Thursday, June 25, 2009

Facebook 2014, 2015, and beyond...

Pages promoting class of 2014, and 2015 groups are already popping up, and this time I know what they are up to.

Created by profiles with little or no information, and no ties to the Universities they represent, these have all the signatures of the 'class of 2013' fiasco that garnered so much attention over the past few months.

For background on the fraudulent 'Class of 2013' group phenomenon, check out Brad J. Ward's Blog Squared Peg, my own recap of the Canadian manifestation here, University Affairs' News Blog, or the Globe & Mail.

While this story gai
ned traction because this is the time of year that university and college bound students typically join these groups en masse, the people responsible for these groups are already working to build their networks for next year. Here is what I gathered so far:

At least two Pages have been set up, designed to encourage future high school grads to invite their friends. On the left is a screen capture from: High school Grads 2010: University Grads 2014. This is identical to a second page called: High school Grads 2011: University Grads 2015. While these pages link to important resources for future grads: (The Ontario University Fair Page, as an example), it also links to a page for 'Eruption Productions'. This group claims to be "YOUR SOURCE FOR THE CRAZIEST UNIVERSITY PARTIES".

In my series of interviews, I was asked several times what the motivations of these marketers is/was. I think this is a pretty clear indication of their game. If you can gather thousands, or potentially tens of thousands of student contacts, you have a very valuable resource for event planning and management.

It gets a bit more interesting; this promotion company is linked to another company
called 'Neesh Marketing" which claims to have party promoters both "in residence, and off campus" and they are actively hiring girls who can "light up the room". See the group yourself here.

Now, lets see if I can connect some dots to explain how this is all connected:

There is a new Brock 2014 group, run by one of these blatantly fake accounts. The admin is supposedly a young woman, and her display picture is a very suggestive picture of cleavage.

On this group page, there are direct links to the aforementioned pages. While that's no shock, what is interesting is that the 'related groups', a feature facebook uses to connect group members with other content they might be interested in, is only being drawn from this one account. In short, it tells us what other groups 'she' is in.

'She' is also the admin for Brecia University College's class of 2014 group, several residence groups, as well as the Class of 2013 Group for Wilfred Laurier University. Yes, that's right: a class of 2013 group with over 1100 members is still being run by a fake profile. There is however and important distinction between this Laurier group, and the other fake groups: the admin of this group specifically states that:

**Note: This group is for the students by the students. There is no official association with the university. I'm sure there are others as well."

This is really important. It's a step in the right direction.

Not surprisingly, the only future event scheduled for this Laurier group is the 'Eruptions Productions Frosh Week Countdown'. In fact, the creator of this group is also linked to Neesh Marketing, Silver Platter Inc. (a parent company), and InfiniteSM (a subsidiary Social Media consultation company).

Because the social media world is so interconnected, someone within this group will likely be receiving a link to this blog when I tweet it in a few minutes. So, with that in mind, let me say the following:

The opportunities to market to students using a variety of social media tools is understandably tantalizing. These students live in this space, and what better way to communicate with them than through the very tools they use. That's why I have my job. The only qualms I have with this kind of marketing, is when groups are designed to represent themselves as tied to the University, and official.

I work for the university, and always identify myself as an employee, and an alumni. Being honest and forthcoming is one of the most important tenants of what I do. If these groups followed a similar path and stopped representing themselves as students or as tied to the University, as their note in the Laurier group shows they might be willing to do, then their marketing efforts are really none of my concern.


  1. I just noticed this now... wasn't exactly a minute after the post but I do have to say this is very well written, kudos. Your homework was definitely done, some assumptions even accurate!

    I will mentioned that all groups have notes at the bottom stating no official association with the universities and the creator, myself, was a student at the time.

    Feel free to contact me directly in the future if you have any concerns.

  2. Facebook is a great social network, in facebook we can find anything, many companies have facebook, is good way to promove their business, facebook is growing up, is the best social network that i have seen.

  3. Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, facebook gives us many utilities and benefits, with face we can do a lot of things and meet new people, if you do not have facebook you do not have life.

  4. Facebook is like Twitter, but with a few differences, i think that facebook is better because it has more applications.