Facebook is the most popular social network on the Internet with more than 200 million active users worldwide. Facebook started in 2004 as a site for college students to socially interact in a virtual setting—but the site has since advanced to a popular online destination used by web users of all ages—and consequentially morphed into a new marketing channel for organizations.
One chief niche of Facebook marketers are higher education institutions. Colleges and universities use this online platform to engage with students and stakeholders, spread word of news and events happening on campus, infect fans with school spirit and market their campus to prospective students. Academic institutions have embraced this 2.0 technology all in hopes of getting to the pulse of student conversation and luring individuals to consider enrolling in their school.
Here is my list of the top colleges that Facebook in America:
Thumbs up: Marketers preach how with social media organizations should, “talk with” not “talk to” its target market. Well Texas A&M is the king of this as it has launched multiple campaigns to engage their online followers. In 2008, they launched a campaign called “DoYouWonder.edu” where students were encouraged to share their experiences, through videos and pictures. As a result this Texan school created an interactive atmosphere bringing students back on a daily basis. No wonder they topped the list at a whopping 148,188 fans!
Thumbs up: This past September, LSU and Texas A&M created a ingenious marketing stunt with their Facebook fan battle. Marketers from each university publicized this battle, bringing attention to the Facebook sites, which worked as a bait and switch tactic for luring in prospective students and their parents to their online marketing platforms. Read about the viral battle here: http://www.lsusports.net/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=5200&ATCLID=204786969.
Thumbs up: University of Texas at Austin’s Facebook fan page offers rich multimedia. Though they lack continuous engagement with fans on their page, they get bonus points for its candid images (Longhorn football rules). Their success lies in this, tied together with their fanatical sports enthusiasts!
University of Michigan
Thumbs up: University of Michigan offers a prime example of full-emersion Facebook marketing. Not only does the University host a continual stream of information with recent media clips, school accolades and events, but they have also created micro-niche marketing with pages dedicated to specific departments within the University (like the Ross School of Management: http://www.facebook.com/pages/U-M-Ross-School-of-Business-Executive-Education/36882987678).
Thumbs up: Penn State’s Facebook page encourages active discussion and sharing of information and thoughts. This University’s Facebook administrators continually post comments and administrators quickly answer fan inquiries about anything from housing to sports scores. Plus, this University is a prototype for educational institutions that have embraced Web 2.0 technologies, with a fan page widget where Penn aficionados can receive game day text messages.
Thumbs up: University of Oklahoma’s Facebook fan page is brimming with multimedia content. Uploaded videos of student performances and testimonials...they’ve got it. Four albums of pictures showcasing campus hot-spots...they’ve got it. An Okie blog forum via Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Norman-OK/Unwind-The-University-of-Oklahoma-Blog-Community/49098605687)...they’ve got it. Plus?this University averages 1.5 posts per day?that’s more than most colleges on the list.
Thumbs up: University of Kansas has executed great marketing campaigns to engage and inspire the online community. This year’s Hawk-O-Lantern contest, where fans submitted Kansas-inspired pumpkin carvings on top of the HawkU contest (http://www.facebook.com/notes/the-university-of-kansas/theres-still-time-to-submit-your-hawku/196056272175), where fans can enter a Kansas-inspired haiku are two examples of innovative ways the University has sought to engage the Facebook community. This organizations success in Facebook marketing is indicated through its growing numbers?.with a following that is more than 61,310 fans large.
Thumbs up: Forty-nine-thousand fans strong, Ohio State is tops the list with best Facebooking colleges. Ohio State has provided a medium where students, alumni and professors regularly post and discuss campus-related questions (on average every hour). Plus?the Universities’ connection to philanthropic causes makes this college a noteworthy winner on the list.
Thumbs up: In addition to being a virtuous leader in academia Stanford University is adept in Facebook marketing as well. The combination of engaging fans with multimedia including Stanford music player, pictures, weekly lectures streamed through the page and department-specific pages like “Stanford Continuing Education” (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stanford-Continuing-Studies/86483982201)makes this University a Facebook powerhouse.
Thumbs up: Indiana University’s fan page is updated weekly with accolades, research and campus events. The page is also rich with images from graduation, campus life and other gorgeous shots of the city that is sure to entice future students to enroll at IU. Blog feeds are also imbedded in the page, which is useful for following Twitter posts and recent news stories related to the University.
