Join me for an upcoming webinar!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Social Media, Speaking | Posted on 26-11-2008-05-2008


Using Social Media to Enhance Student Services
Wednesday, December 3rd- 1:00-3:00 EST

Come join Mark Greenfield, Todd Sanders and I as we explore how higher educational institutions can leverage the full power and potential of social media to enhance student services. While much of the focus of social media in higher education is on student recruitment, these same tools can be used to provide services and enhance relationships with current students.  The webinar will provide an overview of social media tools, why they matter in higher education, and how they can be applied to student services. In addition, several case studies will be reviewed.

If you have any questions or just want to engage in some conversation prior to the webinar, feel free to drop us a line.

The Good Project Graveyard [Part 2]

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Analytics, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts, Video, YouTube | Posted on 25-11-2008-05-2008


When we last left off, a video project got sent to the good project graveyard, never to be seen again.

That’s not what this post is about.  This is about a video that survived. Why? It didn’t go to the dreaded committee, I just did it.

Looking at our comm flows, there is really no communication between when the application is submitted (Nov 15 deadline) and when the decisions are mailed (Dec. 17).  Isn’t this a great time for a touch point with a student? When they are just sitting around, wondering what’s going on with their app at your school?

So I decided to put a video together. I called Megan, a counselor and blogger, and told her what I wanted to do. 15 minutes later, we were ready to roll.  I grabbed the Kodak Zi6 and went up to her office.

The premise of the video would be this: Here’s what happens to your application after you submit it. Pretty simple, keep it around 2 minutes. No script, just say what you would say to a student if they asked what happened.  So we went around the office to various areas that an application will travel through, and filmed the video. We did the whole thing in 1 take.

Total filming time: 10 minutes
Total downloading/converting time: 15 minutes
Total editing time: 15 minutes
Total uploading to YouTube time: 15 minutes

Boom.  A fully ‘produced’ video in under one hour. So the next step was to get it in front of the students.  I put together an email, wrote the copy, designed it, and took it to my boss and said “I want to send this to everyone who has applied before the Nov 15th deadline.” She took a look at it, didn’t see anything that needed to be changed, and approved it. Alright!

The email was designed with the video as the call-to-action, and when the video is clicked the URL directs the student to our area, where a post with the video was placed. So here is the email, the video, and the results.

The Email

The Video

1,303 views as of this post (the video has been live for 7.5 days, the email was sent 4.5 days ago). 2nd most viewed video on the Butler Bloggers YouTube channel.

The Results

99.1% emails were successfully sent.
There were 2,205 unique opens (52.3%). There were 3,391 total opens.
There were 1,157 unique clickthroughs (27.4%). So, 52.4% of those who opened the email also clicked through. (I like this measurement better than clickthroughs/sends.)
There were 1,444 total clickthroughs. (42.5% of total clickthroughs out of total opens)

The Analytics

YouTube Insights provides this nifty graph of the hotspots in the video. (Click to enlarge)

Google Analytics tells me what happened after we got them there.

The Feedback

I sent the video around to the office as well.  Everyone loved it and gave good comments and feedback on it.  The students who I’ve talked to that have seen the video also enjoyed it and found it helpful.

The ‘Next Time’

I see in Analytics that students did not stick around long on average.  Pages/Visit, time on site, and bounce rate are all way off the average mark for the site. I had put some links above the video to try and engage them in the BUForums more, but they seemed interested in the video only.  My Hot Spots tell me that the ‘dark scene’ was where I lost most students.  Maybe I could cut the video to 1:30 and leave out the part about the BUForums and Bloggers since they were already there?

In all, I consider this project worthwhile.  2 hours from idea to implementation, 25% of our app pool found out what happens to their app, and our BUForums increased by nearly 100 new students. Those who did stick around after the video are now getting more questions asked. The video avoided the good project graveyard and was successful.

As always, comments, suggestions and thoughts are appreciated. Leave a comment!

