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Smarter Commerce | October 24, 2014

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Facebook and Seton Hall University: Crazy Like a Fox

Recently, I asked the question: “How do YOU use Facebook?” I got some interesting responses, including one from our client Rob Brosnan at Seton Hall University, who calls it “an important engagement and cultivation channel”—and says they have the analysis to prove it.

Seton Hall is a four-year private Catholic university located in South Orange, New Jersey, just 14 miles from Manhattan.  When you consider Seton Hall’s target demographic, it’s a perfect match for Facebook: potential undergrads are right in that coveted 18-21 age range.  Add families of students, potential grad students and the fact that people are probably starting to think about universities at least 2-4 years before actually applying, and it widens the scope considerably.

If you take a look at Seton Hall’s Facebook page, you’ll notice that there is a lot of community activity going on right now: an invitation to the alumni reception, profiles of faculty members, sporting event updates, student comments—even a story about a student Olympic athlete. It’s clear that Seton Hall invests a lot of time and thought in its Facebook presence.

One of Seton Hall’s most active Facebook pages is the Class of 2014 page, which is aimed at yielding this fall’s incoming class of freshman students. The page blends the jubilant expression of newly accepted students; critical funnel transition communications from the university (deposit deadlines); and customer support questions from these accepted students — all in a personal, multi-directional format. This novel blend makes for a potent, yet very different marketing vehicle than we’ve seen before.

It’s also clear that traditional Web analytics can no longer completely meet Seton Hall’s needs. They need to see what’s happening both on and off the university’s Web site. “Until now,” Brosnan says, “the brand has been coterminous with the domain: Seton Hall = shu.edu. But that equality seems to be eroding. Cultivation is migrating off domain.”

To complicate matters further, it’s critical for Seton Hall to pay attention to its relationship with community members during various stages of their life cycle: before, during and long after they are actually students. And, of course, each state–from potential student to alumnus—has different needs for information and engagement.

Says Brosnan, “we see a future when Facebook acts as a proto-lead generation tool: building a lightweight relationship with potential consumers who need a little time before they are ready to form a more explicit relationship with the university.”

As Rob so cogently puts it, “It’s crazytown here. But what an exciting time to be a marketer.”

Hear Rob share his experiences at our upcoming webinar, Leveraging Social Media Analytics to Measure Facebook ROI, Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Rob is also one of our featured customer speakers at our Client Summit in Austin, Texas, April 27-29, 2010.

What are your marketing challenges? We’d love to hear your story.

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