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5-Minute Survey on Use of Facebook in Admissions
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Mark Rothbaum Jun 24, 2013.

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Mark Rothbaum - Varsity Outreach

The Social Side of Admissions

Online Community Building - Recording of our May 29 Webinar

Couldn't make our webinar "Moving from Broadcasting to Community Building"? No worries, we recorded the May 29 version.

Learn how to:

  • Be a Conversation Starter, not just a Broadcaster
  • Engage your audience on Social Media
  • Encourage participation and interaction among your followers

Watch the Recording

Learn More about Varsity Outreach

If you want to learn more about how Varsity Outreach helps colleges and universities create private communities for their future students, current students, and alumni, we encourage you to watch our short product video or request a demo.

Free Webinar: Moving from Broadcasting to Community Building

Summer time is just around the corner. The May 1 deposit deadline has come and gone. The academic year is winding down. And college graduation ceremonies are happening across the country.

Many of you are looking ahead to next year and starting to map out your strategies. We've got a great opportunity for you!

Join us for a free webinar on online community building in higher ed, entitled Moving from Broadcasting to Community Building.

You'll learn how to:

  • Be a Conversation Starter, not just a Broadcaster
  • Better engage your audience on Social Media
  • Encourage greater participation and interaction among your fans and followers

You'll have two opportunities to catch this live webinar:

  • Wednesday, May 21 at 2pm ET
  • Thursday, May 29 at 1pm ET
Reserve Your Spot

To Post or Not to Post, That is the Question

A surprisingly common refrain we hear from admissions offices is "We take a hands-off approach when it comes to social media". We most often hear it in reference to Facebook Class of 20XX Groups.

The Logic of the Hands-Off Approach

The logic of the Hands-Off Approach goes something like this:

  1. We want the Facebook Group to be a place where admitted students can meet and get to know each other.
  2. We'll listen to the conversation and intervene when absolutely necessary (e.g., misinformation).
  3. If we post, we might stifle conversation or make them feel like we're monitoring the conversation (which we are, anyway).
  4. Therefore, we take a hands-off approach and rarely post in the Facebook Group.

Ok, that actually makes some sense.

Imagine being a teenager again. If you were talking with your friends, the conversation would probably change or stop when your parents entered the room, right? You might even groan "Mom, will you leave us alone?"

Don't Be the Parent

However, I believe you're missing a huge opportunity if you take the Hands-Off Approach. You don't have to be the parent crashing the party in this story.

If all you post is official announcements or correct misinformation, then you may well be viewed as the "parent" of the Facebook Group.

But what if you were the matchmaker or the icebreaker instead? What if you imagined the Facebook Group as a party you were throwing for admitted students, and you made it your goal to introduce people to each other. I'll come back to this in a second.

This Isn't Your First Rodeo

You have an ace up your sleeve and may not fully realize it. You've seen this story unfold many times before. Each year, you get to see a new crop of prospective and admitted students go through the admissions process. For them, it's completely new, often daunting and exciting at the same time. For you, it's business as usual.

You have the benefit of experience. So take advantage of it!

Ok, you may not know which TV shows are big among this year's incoming class (Seinfeld may seem like a timeless classic to you and mean nothing to them) or what music they listen to (Pearl Jam still tops your favorites list), but you do probably know some of the things that are important to them.

Can incoming freshmen pick their roommates or state their preferences on residence halls? If so, then I'm guessing you see tons of posts in your Facebook Group that look something like this every year "I'm still looking for a roommate. Message me if you're interested."

You've probably noticed every year that admits from nearby high schools or international students from the same country often bond over these connections, right?

Be the Matchmaker

You may not be able to predict all the conversations that will happen, but you can definitely predict a few that will be popular.

Why wait for some brave admit to start the conversation? You can have it ready for them as soon as they start joining the Facebook Group. Throw up a "Where is everyone from?" post. Or maybe even focus a little more with "Any international students in this group yet? What country are you coming from?"

You can even make the conversations better by providing some structure. Take the roommate example I gave before. How helpful is it to another admit looking for a roommate if all I say is "Still looking for a roommate, hit me up"? They don't know anything about me... except what I look like from my profile picture. So what are they basing their decision to message me on? Not a whole lot.

Now, what if you shared a post like this:

Still looking for a roommate? Answer the following questions:
Are you a morning or night person?
Are you clean or messy?
Which residence hall do you prefer?
Are you looking for a social room or a quiet room?
What's one fun fact about you?

Now, if I'm an admit looking for a roommate, I'll have some useful information to go off of.

Notice a common thread in these two examples? They're both questions. They encourage participation. You're not stifling conversations. You're creating jumping-off points for conversations. You're encouraging introductions. If this were a party, you'd move on once the conversation got going and do it all over again with a new audience.

Data from Our White Paper

In our White Paper Facebook and Admissions, we actually asked admissions professionals how they viewed their role. Guess who was most satisfied with Facebook as a tool to yield admits... the people that viewed themselves as Conversation Starters. The least satisfied... the Observers and the Broadcasters.

