Social media has enhanced the method of looking for grants and reaching potential students about a grant-funded program. Social media, including: Google Tools, Twitter and Facebook, are a dynamic means of locating, applying for, and tracking grant funding. It is also fertile ground for reaching a wider and more responsive customer base when recruiting students for a new program funded by a grant.
In looking for grants, one still has the traditional method of researching grants.gov or other sites that outline opportunities, but now, with social media outreach, we have an additional resource to identify and pursue grant offerings. There are many social media channels to search for grants. For example, in looking for relevant grant opportunities use the following: blogs, Facebook, Google, Linked In, Podcasts, Twitter and YouTube.
We use social media to research grants; applying the same research methods that we’ve always used. We focus our initiatives based on the strategic assessment of our vision and mission, and our customer requests for training solutions. As a result, we identify broad categories that provide us with a search direction and then drill down through all of the available resources, including the social media channels, to see where the time investment will be placed. We recognize that all grants are competitive and we pursue accordingly.
Social media also helps us to manage the marketing process and connect with potential customers. The variety of social channels available has provided an additional pathway to reach potential students and reconnect with past students for programs that are grant funded. However, these mediums for communication should be used as an enhancement to one’s overall outreach process. Facebook is the most commonly used social media channel for reaching potential and current students. A 2015 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center supports this strategy where they found that, ‘72% of online American adults use Facebook. Usage continues to be especially popular among online women, 77% of whom are users. In addition, 82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those ages 30 to 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older.’ (Pew Research Center – March – April 2015) With this type of penetration you can see why institutions of higher education and industry are so interested in using social media. That is where the people are! We utilize social media to manage a percentage of the communication process with potential students, especially among the younger or millennial group. Often times the impact of communication is conducted more quickly so our initiatives are brought to our customers’ attention when recruiting is paramount for a program.
From my standpoint, a primary benefit of social media is the ability to connect with potential, current, and past students about a program offering. Social media enhances our overall outreach and allows us to find available grant competitions as more and more grantors are utilizing social media to announce their offerings and then provide additional details regarding the location of more detailed information. As far as the future of social media regarding grant projects, who really knows? Did anybody really foresee the value before it was implemented?