You Should Probably Read This.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Free, Higher Education, Recruitment, Research, Technology, Web | Posted on 31-07-2008-05-2008


My favorite part about higher education is the willingness of individuals to share information between universities. And that’s what this post is all about.

Karen Sines Rudolph, Coordinator of Public Information at McLennan Community College emailed me her 121 page thesis titled “Recruiting Millennials: How Official Admission Blogs Depict Colleges and Universities From a Public Relations Perspective“. It is full of great information and research, so I asked her if I could share it with my readers and she agreed.

Karen looked at 2,471 blog posts from 349 individual bloggers at 92 institutions and researched the posts on a multitude of factors during the 2005-2006 school year. (Was your school involved? Check out page 98-100 of the thesis). The research is extensive, and some quotes even come from Karine Joly.

Some gems and stats that I have pulled out of the research so far:

  • Less than 20% of bloggers (n=463) acknowledged the specific audience they were blogging for – prospective students. This does not mean to tell student bloggers what to write, but rather to remind them of their audience, suggest topics, and encourage quick and helpful responses to comments.
  • This study suggested that blogs lose their effectiveness when bloggers post more than once or twice a week.
  • Only 4.7% of bloggers (n=117) were identified as transfer students, while 30.3% of bloggers are freshmen.
  • 60% of photos on blog posts captured the student’s social life. 41.31% of photos were taken at a campus location.
  • Only 2.6% of blog posts (n=64) were about academics and with a negative frame.
  • Junior year bloggers were most likely to speak on academics.
  • When it came to blog posts about academic reputation of the school (n=13), none were negative.
  • When speaking about costs associated with attending the institution (n=36), 69.4% of blog posts were negative.
  • And so much more. I’ll leave the rest of it for you to read!

I just keep going through all of this and keep thinking of new ways to apply this info for the upcoming year with my new Bloggers.

Kudos to Karen for releasing this wonderful research. I was completely awestruck when she sent it to me out of the blue. Please join me in thanking her by leaving a comment below. I don’t mind all of the subscribers who lurk and don’t comment [who know who you are :) ], but please do take the time to show Karen your appreciation for this download. She really does deserve a big pat on the back from the community. Also, please note the Creative Commons license on her work and give credit where credit is due.

If this is your first time to SquaredPeg, subscribe to our RSS!

Finding My Student Bloggers

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts | Posted on 28-07-2008-05-2008


Last year I blogged quite a bit about starting the Butler Bloggers program in a 4-part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

In ’07-’08 it was very easy to find students that were interested in applying to be a Blogger. I just created a targeted Facebook Ad for $50 that ran for 10 days at 2,500 impressions per day (25,000 total) for a cost of $5/day. I targeted both genders, age 18-24, undergrads only, in the Butler network. As a result I ended up with a total of nearly 50 applications to choose from.

So when I went to do the same this year, I was sadly disappointed to see that I could no longer target an ad specifically to the Butler network. My options are now to send it to the 18-24 age group and then targeting by state or city. With nearly 50% of Butler students coming from out of state, it’s not as easy to target a specific geomarket like some schools might be able to do.

So now I’m heading to Plan B.

First, I have 15 students who have emailed me throughout the year about being a Blogger this year because they heard about the position from friends or they are incoming freshmen who found the Bloggers to be very helpful. I also have about 10 more incoming freshman who asked for more information via the Facebook Class of 2012 group, so my freshman base is covered.

With the Butler Network Ad out of the question, I can now turn to other resources available. Since I am the one who started the Butler University Fan Page, I can send a message to those 725 members. My Group Insights show that nearly 80% of the group now falls in the 18-24 age range.  I can use Fan Updates to target this age range (probably 18-22) and send them a message.

Finally, I will ask for recommendations from my current Bloggers. Since they have gone through 1 year of blogging, they might have friends who they think would be good for the position.

From there, I plan to do a similar process to last year. Email the app to those interested, then do a 2nd round of ~15 students and ask them to blog for a week then send it to me. From there, we will pick the 8 best. They have some big shoes to fill, but we’re excited to see how the new group pans out.

eduWeb 2008….. now what?!?!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, RSS, Social Media, Speaking, Thoughts, Twitter, Webinars | Posted on 25-07-2008-05-2008


It seems like nearly everyone has arrived home from eduWeb 2008 after travel issues plagued the trip back (I’m still waiting on my luggage…). So today you’re getting settled into your desk, fresh with ideas and energized to change the world. You’ve got notes, resources, new connections at universities and colleges across the map, and you’re ready to rock.

