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Multiple Brown offices and departments are turning to Facebook to advertise and promote opportunities and events, finding that the site's capacity as a means of communication extends beyond social networking.

The Office of Continuing Education began advertising on the site in fall 2008 as it became "clear that Facebook had reached a critical mass," said Geoffrey Chisholm, the office's director of marketing. According to the Web site, Facebook currently has over 400 million users. 

Chisholm is now managing 12 Facebook campaigns promoting programs including the University's Summer Study Abroad, Summer@Brown and online courses. 

Although advertisements allow for limited text and optional images, which appear on the right side of the page, they are "a great way to reach Brown students with information about new programs and remind them about upcoming deadlines," Chisholm said. 

The Office of Continuing Education extended the application deadline for Summer Study Abroad on March 2 and was able to quickly and conveniently notify the student body that same day through Facebook, Chisholm said.

Academic departments have also used Facebook to advertise classes. Wendy Chun, associate professor of modern culture and media, created an ad last semester for her course MCM 1201C: "Imagined Networks, Glocal Connections." The ad coincided with the class topic and linked directly to the course syllabus and class materials, Chun said. 

The goal was "to reach a larger and different group than if you just put it on MyCourses," Chun said. The advertisement was "aimed towards more people than would normally take an MCM course," she said. 

Facebook allows advertisers to target users by hometown, age, school, graduating class and interests to ensure effective marketing to relevant audiences, according to Chisholm.
Chisholm has found advertising through Facebook to be cost-effective. While advertisers are charged per click, students do not need to click on the ad to get the message.

Facebook functions as a "bulletin board," reminding students of relevant opportunities and deadlines, Chisholm said. 

"We viewed it as an alternative to doing some print ads," Chun said.  

But students interviewed by The Herald said they were unaware of the advertising campaigns. 

"I haven't noticed them and have not heard anyone talk about them," Emma Whitford '12 said.

In the case of Chun's course, students reported they had heard about the class by "word of mouth" rather than the ads, Chun said. 

While office and department ads have attracted little notice, many students reported using Facebook groups and pages. On the Brown Athletics Facebook page there is information about upcoming events, including times and ticket prices, as well as links to news updates and articles on the official Web site, according to Marketing and Promotions Coordinator Patrick Walker.

With Facebook, he works toward "creating awareness among students, faculty, and local community members," Walker said. In addition, the Department's Facebook activity "promotes school spirit and helps to get the word out," said hockey player Marc Senecal '13.

Walker attributed an increase in student attendance at athletic events this year to the one-year-old Facebook page.

In this age of new technology, departments are beginning to create pages for administrative purposes, where faculty can post announcements, Chun said. While her department's digital media classes do not require student participation through Facebook, some courses are beginning to use the site as an integral extension of discussion, she added. 

"Ten years ago, e-mail was innovative," Chisholm said. "Now it's standard."


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