The Good Project Graveyard [Part 1]

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Higher Education, Marketing, Research, Thoughts, Video | Posted on 21-11-2008-05-2008


There is a place on all campuses that good projects go to die.  Usually, a thing called a ‘committee’ swings in, 7-15 people deep, and picks it apart, retweaks it, postpones it, and eventually.. that good project crawls off into a corner to die a slow, painful, uncreative death.

I hate seeing that happen. I also hate sitting on committees. So when at all possible, I just do things myself.

So here’s the precursor to this post: I previously posted about the Butler Blue II missing mascot costume video.  Total time to make it: 1.5 hours of shooting on campus, 5 hours of editing, a few hours to process/upload to YouTube, and it was out of the door by 7am. [Read more about the video here.] [Oh, and for those who thought it was a PR hoax... 4 arrested.]

Last week I was approached by a member of the campus community who had a video idea to promote a contest on campus. He wanted to use Blue II and for it to have a similar feel to the above video. I said I’d love to brainstorm with him, but time to shoot/edit would be more limited since it was an outside project.  Then, I get a meeting request…. to the committee.

Truth be told, the meeting slipped my mind. I got busy (it was a late Friday afternoon meeting) and missed it. But it absolutely killed me when I got the email early this week about the ‘video update from the committee’.
Video Email

NEXT YEAR?!??!?!?!??! I don’t know how the person who organized the meeting took that so well. I feel bad that I was not there to say “we can do this next week, no problem”. But, I don’t know if ‘the committee’ would have allowed it.  Scripts to write, lighting to get set, sound checks, and more…. ridiculous.

Next Monday, Part 2 – Creating a video.. good, cheap and fast [pick 2].

Do your homework after the conference.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Recruitment, Research, Speaking, Thoughts | Posted on 19-11-2008-05-2008


I was fortunate enough to hit up seven conferences and several more webinars in 2008. I met a ton of great people, was filled with many ideas, and really never got off ‘the conference high’ because of the timing of them all.  2008 has been a great year for me professionally.

But there is one thing I continue to see at conference after conference.

Someone stands up to present, gives fact/stats/thoughts/theory, and people write it down and take it for what it is.

Don’t do that!!!

Yes, conferences are GREAT opportunities to learn, and there has to be some data/research/basis behind the presentation. But, there is not a ‘one solution fits all’ out there.  What works for me at Butler might not work for you at your school.  The methods that they are having success with might not be your best option.  Their failures might be your greatest decision ever.

Conferences are great places to get ideas, but please… do your homework.  Take the time to get to know your students. Your recruiting region. Do a survey. Ask students when they visit.

You’ll be much better off, and your efforts will be more fruitful.

Answer the Four Questions.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts | Posted on 17-11-2008-05-2008


I was in a comm team meeting last week, and we were reviewing a script of some finely-polished video that is being shot/edited/produced to be played at the beginning of campus visits.

My boss brought up a good point while we were discussing how off the mark and irrelevant the video is.

“Does it answer the four questions?”

  1. Can I get in?
  2. Will I fit in?
  3. Can I pay the bill?
  4. Do you have my major?

Nothing about app requirements.  Not much about current students, just some (hand-picked) student interviews. Totally skipped around the financial aid/what’s it cost to attend Butler section.  And nothing about majors.

Are you answering those four questions with your recruitment efforts?

Keep an eye on Twingr.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 14-11-2008-05-2008

6 might be to Twitter what is to Facebook.

Niche communities. That’s what Ning has accomplished on the larger social media platform.  Will Twingr accomplish this on a microblogging level?  It’s sort of like, but more customizable.

Here’s the 3 minute demo.  Bookmark this one and keep an eye on it. Already have many thoughts going through my head on how this could potentially be used for higher ed recruitment.

Unigo updates with 1,600 new schools!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts | Posted on 13-11-2008-05-2008

1 announced yesterday that they have added 1,600 new schools to their site, which means there is a good chance that your site is now on there. When they originally launched with 250 schools, Butler was not listed.  The same went for many of my colleagues and friends that I talked to at NACAC or on Twitter.

When I interviewed Jordan Goldman, CEO of Unigo last month, he mentioned that the long-term goal is to have every school on Unigo, ready for students to post about their stories and experiences of each school.

