Social networks boost recruiting

Kelly Petryszyn

A picture of President Lester Lefton with a black squirrel, students from Turkey and videos of fashion students are among other university-related content that can be viewed on the Kent State Facebook page.

In addition to a Kent State page, other colleges and departments at the university are getting on Facebook. The College of Communication and Information, the College of Education, Health and Human Services and the College of the Arts all have fully-developed Facebook pages, and other colleges aren’t far behind.

Jennifer Kramer, manager of public relations and marketing for CCI, said CCI is using Facebook and other social media as a recruiting and retention tool.

“Research says the first thing someone does when they’re interested in a school is go to the Web site,” Kramer said.

She said that everything is Web-based now, so the college needs to be thinking, ‘Where is my audience?’ Their audience is online; therefore, “we need to be online.”

Social media is the way to create an online presence.

“E-mails are overlooked,” said Elizabeth Thomas, public relations coordinator for the College of Education, Health and Human Services. She added that anyone walking into a computer lab on campus will see students on Facebook, so it’s a great way to reach students.

Kramer, who updates the CCI page several times a day, said she has been going on pages prospective students visit and posting about CCI. She also links up with student media pages, other organizations and alumni groups.

“(We are) building a one-to-one relationship through a computer,” she said.

The college has done a lot of background research to find out what content people want. CCI has expanded its Web presence beyond Facebook into social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube.

Kent State has a YouTube channel, in addition to Facebook, and plans to create accounts on other social networking sites.

“(It) helps you remain competitive and gives another opportunity to saturate the market with key messages,” said Lin Danes, manager of electronic communication & Web content services, university communications and marketing.

She said she wants the Facebook page to be generated by student-to-student responses to provide students with balance between what other students say and the institutionalized messages on the university’s Web site.

Effie Tsengas, public relations marketing director for the College of the Arts, said Facebook’s potential as a recruiting tool is great, especially because it is free during hard economic times.

“Once you learn, you can direct market to a tee with this,” she said.

For example, through the School of Theater and Dance page and College of Arts Facebook page, she said she can reach prospective students from a certain area, or aim to recruit males or females.

Students’ responses to Kent State getting on Facebook are positive.

“We all check our e-mail, but we check Facebook just as much,” sophomore theater major Lindsey Ryb said. “If it’s a better way to communicate, (there’s) no reason not to use it.”

Tsengas mentioned there have been discussions about making it mandatory for students in the College of the Arts to open a Facebook account.

Students think that is going too far.

“(It’s) a bad idea to be mandatory,” Thisanjali Gangoda, junior political science major, said. “(They) can’t force students to be a part of it.”

Some colleges on campus have large campaigns like CCI, while others like the department of computer science, are just starting but plan to grow.

“I think you got to pay attention to this,” said Robert Walker, chair of the department of computer science. “We can’t afford to be behind the curve.”

Contact student affairs reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].