Sweet Briar Launches Facebook Profile

| November 15, 2007

Mere hours after the social networking Web site Facebook welcomed organizations to join its community — it previously restricted users to individuals — Sweet Briar College launched its own page and began attracting fans.

In a surprise announcement during a Nov. 9 Board of Directors committee meeting, SBC’ web developer John Gauger told board members that just three days earlier Facebook began allowing entities to create profiles on its site.

“We’ve created one and we’re actually going to launch the campaign from here. Oooh, aaah,” he said, drawing laughs from his audience.

Gauger explained that a full 100 percent of Sweet Briar’s first-year students have Facebook profiles, and the majority of those had maintained them for more than a year. According to his informal surveys of SBC students, many visit Facebook as often as 10 times a day.

It’s how this generation communicates with one another, Gauger said. So forget trying to reach students through e-mail: They don’t look at it.

Although Facebook has traditionally been the domain of college and high school students, it has steadily expanded to include other age groups. Many SBC faculty and staff already have their own accounts. They post pictures and information, and regularly use the site to communicate with students and with each other.

Because it is the communications medium of choice for most current and prospective college students, Gauger said creating the SBC profile “will allow us to engage them. We don’t want to invade their space, but we do want to join alongside them.”

Just as Facebook users designate the friends and networks who can view their profiles, they can opt to become “fans” of an organization. Since Sweet Briar launched its Facebook profile less than a week ago, nearly 40 people have signed up as fans, automatically creating a link to SBC’s site from their own.

Although Gauger expected to see more fans early on, he is confident that the site will “catch on like wildfire.”

Already a couple of out-of-state high school students are among SBC’s fans — just the sort of people the College is hoping to reach.

If you want to check out the site or become a fan, go tohttp://sbc.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7156146966.

If you’ve never used the site, you’ll need to create a profile by entering your e-mail address and choosing a password.

And when you do, be sure to tell all your friends.

Jennifer McManamay

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