The use of Facebook as a communication tool between universities and students.
Universities are beginning to embrace social media and realizing the potential power and implications of using social networking sites such as Facebook as a communication tool to reach its target audience. It has become an integral part of their overall communication and marketing strategies. Social media is redefining how we communicate with each other, and how students want their organizations to serve them. Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and colleagues who work, study and live around them. In the current study, the existing Facebook pages of two tertiary institutions namely University of KwaZulu-Natal and Durban University of Technology were explored to investigate the effectiveness of Facebook as a communication tool. The key strategies behind adopting Facebook as a communication tool that would ensure effective communication were determined. The barriers to effective implementation of Facebook as perceived by the students were also examined. A thorough analysis of the content of the Facebook page revealed that it is being effectively utilized by the university and its students. To examine the key strategies employed by the UKZN and DUT, the Facebook administrators of both the institutions were interviewed. The findings from the interviews shed light on the universities policies, its advertising and marketing strategies as well as how a university tackles the issues created by implementing a new media to communicate. In the third part of the study, the barrier to effective communication as perceived by the students is examined by sending an electronically administered survey to all the Facebook users of both the universities. The respondents indicated the advantages and drawbacks of utilizing Facebook at an educational institution and the barriers they face in accessing the site were identified. Suggestions for improvement were indicated. The research is primarily an exploratory study of the findings, and recommendations are provided.
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