Did you know that hundreds of millions of young people log on to social networking sites like myspace.com, Facebook.com and hi5.com every single day to connect with old friends, make new ones, discuss interests, share news, photos, videos and get advice?
This is where a great majority of your prospective and current students are. But how do you reach them?
Section for Colleges and Universities
Did you know that myspace.com has a special section dedicated specifically to colleges and universities to help students find the right school? And it’s FREE! Here’s the link. Go ahead and explore it: www.myspace.com/collegesanduniversities
The three social networking sites mentioned above are all ranked in the top 10 of the most-visited sites, according to www.alexa.com, an authority on the subject. At the end of 2007, myspace.com was getting the most traffic of all social networking sites. However, things move fast in the Internet world. Its closest competitor, Facebook.com, is not far behind and growing at an incredible pace. From September 2006 to September 2007, Facebook’s traffic ranking increased from 60th to seventh, according to Alexa.com.
MySpace.com — currently ranked sixth on Alexa.com — had 106 million users in September 2006, but by September 2007, there were 200 million MySpace users. And now the site is growing at a rate of 230,000 new users each day! An average MySpace page is visited 30 times a day. And this is just myspace.com. There are others. Many others. And they are all growing, and becoming more and more important to the digital generation, every single day!
A Site for Every Niche
Suddenly, niche social networking sites are popping up. Do you like dogs? There’s now social networking for dogs: www.dogster.com allows you to create a profile for your dog complete with photos, videos and more. You can even search for dogs that have similar interests to yours. You can probably guess that if there is a dogster, then there must be a catster too. And you’re right! www.catster.com makes social networking for cats (and cat lovers) a reality. Pets not your thing? Perhaps you’re into, ummm, I don’t know, sneakers? Try www.sneakerplay.com for those obsessed with sneakers. Whatever you’re into, there’s probably a social networking site out there for others just like you. And if there isn’t, why not create one yourself?
Where Is Your School?
It all comes down to this … social networking is growing at an incredibly fast pace among young people. The technology is free and available to anyone with an Internet connection. These social networking sites are where your prospective and current students are spending their time. This is where your school should be. This is where your admissions reps should be. This is where your financial aid reps should be. This is where YOU should be.
It takes more than just a cool college Web site to connect with today's digital generation. You've also got to tap into their social network. Listen to their thoughts. Join in the conversation. Be a part of their world.
What Can I Do on a Social Networking Site?
Most social networking sites enable users to communicate and collaborate in a number of ways. You can search for friends with similar interests and get or give friend requests. You should always be building your friend list and staying in touch with friends.
Community Bulletin Boards
One way to communicate is through a community bulletin board organized by category and similar interest. Here you can read other people’s posts and messages, then reply with your own. You are a critical part of the site. Your contribution to the site is what makes the experience truly interactive, while also keeping the content fresh and interesting. The site would have no content without other people’s contributions.
With private groups, your school can organize a group of friends who want to privately share a common Web page and message board. This becomes their private collaboration space online. Private groups are ideal for people working on a project together. Or for discussions with a group of students, or professors with their class.
You can send an instant message to anyone on your friend list and communicate immediately. View and share photos, video clips, audio clips and, of course, comment on these items so your friends can see what you have to say — and then you can reply to them.Organizing and Promoting Events
You can create events, public or private, to invite people in your own friend lists, as well as people in your friend's friend lists, to attend your school's upcoming events such as open houses, college fairs and more.
Blogs are very popular with today's young people. Create blogs to promote your school, share your thoughts and listen to others. Prospective students are heavily influenced by their peers. Allowing them to listen and chat with your existing students can go a long way to enrolling them in your school.
Search classifieds or post free classified ads in categories such as, For Sale, Jobs, Housing and more. Also take advantage of up-to-the-minute news stories and articles.
The number of available features and the things you can do on social networking sites are rapidly increasing, but for you, the key is ease of communication and collaboration with your prospects and current students. Meeting them on a common site is half the battle.
So … get into the social networking game and be a part of their world.
What do you think? Feel free to comment on this post.