fans pages: hands-off? hands-on?

A funny thing happened to the SUNY Oswego Fans page while I was out of town this weekend.

A few questions came in from students entering this fall, not unusual in itself. But all of those questions were answered by other fans — quickly and correctly.

I did answer the question I saw on Saturday morning, but I was pleasantly surprised when — after driving, attending a wedding, sleeping and driving some more — I arrived home Sunday afternoon to find all the new questions handled. A similar thing happened when I was on my first actual vacation in years earlier this summer and most page questions were answered by others.

When members of a community become involved in problem-solving, this is good on many levels. It shows they care enough about their community — virtual or physical — to take care of it. It means that conversations are more organic than if the institution (or other moderator) always jumps in. And it also means that genuine connections are forming between those who asked the questions and those who answered them. (Interesting that it was three people, not just one do-gooder, who responded to the questions. NOTE: It looks like one of the answers disappeared. Am I the only one noticing comments disappearing on Facebook lately?)

Thus I’m kind of torn. I prefer good customer service, which means checking the Fans page frequently to provide answers. An unanswered question, to me, looks as out of place as an undone zipper. Yet I know that if fans answer the questions instead of me, presuming those answers are accurate, it’s better for the sense of the community.

It’s a teaser. What do you think?

6 Comments

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6 responses to “fans pages: hands-off? hands-on?

  1. I’ve been finding that as the community for the Plattsburgh fan page grows that people are taking on answering questions on their own too. It shows they are taking an active part in the community which means that our institution is getting some return on investment. We still find that there is a consistent need to monitor for questions to answer, however, due to the fact that we can’t rely on the community to be there in every case.

    Since it is all about community, one of the strategies we have implemented to build trust in the community is asking our faculty and staff to become part of the community and to proactively answer questions that regard their program or area of expertise.

    It has been exciting for me as an administrator to go on and find questions already answered by people within the institution but outside of our marketing staff. It is more authentic, more transparent, and effectively showcases the authority of our faculty in their field.

  2. Hmm, if you accept the notion that these are “conversations” (and I generally do), then I think it’s appropriate for you to join in when you have something to add, just as you would if you were having a face-to-face conversation with these folks. My guess is that there’s probably some nuance or additional information you can offer because of your unique perspective. But it sure is nice to know that you have unpaid minions doing your work when you aren’t, isn’t it?

  3. As the third SUNY campus (on the same plane as Oswego & Plattsburgh as another Comprehensive) to chime in here, I have to say how interesting it is to me how different each of our fan pages are. We’ve hardly ever had any interaction or participation by current students, faculty, staff, or alumni. It seems to be 99% recruitment-related.

    If we leave questions unanswered (which I try to not let go more than 3 hours, but sometimes it goes 10-12 because we can’t keep up or have to research answers), it’s extremely rare that anyone else chimes in to help us out. That may have happened three times in the last two years. Seriously.

    Our student bodies are so similar, so I’m really intrigued about what the difference is in how our communities are developing and how our fan pages are used. I wonder if Blue Fuego might want to take a stab at analyzing this for their pals.🙂

  4. I had a similar experience yesterday with our Fan Page. We usually don’t have many comments on our Fan Page, but yesterday we had several questions. To my surprise, as I was typing a response and hit “Comment” my response and one from another student appeared. This happened on more than one occasion yesterday.

    It was good to see that even though our students don’t always comment they are on our page looking around and will help out when they know the answer to a question.

  5. I’m so jealous of all this Fan Page interaction! Our fans seem to be a mix of incoming and current students, alumni and staff, but we hardly ever have interaction on the page. Sometimes people will “like” a link we post or we might get 1 comment on a link, but we almost never have someone just proactively post something on our wall, question or otherwise.

    Not sure how to change that, or if it’s even a bad thing. Most of our interaction seems to be on Twitter. Maybe because we’re a business school, and Twitter has more of that focus than Facebook?

  6. insidetimshead

    TRACY: While Devin, Rachel and I all represent SUNY schools looking at very similar (or often the same) students, I’m really not sure if this has anything to do with it. Perhaps because we attract lots of first-generation students, many communication majors, looking to make connections?

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