Using Facebook effectively

from on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 11:09 am

Debbie Finkel writes: At the AGLSP conference in October 2012 I got fired up about making better use of the Liberal Studies Facebook page for our campus. Facebook can fulfill two purposes for a GLS program: recruitment and retention. Our FB group is currently a closed group (only invited members have access) and I use it primarily for retention: developing a sense of community among our GLS students. I don’t post things twice as day (as the conference speaker suggested) but I do manage to post about 4 times a week. Things I’ve discovered to post include:

  • Comics Friday: cartoons from the New Yorker or phdcomics.com or xkcd.com or grammarly.com, etc.
  • There’s a Word for That: interesting words from the OED, culled from Reading the OED, by Ammon Shea.
  • Any news article or Facebook post related to interesting news in science or the arts or, especially, some combination of art & science, such as a New Yorker post about the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton, a post about art awards for science photography, or photos comparing city grids to neuronal grids.
  • Any time a student submits an approved thesis proposal or defends a thesis.
  • All MLS events: colloquia, dinner events, holiday parties (including photos if possible).
  • Any campus or local speaker events or film series that may interest the students.
  • Updates about my own or other faculty member’s scholarly activities: photos of faculty presenting at conferences (“see, we do it, too”).
  • Comments about what I learned at the AGLSP conference.
  • Interesting FB items that cross my “newsfeed” – I admit that I check FB every day and I have “liked” pages like “The New Yorker” that provide fodder for the GLS FB page, as do some of my FB friends.

The response has been mixed. The good news: because FB tells me who has seen each post, I know that a large percentage of the members of the group are seeing each item. The ultimate success is when I get a few “likes” for a particular item. The bad news: I’m having difficulty encouraging students to participate by commenting or posting their own items. Asking open-ended questions (e.g., read any good books lately?) gets some response, but not as much as I would like.

Given the success I have had generating content for the GLS FB page, I am considering opening the group so that I can use it for recruitment as well as retention. I will need to be sure students are willing to have their photos displayed on a public FB page. Since recruiting is always a challenge, this new method is worth a try.

Debbie Finkel, Indiana University Southeast

If you would like to share ideas about using social media in a GLS program, we’d be happy to hear from you by email and we can post your comments and suggestions here as well. Contact ksmith at iusb dot edu to contribute–thanks.