Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Universities: Use Facebook community pages to monitor your institution

(Editor's note: Here's a guest post from Joe Bonner, director of communications and public affairs at Rockefeller University in New York City, that offers a new take on Facebook's recently introduced beta of "community pages."  Bonner's one of my go-to sources on social media, and this post will show you why. He's curated links for this post from a variety of perspectives, each one its own good read, and plucked from the noise about community pages a signal to which you should be paying attention: How to use community pages to your organization's or company's advantage.  This will be of particular interest to higher education and nonprofit communicators, but companies will find it useful as well. I'm just delighted to welcome Bonner's posts in this space--don't get caught without these excellent insights.)

If you're looking for your favorite university or college on Facebook, you may be in for a surprise. A search for Stanford University, for example, returns five pages, only one of which is the official university Facebook Page. The rest are Community Pages, Facebook's answer to the unofficial pages that invariably are created by employees, alumni or general fans of your institution.

You'll see these Community Pages in your profile, too. Facebook recently started linking your interests and hobbies to Community Pages. So, if you've listed your alma mater or your employer in the information section of your Facebook profile, you'll see a link to a page that corresponds to that institution. The problem is, that page is often not the official page that the institution has carefully designed and curated to be the official outpost on Facebook. And that's creating a lot fear, uncertainty and doubt among my colleagues in higher education and nonprofits.

And with good reason. Institutions have devoted countless hours and other resources to cultivating their brands on Facebook, and now Facebook is automatically creating pages from Wikipedia entries and status updates.

I believe, however, there's a silver lining here. Because status updates that mention your institution are aggregated on Community Pages, you now have a new way to monitor your institution on Facebook.

@robinteractive has a thoughtful, comprehensive post on how colleges can turn this lemon that Facebook handed us into lemonade.

Community Pages are very new, and it's crucial for institutions to pay close attention to their development.

1 comment:

robinteractive said...

Thanks for the mention :)

Some additional tools have come online lately as Facebook has (for better or worse) largely scrapped privacy by default.

There is a Facebook-specific search engine called openbook: http://willmoffat.github.com/FacebookSearch/

Another search engine, called Kurrently, searches both Facebook and Twitter: http://www.kurrently.com/