So where do you go from here? Most of the time, someone who attends a conference follows a graph like this:

You get really excited at the conference. Your enthusiasm for your job is renewed. You have faith that things can be changed. But as soon as you get back to your office, confidence starts going down. Things start to return to business as normal, and before you know it you’re right back where you were before the conference.

Let’s do better than that.

Here is a quick 10-step plan to help you get the most out of your conference experience from eduWeb 2008 if you’re just getting your feet wet in a lot of the topics you heard about this week.

10 Steps to Maximize Your Conference Experience

  1. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor/boss/direct reports/team. Right now. Come prepared with a short and sweet summary (no more than 1 page) of key takeaways and implementations that you want to move towards. Have a discussion about each, and what steps you can take to get it done. Proceed.
  2. Reflect on resources other than yours. Use Matt’s post of eduWeb2008 content that we have all created to refresh your mind or to catch up on sessions you might have missed.
  3. Watch presentations again, or share them with your co-workers. Point out specific segments they should watch. Here are the streams:
    1. Email’s Role in the New Media LandscapeGreg Cangialosi
    2. Email Marketing for Higher EducationKyle James
    3. Head in the CloudMike Richwalsky and Josh Tysiachney
    4. eduWeb Closing KeynoteKarine Joly
    5. SkoolPool Facebook AppMelissa Cheater
    6. Blogs: The Many Voices of a UniversityHeidi Cool
    7. 1st Annual eduStyle AwardsStewart Foss
    8. eduWeb Opening Keynote (partial) - Mark Greenfield
  4. Join Twitter! Stay connected with others that you have met and continue to have conversations revolving around what you’re doing at work and the trending topics in higher ed. After joining Twitter, head over to Kyle James’ blog and start adding other higher education tweeters from the extensive list.
  5. Start using RSS. A few months back I did a quick how-to on getting started with RSS. Watch it and begin subscribing to blogs so that you can keep up with the information better.
  6. Start a blog. Head over to WordPress and start to type out some thoughts about what you’re working on. Be sure to email me your link at bradjward(at)gmail(dot)com so that I can add you to my RSS feeds.
  7. Try something new.  I personally am going to play with cloud computing to see how it works first-hand.  Think of one thing from the conference you’ve never heard about or used, and try it out.
  8. Book another conference for yourself or a co-worker. Karine Joly has an event calendar of upcoming conferences. Two to note are HighEdWeb 2008 and Stamats. Don’t have the budget? Try a Webinar.
  9. Read a book.  Check out my list of eduWeb 2008 Book Titles here.
  10. Join the Conversation. It’s not just the title of my eduWeb 2008 presentation, it’s something you can do to become more connected with others. Start commenting on blogs or posting in the uwebd forums. is also a great place to start, but there are many more great blogs out there. Check blogrolls of others to find many more quality blogs in higher ed.

I hope that you can take a few of these steps to get started towards better work and amazing projects. You can do it; be persistent and make change happen in your organization.

eduWeb 2008 was great. The conversations and connections that took place were so much richer and in-depth than any conference I’ve been to before. Kudos to the vendors for providing multiple networking receptions for us to gather at. The Meetup was also highly attended, with approximately 75 people joining us through the hour. I was glad to be a part of the event, and look forward to keeping in touch with all of you.

If this is your first time to SquaredPeg, subscribe to our RSS!

eduWeb Reading List for 2008

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Books, Conferences | Posted on 22-07-2008-05-2008


After 2 days at the conference I have been reminded of a ton of great books and been introduced to a few new ones.  Here is a list of books that I would recommend based on reading them or hearing rave reviews.

(I’ve also created a Linkbunch here in case you just want to open them all at once.)

Added from Reader Comments:

If anyone has a book to add or hears of others as the conference progresses, please leave a comment!

eduWeb Conference 2008 is underway!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Flickr, Social Media, Speaking, Twitter | Posted on 21-07-2008-05-2008


I made it to Atlantic City and things are going great.  I met up at the Philadelphia airport with Karine Joly and Mike Richwalsky and we cruised the expressway down to the coast.  Last night I met up with Kyle James and Nick Catto and we drove to the beach and checked out the area.

