Ipad on a desk showing Facebook
The Internet has profoundly changed the way people communicate and interact with each other.This change has also dramatically affected how marketers reach their target market, whether it be prospective customers,students,or donors

Ten years ago, organizations reached their prospects by using big advertising budgets to buy their way into people’s lives. The companies and schools that succeed today are leveraging new technology like blogs and social media to attractprospects and engage them more effectively

Traditional marketing methods focus on interrupting your way into people’s lives, whether it be with ads on TV, radio, or newspapers, or cold calling prospects or sending spam to their mailboxes or email inboxes. These approaches are like hitting people over the head with a sledgehammer to get their attention.

Inbound marketing methods, on the other hand, are about attracting people to your organization and getting found by the people looking for the programs you provide. Inbound marketing techniques leverage blogs, search engines, and social media sites.

With social network sites growing in popularity, many organisations have started to use this platform to market themselves. However, marketing on social network sites is different from traditional marketing. Its value lies in engaging members of the social network and generating shared cultural meaning of the advertised brand rather than promoting awareness of the brand to a large number of people. This is not apparent to marketers and as such, many organizations are not leveraging on this media tool effectively.

Social media use by universities has become ubiquitous. When earlier this year, researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth asked a representative sample of U.S. schools whether they use some social media, 100% of them said they did. Four years ago, just 61% of them said the same.

For this and other reasons, educational institutes are pretty much unanimous in their use of Facebook. How they’re using the tool, however, varies greatly

1. Virtual Tours

Students can virtually navigate the path that an in-person tour might take, watch videos and scroll 360-degree images of campus landmarks without spending money to travel there.

Other universities, like Stanford, take a simpler approach to showing off their campuses on Facebook. Stanford’s album, Summertime at the Farm: A Walking Tour, is just one of many you’ll find on its page that show off the picturesque 8,180-acre campus.

2. Alumni Groups

When it comes to alumni, many schools have separate Facebook Pages for different clubs across the country. Having a good Facebook presence allows them to stay connected to find out what other alumni are doing, find out what is going on at the institution

3. Sharing Department Content

It’s not unusual for every department at a college to have its own Facebook Page. What’s nice is that each can have its own specialized content, but there’s also a strong sharing component between the Facebook Pages — a nice sharing of content with one another, so they can kind of do some cross-pollination with different audiences

4. Reaching Out to Prospective Students

Just like university websites, college Facebook pages often cater to prospective students. It’s also not unusual for schools to create Facebook groups for admitted students.

In fact, there’s an app for that. Inigral’s Schools App creates a closed community of students within Facebook. Essentially, each student gets access to two real-time streams. One provides updates from everyone at the school. The other contains updates that only pertain to topics the student has indicated she or he is interested in. Students can join groups and interact without befriending other participants.

5.Facebook Places Advertising

Last fall, the University of Kentucky plotted giant, wooden markers that look like Facebook Places markers around its campus.

“We’re encouraging students to check in, so when they do, it’ll show up in their news feed and maybe their friends still in high school will see it over and over again,” the school’s marketing director Kelley Bozeman told Ad Age at the time.

Facebook has the potential to be an excellent marketing tool for any higher education institution. Because of its simplistic and widget design you do not need to be a graphic designer to create an impressive presence on Facebook as it doesn’t really allow much wiggle room in this respect. The biggest warning is to not spend too much time attempting to overdo it. It is incredibly easy to get lost in tinkering with add on applications and searching the vast network looking for new friends.

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