The real audience of college admissions offices

The George Washington University's Office of Undergraduate Admissions is on social media to lure students to apply to the world's only university at the center of Washington, D.C. It also is one of several university admissions office that actively engages with users on social media.

However, its audience is narrow because of the scope of the topic. Unlike other organizations that aim to exponentially increase their follower counts, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions cannot have the same ambitions because it functions in a fundamentally different way. Admissions is usually a one-time event during the last year of high school. After that, once a student is accepted, there is no point to stay in touch with the Admissions office. Current students and alumni do not have an interest in following an admissions account that showcases what is great about the University and the process of becoming a student. In that sense, the audience for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions can be categorized under one group.

Its audience is primarily young, prospective college students who are usually in their senior year of high school. This range of people are on social media a lot and may be more impacted by marketing through this medium more so than through traditional methods such as radio and TV advertisements and direct letter.

In a Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project study, it found that its youngest age group, from 18 to 29, used social media most heavily, with an overwhelming 89% of the group using Twitter regularly. Never in history has there been such a hub for communication and marketing, even, quite possibly, a public square and forum. Because of the number of people on there, organizations, including the Office of Undergraduate Admissions can easily and effectively target its specific audience (its followers).

College-aged students started the frenzy of social media in the first place, driving MySpace and Facebook to extreme popularity. Facebook was even made in a college dorm by a college student. Because of this, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions is pushing updates that are virtually shoved into users' faces who all find the updates relevant. Many institutions, especially Yale, have focused heavily on using social media and marketing to attract prospective students. Those that have started enhancing their social media presence have focused on expanding communication with the general public and "broadening" their marketing.

Amongst that group, the audience can also continue to break down and get more narrow and specific. This can help a school bring up application rates from groups with regularly low enrollment. Harvard is using social media to specifically target prospective students who have lower incomes and require more financial aid. With social media, it can help them better get their word out.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions' focus on young people is very appropriate and will, in the long-run, most likely help the University with application numbers. There will be more widespread knowledge in the young people group as people continue to embrace social media.