Thumbs up: University of Tennessee is a Facebook top-dog with an ever-expanding Facebook fan base. The page offers a continually updated links section where people can check out highlighted coursework, events and happenings. The page is interactive and evolving?a recipe for Facebook success.
Thumbs up: Recognized around the world as a top research university, Michigan State University leads the nation in Facebook as well. This page encourages comments and is brimming with photos, videos and links, especially related to research findings.
Thumbs up: This Californian college has undoubtedly embraced the internet as a marketing and communication tool. The Facebook page is packed with external links to the school’s newsroom, school departments, admissions, student organizations and athletics. This astute academic institution has a Facebook widget with live webcasts from professors and University officials.
Thumbs up: Though much of University of Florida’s 27,00-plus fan base is attributed to its die-hard sports fans, the University can link their success to their integration with technology, like RSS Blog feeds plus its host of degree-specific fan pages like UF College of Design (http://www.facebook.com/UF.dcp) and UF College of Education (http://www.facebook.com/UF.COE).
Thumbs up: University of Miami’s success in Facebook lies in their aptitude for harnessing the power of viral marketing. On a very prominent widget on the page reads, “Love the U? Suggest this fan to friends”? and includes instructions on how to invite your Facebook friends to join the group. Moreover, this University posts pictures and articles related to campus affairs, research, athletic teams and admissions?providing a great medium to communicate and market their wonderful University.
Thumbs up: Part of University of Phoenix’s mission is to constantly innovate to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. They have made strides towards that through their Facebook page?as it provides a place where students, teachers and alumni can connect through discussion board, while supplying informative posts, videos and pictures.
Thumbs up: Listen up social media marketers and take notes on Oklahoma State’s Facebook stratagem. This University is fully emerged in social media marketing?integrating their marketing strategy with Web 2.0 channels including Twitter, YouTube and RSS feeds with campus-related blogs. Oklahoma State has also exhibited that the cross-promotion of social media networks (Twitter, YouTube and Facebook) can elicit more followers.
Thumbs up: This summer, the University of Minnesota doubled their followers. Want to know why? These university marketers are keen with how to use Facebook. They average posts a day, and include news, events, pictures and videos galore.
Thumbs up: Averaging more than three updates a day, it’s not surprising to see why University of Arizona has nearly 22,000 Facebook fans. This University’s Facebook account is used as a news feed for all things “U of A” and serves as a great source for admission information with a tab dedicated to admissions information for potential students.
Thumbs up: Kansas State has a unique attribute on their Facebook page?an ingenious tab that links Facebook fans to Kansas admission representatives (http://www.facebook.com/KState?v=app_4949752878&ref=search). Select your state from a digital map of the United States and you can connect to the right program manager in your geographic area in matter of seconds. Combining this cool digital attribute with the page’s pages dedicated to specific University departments and steady stream of updates on health alerts, scholarship announcements and events?and you have the perfect precedent for successful Facebook marketing.
Thumbs up: It is clear that FSU delivers its promise of getting exclusive content and interact with Florida State Seminoles right from Facebook. This sports-centric page features fan-driven content?including multimedia and informative game-day updates.
Thumbs up: Sheer numbers can prove that Appalachian State University has adept Facebook strategy? This University has 2,000 more Facebook fans than their current enrollment (which is around 14,000). Appalachian State has engrained social media with traditional web marketing through including links to their Twitter and Facebook pages on their admissions site: http://www.admissions.appstate.edu/.
Thumbs up: This mountain-top University credits the success in Facebook to its cross-promotion with social media channels including YouTube, Flickr and Twitter. It is clear that this University has embraced social media?and one prime example is the CSU social media hub, a website that encourages colleges, departments, programs, groups and entities to join the social media age (http://www.socialmedia.colostate.edu/).
Thumbs up: Mississippi State keeps web users in the loop with daily Facebook posts related to campus events, alumni news and multimedia. MSU can credit much of their Facebook fan base to Mississippi State’s social media badges on the homepage of their official website, found at http://www.msstate.edu/. These icons that can quickly link web visitors from their official website to other social media channels.
Thumbs up: This Hoosier school gets an “A” for social media and embracing innovation and creativity. The school was quoted recently, saying, “Ball State is redefining education by providing immersive learning experiences that engage high-caliber students in intense interdisciplinary projects in and out of the classroom. Our expert faculty encourages innovation and creativity.” Social media marketers can learn a lesson from Ball State?that organizations need to embrace the internet and technology from the top down in order to be successful in academia.
