The challenge in managing our Facebook page is to not burden our fans. Will Google+ provide an alternative?

We’ve had a page in Facebook for a while and it’s doing well. It would do better if we had dedicated staff for interacting with our community online, but we do the best we can with the co-administrators of the page. As Google+ joins the social media scene I am curious how it will play out for the college.

The Vassar community is very broad, as it is for other higher education institutions. It is a group of past, present, and future students, employees, and friends. There is so much our departments and offices wish to share. To avoid overwhelming any one sub-group of our community with the messages of all the groups we limit what we share. That isn’t right – we end up with a news feed with little interaction for the “main page” and then a bunch of pages for individual offices.

That being said, I like that it gives the option to members of the community to select which parts of the college they are most interested in. We can do a better job to help people find the pages run by college offices, departments, and organizations.

Just as we get to know Facebook we have a new tool to explore: Google+. It’s just getting started in a demo or beta version. We have a few people exploring its potential from the viewpoint of an individual as well as potential uses for presenting information from the college and interacting with the college community. While a “brand” page isn’t yet available (vs. an individual’s profile) we have applied for a brand account when it’s available.

At first glance I see the potential for managing messages to different groups of our community. We could share a story about a current student with all students – past, present and future students. We could share a new library resource to faculty and current students. There is great potential for messages.

However, I keep thinking back to the idea of a walled garden – an idea I loathe. I prefer transparency. A walled garden is a site that requires a password and only shows me things designated for me. Well, who is deciding what I should see? As an employee at the college wouldn’t I also want to see a story about a cool thing a current student is doing? At the same time, I know I’m not interested in the admission cycle of deadlines and application tips, but a future student and his family could be — who’s to decide? I prefer that the power to chose is in the individual, not the “brand.”

At first I was very excited at the Google+ circles – the groups of people you can create and send status updates to only the circles you chose. As an individual I know who my “friends” are and can group them according to my needs. However, managing “friends” of a brand is different – I don’t know specific people (other than my personal knowledge) so I wouldn’t know which people should be in which circle. Do we ask each time?

“Hello! These are the circles we use: friend, student, alum, faculty…. In which circles do you want to be included?”

I’m interested to see how the Google+ page will differ from a Facebook Page. Unless the power is in the hands of the individuals I’m not sure how we can send messages to groups as a brand.

Megg Brown is the assistant director of web development for Vassar College and coordinates social media endeavors for the office of communications.

7 comments

  1. G+ has potential but I think they are too late to the game, people just dont want another site they have to keep tabs on. Might be better someday, but that will be a long time from now :(

  2. I agree with Rob its too late to get in the game, because its difficult to motivate the peoples to get moved on a new place and settle each and everything again from the beginning so far the interest in facebook is decreasing day by day, it looks like boring stuff now.

  3. In the digital marketing world we use +1 and FB for different things, lets face it, as a B2B tool FB is useless and so is +1, but for social authority and Google rankings its now clear Google are watchin +1, they even admitted it on their blog.

  4. FB & Google+ are both inundated with fake profiles and fake pages all for SEO and social internet marketing purposes. There are marketing firms that specialize in getting you likes and followers, but it wont do any good as they’re all fake…

  5. What I like best about Google + is the fact that Google nurtures its products and platforms. For example if you post a link to Google + that link gets indexed almost instantly – quick and easy for most.

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