Lynn University making most of “Face” time

University staking out space on Facebook, You Tube for meeting potential students, alums and friends where they are

Published Dec. 11, 2008

When an incoming freshman at Lynn University wanted to know this summer if the university’s wireless network supported Mac’s iChat, he didn’t call the Lynn IT Help Desk. And when a woman in Martinique, FWI, wanted some information on the university’s MBA program, she didn’t call the admissions office. Instead, both went to Facebook – the current social network king that is fast becoming a vital tool in Lynn’s outreach efforts.

After staking out a plot on the social network in 2007, Lynn’s marketing team began in earnest to populate the site and manage visitor requests this semester. Today, a team consisting of a graduate student, two student photographers, and both members of the Lynn PR office, are actively securing and posting content, not to mention responding to wall posts.

The university currently maintains and helps manage seven pages concentrating in everything from Lynn Athletics to Study Abroad. These sites all boast exclusive video content, photo albums and event listings. But it’s the university’s main page (“Lynn University”) that gets the most attention. As of today, “Lynn University” has more than 650 fans (an increase of more than 200 in the last month), 16 videos posted and more than 19 photo albums that feature photos taken at recent campus events.

And this, by some measures, might just be the beginning. In just the last month, the university’s network of pages has grown from 733 to 1,146 self-reported “fans,” many of whom are potential students.

But the university isn’t using Facebook just to reach those considering Lynn for their college home. In fact, as an article in Newsweek pointed out last year (“Facebook Grows Up”), the site is fast becoming a must-use for users young and old. Of its more than 120 million current users, news reports place about 30 percent of those between the ages of 35 and 55, making it a good vehicle for also reaching alumni as well.

That said, Lynn’s marketing office didn’t have to get on Facebook. The university just unveiled a brand new Web site in October – a site that logged more than 65,000 visits in November and isn’t in danger of playing second fiddle to Facebook any time soon. But Jason Hughes, director of media relations at Lynn, says the student Facebook team he organized didn’t see staying out of social media as an option.

“They insisted that we honor the existing communication preferences of our students, friends and alumni. If we wanted to reach them, this was the place to be right now,” he says.

The trick to being so successful on Facebook and online in general, Hughes says, is to offer fresh content and unique and authentic messages.

“There’s a reason we use student photographers and a graduate student to shoot events and create slideshows. We want this to be a unique vehicle for getting the behind-the-scenes look, minus any editorializing,” he says. “As much as I’d like to mimic the college viewbook or read aloud my Lynn talking points, on Facebook we have to show them campus life through the eyes of real students.”

Not alone on Facebook

Of course, Lynn isn’t alone in using the network to reach widespread audiences. As Bloomberg reported, even political movements (like South Africa’s Congress of the People) are using the site’s popularity to increase and excite its base. And, judging by the conversations occurring in trade publications and at conferences, most universities are at the very least considering a move to the site.

Not only on Facebook, either

But Lynn isn’t just playing ball on Facebook. The office recently created a Lynn You Tube channel which currently houses 16 videos organized in four playlists. These include nine “Four Questions For” interviews with alumni, students and faculty; a playlist for student produced videos; “Life @ Lynn” entries; and a channel for posting videos highlighting Lynn athletic teams.  Created in July but not officially unveiled until September, the channel has, with little internal or external promotion, already garnered 833 page views. 

On the site you can currently see everything from a recent interview with a 13-year-old Conservatory preparatory student (who was on the Oprah Winfrey Show a few weeks back) to a season preview for the Women’s Basketball Team.