Thumbs up: Similar to Ball State, Arizona State University has also fully welcomed social media into their world. Their Facebook page includes social RSS blogs with informative information about campus activities and academic lectures, Twitter links and much more.
Thumbs up: This southern school can credit their social media success to the integration of their marketing strategy with a host of social media outlets. Clemson University skillfully integrates their website and channels such as Twitter and Facebook to encourage prospective and current students to communicate in online discussion about the Clemson University experience. Clemson has even created a group called “Clemson University: Class of 2014” (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=info&gid=169269157933) dedicated to those that have been accepted or are interested in applying to Clemson.
Thumbs up: Cornell University’s Facebook page is the go-to source for Cornell information on the internet. The University engages with fans on Facebook an average of two times a day and posts colorful pictures from around campus, university events and more. Everyone from alumni to incoming students have found their places within Facebook’s groups and forums; even President David Skorton has a profile. Marketers should also take tips from Cornell.edu’s micro-site which links web users to YouTube, Facebook, RSS blog feeds, Myspace, Ning and Linkedin (http://www.cornell.edu/CUbiquitous/).
Thumbs up: Online marketers would praise this University’s multimedia-rich Facebook page. With more than 23 videos featuring speakers, research, snippets of research studies—and cool interactive quizzes on the sidebar of the page—University of California-Davis definitely has mastered social media marketing. This University also includes enticing information geared towards prospective students like links to enrollment information, rankings and distinctions.
Thumbs up: Oregon State University offers dynamic, engaging multimedia on their Facebook page. The page caters to both alumni and students?as it plays on school spirit by offering hundreds of orange-infused pictures and other images that show beautiful landmarks around campus.
New York University
Thumbs up: The NYU network on Facebook has more than 500 groups associated with it. Moreover, research from http://www.wholinkstome.com shows that this University is keen with SEO marketing as it has more than 8,000 Google-indexed pages that link to their Facebook page. Plus, this university scores points for engaging with fans, as they post two to three wall posts a week about campus events, networking opportunities, student performances and more.
Thumbs up: Iowa State professors have embraced Facebook as a medium for connecting with students, according to Barbara Mack, associate professor of journalism and communication school at Iowa State. This University seems to appeal to the mass of students and alumni’s sports side, as most posts are centered on Iowa State athletics.
Thumbs up: Central Michigan fans of Facebook is over half the total student body?so its no wonder that the school is setting precedents for social media marketing. The University has unquestionably harnessed the power of Web 2.0 technology by providing widgets that link to their own YouTube channel and iTunes U at CMU! Furthermore, this Michigan university page even links fans to podcasts from professors and university officials and is a prime news source for campus related events and academic findings.
Thumbs up: Princeton’s reputation of being a research powerhouse shines through on Facebook?as they unveil hot-off-the press research findings via Facebook. Social media marketers should also take note of Princeton’s micro-Facebook site, a site that the university created to facilitate communication between professors and students.
University of Chicago
Thumbs up: This University’s success on Facebook is attributed to sheer word of mouth. There is nothing fancy about this page as it offers straightforward information about the University. The page has morphed into an online community that encourages discourse about classes and campus life.
College of Charleston
Thumbs up: Considering the fact that this college’s current enrollment is just above 11,000?College of Charleston 8,000 Facebook fan base is extremely commendable. This College has executed perfect Facebook marketing strategy. Take, for instance, the multiple pages dedicated to the school’s academic departments, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and a continually updated news stream.
Thumbs up: According to Brown University’s disclaimer, “Brown students and faculty are typically innovative, creative, and intellectually restless, never satisfied with the conventional way of doing things, always eager to cross boundaries and to experiment with new approaches to solving problems.” The University has clearly executed their mission on Facebook, as their page includes links to more than 200 Facebook pages of Brown programs, student groups and alumni resources.
Thumbs up: Boston College supplies a daily stream of multimedia related to Boston College should be a precedent for successful social media marketing?as they do an impeccable job of engaging with the public, pitching news and soft-selling enrollment information to future collegiate.
Thumbs up: Harvard University’s reputation for diligence shines through on Facebook as they calculatingly post academic journal media clips, research study results and professor dissertations at least two times a day. Their multimedia is also noteworthy, as they have a collection of pictures from around campus called “Scene at Harvard.” Forget reading The Harvard Crimson, students and Harvard fans can get the same amount of information from the Harvard Facebook page as they could by reading the campus paper.
(**Methodology based on number of fans and evaluation of engagement with students.)