Facebook for Incoming Classes: While Admissions’ Back was Turned.

Brad J. Ward recently discovered that marketers from a company interested in reaching incoming freshman was out disingenuously making hundreds of X University Class of 2013 groups on Facebook. The perspectives from both Ward and his commenters are worthy of some deep consideration.

While backs were turned snubbing social media and Facebook, people with interests were proactive and hosted conversations they wanted to be visible in and a part of.  This should not be surprising; it is natural.  There are instances all across the web where marketers who have the interest and the budget “host” conversations, groups, and networks.  Some seem authentic, some seem like posers.

Here’s my thing: would Nike get accosted for creating “Atlanta Runners and Athletes” with a map of Atlanta?  I know I know, you’re going to say its not the same thing.  And, it’s not.  The city of Atlanta isn’t actively trying to manage its brand and doesn’t have a trademark on its aerial image.  However, it is the same in the sense that this is a reasonable thing for Nike to do because Nike wants to be there when people in Atlanta coordinate athletic activities.

CollegeProwler shouldn’t have to apologize for creating groups. (Universities could send them a cease and desist for hijacking the branding, which was in poor taste.)   Now that admissions offices want into those groups, I bet if they asked CollegeProwler to kindly turn over administrative rights in exchange for a link to the CollegeProwler site in the group posts, CollegeProwler would be more than happy to hand them over.

Facebook is a free for all, and no group is the “official” group of anything just as @student points out. You could, right now, go and create a group called “The OFFICIAL Brittany Spears Fan Club.”  Then, you could dramatically portray Ms. Spears all wrong.  Her fans would in no way be duped by this; they just go wherever there’s claim to support her and they will ultimately gravitate to the best community and the most authentic communication channel.

So, admissions offices could be like the record industry – they could make a lot of enemies by waging war on all of the people taking advantage of their own slowness.  Or they could do what would work: go host the best community and create the most authentic communication channel about their college or university.  The could try it through an off-facebook community that will just add another barrier to particpation.   Or, they could figure out how to tame the beast.  Talk about your strategies here in this Facebook group.

I, of course, hope they do it by watching our intros on Facebook for Universities and Colleges and ultimately choosing to use Schools on Facebook.  After all, though I think I am authentic. a secondary motive for this discussion is that Inigral, Inc is present in these types of conversations.

5 Responses to “Facebook for Incoming Classes: While Admissions’ Back was Turned.”

  1. Bradjward December 19, 2008 at 7:00 pm #

    “CollegeProwler shouldn’t have to apologize for creating groups.”

    It's not creating the groups that concerns me. It's the blatant misrepresentation of college students pretending to be '09 high school graduates. Hiring students to falsely create content in an effort to gain from it is absurd.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. mpstaton December 19, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    That's true. I am not trying to defend CollegeProwler as much as move the conversation from “can you believe they would do that?” to “okay, people will do things like that. instead of letting these people pose as us, we should be hosting and participating in online communities like Facebook ourselves.”

    Social media is kind of a land grab. So, grab land!

  3. Bradjward December 19, 2008 at 9:19 pm #

    Definitely. @timnekritz had a quotable tweet the other day. It basically said, “we have the land but we don't have the blueprints.” Even if you're not sure what you are going to build, get your land before it's gone.

    Or as the old saying goes… Location, Location, Location. :)

  4. Heather December 23, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    This exact thing has been happening for three years on MySpace… thousands of MySpace Groups and profiles for universities on MySpace and maybe 5% actually run by the universities themselves. Some by alumni, some by current students, and some by marketing companies that want to reach prospective students.

    I am honestly surprised that higher ed is so surprised by what happened with these Facebook Groups… this is so common in the business and nonprofit sectors on Facebook. I knew higher ed was behind in Web 2.0 (a lot of fear, misconceptions, and hoops to jump through to get permission to embrace Web 2.0)… but this highlights how most really are not aware of how the Web has evolved over the last 2-3 years.

    And there are hundreds if not thousands of unofficial “Facebook Pages” out there… which grow almost 500% faster than Groups and the future of your long-term brand on Facebook.

    YouTube URLs for universities were squatted years ago… happening on Twitter this very second.

    This is the number one reason why higher ed needs to be on all these sites… if they don't do it officially, some else will for them… unofficially. Welcome to the Brave New World of Web 2.0… you have more to lose by not participating!

    College Prowler actually had a good business impulse to set up these Groups… again, very normal in Web 2.0… but I just don't think they thought through how higher ed would react… the Great Wake-Up Call… shall we say?

    All universities should have:
    1) Facebook Groups for the next 8 graduating classes.
    2) A Facebook Page
    3) A MySpace profile (incredibly high ROI… basically scrap everything you have been told about MySpace… higher ed's love for Facebook is so blinding that can't see the power of Myspace… it's weird).
    4) A YouTube Channel
    5) A Twitter profile
    6) LinkedIn Groups for Alumni (guess how many of those are unofficial on LinkedIn?!).
    7) A Flickr account.

    Good luck!

  5. Andy Shaindlin December 23, 2008 at 5:45 pm #

    Re: Your Facebook group for Alumni Engagement, two comments…

    There is a group called Alumni Relations on Facebook here:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2363348857

    There are 484 members. Might save you some trouble to post comments there, instead of starting yet another group.

    Also, your group has a typo in the URL for the Inigral site.

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