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February 8, 2008

Five things student editors should do with Facebook in 2008

By Dave Lee STD

We all know that Facebook is a terrific tool – has it ever been any easier to keep in touch with friends? I don’t think so. Last week I had a 21st birthday party that was organised using Facebook’s event application, and it really couldn’t have been simpler.

The question is, what else can we do with it? How, as student journalists, can we use this rapidly expanding medium to our advantage?

Here’s where I think we should all start. Please, feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Five things student editors should do with Facebook in 2008

  1. Use a group to force change. Take a look at this: The Linc Campaign for a 24-hour Library. 700 members strong, and our University is really taking note. That group was set up in the minutes, and yet, has had more effect than anything else we’ve done – including printing a big poster in our last issue. A Facebook group means people can support your cause by just clicking ‘Join”. It’s quick, easy and ultimately very impressive when you pull it off.
  2. Establish a Facebook presence for your publication. This is a bit trickier than the group, as there are a few different ways you can approach this. Facebook have just added the ability for anyone to make a page for a business or group, and you can invite people to become ‘fans’ of your newspaper. Think of it as a group on steroids – it allows you to list events, add videos and host your own message board. Perfect for a student newspaper.
  3. Reach people you don’t meet in your day-to-day studies. It’s easy to assume you cover all the big issues on your campus. You don’t. Somewhere, hidden away, is a huge wealth of stories that will blow your readers away. Trawl through your university’s network homepage and see what people are talking about on the message board. See if any interesting/strange societies are doing anything that will interest your readers. Perhaps take a look at the marketplace listings, you never know what you might find there.
  4. Connect with the sports teams. Provided you have a good Athletic Union, it’s fairly easy to keep on top of all the sporting events taking place. But take a look at sport coverage in the ‘real’ press and you’ll find it’s very personality-based. Big characters exist in sport at every level, and Facebook opens to the door to all the team banter that would normally be reserved solely for the coach on the way to somewhere like Loughborough. It was through a Rugby player’s Facebook profile that we found a disgusting yet brilliant picture of a players dislocated hip. It was very eye-catching… until you realised what it was and swiftly looked at something else.
  5. See what the ‘competition’ is doing. As I’ve written in the past, it’s never been easier for student editors to see what everyone is up to. See what other newspapers are doing on Facebook, and if you like what you see, pinch it! The possibilities really are endless.

Any other suggestions? If you’re feeling super-adventurous you could attempt to make an application specifically for your publication, although that’s for the real tech-heads only at the moment.

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