Today I was browsing college/university departmental Facebook pages in order to do some research for a webinar I’ll be presenting in September. Specifically, I was looking at financial aid departments. The financial aid office plays a very specialized role on every college campus—they help students figure out how to pay for college by understanding the federal student aid process and directing them to scholarship and grant opportunities.
I was very surprised when I came upon a page that posted the following content:
July 3: Happy 4th of July!
July 3: Happy birthday America! Have a safe and fun 4th of July!
June 24: Welcome to summer! We hope all of our incoming students have enjoyed SOAR so far. One more week to go this month! We look forward to seeing everyone on campus soon!
June 5: We are excited to see our new incoming students and their families at SOAR starting this week! Welcome
March 11: We hope everyone had a safe and fun spring break. Back to the grind tomorrow! Only a few more weeks until the end of the semester and graduation!
March 10: Don’t forget to “spring forward” into daylight savings time on Sunday March 11th @ 2:00 a.m.!
This page went four months without posting anything about financial aid. I know many “gurus” would be on this department’s back for only posting six times in four months. That’s a valid point, but the lack of content focus makes it clear to me that the department doesn’t know why they’re on Facebook in the first place.
Maybe they felt that financial aid information wasn’t sexy enough for Facebook. Looking further back in their timeline, however, proves that’s just not true. The six posts above garnered a total of three likes. The most recent post that was actually about financial aid (actually, office hours) had six comments. Those comments represented a conversation between the department and a student—a student who clearly wanted to talk about financial aid on Facebook.
Other Departments Also Lack Focus
I’m not picking on financial aid—they just happened to be the first page I saw today that got me on this tangent. I tweeted about it…
Surprised by campus departmental FB pages that talk about everything BUT the service their department provides. Hmmmm….
— Liz Gross (@lizgross144) July 5, 2012
and I received a DM back from a colleague that was seeing the same behavior from her campus bookstore.
Alex Kowalsky had an interesting insight:
— Alex Kowalsky (@a_kowalsky) July 5, 2012
I can definitely see how people can get lost in that train of thought. “Gee, our department only has 150 likes on Facebook…so I’ll post about the weather, upcoming holidays and other things that they’re interested in so more people will talk to/about us.” I think that’s a dangerous downward spiral. Facebook already has George Takei to post unrelated funny/interesting content that creates conversation.
Your Department’s Fans Probably Care About Your Department
Why else would they like your Facebook page? I can talk about the weather with my mom or cousins, or pretty much all of my Facebook friends (face it folks, we’re not that interesting). But when I connect with a campus office, I actually care about the information I assume they’re going to provide. Why deny your community the services and information you’d gladly provide them if they walked into your office?
Take a look at your last 10 posts on Facebook or Twitter. Did they have anything to do with your core mission? If not, reconsider your content strategy. Let your fans know why you’re there, and likely they’ll respond with encouragement, feedback and further questions.
Confession: I posted about weather on our page this week, but in doing so I was able to showcase a student’s photo. General engagement posts aren’t entirely bad…but don’t let them detract from who you really are.