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 11-12-2008



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.

Comments posted (11)

You should add GA tracking to the call-to-action link to see how effective it is :-P

Thank you for the inspiration. You’ve had the quote from the book for 4 months, and I’ve had the book sitting on my desk for 4 months. I can’t wait to read it. Let’s not point out how short it is-thank you.

Here’s a quote from a fortune cookie:

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”

[...] has a post entitled, It’s NOT What You Think. The post talks about a Seth Godin quote relating to using the tools to capture user attention, [...]

@Karlyn – The Flickr stats are usually pretty good, I’ll let them take care of the dirty work.

@Heather – Get on it! Great book, quick read. You could get through it in a few hours, easily. Thanks for the quote. :)

Great thoughts! Just the pick me up I needed post-conference. Esp with my moving forward in conversations with my VP and Enrollment/Retention teams. Many have ideas, and some feel they need to choose. I agree that more is more, and that engaging those who are already involved would be a great change for those who are trying too hard to reach those who may not want to be reached.

As much as Seth Godin bugs me, that is a nice quote. It’s all about providing tools for, in our case, prospective students to help them create relationship with our schools.

My current favorite is from Jason Falls, which was actually written to help get traditional creatives thinking along social lines:

“The social media audience doesn’t want to be to impressed by how cool/smart/awesome your work is. They want to be impressed by how cool/smart/awesome your work makes them when they pass it on.”

Original post here:

Great quote, Nicole! I think I have a new quote to hang above my computer. :)

[...] Brad J. Ward, who is himself a glutton for social media in higher education, dares us to “GORGE yourselves on Social Media. Dig In. I know you’re hungry.” His post from his blog at asserts that social media is NOT what you think. [...]

Congratulations on a very nice site

Interesting post right here. One thing I would really like to say is the fact that most professional career fields consider the Bachelors Degree like thejust like the entry level standard for an online certification. While Associate College diplomas are a great way to get started on, completing ones Bachelors uncovers many doorways to various employment goodies, there are numerous internet Bachelor Diploma Programs available by institutions like The University of Phoenix, Intercontinental University Online and Kaplan. Another concern is that many brick and mortar institutions provide Online versions of their qualifications but usually for a drastically higher cost than the companies that specialize in online course plans.

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