University Archives Establishes a Growing Presence on Facebook
The NU Archives initiated our Facebook page in July, 2010. We thought Facebook might be an effective channel for promoting our resources and for communicating information about Northwestern history and traditions. Given that college-age students are heavy consumers of social media, Facebook seemed a good way of reaching the demographic most likely to use our holdings. [Note: The Melville J. Herskovits Library of Africana at Northwestern is also using Facebook. They have nearly 160 “friends” and reach an average of 50-80 people with information about their collections every week. See https://www.facebook.com/northwestern.herskovits.library for more information]
Our initial efforts were quite modest and, when people didn't automatically discover and flock to our Facebook site, we undertook a marketing campaign to encourage friending. In particular we promoted our Facebook presence heavily during the new student week periods of 2010 and 2011. We also advertise Facebook on our Web page and on distributed promotional items such as coasters and T-shirts. After engaging in these marketing efforts our popularity increased. We then made new attempts to secure Facebook friends by targeting individuals or institutional entities able to cross-promote our own page: reporters and editors of student publications, students active in campus organizations, University Relations staff, NU athletic teams, etc. Those efforts paid off in a growing number of Facebook friends and in surprising usage of our site as summarized in weekly reports from Facebook. As another way of growing our base, when we release posts which we believe to be especially popular with University constituencies, we send supplementary communications to University staff, with requests that they re-post our entries. For example, whenever Archives posts footage of a past athletic event, we ask University Relations and Athletic Media Services to link to or otherwise make use of that footage. That typically drives additional people to our Facebook page and increases our base of departmental friends.