The Do’s and Don’ts of Engaging Families with Facebook

Remember this statement – Facebook is your friend. Use it. Share it. Be proactive with it. Most importantly, engage with families on it. A few years ago, the Mountaineer Parents Club at West Virginia University decided to utilize Facebook groups to communicate with families. Our official Facebook page was often inundated with personal messages from prospective and current families asking us similar, if not the same questions.

“How do we schedule classes?”

“Where can my student park?”

“My student is having issues with their roommate – what can we do?”

“My student chose housing; how do they choose a roommate?”

The list of questions is endless.

With the constant flow of traffic, we began to realize that often, families have the same questions. Why not put those questions into one location where families can see the question and the official response? This is where our Facebook groups were born.

Starting in spring of 2020, we launched our first official “Class of” Facebook group. Each month we would invite admitted families to join the group via email. Each month the group would grow exponentially.

By the end of August 2020, we had over 3,600 families join the group. Our last group, Class of 2025, had over 2,700 families. We’ve approved well over 6,500 posts and answered nearly as many questions.

We should mention we’re a team of two.

Once we noticed the success of our “Class of” groups, we were asked to make a larger, more inclusive group, to accommodate upperclassman families. “The Official Families of WVU Students” group was created on April 15, 2020. This group is run by current WVU parents but overseen by the Mountaineer Parents Club. To date, we have over 6,700 families as part of the group.

So, what have we learned about operating and overseeing Facebook groups? Too much.

Here’s our tips to be successful when using Facebook groups.
Do create separate groups. Incoming family’s needs are vastly different from a parent of a junior in college. By having a dedicated group for incoming families, you’ll be able to answer their unique questions and provide a level of customer service they need when starting out.

Don’t keep class pages open beyond the start of school. We’ve learned that once a student is here, we need to ease away from providing parents with answers to questions their student should be asking now. This is where we encourage families to join the larger Facebook group.

Do let upperclassman families help the newbies. We’ve noticed that families love to help other families. Therefore, once we transition our new parents into the larger Families of group, we let the other parents handle the question asking.

Don’t let current students in the group. Students have plenty of spaces to engage with other students. Parents not so much. Therefore, we do not approve students to be part of these groups. We do approve some faculty, staff, and alumni. However, we email them and discourage them from engaging with posts.

Do keep track of your members. We make all our members in all of groups fill out questions – name, email, student’s year, student’s name. If the questions are not filled out, we do not approve them. We store all their information in a Google Excel. This helps up cross reference who are members of the Parents Club and who aren’t.

More do’s:

We make our Class of groups request to post their questions and comments. This gives us time to review the question and find the answer. Often, we require the assistance of an expert. Example - housing, financial aid etc. Once we have the answer, we approve the post.

Find current parents who want to help. We use parents of current WVU students to help us approve posts in our Families of group. Sometimes they have the answer, but often they will let other parents answer the question. This creates a culture of caring, which we strive to have at WVU. Having parents as moderators alleviates a lot of stress on our end.

Make it fun! We host special Q&A’s on our incoming families group. It’s a great time to get them thinking about things they may have not thought of yet.

Create a list of rules for them to follow. This can be part of your website or listed in an announcement within the group. This gives you leverage if a parent breaks a rule, and you need to remove them from the group.

Finally – remember freedom of speech. Just because you don’t agree with their opinions of your school doesn’t mean you get to remove their post or comment. It hurts, but it’s their opinion and they have the right to voice it.


Don’t allow bullying. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed a lot of parents post unsavory things in response to some questions. We monitor the group and delete any posts with foul language or bullying.

Don’t engage in politics. We’ve made it known that our groups are for seeking help with things at WVU. Therefore, any politics or misinformation is immediately deleted.

In conclusion:
Overall, we’ve loved creating this environment for our families. We’ve seen the success, and more importantly, we’ve heard from our families how much our groups have helped them.

If you’re thinking about exploring Facebook groups and would like more insights, just let us know. The Mountaineer Parents Club is always available to help.

Rickie Huffman is the Marketing Strategist for Admissions and Mountaineer Parents Club at West Virginia University.

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