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The education industry is engaging in an interesting debate between those who champion social media as a tool for students to take learning to a new level and those who attempt to keep it out of the classroom altogether.
Facebook has made serious efforts to try and ensure they reach out to parents and the education community, addressing concerns regarding the use of the platform by children and teens.
They have created a resource for teachers that answers some common questions such as what to do if you suspect abusive behavior on Facebook, how to hide your personal Facebook profile from your students and how to report underage users. Facebook requires all users be at least 13 years old.
Confusion = Slow Adoption
All of this drama within the education field has made some industry leaders slow to adopt social media campaigns. But, taking Facebook out of the equation ISN’T an option. Students are on Facebook and educators can either see that as an obstacle or embrace the platform as a new way to reach students.
There ARE some big players making quite a splash on Facebook, so let’s take a look at what we can learn from the top Facebook pages in education.
Top Facebook Pages in Education
In order to to discover the fastest growing Facebook pages in the education sector, I used a site called Famecount.com. They provide stats on almost all existing Facebook pages and put together this list of education pages with the most fans. So let’s take a look at how the big boys are recruiting and engaging their online community.
Monthly Fan Growth: 19.96%
Harvard has one of the fastest growing Facebook pages and is listed by famecount.com as the number one Facebook page in the education sector. The page currently recruits over almost 30,000 fans per week, so I was eager to see what all the fuss was about.
At first glance the page looked pretty standard. No default landing tab asking me to ‘like’ them and only one custom tab. The custom ‘Welcome’ tab housed a listing of all the Harvard related Facebook pages and an invitation to ‘keep up with Harvard happening, on campus and around the world, right here on Facebook.’ The tab also offered up all of Harvard’s social media links along with some other quick facts about the school.
All non-likers currently land on the wall, which is updated daily. The official posts included wordy updates on special events, posts promoting videos and webcasts and even a shout-out to download the universities smartphone app. Notably missing were the short, punchy updates asking fans questions or other engaging content according to Facebook community management best practices. Despite this fact, the posts were getting a considerable amount of engagement, with an average of about 40-50 comments and 400-600 ‘likes’ on each post.
Harvard does allow it’s fans to post on the wall. These posts included questions about scholarships and positive mentions from students all over the world. The page’s photo section included a series of ‘As Seen at Harvard’ albums with the last one posted August 2011. The photos included professional looking shots from all over campus and solicited many comments from excited potential students looking forward to visiting the campus.
Monthly Fan Growth: 15.21%
So how does an education-related B2B and B2C company tackle their Facebook page? We’re about to find out. Rosetta stone boasts the second most popular education-related page on Facebook, with over 600,000 fans and recruiting just over 20,000 new fans weekly. Their monthly fan growth rate clocks in at 15.21% FAR above the average of 2.86%.
The default landing tab is a customized page that features an animated photo gallery that promotes the ‘Share your story’ contest which includes a $10,000 prize for the lucky winner. The main call-outs are to upload a video, submit an essay and a ‘Login’ button. The good news is that all of those actions are kept right there on the Facebook tab and not one of the links or calls-to-action take the user outside of the Facebook environment. Event the contest rules are displayed within the tab.
Other tabs included some valuable information including an interactive ‘locations’ tab that outlined WHERE to buy their product locally, A free demo tab and a ‘Support’ tab that included a live chat feature. The support tab also housed the top questions asked on Facebook along with the answer, great way to spare the support team from having to answer the most frequently asked questions.
So the page houses some great content but now the question is how many users are actually seeing it. Taking a look at their Facebook wall, it’s clear the engagement rate is considerably lower than Harvard’s Facebook page. The page posts about 2-3 updates per day with an average of about 10 comments per post. Not a great number considering the page has over 600,000 fans. Most of the posts are wordy call-outs to testimonials from those using the product with no question or interactive element. The most interactive post on the page was a very short question asking page fans to comment with their dream job using the language they are learning. It had over 200 comments and 166 ‘likes’. Employing more of these types of posts would be a great strategy to increase page engagement rate and overall impressions on Facebook.
Monthly Fan Growth: 9.95%
Listed as a non-profit organization University of the People has the 3rd largest following on Facebook in the education field. They current have over 500,000 fans and are recruiting almost 1,000 new fans per day.
The page currently has new viewers default to the page wall, although they DO have a ‘Welcome’ tab set-up that includes fan-gating. This might be an oversight as I’m not sure how effective that tactic would be when not forcing new users to hit the page with concealed content first. Once you ‘like’ the page the full ‘Welcome’ tab graphic is displayed (shown above). The tab offers up several outbound links taking the user out of the Facebook environment and over to the company website and other social media properties.
The Facebook wall is very active and the official page posts are a good case study in engagement best practices. Most of the posts asked fans to take an action like post a comment, fill in the blank or answer an ‘either or’ question. They are also using Facebook Polls to to ask fans to vote on education related topics. The interaction rate is quite high on all posts ranging from about 500 to well over 1,000 interactions (comments and likes).
Lessons Learned – Recap of Education Page Best Practices
- Brand – If your brand is strong enough, keeping your messages ‘on-brand’ trumps punchy attempts at engagement.
- Links – Keep all content within Facebook, if possible
- Landing Tab – Give users a GREAT reason to fan your page and highlight that on a ‘Welcome’ tab
- Welcome – Make the ‘Welcome’ tab the default landing tab for non-fans
- Research – Know your audience and give them what they want frequently, for example Harvard uploading campus photos for prospective students monthly
- Engagement – Ask fans to take an action like post a comment, fill-in the blank or answer an ‘either or’ question
- Privacy – Educators should set-up Facebook pages to reach out to students and segment content by using ‘lists’
Other Notable Pages
Monthly Fan Growth: 4.72%
The PTA Facebook page has about 18,000 fans and an active wall. The page features a nicely designed landing tab that highlights the ‘like’ button. The page also includes a PTA Live tab featuring live Ustream content.
Monthly Fan Growth: 10.84%
Great example of a Facebook page that was used to create buzz around an event.
Monthly Fan Growth: 5.6%
Scholastic Book Clubs is directly targeting teachers and parents. They do a great job segmenting this traffic and presenting valuable, relevant content to each specific group.
I would ask any teachers out there that have good examples of how Facebook is being used to connect with students, PLEASE comment and share with readers below.
What education focused Facebook pages have you come across? Do you think the industry has been slow to adopt?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Image source: Shutterstock.com