Keep posting, liking, and commenting: A strong Facebook presence can increase students' loyalty to a university brand, according to a recent study conducted by researchers from Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus.
Researchers surveyed 206 students who regularly used a Facebook page operated by a university in North Cyprus. Among those surveyed:
- 40% used the Facebook page for one to two years;
- About 43% were between the ages of 21 and 25;
- Most were male undergraduates; and
- Many students were studying outside their home countries.
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The authors sought to gauge students':
- Views of the university's Facebook community;
- Identification with the greater university community;
- Loyalty to the brand; and
- Willingness to participate in certain activities in connection with brand loyalty.
They found that the strength of a university's Facebook page correlated with students' perception of the greater university community. The better the Facebook page, the more students connected with the university's brand.
"The reason that the strong Facebook community can result in strong identification with the brand is because of the role of identification with the university community," according to the researchers.
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Brand loyalty also correlated with students' willingness to:
- Recommend the university to others;
- Share positive experiences with friends;
- Participate in university activities; and
- Continue their studies at the university, even if they had academic struggles.
"With the challenges of a diverse and global student body which is expected to continue increasing, universities can benefit from use of social media in developing identity, loyalty and trust," the researchers write.
However, it's unclear whether Facebook will continue to hold such power. Facebook continues to be the most popular social network, but other sites, such as Snapchat and Instagram, are growing in popularity among teens (Clayton/Ordway, Journalist's Resource, 11/23).
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