tools that can bridge disparate programs, campuses, and activities.
I tied BCC’s Facebook launch to this
objective. With three full-service locations; a growing online campus; two
satellites; day, evening, and weekend
classes; and double-digit growth, I
wanted to create a daily experience
with the best of BCC. By highlighting
events and ideas and asking questions,
running contests, and linking news
stories and other hot items on the Web,
I provide a flavor of BCC and invite
community and user participation.
The most successful college Facebook
pages subscribe to this view. At
Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC)
in New Jersey, for example, Director of
College Marketing Geoffrey Pettifer
views Facebook as a communications
tool, no different than, say, a community newsletter or other external
“It is a strategic initiative to find
ways to build community,” he says.
“Facebook allows us to be authentic and
give our followers a place to engage.”
Ben Munson, associate director of
marketing and communications at
St. Charles Community College (SCCC)
in Mississippi, says, “We are accountable for the time we spend. If we don’t
know that it is useful, we should not be
The more you can demonstrate how
social-media efforts tie into your college’s long-term strategic goals, the
more likely leadership is to buy in.
Authentically represent your college
and gain followers as a result.
At the time of this writing, BCC had
2,239 fans and has lost fewer than 200
over two years. Conclusion: We must
be tapping into something our students
need and want.
Keep It Real
Decide, too, who
your primary audience will be. College
Facebook administrators interviewed
for this story all use their pages as a
retention tool. That’s not to say speak-
ing to current students doesn’t also
Tips to Make
For Your College
Share the Load Bristol Community College (BCC) allows the school’s departments to set up their own pages and manage them after some training. While others might shudder at the thought, our personal
experience has shown that departments
are often eager to communicate better and
want to support the college and its mission.
If you want a page at BCC, for example, our
college communications office provides a
worksheet to help think through messaging
and goals and recommends page names
that connect to the college. Once administrators have completed training and the
site goes live, the site is promoted on the
college’s main page. BCC also promotes
its “junior” pages from time to time with
features. To see a copy of BCC’s administrator worksheet, visit www.bristolcc.edu/
benefit recruitment: “Students who
are considering BC3 can gain a certain
perspective on the college from our Fa-
cebook page,” suggests Jessica Dandoy,
assistant director of communications
and marketing at Pennsylvania’s Butler
County Community College (BC3).
“It’s a different perspective than what
a Web site or admissions materials can
It’s important to stay casual and
connect with users on a personal level.
That means having fun and showcasing
activities, events, and students who
represent the very best the college has
to offer. At BCC, our plan is to illus-
trate daily the many diverse activities,
ideas, thoughts, and opportunities on
campus, so future and current students
can get a sense for how we can help.
“I think it’s really about sharing and
listening,” says BC3’s Dandoy. “Our
posts congratulating students on their
accomplishments always get ‘likes’ and
comments from other students and
staff.” Social media doesn’t work if you
try to be something you are not. “The
Log Activity, Particularly Negative Posts
Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC)
and St. Charles Community College (SCCC)
log negative activity. “First negative issue—
write it down,” suggests Ben Munson,
SCCC’s associate director of marketing and
communications. “Write back with a personal response. If you’re not keeping track,
it can get out of control. You’ll find yourself
kicking yourself down the road.”
Promotion of Questionable Activity?
At ACCC recently, a user posted an invitation to a party with alcohol for students
18 and older. Director of College Marketing Geoffrey Pettifer contacted the poster
great thing about social media is users
are not dumb,” adds ACCC’s Pettifer.
Trust is a vital commodity in social
media. The more you share in ways that
matter to your audience, the more your
community will grow. Giving the scoop
helps, too. ACCC’s Facebook numbers,
for example, grew during the East
Coast blizzard in January because
community members logged on for
updates on school closings and delays.
You can learn a lot
from other pages.
To get ideas, I “like” other college pages,
as well as businesses that do social media
particularly well. (Look at Southwest
Airlines and the President of the United
States. Another champion of social
networking is the popular TV show Glee.)
Cruising other sites is one way to discover
ideas that might work for your college,
and to borrow the good stuff. I got the
idea for my “guess the solar panels” post
from BC3’s popular “Trivia Friday” post.