Mark and I gave our 3-hour pre-conference workshop titled ‘Join the Conversation’ this morning, which went well. We streamed some of our presentation, but not the whole thing.. you gotta pay to see that! :)   You can check some of that out on uStream, cue to the 11 minute mark. My Mac was on the podium, so it’s not the greatest view.  We hope to stream some more sessions later, at a better vantage point obviously. We just wanted to use the site a bit to show people more about it. There was some twitter backchannel chat from Melissa Cheater, which was always fun to watch evolve while Mark was talking.

Lunch was great.  Had a chance to sit down with Billy Adams and Jacob Oyen from Twitter, as well as several others from our session to chat more about higher ed. Even bumped in to Rachel Reuben as I was leaving.

I love conferences, what a great networking opportunity.  If you see me around in the lobby, eating, between sessions, or gambling my savings away at the casino, stop me and say hi! I’d love to meet you all.

I started a Flickr group for eduWeb 2008 photos, so please feel free to add yours!

You can also find me on Twitter or keep track of all the eduWeb buzz on Twitter.

Don’t forget about tonight’s Meetup, located at the Poolside Cafe by… the pool. It’s tonight from 7-9pm. Hope to see you there!

And if this is your first time on SquaredPeg, please subscribe via email or RSS.

The Best Bargain Conference This Year

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Conferences, Higher Education, Social Media, Speaking, Web | Posted on 16-07-2008-05-2008


Hey! Do you live near Indianapolis? Want to hit up a great conference but don’t have much of a budget? Well, I have the conference for you., August 16-17 at IUPUI

2 days, many great speakers, and for the LOW price of $49.00. But you know I’m going to treat you better than that. Click this link to register and save 15%. Seats are going fast and space is limited, so register soon.

I am going to be switching gears on this one and speaking from more of a business perspective, although I would absolutely love to see a good showing of higher education folks at the conference.

We’re also going to be peopletagging, which is a unique new way to network. I’m excited to see it play out. Still trying to figure out what my tags are going to be!

Click here to check out the sessions and the 20+ presenters. I am in the same time slot as the amazing blogger Chris Baggott, so I don’t expect a huge crowd at mine; I actually would rather go to his too! Haha :)

Hope to see you there. Let me know if you’re attending.

Unexpected Growth

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Analytics, Facebook, Higher Education, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts | Posted on 15-07-2008-05-2008


I’ve been wracking my brains for a month now trying to figure out what happened, but it’s just an unexplained mystery. Nothing we did, just user-generated growth.

While presenting at the Innovative Educators Conference, I mentioned the Butler Facebook Page. I talked about how we had the name reserved, but weren’t really using it. And as I opened it, I said “I think it went over 200 Fans last night.” Sure enough, it was sitting there at 207 fans.

And during the days after the conference, I noticed the page views went way up. From 3-6/day to 80-100. “They must just be checking it out”, I figured. But the Fans were rising just as quickly. Surely the conference attendees weren’t become Fans of Butler University? So I check the recent fans, and sure enough they are all in the Butler network.

And the list keeps growing. And growing. It doubles within a week. I ask the Alumni office, they said nothing. No one in the Admission office did anything. When it hit 440 members on June 23rd, I figured I’d throw it into the Butler Class of 2012 group for fun. Now, my post is extremely outdated.

So what is the cause of this growth? And the bigger question, what should we do about it? Nothing? Are people joining the group to show their Butler pride on their Facebook profile? Do they like the group because there is no content?

The majority of members seem to be current students or alumni. Not exactly what I set out for it to be at first, but it’s still good that we have it in possession to utilize if we choose to. It seems that the group just snowballed one day. When you add the group, it puts the event on your mini-feed and other friends might see it on their home page.

I think right now I want to continue to grow the membership, add a little bit of content, and in a few years, hand it the keys over to the Alumni Office. What a resource that could be for them.

Facebook Class of 2012: 6 Months Later

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Facebook, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 03-07-2008-05-2008


I have now been tracking the Butler Class of 2012 Facebook Group for 6 months. For more background, check these posts:

I have also set up a new page that will dynamically refresh as the weeks continue, and include more in-depth charts by month. You can find the Class of 2012 Research page here.

Here’s the chart after 6 months, which is tracking Members, Wall Posts, and Discussion Posts:

Read the rest of this entry »