Remember that scene in the Social Network when Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, and Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg, celebrate the site’s one millionth user? Well, start popping the bottles of bubbly, because Harvard University is having a similar celebration today. With a current 1,002,096 “likes,” they’ve become the first university to have over one million fans on Facebook.
“We are so pleased to be the first university to hit one million Facebook fans,” said Harvard’s President Drew Faust in a thank you video (embedded below). “We’re also so pleased that networks like this — some grown here at Harvard — are uniting millions more people all around the globe.”
Sixteen percent of the United States’ time online is spent on Facebook, according to Citi Investment Research and Analysis, proving that this number means big things to a school that’s been striving to develop an overarching digital media strategy of “show, don’t tell.”
“I think it’s important that people see the wide range of activities, from research to student life, that’s going on at Harvard,” said Perry Hewitt, the chief digital officer for Harvard Public Affairs and Communications and Alumni Affairs and Development.
The University represents students from over 200 countries that speak over 60 different languages, and so it’s crucial to Hewitt that the team develop a way to clearly depict the “vibrancy, energy and innovation” currently taking place within the school. As the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, Harvard has been able to shake its stereotyped antiquated image through their use social media.
StudentAdvisor ranked Harvard number two on its list of “Top 100 Social Media Colleges” this year, and it should come as no surprise after seeing their social media dashboard streaming with aggregated feeds from across the University. They’ve increased their use of video storytelling from the Harvard Gazette’s multimedia efforts to Harvard Stories, and they’ve also begun introducing their own iPhone apps, including a virtual Harvard Yard Tour created to commemorate the University’s 375th anniversary.
Of course, we had to ask, since Facebook started as a Harvard-only social networking site, if that played a key role in the University’s high amount of traffic.
“There’s no question that the Harvard name is a strong legacy name that sustains us,” Hewitt said. “But we use that story as a springboard to tell our story and show who we are.”
Harvard might not have been able to keep Zuckerberg there, but he sure has left a lasting, “likable” impression.
Enjoy a Harvard “thank you” from Faust and Alan Garber, Provost of Harvard University —