10 Ways Universities Can Use Facebook to Market to and Connect With Students
When I was in university two years ago, Facebook was already intertwined with student life.
We heard about news and events through Facebook Pages and collaborated on group work through Facebook Groups. After graduating, I’ve been getting updates about the university through the alumni Facebook Page. Nowadays, it’s also common for prospective students to research on Facebook when deciding their university and course.
With Facebook being a part and parcel of university students’ lives, there are many things that social media teams at universities can do to market the university, engage students, and stay in touch with alumni.
Here are just some ideas I’ve found through my research that you can implement for your university…
10 Facebook ideas for universities that want to be social
1. Share news, achievements, and milestones
A great, easy way to get started with using Facebook for your university is to share news about the university, such as achievements of students and professors and milestones of the university. This way, prospective, present, and past students can stay up-to-date with the happenings in the university while they are on Facebook.
If you want to go one step further, you could list the milestones of the university on the Facebook Page’s About section, like the University of Cambridge did. They listed their key milestones all the way back to 1209 when the university was founded.
To list a milestone on your university’s Facebook Page, click on the three dots below the Page cover photo and select “Create Milestone”.
A popup will appear for you to fill out the details of the milestone, expand on the story, and add relevant photos. If you want to celebrate this milestone with your Page fans, you can leave the “Hide from News Feed” checkbox unchecked and hit “Save”. The milestone will be added to your Page and shared on its timeline.
2. Collect reviews from current and past students
Besides websites such as The Student Room and the UCAS, prospective students are also using social media to research their university options. They join Facebook Groups of the courses they are interested in, speak with current students, and check out reviews of the universities.
Facebook provides a section for you to collect reviews and ratings from current and past students, where you can also react or comment on the reviews. And yes, it’s important to respond to reviews, especially if it’s an unhappy comment.
A university that does this well is the University of Southern Queensland (Australia). They have garnered over 500 reviews and are rated 4.4 stars out of 5.
To turn on the review section for your Facebook Page, navigate to “Settings” > “Edit Page” > “Tabs”. Besides “Reviews”, click on “Settings”, toggle the “Show Reviews” option, and hit “Save”.
3. Provide virtual tours for prospective students
Another thing that prospective students might be keen on is checking out the university campus. Virtual tours via social media is a great way to let them explore your beautiful campus, especially for international students who are not able to fly over for the university’s open day.
Thanks to Facebook Live, you can even take them on a live, interactive tour around the campus. For example, two graduates at the University of Sussex did a Facebook Live tour of their campus and replied to questions via the comments.
You don’t need any expensive or fancy equipment to do this. All you need is a smartphone, Facebook Live, and a few passionate students who are interested in showing people around, like Steph and Matt.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are also virtual tours that are created using virtual reality technology. The virtual tour can then be added to your Facebook Page, like how Yale University did.
4. Use Messenger to answer inquiries
In the past, emails and phone calls are the most common ways of contacting universities. With the rise of social media and messaging apps, Facebook Messenger opened up another communication channel between universities and students.
For example, Harvard University has a “Send Message” call-to-action on their Facebook Page. According to the Facebook, the Harvard University team typically replies to messages instantly.
If you are unable to check your Page’s messages regularly throughout your workday, you could use Facebook’s Response Assistant to set up automated greetings and replies to let students know that you’ll get back to them soon. You can find this under your Page “Settings” > “Messaging”.