Yesterday I attended a webinar on the uses of Facebook Groups for business purposes. The people presenting -- who were from around the globe -- had gathered both anecdotal and empirical data on how businesses are and can use Facebook Groups, particularly for marketing and/or recruitment.
I quickly understood that the information being presented also had implications for international education offices and organizations, particularly in areas such as marketing events, services and programs and recruitment / admissions. And while the emphasis was on using groups, the evidence they provided led me to an opposite conclusion when it comes to the field of international education.
Bottom line? Facebook Pages may be a better marketing and communications option for international offices/programs than Facebook Groups.
First and foremost, trying to shift an audience ("fans" / "group members") to a Facebook Page after a Facebook Group has been established is very difficult -- so go for the Page first! If you started the Group first, than you will probably need to commit to a serious effort to getting people moved over to a Page -- and you may need to offer an incentive for them to do so.
Here's more reasons why having a Facebook Page for your office/program is better than a Group:
- Groups have size and communications limits that do not apply to Pages. And limits sometimes matter...a lot.
- Pages allow the administrators to get access to important statistics and reports that Groups do not have
- Pages allow for more direct contact because the admins can send emails to the entire list of "fans".
- Groups need more activity on the part of the Admins running them than Pages do.
- People join Groups and then don't take part -- and, worse, they stop checking the Groups. More than half of the Group members drop out or become inactive very quickly.
- Most members of Facebook groups are more interested in hearing about the status of an effort or news from an office -- which Facebook Pages allows quite well -- but they are slow to join or facilitate action in a Group.
- In fact, emails sent through Groups are often regarded as advertising spam and often go unread!
- There are some serious limitations with Facebook Groups, such as the inability to send documents. At this time, only video and photo options are available.
- Finally, Facebook simply does not have a good interface for Groups when it comes to marketing and other business or administrative purposes.
What became very clear:
- "Influencers" play a key role in both Page and Group networks. Personal invitations from friends to become a Fan are very important. Statistics show that a handful of "influencers" can account for up to 30% of recruits in some cases!
- Active and appropriate recruiting is a key to growth. In other words, don't think that "if you build it, they will come". You need to continue to look for and invite participants.
- Recruiting also happens through friends of friends -- who see that someone has become a "fan" through Facebook feeds. Don't underestimate this.
- Work on weave a larger network and seeking "fans" in unusual places.
- Sometimes using contests can help to increase the number of "Fans."
Using a Facebook Page to connect with your students is a form of community development.
Community development and management must be considered and treated as an investment. Slow expansion, not viral growth, is normal with Facebook. Don't expect fast results. Be happy with steady growth.
Also pay attention to what you name your Page as the name you choose can seriously impact who joins your group and for what reason, which in turn may impact the number of people who will choose to become "Fans".
A Facebook Page is the page of your "brand" - for your office, your institution, your program. Own it and use it wisely!
- 5 Ways to Keep Your Facebook Page Secure (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- 502 International Education related YouTube channel subscriptions... (ihec-djc.blogspot.com)
- Should I set up a Facebook page, group or person for my business? (marketing.yell.com)
- Facebook's Default Landing Page Is Going Away On Timeline. Now What? (blogs.constantcontact.com)
- Facebook groups get Timeline-like cover photos (insidefacebook.com)