Facebook has been the go-to platform for institutions to connect with prospective students. The statistics are endless in terms of its scale and the time users spend on there.
Let's not kid ourselves, though; Higher Education is full of control freaks. And Facebook is truly not in our control. Via a coordinated content strategy across Facebook and other social platforms, there is room for a college-owned, private social network within your digital strategy. With the ability to more closely control the experience, you can better align with institutional brand, more directly tie to programmatic, business unit goals and more intimately understand your users' personal interests. But a private social network should not stand on its own.
At today's eduWeb Conference, I presented with colleague Vanessa Theoharis on "It's Not All About Facebook: Define Your Own Private Community". The presentation showcased the benefits, challenges and opportunities of past and current private social networks, including Babson's own Define You portal for accepted students, Cafe New Paltz, MyIthaca, and Schools App by Uversity (formerly Inigral). But first and foremost, we discussed how it was both hardwired to our institutional content strategy AND fit within our undergraduate admission's primary objectives.
At the end of the day, while Facebook is necessary, it can't be everything. You must coordinate a digital marketing strategy across multiple social platforms with intentional, distinct goals and purpose for each platform. And remember, your social strategy can include owned platforms.