Here come the Fall 08 kids…

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Technology, Web | Posted on 01-10-2008


Let me start this by being very blunt: I’m stressed. I haven’t really been stressed about many work related things before, as I can typically hit deadlines with ease. However, this situation caught me off guard yesterday around 4pm, so I’ve been thinking it over all night in my head.

First, do yourself a favor. Hop on Facebook and search ‘[your school] Class of 2012′ and see what comes up. If nothing comes up, you still have some time. If you’re in my shoes, the Millenials have already started building their network with other incoming students. When I left work yesterday, there were 14 members. Now there are 20. Last year’s ‘Butler Class of 2011′ group doubled every month, and it got a late start. In the end, 60-70% of the class (600+) was a part of the group.

Now, this is great. Kids are connecting, and effectively yielding each other. So what’s the big problem? Incorrect information. Just browsing through last year’s group, I saw these wonderful (and incorrect) tidbits shared from student to student:

  • Butler doesn’t have wireless in its dorms or apartments
  • You have to order the sheets from the company that sends you the information (my favorite)
  • It’s not really that big of a deal if you don’t get your placement tests done
  • If you didn’t get an email about the summer assignment, you don’t have to do it. Just certain people I think?
  • and on and on and on…

Now obviously, it would be beneficial for someone at the University to be involved in this conversation. How do you join a group of 600+ soon to be college freshmen and start answering their questions? Easy! YOU DON’T. Seriously, it’s too late . And that’s the position we were in when I started last June.

So this year we formulated a tentative plan. Open our bloggers and forums on the site, and try to have the conversation start on our turf, with the Bloggers answering questions. This also helps because anyone searching for info on our site (i.e. dorm visit hours) would then find it in the forum.

To date the forum has had moderate success at best. Our only promo is an email and links off the Admission page. We’ve been unsuccessful in having the Bloggers showcased on the www site or elsewhere (change = bad, I guess). With 113 registered users and 321 posts, it’s been pretty decent.

So now, here we are. Class 0f 2012. 5000+ applicants. Not seeing much activity on the BUForums. Time for Plan B. Send in the Bloggers. I created a Facebook Fan Page for them so that kids can become a Fan of the Bloggers. From there, they can ask the bloggers questions, see recent blog posts, email them, etc. This takes the conversation back to Facebook, but at least we can get some correct information out there.

And as for archiving? I just found out last week that IR yanked from the Google Site Search because it was 10000+ pages thick, and there was a certain limit on the pages we can archive. So throw that out the window. It’s a whole new game again, and I’m at the plate. :-/

Comments posted (4)

Well you’re definitely out front with having at least one test round under your belt! Most schools I talk to are still ostrich.

Have you talked to the founders of the facebook group? I would love to see successful stories of the school recruiting these super communicators and helping them do some sort of cool class newsletter to correct a few of the errors. Have to avoid spam, obviously, but if you kept it short and sweet – and had the student originator say “the school is excited we’re all meeting on Facebook and asked me to pass this on” . . . seems like it might work.

Keep up the experimentation and thanks so much for blogging about it so we can learn too!

[...] really hard to believe that nearly 3 months since I first posted about the Class of 2012 group on Facebook, and 2 months since I went public with the data tracking. [...]

Sounds like someone needs a little Schools on Facebook!

[...] Here come the Fall 08 kids… [...]

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