Location Based Campus Tours with Gowalla

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Marketing, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 28-01-2010-05-2008

10

Let me start by saying this is NOT going to be a blog post telling you to run to Foursquare and Gowalla because it’s the hottest thing since Twitter and you’re definitely going to want to invest all of your time and resources there. Because that’s not the case (yet?).

Gowalla, my preferred location based social network, has intrigued colleges and universities for months with its ‘Trips’ section of the site.  Trips provide a list of suggested spots for you to go to, and was previously a list up to the discretion of the Gowalla team.    It might be 5 famous restaurants in an area, or 10 great photography lookouts on the shore, or a bar crawl in Austin.  But until now, it’s been a headache trying to submit yours to the site.

That changed today.

According to the post, “You’ll be able to name your trip, give it a description, add up to 20 spots of your choosing, then publish it to Gowalla. Your published trips will be viewable in the Gowalla app by your friends. [...] Also, for now, you may only complete featured trips and trips created by your friends.”

I’m excited for this, particularly for one BlueFuego client that happens to have a very saturated population of iPhone users on its campus. I see value for First Week/Orientation, for visitors, and much more. But again, it works for some schools and will be extremely pointless for others. And if you create a trip for your university at this time, the only people who can see it are your friends. This might create a future headache of multiple tours of campus once everything is merged publicly.

Take a good look at your audience before investing too much time in these platforms.  But if you want to have some fun and try the newest toy, check out Gowalla or Foursquare today!

URoomSurf: FacebookGate 2010?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Community, Ethics, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 19-01-2010-05-2008

74

*Subscribe via Email or RSS today or follow @bradjward on twitter for more frequent updates.*

If you’ve searched for your school’s Class of 2014 group on Facebook, you might have noticed another group come up in the search results. The group has your institution’s name in the title, but it’s a “roommate finder” sponsored by URoomSurf.com. The logo for the group, a gigantic blue U.

When I first saw these groups popping up, I immediately thought back to the College Prowler / MatchU incident for the Class of 2009, or as you might know it better, FacebookGate.  And here are the two things I thought to myself:

  1. Whoever is behind this is fully aware of what happened with FacebookGate last year.
  2. Whoever is behind this learned that as a community, we weren’t big fans of them 1) using our official logos and 2) calling it an official group.
  3. Whoever is behind this learned that it’s best to be transparent about who is behind the group.

This year’s story starts with Scott Kilmer from Abilene Christian University, a BlueFuego client. He started with a general inquiry to URoomSurf asking for them to provide the contact on ACU’s campus that has purchased their services and/or given permission for URoomSurf to host a matching program with the indication that ACU’s residence halls would be able to fulfill the requests created there. After URoomSurf noted there is no affiliation, Scott asked that they remove the group, which URoomSurf would not. They did, however, change the name of the group from “Abilene Christian University 2014″ to “ACU 2014″. (Luckily, ACU owns the copyrights for both and Scott will now be pointing to 2 lines of the Facebook TOC: 3) We will provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. 5) If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.)

So this is where it gets interesting. I passed the email chain over to the rest of the BlueFuego team to keep them in the loop, and Joe comes back to me with a simple email.  ”Does this name ring a bell???” The WHOIS on URoomSurf.com brings up this name: Justin Gaither.

Either the person behind URoomSurf is so intimate with the details of FacebookGate that they even decided to register the domain name after one of the perpetrators, or it is indeed Justin Gaither who is again behind it, back for round 2.  The same Justin Gaither who owned a company last year called MatchU, which had no web presence and was left largely unremembered/unscathed through the whole incident as College Prowler took the majority of the PR hit.

I’m leaving it open as to whether it’s Justin Gaither behind this again, but here’s what we also know.  It certainly makes sense to forget the MatchU name all together and go with something else to match roommates, such as “URoomSurf.” It also lines up that there’s yet to be a website for URoomSurf.com, just as last year with MatchU.

So, here we go again. :) Here’s the spreadsheet of all of the groups and member names to date, feel free to chip in. We’re already seeing the same trends as last year, such as common names starting groups as admins.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AoR-2dTA7L87dGRlZVRNUFRHaFJXN3M4REtBYS0yQmc&hl=en

Here’s the list of 499 colleges and universities that URoomSurf intends to target (also listed on the 2nd tab of the Google Doc). Feel free to search schools and fill in the spreadsheet with the information.

Last year I mentioned that I thought this would be less of an issue if they had 1) not pretended to be official institution accounts, 2) used copyrighted images, and 3) had been transparent about who was behind the group.   They certainly listened to the community.  So now that you know the information at hand, what do you think?  What is the institution’s place? Discuss in the comments below.

And a huge thanks to Joe and Scott for kicking this off and making this post happen with their sleuthing!

UPDATE: Scott has successfully gotten the ACU and Abilene Christian University trademarks removed from the group name. It’s now called “Incoming students going to college in Abilene and looking for roommates!!” and no longer shows in a search for ACU 2014.  Nice work, Scott!

