The announcement that the Gates Foundation Invests in Facebook App for College Studentsprompted our organization to look at what we're already doing on Facebook.
We do get more conversations on Facebook (particularly during events like last week’s blizzard!), but we only have about 2,300 people in our Facebook community. Impressive for for our Facebook efforts, but much smaller than our total student population.
Our current student portal, as shown in recent stats, gets the numbers but the students don't stick around. They are task-oriented, registering, paying tuition, checking financial aid.
So Facebook has the engagement. And Portal has the numbers.
The challenge is how do you create a destination that students HAVE to visit - like student portal, and have that deliver an experience students WANT to participate in, like Facebook?
Some colleges have blended their student portal and social media by starting their own social media sites. Again, this has mostly occurred at four year schools. Here's one example from Albright College: http://faces.albright.edu/
Again, it won't be one thing that works, but rather a blend. For example:
These tactics need to be integrated and anchored in some type of messaging strategy that's tightly focused on the audience and intimately aligned with specific engagement/enrollment/retention/completion goals.
And just as we're talking about it, the landscape continues to evolve, shift and change. Not something to be figured out, but a constant state of "figuring out."