Intimate Campuses Can Create Highly Engaged Online Communities
When I first heard that one of my new colleges had fewer than 700 students, I was both scared and excited as this was the smallest campus community I’ve worked with to date. While in the past we’ve only worked with institutions of over 1,000 students I quickly learned that an intimate community can make for great online engagement.
After a successful launch, I decided to share these three key takeaways on how to make your small community a huge success.
1. Cross-departmental buy-in is not optional
From the start, McPherson made sure top officials at the school were involved, including the President and Dean of Students. During our initial meeting, the McPherson team explained that they wanted to make the app an online campus community. Their plan was to make the app THE place for their students to find any information they needed.
2. Post about events happening in and outside of campus
To make this happen, every department on campus was invited and encouraged to use the app to promote events for their department. There are posts several times a week regarding events on campus and in the broader “town name” community. Posts about $2 Tuesdays at the local movie theater, ultimate Frisbee games, and the upcoming football game are common appearances in the app.
3. Streamline Communications Using Announcements
To communicate important information with students, McPherson posts Announcements regarding class cancellations, convocation, and the last day to add or drop classes, among other topics. If a user is logged into Facebook, they receive notifications when schools post Announcements in the app; additionally, users can choose whether they would like to receive Announcements by text or e-mail. McPherson is able to share all important information with users in one place as opposed to on a variety of Facebook and web pages.
As a smaller campus, they have a great sense of community already, and the app is just an extension of that. By viewing posts in the app, you can truly see that the faculty, staff, and students respect other, show pride in their campus, and have fun with their educational experience.
Although not all our clients utilize faculty and staff in this way, it was enjoyable for me to work with a group of people whose enthusiasm for their school is infectious.
How are you getting campus-wide buy-in for your online communities? Share your successes or challenges below!