Have you heard of Facebook? Of course you have. It’s that Web site your kids are obsessed with. They’re posting pictures and videos, letting each other know about where the next party is at, messaging each other incessantly and participating in other time-wasting activities like virtually poking one another. How childish!
Facebook is just for kids…or is it? Take a look at some key growth trends:
• Facebook has over 175 million users and is growing by more than 700,000 users a day.
• More than half of Facebook users are outside of college.
• The fastest growing demographic is those 30 years and older.
And it’s not just the reach of Facebook that is astounding; user engagement is off the charts:
• More than 3 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide).
• More than 18 million users update their statuses at least once each day.
• More than 4 million users become fans of Pages each day.
More and more schools across the nation are beginning to jump on the bandwagon as they realize it is in their best interest to have a Facebook presence. Let’s explore some of the most powerful techniques you can employ to take advantage of Facebook to grow enrollment for your programs.
• Get a profile…join in the conversation.
My first recommendation for taking advantage of the Facebook platform is just to jump in and start your profile. Now you are able to connect (and stay connected) with business contacts you meet at your local chamber events, your open houses and programs, your online webinars, and everywhere else when the prospect asks, “Are you on Facebook?”
As you participate in Facebook and create events, post pictures from recent programs, communicate with contacts and more, people you are friends with see your actions (through the “Facebook News Feed”). This helps increase in the amount of touch points in which you are interacting with that contact. We all know that marketing for continuing education requires multiple touch points to entice a prospect to sign up for an upcoming program.
Place your events on Facebook.
The Facebook News Feed is incredibly powerful. One of the best ways to take advantage of it is through Facebook events because their algorithm places a lot of emphasis on pushing events to users if several of their friends RSVP for a specific event. For example, if you and a few others I am friends with RSVP for an upcoming conference, it’s highly likely for the event to creep into my feed…a few times over the course of time! The same goes for pictures, which is great for event promoters: past participants’ friends can see my friends at the event I hosted, and potentially make them think they want to be in the IN crowd the next time I host an event. The entrepreneur center at Corporate College in Cleveland Ohio places events on Facebook (and LinkedIn) and it has been a great place to connect to potential new customers.
Communicating with business contacts couldn’t be easier.
Once you are friends with a business contact on Facebook, it is very easy to message that person (via Facebook email or Facebook chat). Have an upcoming program on business planning you think the contact would be interested in? Send them an invite. Have a group of people in a certain market demographic that you want to focus on for market research? Use a Facebook Friend List to send the group of contacts a Facebook email to gauge their interest.
Facebook has created a robust system to help you easily stay in touch with one individual, or a group of people. For example, when you post something to your profile, such as an event, a Web site link, a picture, or a simple status update, friends of yours will see those updates through the Facebook News Feed. Make sure to add the ‘Add to Facebook’ button to your articles and pages of your Web site that you want your users to be able to easily share with their Facebook friends.
Try Facebook advertisements.
One fantastic benefit of Facebook ads is the ability to drill down to make sure your ad is viewed by a very specific demographic (such as males between the ages of 26-32 in Anchorage that like salmon). We have run campaigns that generated over 125,000 impressions (how many people viewed the ad), but we only had to pay $30 for the campaign because the click-through-rate was low.
Build your Facebook Page.
Facebook Pages are possibly the most attractive component of Facebook’s Business Services. You can create a ‘Page’ for your institution or your entrepreneurship department, and connect with people on Facebook just like a friend connects with another friend. Post events to your Facebook Page, update your status on projects your department is working on, and post pictures and videos from previous events.
As more and more people become a ‘fan’ of your Page, chances increase that your brand will be able to propagate virally on the Facebook platform. Another great benefit of Pages is the flexibility in customization by giving you the ability to build in custom graphics, forms, and more. Pages have many advantages over Groups because of flexibility and built-in traffic mechanisms.
With a price of $0 to get started on Facebook, and the platform growing at such an amazing rate, it’s time to develop your strategy for how you’ll take advantage. Jump in; the water’s getting warmer every day!
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