OWU Facebook Pages Build Community—and Friendships

Engaging students via social media

(Image courtesy of OWU’s Office of Marketing and Communication)

Ohio Wesleyan’s admission Facebook page has received a noticeable “facelift” during the past few months. Described by Susan Langner, assistant director of admission and new media coordinator, as “the quintessential gathering place for students,” Facebook is helping new and prospective students get to know each other and become engaged with OWU, at the same time.  One of Langner’s key responsibilities is to maintain the admission Facebook page that, increasingly, is catching the eyes and interest of prospective students and families.

“Students can’t always be on our campus, but we can engage them through social media,” says Langner, who is a member of OWU’s technology committee along with Cheri Theisen, web specialist and associate director of marketing and communication; Doug Thompson, manager of web and electronic communications; Melanie Rellinger, data manager and research analyst, enrollment and strategic communication; and Alisha Couch, associate director of admission. Theisen, Thompson, and Cole Hatcher, director of media and community relations, also are working on enhancements for the main Ohio Wesleyan Facebook page. Theisen explains that when OWU’s Facebook page first was created, it was used to post news and sports releases, as well as articles from Connect2OWU, via RSS feeds.

“As we looked at ways to improve our [communications] strategy, we realized those feeds offered only one-way communication with our fans, and we wanted to improve that,” she says. Those RSS feeds now go to two separate Facebook pages for news and media-related information, and for athletics. Anyone interested can fan those pages.  Both Theisen and Langner emphasize the increased personalization resulting from these changes, and the committee is polling fans to obtain more feedback. Contests are, in fact, one way to build on engagement.

“We’ve recently asked our fans to tell us about their favorite travel-learning experiences, or in another contest situation, we asked them to identify an extreme close-up image of some OWU architecture,” says Theisen.  Besides the admission Facebook page, there now also is an OWU Class of 2015 page, composed entirely of student-driven content. Members can post on the wall or comment on each other’s posts. And the space is theirs—not an area in which the University pushes them in any one direction or controls conversation.

“We encourage all who are interested in OWU to join,” says Langner. Through a “roommate survey,” prospective students can copy and paste questions to learn more about each other. Both Langner and Theisen hope that as these students get to know each other well, they will encourage each other to come to Ohio Wesleyan. In addition, opportunities for instant chats between students are available, and there even will be tables set up during Slice of College Life visit programs for Facebook fans to meet each other—in person. Students will be able to make 30-second videos about themselves (tagged as “A Slice of Me”), which will be posted on Facebook, and even join the OWU group while they are on campus. Facebook is, however, just one part of the social media pie.

“We also are looking at YouTube, various videos we can post, and how we can take all of our social media avenues and bring them to one location for users,” says Theisen. During the summer, committee members will develop a new admission landing page—an aggregate site—on the Web for that purpose. Through use of videos and animation techniques used to encourage accepted students to deposit and attend OWU’s Slice of College Life programs, committee members are noticing promising results.

“During the five months of our new Facebook strategy on the OWU admission Facebook page, we’ve seen engagement rise from 0.1410 percent to 0.4553 percent,” says Theisen, also noting a rise on the main OWU Facebook page during the past three weeks from 0.0445 percent to 0.3834 percent.

Visit the official Ohio Wesleyan University Facebook pages:

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