The Social Side of College Admissions

Are Facebook's New Public Profiles a Good Thing for Colleges?

April 15, 2009

Facebook recently made some major changes to their Pages (now called Public Profiles), which are profiles for organizations like colleges, businesses, music groups, and other celebrities. They've essentially made them more like personal profiles, giving the Wall greater prominence. This seems to be a response to the growing popularity of Twitter, which emphasizes quick snippets of information.

The Upside of the New Public Profiles

The major upside is that Public Profiles are given access to the Streams of its fans. That means that when you update the status of your college's Public Profile, it will show up on the homepage of your fans along with the status updates of that fan's friends. That gives your updates placement on prime real estate. The homepage is typically the first page Facebook users see when they log back in.

With this opportunity comes a new challenge&mdahs;relevancy. It is now more important to find the right balance between maintaining a relationship with the Fans of your Public Profile without "over-streaming". Whereas before Facebook allowed you to see more or less about a person or page on your feed, it is now an all-or-nothing deal. You are either part of their Stream or you are not. So if you start updating your status and posting items very frequently, you want to make sure that it is relevant to a good portion of your Fans or you may lose the main advantage of the new Facebook Public Profiles, placement in a user's Stream on their homepage.

Given that Fans of a college's Public Profile are a varied bunch, relevancy becomes particularly challenging. Do your alumni want the same updates as current students or even prospective students? What about fans of your sports teams? So what type of information should you be posting in the status of your Public Profile?

The Major Downside of the New Public Profiles

Facebook has drastically reduced the ability of organizations to present any sort of unique branding / unique feel in their Public Profiles. The Wall has become the most important feature and any Applications that were added have been relegated to their own tabs, off the main page of the Public Profile. It is now much more difficult to express what makes your school unique, to cater to the particular wants and needs of your Fans.

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