There are several ways to engage with new and prospective students through social media, but consider trying Facebook Groups.

Facebook Groups create an additional resource for your institution where students connect and communicate about what classes to take, clubs to join, best places to live, which meal plan reigns supreme, or just chatting about current events.

To begin, create a Facebook Group for each class and then have a student, or several students from that particular class act as the group administrators. This will make the group authentic.

What if a group member acts inappropriately or posts something indecent? If a group member says something salacious, other group members tend to reply, but if it escalates their comment(s) can be removed and reported to Facebook by the student administrators.

Similar to Facebook Pages, Groups offer a sense of a smaller, more engaged community, only with privacy controls and three types of settings: Open, Closed, and Secret. I highly recommend using a Closed group, because anyone on Facebook can discover and ask to join the group, but only members can read posts. Group administrators are responsible for approving and removing members and monitoring the group for rude or inappropriate posts. Click here to see the complete privacy options for Facebook Groups.

Next, have your student administrators communicate to the group membership where your school’s official social media channels and event calendars are located. It can help amplify your message and create more followers, which leads to more engagement and discovery through other social media networks, such as Twitter or Instagram. Pose questions to your group, but not too often - allow the new students to direct the conversation, only jumping in to kickstart a conversation.

Remember to promote your Facebook Groups and add the URL for each group on your school’s main Facebook page, even adding the URL to the admissions website - why not send it out with your acceptance letter to students?

Lastly, make sure to add a custom photo in the header and provide a description in the About tab. I'm a big fan of Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks, but right now the best way to get new and prospective students to communicate, share, and talk about your school is by using Facebook Groups.