What Prospective Students Think About Your College Facebook Page
Last month I had the opportunity to hear from a variety of higher ed heavy hitters at the CASE Social Media and Community conference in Chicago.
Although the presentation topics were varied, my biggest takeaway was that institutions love their Facebook Page like their first born child. The School-wide Facebook page was often described as “our premier piece of social real-estate” or “the social first impression for prospective students.”
While I agree institutions should maximize their School Wide Facebook Pride, I couldn’t help but wonder if prospective students held these Pages in the same regard as their administrators.
High-School Student Focus Group
Earlier this year we conducted a focus group with a dozen high-school students to learn more about their attitudes towards colleges social media presences. Our small sample size yielded some surprising results, mainly that none of the students admitted to having an interest in following a prospective school on Facebook.
Reactions to this post ranged from Lougan Bishop saying more or less “duh, we know the power of social media lies further down the admissions funnel” to other folks dismissing our results saying the sample size was too small.
We agree the sample size was far to small, so we expanded our research with a survey of over 100 students asking similar questions. Here are the results.
Do You follow College Fan Pages on Facebook?
Are you following any schools you applied to on Facebook?
- 30% yes
- 64% no
- 6% n/a
When asked why students followed a school on Facebook the resounding majority (95%) responded they “just wanted to see what was going on.”
7% or fewer respondents
- started a discussion on the page
- responded to an item in the newsfeed
- asked a question directly to the schoolj
My big takeaway
At the beginning of every social media presentation I see, there are stats on how many users are on Facebook, how many hours they spend on it and how you must be on Facebook and be AWESOME… or else.
From what I’ve seen, the hype greatly outweighs the true value this has over influencing prospective students. Remember, students at Harvard joined the original Facebook to connect with other students from Harvard, not to hear updates from Harvard.
Yes, your Facebook Page is a cool place to show off your brand, connect with your campus community and keep in touch with alumni, but is it going to make or break a prospective college students decision? Doubtful.