UPDATE 2: It’s nice to see they’ve actually put a placeholder on their .com site. We’ll see what happens from here.

UPDATE 3: I removed erroneous claims pointing to a Craigslist ad.  After last year’s Craigslist connection with hiring students to do the dirty work, I overlooked a sentence and did not fully read the Craiglist ad I posted.

Augmented Reality in Higher Ed

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment, Technology | Posted on 15-01-2010-05-2008

14

I’ve been doing some research on Augmented Reality for higher ed, and ran across a great campaign utilizing it.   First, you might be thinking “What the heck is Augmented Reality?”  (If you already know, skip below for a great example of AR in Higher Ed).

Wikipedia’s definition states that AR is:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality.

In a nutshell: when I open the UrbanSpoon app on my iPhone and point the camera around (live direct view of a physical real-world environment), it’s going to show me what restaurants are around me (merged elements based on GPS data and compass location) to give me a mixed reality that looks like the below image.  From there, I can click on it, get user-generated ratings of the restaurant, see a menu, check their open hours, and more. Another way AR works is by reading a “marker” on paper and doing something with it via webcam, as you’ll see in the video below. (Doritos did this awhile back too.)

Augmented Reality in Higher Ed

One university that’s pushing AR is Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Their partnership with an agency called BCM has created one of the better Augmented Reality applications I’ve seen for student recruitment.  Check out the below video to see what they’re doing with AR and leave your thoughts in a comment below!  (If the below video isn’t visible, click here).


Strategies for using Facebook Groups and Pages to Yield Students

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Recruitment, Research, Speaking, Webinars | Posted on 14-01-2010-05-2008

4

I’m really excited about my upcoming webinar, Strategies for using Facebook Groups and Pages to Yield Students, on Thursday January 28th from 2-3:15pm!

The webinar is $199, and half of the proceeds are going directly to Hope for Haiti, a 501(c)(3) organization that’s using 100% of all  donations to help those affected by the recent earthquake.

We’re going to be discussing all of the changes that have been made to Facebook since the Class of 2013 came through.  Learn more about how you can leverage the updates to Groups to build community and help yield students for your incoming class.  Get informed about the recent changes to Pages that will help you segment and target your messages better, and what trends are coming out of BlueFuego’s research of over 1,200 higher ed fan pages.

I have many key learning objectives for participants of this webinar, including:

- Learn the key differences between Facebook Pages and Groups, and which you should use.

- What to do when students (or spammers!) have already started your Class of 2014 Group or Page.

- How to successfully join and contribute to the community and discussion on Facebook.

- Measuring outcomes: How to track and gauge success of your yielding efforts.

- Targeting messages:  Why the kids in Wichita don’t care about the yield event in Cleveland!

- Social Web Callouts and .edu Integration: How schools are promoting their presence on Facebook.

- Q&A Time: Get specific with your institution’s situation!

Learn more and Register today! Click here.

Book Review: Linchpin

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Higher Education, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter | Posted on 13-01-2010-05-2008

31

I just finished my advance copy of Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? It was certainly different than other Seth Godin books, focusing more on you as a person and what you can personally do to make yourself a necessity at your job or in the marketplace.

Oh, and I should mention before the review, I have a free copy of Linchpin to give away before it hits the shelves on January 26th.  After you read my review, answer the question at the end of the review as a comment and I’ll choose my favorite by the end of Friday and ship the book on Saturday AM! (If you win, look for me on the dust cover!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Before taking on that new project in 2010

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Marketing, Research, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 11-01-2010-05-2008

3

Some questions you might ask before that you start that new project in 2010.

It’s always good to ask questions, both of yourself and others involved. It’ll likely make the project a little easier for you to implement and manage.

  1. Is it realistic?
  2. Do we have the staffing to manage it for long-term?
  3. What is our goal for this? Are we chasing tools instead of goals? (hat tip to @howardkang)
  4. Is this the right tool to make it happen?
  5. What other projects and initiatives will have to sacrifice from the time I need to invest into the new project?
  6. How many other schools/competitors are already doing this?
  7. Can we do it better or differently from them?
  8. Will I have the support I need to get it to a finished project?
  9. How can I document the success of this for my boss?
  10. Who could help me look at this with fresh eyes and give an alternative perspective?

7 Predictions for 2010

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education | Posted on 07-01-2010-05-2008

5

This year, rather than rely on Twitter to hold my predictions, I’m putting them in blog ink.  Turns out Twitter will only let you go back 3,200 tweets, so I can’t get back to mine from last year. :(

1) One that I posted last year was that 2008 was about expanding your social networks, and 2009 would be about refining them.  While it was certainly true for me, 2009 was very much a year of expansion for most people.  Twitter and Facebook exploded in popularity, and everyone wanted to friend everyone.  In 2010 you’ll see a lot of people starting to trim their friend lists and cut back to something more manageable and meaningful.  Many already have, so you won’t be the only one to cut those people you’ve been on the fence about for awhile!

2) Mobile will continue to grow, but mobile marketing won’t be “mainstream” yet. Look towards 2011/2012 for that.  (If you’re in the Asia markets, 2010 is probably your year.)

