CampusBuddy: Another Tool for Colleges and Universities on Facebook

Facebook may have gotten its start on college campuses, but the service has moved away to focus on building a generally useful product for the general public. The company got rid of features like Courses (which let you list your class course schedule) years ago in favor of letting developers build their own, for example. A few companies have been working on tools for colleges and universities, but a new competitor has gone live on Facebook’s platform: CampusBuddy.

Similar to competitors, it provides an application that can be included as a tab in a college or university’s Page, that comes with education-focused features.

The market here is still open. For whatever reason, universities have struggled to rack up fans and provide meaningful services on Facebook. According to our metrics tool PageData, the university with the largest Facebook fan base is Texas A&M, with about 174,000 fans — not a whole lot, considering that the school says annual enrollment is 48,000 students every year on its web site.

CampusBuddy has launched a free Facebook application aiming to give universities another tool to tap social networks for current students. The company already creates communities for students on its own web site, and lets users sign in with their Facebook identities; the Facebook app that launched last week essentially recreates the web site’s interface in a tab on a university’s Page. So far, our metrics tool AppData shows that the app has about 67,300 monthly active users to date, although it’s not clear how those users are distributed across Pages and the home site.

Universities like USC, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, Ohio State, Texas A&M and the University of Texas have signed up for the web site version of CampusBuddy. It allows students to set up a profile and interact with other users/students, find people in specific classes and majors, read user reviews of colleges and professors, see class and grade distributions, as well as other school data such as admissions and school statistics.

USC was the inaugural school to include CampusBuddy’s tab on its official Facebook Page, which amounts to a re-creation of the web site’s interface on the tab but allows users to search for CampusBuddy users from elementary, junior and high schools. The Facebook app includes ads for CampusBuddy’s other services, such as: paying for grade distributions, scholarship contests and buying textbooks (an external site).

Previously we wrote about another university-focused company, Inigral, which developed an education-themed app called Schools designed as a closed-system where potential or new students could get to know their universities better. Features included information and photos of clubs, groups, activities, dorms, majors, departments and lots of places for users to share information. In December, Schools had about 6,000 monthly active users and about a dozen universities had signed up.

Although universities have a lot to gain by creating a strong Facebook presence for current students and alumni, CampusBuddy’s tab provides basic interaction that its probably not useful for anyone but freshmen or people new to the school since admission, housing and fraternity/sorority stats are things acclimated students are likely to know. Features include a way for users to post questions in categories like housing or nightlife, post comments, and see what other students have registered for an account with CampusBuddy and also search majors/departments, professors and courses.

While there’s no doubt universities are scrambling for ways to make Facebook work for them — not only would it help them save money on alumni recruitment but also with fundraising — companies like CampusBuddy don’t appear to have solved that problem. There’s really nothing new with this app; it creates venues for users to add content, not any new content, but that user-generated content could be added to Facebook with the network’s current interface.