Are University Admissions Facebook Pages Worth the Effort? [NEW DATA]

While just about every university has their own institution-wide Facebook page, other departments are also attempting to join the fun by creating their own presence.

Since we work with Admissions and Marketing offices, we researched a sample of 70 universities to see if they were utilizing a Facebook Page specifically for the Admissions office.

We found approximately 32% of institutions engaging students in this manner, but we’ve always wondered if this was the best way for offices to interact with their incoming student populations.

How many students actually engage?

From our sample of 25 of the 70 institutions that actually had a presence,  we found on average there were only 3 student posts on a given month. When looking at the students posts that were present, we found less than half were given a response which doesn’t show a strong sense of engagement or community on the medium.

Of the student posts that were present, many consisted of exclamatory statements about how excited they were to be going to that school or how nervous they were about not being accepted. Typically students write these posts seeking affirmation from their peers, but seem to be having  trouble finding it on an institution’s admissions page.

More effort does not equal more engagement

Some universities were extremely proactive about keeping their pages updated and responding to student questions, but the resulting student engagement was minimal. The truth is that the relationship between the amount of posts a university had and the amount of student engagement is almost non-existent.

In some cases, these pages would have upwards of 70 posts per month, but resulted in only 2 student posts per month. No matter how many pictures of sports team victories or candid campus scenery were posted the response from students remains relatively unchanged.

 One strategy that did create a higher response from students was when information that gave an inside view of the admissions process was posted.  Butler University’s Admissions Page provided information about dates on when to expect acceptance letters and generated more “likes” than usual as shown below.

After looking at the difference between private and public pages it does seem that private schools invest more time into their pages by providing virtual tours, extensive lists of links for information, and more visually appealing graphics. The amount of tabs and extra resources did not produce a significant difference in the amount of students that interacted with the page when compared to some of the more simplistic pages.

Social media is about student service

In our research we found that on average 67% of questions that students post on Admission pages go unanswered or are redirected to another source to find the answer.

Part of the problem lies in the content of the questions. Since Facebook is open for everyone to see its difficult to answer specific questions without discussing information that a student most likely wants to keep private, so most students are pointed to a counselor’s email that can further assist them.

The limitations inherent with this platform make it difficult for counselors to answer questions that require a very detailed response. Depaul University’s Admission page was one of the schools which was able to answer every question asked on their site, but overall we still see Admissions pages unable to meet the needs of students and administrators alike.

While Facebook is still the network of choice for student engagement, the right strategy and resources must be deployed in order to create a remarkable student experience.

Have you been using an Admissions page to engage your prospective students? Share your successes or difficulties with us below!