Business schools are moving away from MBA fairs and instead are turning to social media to recruit students.
That’s according to a new study by the Association of MBAs, which accredits the degrees.
AMBA found that business schools are focusing their recruitment efforts on networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It found that approximately every $3 in $10 spent on marketing MBA programs to prospective students was spent on social media advertising. AMBA suggested that this was due to social media being the most targeted and effective form of advertisement in terms of return on investment.
In contrast, more traditional methods of student recruitment, such as advertising on careers websites, accounted for a substantially lower proportion of business schools’ marketing budgets.
The AMBA survey backs up previous research conducted by QS. In a survey of 1,000 prospective MBA students, QS found that 40% see social media as either essential or very important, increasing to as much as 50% in Africa and Asia.
Nearly 30% of the prospective students also said they used LinkedIn to research business schools, and a further 20% of candidates globally said they used social media to compare business schools. Only 15% of candidates surveyed said they were willing to connect with schools in the offline world — suggesting that online methods may be the most effective at reaching them.
Aoife Crean, who has worked in marketing in the business schools sector, said: “Social media serves as a method of converting interest into admitted candidates.
“Social media platforms generate a large amount of interaction between prospective and current students, which ultimately is what people looking to pursue an MBA are looking for; to discover first-hand what their experience would be like.”
Pilar Vicente, former senior associate director of admissions at IE Business School in Spain, said that social media is a particularly good way to attract the millennial generation that business schools are so eager to attract. IE has interacted with younger candidates through Instagram and Twitter, for example, and has tried to facilitate interaction between prospective students, current students and alumni, she said.
Shari Hubert, associate dean of MBA admissions at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, agreed: “We encourage our current students to use these platforms to share their experiences in business school with future generations.” The business school leverages an admissions blog and groups on social media networks Facebook and LinkedIn for relational purposes, she added.