The dangers of marketing in an online community

April 12, 2007

With more than 115 million members, "social clubs" like MySpace and Facebook have a committed following, particularly among under-25s. Some observers are even calling the next wave of students the "social networking generation." Pew Internet and American Life's 2006 Report on Teens found that 55% of online teens have created a personal profile on a social networking site, and 48% visit these sites at least once a day.  College and university recruiters need to keep in mind that online communities are viewed as "student-only spaces," and institutional or corporate infiltrators are seldom well-received. Faculty and staff can join the community, to create and maintain relationships with each other and their students, but only in a very honest, equal manner.  uFlorida claims to have effectively boosted enrolment in 3 grad programs by posting course descriptions, faculty and student bios and research information on Facebook. Current students and faculty responded directly to undergrads who asked questions. More cautious institutions observe that FaceBook is not a utility -- changing corporate ownership or policies could wreak havock with recruitment strategy. University Business