “declarations” (posts where prospective students announce a decision such as major, orientation date, or interest in a club or sport) had risen to 47% of all posts. The data showed that visitors who interacted heavily with the Class of 2014 pages demonstrated a high level of engagement with the university website as well. For example, they were more likely to request information and fill out applications than other visitors. The data collected revealed that Facebook was not only important to Seton Hall but critical.

Prospective students used the Facebook pages to connect with current and prospective students, self-forming groups based on majors, common interests, geographical location, and even residence-hall room number. The “Facebook effect” was unanticipated, but it fit naturally with SHU’s historical strengths and proved to be a tangible influence in the decision process. In effect, fence sitters were convinced to attend Seton Hall by other incoming freshmen.

By midsummer (two months before classes were to begin), tuition deposits for the class of 2014 were 25% higher than the previous year at the same time. Moreover, enrollment was tracking at 13% ahead of the previous year’s class. By the end of the enrollment period, Seton Hall had its largest freshmen class in 30 years, accounting for an 18% increase in net present revenue of $29 million (USD). These results were particularly staggering given the prevailing trend of lower enrollment for many institutes of higher education. By enabling Seton Hall to capture data on the Facebook interactions and perform a deep level of analysis, social analytics is enabling the university to make more informed decisions regarding their marketing investment.

The overall initiative has eliminated any remaining skepticism about the value of Facebook. The university has embraced Facebook as a vitally important recruitment channel. Seton Hall is now looking at new ways to exploit the power of this new channel. To that end, the online marketing staff regularly shares information on Facebook usage and influence with key stakeholders, including admissions and housing. Together they are working to develop an infrastructure to deal with implications of the changing way today’s students expect (and even demand) to interact with the university.