So instead of a Hands-Off Approach, it might be worth getting your hands a bit dirty. Use your knowledge and experience to help them connect with each other and forge new friendships.

A Look Back at 2013: A Four-Part Series on Our Research of College and University Facebook Pages

For the third straight year, we analyzed every post for the 700+ college and university Facebook Pages in our directory. That amounted to more than 300,000 posts!

We'll be releasing our results in a series of blog posts over the next few days highlighting various aspects of our analysis.

A Quick Look at Our Methodology

We pulled every post available via Facebook's Graph API for every school in our directory of college and university Facebook Pages (708 pages were used in our 2013 analysis). We only analyzed posts made by the Facebook Page itself, not the fans of that page (301,897 posts). We made an attempt to remove any duplicate posts from this data to provide as accurate a picture as possible. We collected the count of likes, comments, and shares for each post. The data pulls were done during the first week of January 2014. We also pulled the fan data every week for each of the Facebook Pages in our directory, giving us a ballpark approximation of the fan count for a given page when a post was made.

Our Engagement Score

For each post, we used the following formula to determine an Engagement Score:

The Engagement Score is our attempt to quantify how effective a given post is at engaging the audience of an institution's page. We use likes, comments, and shares as signals of this engagement. We've assigned comments and shares twice the weighting of likes because we believe writing a comment or sharing a post with your Facebook friends is a stronger form of engagement than a simple click of the like link. A comment involves a person contributing new content and a share increases the distribution of the original post.

We recognize that this is a rudimentary measurement, but we believe it provides a high-level sense of how engaging a particular post is and a point of comparison when looking for trends and best practices. We also recognize that our metric focuses on particular forms of engagement (likes, comments, and shares). It does not take into account how many views a video may have received, how many click-thrus a link may have garnered, or whether a post led to particular actions by an audience member. We would love to be able to incorporate these metrics into our analysis, but are limited by the data provided by Facebook via its Graph API. You should consider incorporating these metrics when attempting to analyze your own institution's Facebook Page posts, where more data can be gleaned from the Insights section.

Keep 'Em Coming Back: Most Engaging College Facebook Pages of 2013

This is the final post in our 4-part series A Look Back at 2013.

Each year, we like to highlight those colleges and universities that have been most successful at consistently engaging their fan base on Facebook. Did your institution make the cut? To come up with our Top 10 lists, we average the engagement scores for every post made by each Facebook Page in our directory during 2013.

A few notes about these rankings:

  • Our only requirement for inclusion in the Top 10 lists was that the institution posted at least 12 times this past year on their Facebook Page. We considered this a baseline for a Facebook Page to be considered active for 2013.
  • To help you make more apples-to-apples comparisons, we group each Facebook Page into a size category based on its fan count at the end of 2013.

To help provide an anchor, the average engagement score for the 301,897 posts we analyzed was 4.69.

Size Categories

XX Large (75,000+ Facebook fans)

Rank   School Engagement Score
1 Texas A&M University
(College Station, TX)
13.207
350 posts
2 Indiana University
(Bloomington, IN)
11.422
276 posts
3 North Carolina State University
(Raleigh, NC)
8.853
396 posts
4 Oregon State University
(Corvallis, OR)
8.574
130 posts
5 University of Michigan
(Ann Arbor, MI)
7.959
344 posts
6 Colorado State University
(Fort Collins, CO)
7.768
623 posts
7 The University of Oklahoma
(Norman, OK)
6.964
618 posts
8 Auburn University
(Auburn, AL)
6.484
405 posts
9 The University of Arizona
(Tucson, AZ)
6.231
1120 posts
10 Liberty University
(Lynchburg, VA)
6.220
224 posts

X Large (20,000-74,999 Facebook fans)

Rank   School Engagement Score
1 Siena College
(Loudonville, NY)
38.312
55 posts
2 University of Mississippi ~ Ole Miss
(Oxford, MS)
16.919
244 posts
3 University of Nevada, Reno
(Reno, NV)
16.255
55 posts
4 Tarleton State University
(Stephenville, TX)
15.713
179 posts
5 Marquette University
(Milwaukee, WI)
14.083
433 posts
6 Northern Arizona University Alumni Relations
(Flagstaff, AZ)
13.120
412 posts
7 Western Washington University
(Bellingham, WA)
12.896
336 posts
8 Grand Valley State University
(Allendale, MI)
12.170
161 posts
9 Saint Louis University
(St. Louis, MO)
11.819
197 posts
10 Florida State University
(Tallahassee, FL)
11.470
400 posts

Large (10,000-19,999 Facebook fans)

Rank   School Engagement Score
1 Regis University
(Denver, CO)
33.455
207 posts
2 Taylor University
(Upland, IN)
25.784
117 posts
3 Berry College
(Mount Berry, GA)
24.523
382 posts
4 Wichita State University
(Wichita, KS)
22.030
538 posts
5 Prairie View A&M University
(Prairie View, TX)
16.034
438 posts
6 University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
(Milwaukee, WI)
15.878
132 posts
7 Michigan Technological University
(Houghton, MI)
15.506
262 posts
8 University of Portland
(Portland, OR)
15.162
385 posts
9 Smith College
(Northampton, MA)
14.924
423 posts
10 Saint Joseph's University
(Philadelphia, PA)
13.782
221 posts

