The Social Side of College Admissions

Part III: Auto-Pilot Leads to Crash and Burn - Community-Building Lessons from NACAC 2010

October 18, 2010

This is the third and final post about the lessons learned from our educational session, entitled Facebook 101, at this year's NACAC Conference. You might want to check out our previous two posts (Seed Your Community and Provide a Clear Structure).

One of the main things I noticed about our panelists was that there were a lot of differences in their specific approaches. There was no magic bullet. In fact, each seemed to be utilizing Facebook in very different ways.

Butler has taken a very open approach. They seem to have numerous ways that prospects can interact with their school on Facebook. Several departments have Facebook Pages, as does the university as a whole, the athletics program, and the admissions department.

High Point, on the other hand, creates a private Class of 20XX group for admitted students. Users have to be approved to join the group and, if they decline the admissions offer, they are removed from the community.

Susquehanna has taken a bit of a hybrid approach, utilizing our Facebook Application, which includes a walled-off section for admitted students, as well as Facebook Groups.

However, the one consistency was the resources and effort dedicated to Facebook. All the schools on our panel were taking an active role in cultivating relationships with prospects and admits on Facebook and were improving their efforts on an on-going basis.

Butler posts something every 1-3 days on Facebook. High Point has run a variety of contests and has a staff member constantly checking Facebook. Susquehanna monitors data on use of its Facebook Application and runs group chats among its community members on Facebook.

Each has prioritized Facebook as a viable outreach tool. And, moreover, none were satisfied with the status quo. One of the cool things I noticed after the panel was that each had picked up an idea or two from their fellow panel members, from our survey findings and research, and from audience members. These were schools that were consistently experimenting with new tactics and revisiting existing practices.

None of these schools is on auto-pilot. While their specific tactics may vary, they're all tinkering and tweaking, trying to figure out where their efforts are having an impact and where they're less effective.

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