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Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

HCL Reaches Incoming Freshmen on Facebook

Open House ad

Created to promote the Freshman Open House at Lamont Library, this ad was seen by Facebook users more than 160,000 times, and was clicked on by more than 160 students.

September 29, 2009 – It’s already a hugely popular social networking site for students, but Facebook could soon become the latest avenue to promote the many events and services offered by Harvard College Library. An ad on the site for last month’s Freshman Open House at Lamont Library attracted the attention of more than 160 students, said Michael Hemment, Head of Research and Learning Technology.

According to Facebook statistics, the ad was viewed nearly 160,000 times, and was clicked by students 163 times – a “click through rate” of 0.10 percent, more than twice the 0.04 percent that is typically considered successful in direct mail and online ads.

“Being able to specifically target Harvard freshmen for this event using Facebook's ad settings literally made every ‘click’ count for this promotion,” Hemment said. “Overall, it proved to be a highly efficient and cost-effective way of communicating with our students.”

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First proposed at a joint meeting of the Research Education and Outreach and Virtual Presence coordinating committees, the Open House ad was designed by Hemment with input from the Freshman Open House organizers, along with VPCC members and HCL Communications. Students who clicked on the ad were taken to an HCL news story on the event.

“The ubiquity of Facebook at Harvard makes it an especially effective vehicle for promoting a wide-range of library programs, services, and events,” Hemment said “I can envision it eventually becoming a standard part of our communication and outreach to students and researchers.”