So what do you do now that your school is listed on Unigo?

Post content from your admission office in nice, fluffy language.
Panic and demand that Unigo removes your school from their site.
Do fake ratings to make it seem like you are less of a party school.
Put up pictures of students sitting on the lawn with a professor.
Upload your professionally edited promotional videos


Yep. Sit back and listen. See what students say about your school. Everyone complains about something? Don’t hide it, fix it.  Remember…. you don’t own the conversation anymore.

It’s NOT what you think.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Thoughts, Usability, Web | Posted on 12-11-2008-05-2008



Directly above my main work computer is a bright yellow sheet of paper.  A printed out slide from one of my presentations.  It has been there for nearly 4 months now.  It’s a paraphrased quote from page 110 of Seth Godin’s book, Meatball Sundae.  And it reads:

It’s not about what you think the students want or want the students to want.  It’s about creating and assembling a collection of tools that captures the attention of people who truly care.

Let me break this down for you as you think of how to apply it to e-based recruiting.

1) It’s not about what you think the students want… I think I know what students want.  A lot. This tool. That site. This email subject line.  The only way to truly know what students want is through research and usability testing. Every school is different. Every funnel contains a different demographic. There is no longer a one size fits all solution.

2)… or want the students to want.  I want students to use our tools and social media. But, they don’t always want it in return.

3) It’s about creating and assembling a collection of tools… Again, there is no longer one way to reach all students.  Think and, not or.  Facebook AND Myspace, etc. For a visual learner, images on Flickr might be the best way to show your campus to that student. For an english major, blogs might be very effective.  Maybe an unpolished YouTube video is what a student really needs to see. Create a set of tools, your swiss army knife of recruiting.

4) that captures the attention of people who truly care. Key words: truly care.  Not every student is going to want to be your friend on Facebook. Or message you through Zinch. Or read about your newest RSS stories. But for those who TRULY CARE, the students who are really pouring time and energy into their relationship with your university….wow.  Get their attention. Focus on them. Make sure they know you appreciate them having the conversation with you.

In order to keep things fresh, I’m replacing that quote this week. Because at this point, I could tell you what I just told you in my sleep. I’ve looked at it every day. I’ve engrained the thought in my mind and apply it.

And I’m asking you for help.  What should my next quote be? What should hang above my work computer for inspiration? Leave a comment.

[Download the quote poster here!]

UPDATE: Here are thoughts on this quote from Kyle Lacy and MrRSmith.

Stamats08…. now what?!?!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Social Media, Speaking, Thoughts | Posted on 11-11-2008-05-2008


[This post is similar to my eduWeb2008 afterthoughts, but still very applicable for all subscribers, old and new.]

You’re back from Stamats08.  Florida was great, you’ve met tons of new people, and the trip home went fairly smooth. 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 Stamats08 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 this post of Stamats08 content that we have all created to refresh your mind or to catch up on sessions you might have missed.
    1. Did you notice that this post was compiled by Jacob, who works at Central College and was not even at the conference? Chew on that for a second…
  3. Watch presentations again, or share them with your co-workers. Point out specific segments they should watch. All presentations and videos are linked here.
  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. [Follow Me!]
  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 analytics more and try some of Kyle’s tricks and tips.  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.
  9. Read a book.  Check out my list of eduWeb 2008 Book Titles here, which are all great choices.
  10. Join the Conversation. 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.

Stamats08 was awesome. The conversations and connections that took place both in and outside of the conference room stimulated me and gave me some great ideas.

I was glad to be a part of the event, and look forward to keeping in touch with all of you.

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The Recruitment Long Tail

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Technology | Posted on 08-11-2008-05-2008


Yesterday I gave my presentation, The Recruitment Long Tail, at the Stamats Conference in St. Petersburg, FL.  I think it was well-received and several people told me they got great ideas and thoughts to take back to their school.  If you have 55 minutes, click play below and tell me what you think.

Nice to see everyone at the conference!  I’m going to unplug for a few days, so I’ll see you next week and will have some more thoughts on the conference.  Enjoy!



The Recruitment Long Tail
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: long tail)