I create fb events from the university fan page for major campus events that I know many people will attend. Since the event is "hosted" by your FB page, there is a higher likelihood that they will become a fan.
Also, I've found that now people are much more likely to be a fan than they were in the beginning of fan pages. I think perhaps at first it seemed like a bigger commitment, but now most of my friends are "fans" of 10+ groups.
You can try providing links with nice, visually eye-catching links/images on key pages of your web site, like admissions pages, student landing pages, event listings, etc. Places students go frequently. Increase the visual exposure of the group through your site.
We have had success with increasing fan membership through events, and promoting the facebook page on the university website.
The other way that we have increased knowledge of the fan page is encouraging departments to upload events and then promoting their own department pages to their networks, therefore people will also discover the main RMIt page - grassroots promotion!
Also, encourgaing people to upload photos, (Eg a photo competition) helps, as when people upload photos, their friends get a notification of this in their feed, and thus discover the page this way.
As a Facebook user I've noticed that contests with other Facebook fanpages and groups seem to work well for attracting new sign-ups. At the last University I worked at I proposed a Homecoming FB competition in cooperation with the university we were to play against at the Homecoming game. I was thinking the initiative would entail a "show your school spirit" competition to see which school could be the first to get a determined number of new fans signed up, with the losing team or cheerleading squad being obligated to perform some agreed upon gesture of acknowledgement during the Homecoming game. Unfortunately, I left to take up a position at another university before the project could really get off the ground. If anyone has tried or plans to try an initiative like this, I would be interested to hear how it turns out.
I just tested cross-promotion between social networks and that's having some small payoff. I guess my tactics were sort of "polite spamming"--but hey, it's polite!
I established an alumni group on LinkedIn, searched & found people I know attended our campus (a few were in student government so I knew them personally), and sent them an invitation to stay connected via LI.
In the body of the message I also invited them to check out our FB page and follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our Campus Bulletin, and tell their friends.
Overnight we picked up 9 new fans on FB, only 2 of whom were people I contacted through LinkedIn; in looking at their friends I can see it's because of the initial LI contact. I track clickthroughs so I know people went from the LI message to the FB page.
Interestingly, more joined FB than joined the LI group--FB is obviously the more natural network for alumni affiliation. However, we have a lot of graduate & professional programs, so I do expect the LI group to have value for their networking (particularly in tough economic times; LI is growing rapidly).
I also sent a message to another alumni group on LI that's for alumni of our university in our geographic region, asking if anyone studied at our campus & providing the same info/links.
On FB I wrote on the wall for an alumni page that has the same geographic focus. So far that hasn't produced any clickthroughs (posted it 2 days ago).
Using our own alumni communications:
We've just submitted a brief item to the alumni email newsletter that goes out to all alumni everywhere, inviting them to join our social networks. That should run in the next couple of weeks & I'll be able to track the clickthroughs on that.
I mostly tweet news & events. So far I've tweeted one link to our FB page; that got 17 clicks.
On our web site:
We'll be establishing a Social Media page that highlights all these accounts & invite people to sign up for these, the RSS feed of our news releases, etc.
Every so often we'll highlight that as a news item on the home page; we track those clickthroughs and know that home-page placement in our news box can yield just a dozen clicks, or upwards of 250, depending on the interest in the item.
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