UCSF Debuts Facebook Fan Page as Part of Social Media Strategy

Lena Shaw

Today UCSF is unveiling a Facebook fan page to raise awareness of the University’s high caliber of patient care, research and education among key audiences who consume news and information via social media. 

The launch of the Facebook fan page is the latest development in UCSF’s emerging social media strategy, which is being led by Barbara J. French, vice chancellor of University Relations. Earlier this summer, UCSF created and implemented a branded presence on YouTube to showcase videos about its economic impact, newest Nobel laureate, global outreach and more.

“Our overall goal is to raise the visibility of UCSF’s excellence in patient care, discovery and education,” French says. “Social media is another way to reach people who care about what we do, to engage them more deeply and to empower them to spread the word about UCSF.”

To that end, University Relations, the umbrella unit for UCSF Public Affairs and Community & Governmental Relations, hired its first-ever social media manager, Lena Shaw, to develop UCSF’s presence in social media circles.

UCSF and Social Media

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Shaw, who considers herself a student of social media and community building, most recently worked as the manager of Public Relations and Social Media for DotNext Inc., where she was promoted twice, won the first Rising Star Award and was named Marketing Person of the Year. Shaw was instrumental in driving social media programs and campaigns emphasizing authenticity and long-term relationship building.

Since joining UCSF in August, Shaw has been meeting with a cross-section of campus and medical center representatives to get a better understanding of the University and the depth and breadth of the news it generates, which can be shared via social media platforms.

People who go to the new Facebook fan page will be able to view the latest news and information about UCSF and engage with a larger UCSF community, Shaw says.

“The many people who have been touched by UCSF over the years can now share their experience with a large audience anywhere in the world,” she says.

The launch of UCSF’s fan page on Facebook coincides the premier of its “Stand Up to Cancer” (SU2C) Facebook page, which focuses on the upcoming primetime telecast to raise funds to accelerate groundbreaking cancer research aimed at getting new therapies to patients quickly and saving lives.  The SU2C page calls attention to UCSF’s experts in cancer research, including Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, and Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH. The page also highlights UCSF’s breast cancer dream team. SU2C will host its second telecast on Friday, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. PST on all major TV channels.

Social Media Surges


Increasingly, universities are expanding their social media outreach realizing that they can communicate with a limitless network of people – including prospective and current students – using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare.

“With more than 550 million active users – more than US population –- on Facebook today, there’s no doubt that Facebook is a social media powerhouse,” Shaw says. “Facebook has been shown to be especially effective for engaging a community around topics of interest for institutions and businesses.”

For example, Harvard University, the birthplace of Facebook, has mastered the art of appealing to fans from all demographics. Harvard has 51,869 active fans who enjoy being part of the community and appreciate the personal interaction they get by seeing photos and reading posts related to scientific discoveries, according to Shaw. 

A recent photo album received 362 “likes” and 70 comments and on average, Harvard receives 700 to 900 comments. “This is a clear indication that fans are responding to Harvard as an institution, to its heritage and are proud to be members of the Harvard family,” Shaw notes. “Without Facebook, the level of response to said discoveries and photos would be far less or nonexistent.” 

And social media channels are proving to be great fundraising tools.

“President Barack Obama has been called President 2.0 because he used social media to drive his campaign,” Shaw says. “He has more than three million Facebook fans, 500 Facebook groups and more than 300 Facebook Applications – all of which helped garner $6.5 million in online donations and helped him win the election.”

The longtime San Francisco blue jean company Levi Strauss stands out as a successful business that has benefitted from using social media, Shaw points out. Levi Strauss, one of the first consumer brands to start using social media to drive sales and marketing initiatives, gave users the opportunity to share their favorite items from its online store with their friends. As Inside Facebook reports, that campaign received more than 4,000 “likes” in one week.

In the next few months, UCSF will be employing other social media strategies to further its efforts to communicate the many contributions and accomplishments of UCSF.

“We will be developing and supporting social media strategies to help demonstrate UCSF’s value as a local, statewide, national and international asset,” French says. “Maintaining a strong reputation is critical to attracting students, trainees, faculty, donors and patients.”

Photo by Susan Merrell