Medium (5,000-9,999 Facebook fans)

Rank   School Engagement Score
1 Buena Vista University
(Storm Lake, IA)
59.307
47 posts
2 University of the South
(Sewanee, TN)
24.111
469 posts
3 Tuskegee University
(Tuskegee, AL)
22.474
327 posts
4 Alma College
(Alma, MI)
20.831
102 posts
5 Kenyon College
(Gambier, OH)
17.631
101 posts
6 College of Wooster
(Wooster, OH)
17.341
71 posts
7 Susquehanna University
(Selinsgrove, PA)
16.803
172 posts
8 Covenant College
(Lookout Mountain, GA)
16.554
100 posts
9 Tennessee State University
(Nashville, TN)
15.134
310 posts
10 Providence College
(Providence, RI)
15.116
311 posts

Small (<5,000 Facebook fans)

Rank   School Engagement Score
1 Saint Joseph's College
(Rensselaer, IN)
19.079
228 posts
2 Hesston College
(Hesston, KS)
18.485
85 posts
3 The Citadel Alumni Association
(Charleston, SC)
17.246
133 posts
4 University of La Verne
(La Verne, CA)
15.162
123 posts
5 Lasell College
(Newton, MA)
14.127
108 posts
6 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC)
(Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN)
13.090
520 posts
7 Shaw University
(Raleigh, NC)
13.031
75 posts
8 Indiana University Kokomo Admissions Office
(Kokomo, IN)
12.688
196 posts
9 Eberhardt School of Business
(Stockton, CA)
11.955
153 posts
10 Neumont University
(Salt Lake City, UT)
11.842
253 posts

Latest Activity

Mark Rothbaum posted a discussion

Free Webinar: Moving from Broadcasting to Community Building

We wanted to share a free 30-minute webinar we're putting on later this month:Moving from Broadcasting to Community BuildingWant to create a more meaningful social media experience for your audience? Hoping to get your followers to do more than just like your posts or favorite your tweets? Sign up for our free 30-minute Webinar entitled "Moving from Broadcasting to Community Building".Learn how to:Be a…See More
May 12
Mark Rothbaum posted a discussion

"Facebook and Admissions" White Paper

We just released our 4th annual Facebook and Admissions White Paper. It contains data collected from 147 colleges and universities about how they use Facebook in their recruitment and yield efforts.It's packed with great data on:What admissions offices are doing on FacebookWhat resources they are dedicating to these effortsHow schools are using current studentsHow they're measuring the impact of their Facebook effortsWhere…See More
Dec 16, 2013
Mark Rothbaum replied to Mark Rothbaum's discussion 5-Minute Survey on Use of Facebook in Admissions
"We've gotten over 150 responses so far!"
Jun 24, 2013
Mark Rothbaum posted a discussion

5-Minute Survey on Use of Facebook in Admissions

We're conducting our annual survey on Facebook and Admissions. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey at:http://www.varsityoutreach.com/FacebookSurvey/Our GoalOur goal is to explore trends related to how schools are using Facebook to reach out to prospective and admitted students.How Is the Data Used?All data will be shown in the aggregate. Answers from individual schools will not be released and will remain…See More
May 16, 2013
Mark Rothbaum commented on Erin's group facebook
"As far as I know, that's not possible. You'd probably have to wade into the waters of  Facebook Apps and do it yourself via the Graph API. But that's a whole other beast."
Dec 12, 2012
Mark Rothbaum posted a discussion

3rd Annual "Facebook and Admissions" White Paper Released

The 3rd annual Facebook and Admissions white paper is now out! It contains data collected from 160 colleges and universities about how they use Facebook in their recruitment and yield efforts.It's packed with great data on:What admissions offices are doing on FacebookWhat resources they are dedicating to these effortsHow schools are using current studentsHow they're measuring the impact of their Facebook effortsWe also…See More
Sep 12, 2012
Mark Rothbaum replied to Mark Rothbaum's discussion "Facebook in Admissions" Survey
"We're now well over 100. Still hoping to get more data, if possible."
Jul 19, 2012
Mark Rothbaum replied to Mark Rothbaum's discussion "Facebook in Admissions" Survey
"We've gotten over 70 responses so far. We'd love to hear from more schools."
May 14, 2012

Profile Information

Employer?
Varsity Outreach, LLC
Website:
http://www.varsityoutreach.com
Personal Website:
http://www.varsityoutreach.com/blog/index.aspx
List three areas of expertise or specialization.
Social Networking, Facebook, Web Strategy
What department or office are you in?
Admissions
Primary Job Responsibility
Helping colleges and universities create a community on Facebook for prospective and admitted students

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