by Matt Mattson
This is probably old news to most readers, but it is a great time of year to remind you about a great recruitment resource.
This summer (and starting now), the [YOUR SCHOOL] CLASS OF 2014 FACEBOOK GROUP is a great way to gain access to, provide value to, and connect with incoming first-year potential members. Here are some examples if you don’t know what I mean.
University of Illinois – 3,978 members to date
West Virginia University - 2,500 members to date
Tulane University – 1,051 members to date
Stanford University – 1,077 members to date
I added the Stanford group in particular because there is a message on the welcome page for this group that says, “If you post solicitations on this group, your solicitations will be deleted.” That’s an important warning. The way I see it, you can utilize these groups to build recruitment connections over the summer in one of three effective ways.
1. RUN THE GROUP: One way to maximize the recruitment potential of a Facebook Group for incoming freshmen is to actually run the group yourself. This might mean that you need to build a specialty group for students outside the basic “Class of” group. Consider building a group or fan page for “Class of 2014 Beaver Fans,” “Class of 2014 U of A Student Leaders,” or “Class of 2014 MSU Community Service Opportunities.” No matter the topic or specialization, if you have administrator priveleges in the group you have a greater level of access to the students.
2. ONLY PROVIDE VALUE TO MEMBERS: Don’t recruit on the “wall” of these group/fan pages. Seriously, don’t. In fact, I’d recommend you don’t talk about your organization or even try to trick people into coming to your events or checking out your website. Seriously, don’t. If you’re going to communicate with people in these groups, offer something of value to them (think about this and this). Be the connector in the group. Tell the members about things they need to know as incoming first-year students. Offer opportunities to connect them with current students. Introduce them to people you know from their hometown. Offer them scholarships (if appropriate), tell them about study groups, sports leagues, freshman move-in, etc. Be nice to them, and remember Stanford’s warning: “If you post solicitations on this group, your solicitations will be deleted.”
3. FRIEND THEM: Don’t stalk them. Don’t be creepy. But if you have a good reason to do so, and you can offer them something of value, then invite some of the members to be your friend (I’d also recommend categorizing these friends by putting them in a specific friend list so you know who they are). Remember, if you friend them for good reasons — to make it easier for them to make the transition to college, to connect them with student life resources, to offer to talk with their parents about college life, etc. — they’ll be more likely to accept you as a friend and you’ll have good reasons to talk with them. Please don’t do mass friend-adds so you can tell them all about how awesome your organization is. That will turn them off immediately. Also remember, you can only invite a handful of people per day to be your friend or to join a group… don’t abuse Facebook.
During the summer, gaining access to incoming students is often the most difficult task for student organizations that would like to do recruitment work. Facebook, when used appropriately, can give you most of the access you need…