How Facebook Groups Can Help You Engage With Different Audiences
Posted: October 5, 2022
Facebook is used by a variety of audiences making it a prime place to reach the people you want to engage with. 2.82 billion people log into Meta’s family of apps (Facebook and Instagram) every day, and so it’s with this in mind that we offer some suggestions on making Facebook work for your higher ed needs.
It is not hard to set up a group within Facebook. The problem comes when there is no game plan, no idea of who you want to reach or why you’re creating the group to begin with. Before creating new groups, or redesigning ones you already have, take some time to think and evaluate what is working and what isn’t.
- Are people liking or sharing your content?
- Are they engaging and leaving comments?
- Are you responding to those comments?
- Are you getting pictures and stories from your audience to share?
Once you have goals for your Facebook platform, hopefully ones that will encourage engagement with different audiences and build community among the audience itself, it’s time to get to work.
Help Audiences Connect With Each Other
Your Facebook community groups can be organized in many different ways, but one important thing is that you have a set of standards for replying and interacting with the people in these groups. Will you respond to every comment? Every private message? Remember your goal and set a standard based on that. And, don’t worry. One person doesn’t need to be responsible for all of the replies. Depending on how you decide to divide your groups, someone (or multiple someones) from that department or circle can be in charge of replies.
Consider the following groups that could benefit from their own community:
- Incoming classes.
- Residence halls/buildings.
If the goal of these groups is getting people to interact with each other and the college, think of the social circles or groups of students who might be grouped together on campus. Allowing students who live in the same hall or in the same building to get to know each other before school begins would allow them to become more of a family and connected group. Likewise, allowing incoming classes to meet together online can build community and ease anxiety of going to a college for the first time. Departments or majors would benefit from sharing information about upcoming events, study groups, or opportunities to get together outside of class.
Hashtags, Curate Posts, and Put Reviews/Ratings to Work
Along with creating groups, you will also want to give thoughts about having some control over what happens in those communities. There are three ways to help take some of the load off the college while still allowing the group to drive engagement.
Hashtags allow groups to communicate and search for information through a central idea. For example, if you search on Facebook for #winter, you’ll come across all the pictures, songs, and thoughts people are sharing about the upcoming season. You can do the same with a hashtag for your college or department. Coming up with the hashtag and letting whoever is working in the group know about it will allow the hashtag to be more widely used. Then, not only can you share information through that hashtag, you can also search that hashtag and curate information to use in posts.
Having a steady stream of social media posts can be daunting, especially if there are lots of activities happening at your school. That’s why it’s great to be able to use audience posts on your community group sites! When you see a photo or post (thanks to your well-designed hashtag!), ask for permission to repost or reuse the information! Getting real audience-view posts is a goldmine when it comes to showing others (especially prospective students and their caregivers) what life is really like on campus. As the hashtag is getting up and running, consider having students take over a Facebook group for the day. What do students in the theater department get up to all day? What does it look like backstage? How do the athletes travel to games? What about the latest robot trial over in the STEM lab? Using student-driven posts and photos is a great way to get information out that is beneficial and timely for the consumers of your social media pages.
Reviews and Ratings
It’s not enough to spread the word that your college or university is the best at what it does. And, believe us, people do look at reviews. According to the Local Consumer Review Survey for 2022 from BrightLocal, 77% of internet viewers who responded look at ratings and reviews before they make purchases. That’s a big number! Add to that the fact that only 3% of respondents said they would consider a company with two or fewer stars, you can see why getting ratings and reviews can be important in the higher ed space, especially when people are looking online more and more to find their right-fit school.
You’ll want to make sure people know where to go to leave reviews – Facebook, Google, and Yelp are the biggest review sites looked at – and you’ll want to do two things with those reviews.
- Respond to it. Positive or negative, respond to the review and let them know that you see and hear what they’re trying to communicate to you. (Think that’s strange? 57% of respondents of BrightLocal’s post stated they would not consider or rarely consider using a service by a company that does not respond to reviews.)
- Ask if you can use their information. There’s no better source of buy-in than from your own students/parents/and alumni. If they give a glowing review, ask to use it across your social media channels!
There are many more ways to make Facebook work well for your higher ed institution. These are just a few ideas to get you started, or to help flood your feed with new and positive posts, driving engagement and, hopefully, students to your campus.
Work With Us
Does your institution need guidance in melding social media with your marketing plan? We’ve spent the last 21 years in higher ed marketing and would love to consult with you on solving these challenges together. Contact our Vice President Dana Cruikshank to learn more.