Using a Facebook 'page' as University Research Hub
November 18, 2010 9:12 AM   Subscribe

My university department (art postgrad) wants to use Facebook as a community and research hub. What is the best way to go about this?

In a perfect world we will use the facebook hub for:

- News of events and department politics
- Community options, such as users being able to set up a discussion group for a reading/research group
- Sharing files such as PDF / Doc in the lead up to symposiums, seminars and exhibitions
- Act as a 'front page' that outlines the general activity in the department so that anyone can see the kind of things we do

Other things to think about include:

Do I set up a Facebook 'Page' or a 'Group'?
What 'apps' will be useful?
What external services (such as for PDF sharing) can I attach to the page/group?
How do we make the page accessible to all, especially those people who don't have/don't want a facebook account? This would mean having the ability to send all site news out via an email service to non-facebook members

Any other tips? Many many thanks
posted by 0bvious to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
You may want to look into the intellectual property concerns. Who owns the papers that you are sharing, and what happens when you upload them into Facebook's part of the cloud?
posted by kellyblah at 9:21 AM on November 18, 2010

Check in with your university's main PR office. Most likely you'll have full control over it, but it's way easier to build connections in the beginning instead of trying to figure out what to do months later when a lot of your outreach efforts overlap.
posted by Madamina at 9:39 AM on November 18, 2010

Not to be a pain, but is there a reason you're doing it on Facebook? There are plenty of capable places to do this that are more accessible to non-Facebookers, and probably more configureable. A Wordpress install running the P2 theme, with static pages for things that need to be static, might be worth looking into.
posted by Magnakai at 10:06 AM on November 18, 2010

Response by poster: We have looked into other options, such as a wordpress install. The main reason the department doesn't want to go down that route is its long term stability and cost. It might be able to be done for free, but there always needs to be a little upkeep, someone involved in running the thing and keeping an eye on its technical qualities (updating it to include new social features as they become popular etc). I could do this in the short term, but not indefinitely. Facebook offers a syste,m that stays up to date and requires no upkeep. It has major limits (I would like personally to opt for a paid service platform like but perfection is hard to get with a zero (or almost) budget.
posted by 0bvious at 10:12 AM on November 18, 2010

Have you already considered Google Groups?
posted by echo target at 10:13 AM on November 18, 2010

How about a blog? There are quite a few different themes on there, including P2.

There are also free online groups at Yahoo Groups and Google Groups, which are pretty capable and do have automatic email integration. They might not be quite as easy to get into, and the interface is a little more... oblique. But anyway.
posted by Magnakai at 10:18 AM on November 18, 2010

Nthing everyone who says Facebook is not the best way to go about this. It isn't. The other issue I'd like to raise is that Facebook may update with features or changes you don't want -- that's the flip side of not having to handle updates yourself.

...but that being said, if you're going to go with Facebook: you'll want to set up a "page" for your organization, not a "group" -- although you may end up setting up a group as well. Pages are for "official" organizations, groups are "unofficial" -- you can find a short explanation of the differences on the Facebook blog, and see a list of existing "pages" here.

Most of the information there can be set to be viewable by the public; I don't know if it will be set that way by default -- you may have to mess around with privacy settings. You can set up a discussion page on your Page (oh how I wish they had used a different term...), share videos, links, etc., much as one might on a personal profile. I'm also not sure if you can set some discussions to be shared and others to be private -- is that something you're looking for?
posted by cjelli at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2010
posted by JJ86 at 12:03 PM on November 18, 2010

The main reason the department doesn't want to go down that route is its long term stability and cost.

If you're concerned about either of those things, don't go with FaceBook. For long term stability, if you've been using FaceBook since 2003 or so, you'll know that Groups were once how all sorts of stuff was handled, but that Fan Pages have taken over. Who knows how the thing will evolve in the future. Whatever functionality you're using may disappear tomorrow for all you know.

Same with cost. You're fine on short-term cost, but long-term they can start charging you at any moment. They have to monetize the thing eventually somehow.
posted by Jahaza at 12:45 PM on November 18, 2010

Please consider the following before proceeding with the FaceBook option.

A part of the current FB terms of use is that no individual may have more than 1 FB account.

Hence any person who wishes to make full use of the resource proposed will have to do one of the following:

* acknowledge and reveal the existence of their existing FB account;
* create a new FB account as they don't currently have one;
* break the FB terms of use by creating another FB account.

I can imagine that there are people would not wish to take the first option and I don't really see why being educated should necessistate the third option.
posted by southof40 at 4:52 PM on November 18, 2010

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