3) Study Abroad markets will continue to evolve due to the economy and world events.  The marketplace will get much more competitive for US students looking to travel elsewhere.  (Did you know that International Education is Australia’s 4th largest export?? Crazy!)

4) Universities will begin to move control of social web presences from the web team to the marketing team.  (More on this later.)

5) As people continue to be bombarded with brands and messages on social web platforms, your messaging will need to be more relevant and on target than ever.  We’re already seeing declines of up to 70% month-to-month on Facebook Page engagement.  Hooking an RSS feed to your page and expecting results is not an option.  Neither is posting the same stuff month in and month out.   Variety and Relevance will win in 2010.  (Nice Rhyme!)

6) Budgets will continue to force offices to look at cheaper and more effective ways to do marketing.  Budgets should be picked through with a fine-tooth comb.  The whole industry is going to take a hit.

7) New tools? Location based features will become more widely used.  Integration of mobile into the classroom and on campus is possible.  User generated content will continue to be a great source for marketing.

Well, there are a few predictions for this year off the top of my head.  What’s on your list?  Put it in a comment below, so we can look back next year and be amazed or be appalled :)

Skydiving into the Social Web

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Higher Education, Marketing, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 06-01-2010-05-2008

5

A couple of months ago I had a spare day on a client trip.  I went to on Tripadvisor.com to see what there was to do in Wollongong, Australia.  The number one result?  SkyDive the Beach. I decided to take the plunge and it was pretty amazing. (Video here.)

I’ve reflected back on that event many times in the past weeks, thinking of the rush, the thrill, the adrenaline (and more importantly, the landing!). I believe that skydiving can be a great metaphor for how we jump into the social web and use it. Stick with me.

Skydiving

Tandem Skydiving starts with some initial training.  Here’s how you jump out of the plane, and here’s how you land.  That’s it. Nothing can truly prepare you for what’s about to happen in a few short moments.

From there, you take a slow, spiraling plane ride up to 14,000 ft and you begin to see the world from a much broader view. Before you know it, you’re getting shoved out of a plane and you’re free-falling at 120+ miles per hour towards the earth.  You do this for about 9,000 feet, and then, hopefully, your parachute deploys.  It’s a violent jerk that lasts for a few seconds.  Your head is still spinning, but you start to feel a sense of calm.  And for the next 5,000 feet, you’re gliding and gently coasting through the air, still taking in the scenery, but from a much smaller perspective. You view of the world shrank from 15,000 to 5,000 feet.   You then zone in on your landing point, the end goal, and begin floating towards it.  You pull the strings to line yourself up, you get closer and closer, and you finally touch down to the ground, reaching your goal.

Social Web

The Social Web is a lot like Skydiving.  First, you hear about it. (We’re pretty much all past these first few stages, so reminisce for a bit.)  You look into it a little, and it seems fun. You sign up for it, and search around for some initial training.  Blogs, podcasts, and books provide you some general information of what you can do and what to expect.  But like skydiving, nothing can truly prepare you for what’s about to happen.   For example, there are intrinsic values of community managers and marketers that aren’t easily trained.  Like skydiving, a lot of learning comes from doing.

So you become ready to take the plunge.  You’re at the top, with your 15,000 foot view of the Social Web.  (And someone has probably shown you an image of the Social Media Landscape, a Conversation Prism, or an Ohio State Social Media Butterfly at this point.)  You have this great view of what’s possible, and you’re able to see it all.  It’s overwhelming, but thrilling.  It’s daunting, but it seems doable.

Next, you jump.  The freefall begins.  Your heart is racing, the new sites, tips, tricks, blog posts, links, tweets and tools are flying by you faster than you can consume them.  The first 9,000 feet go by so quickly you hardly have time to take it all in. You’re scrambling to make sense of what’s happening with it all.

Before you know it, your parachute springs opens at 5,000 feet. You now have a much smaller view of the world, a more targeted view. Your end goal is closer and much more visible, and you’re able to focus on it and move towards it more carefully and methodically by pulling the right strings in the right direction.

Where are you at in your jump?

I’m going to assume that for most of you, the parachute has deployed or you’re ending your initial free-fall.  You’re able to breathe a little more and you’re not looking at the 15,000 ft view of the social web anymore.  You’re down around 5,000 feet, focusing on a smaller landscape of tools and sites to work with.  Are you focusing on the goals more carefully now? Do you know where you want to land with your project?  And when you get there, are you ready to take it all on again?

If you haven’t deployed your parachute yet, maybe you’re thinking it’s time to settle in and focus on a few that work best. If you’re still freefalling, you might still be trying to decide how much is manageable and where it all fits in.  Regardless of where you are, know this:  many others have gone before you, many others will jump after you.  And for the most part, we’ll all survive. :)

Oh, and one more similarity. For both skydiving and the Social Web, you’ll definitely run into someone who says “I cannot believe you are doing this. You’re ridiculous.” Ignore them. Both are a blast. :)