ACU Live! Building Community around the Globe

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Community, Concepts, Embedding, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Twitter, Video, Web | Posted on 26-08-2009-05-2008

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As many open their campus doors this week to new students, Abilene Christian University decided to open its doors to the entire globe.  And when the Opening Chapel kicked off at 11am on Monday, there were hundreds of alumni, parents and campus friends watching and praising along with the students.

BlueFuego and ACU paired up to create a virtual Opening Chapel, complete with uStream, Facebook and Twitter embeds at http://www.acu.edu/live.  In total, over 1500 people visited the stream within the hour, and a consistent 300-375 people watching at any moment. In total, there were 367 viewer hours on uStream for the hour of broadcasting! Alumni from around the US and as far as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, Germany, and even a village of 400 people in Ukraine tuned in to participate in the opening festivities.  For many, it was the first time seeing a Chapel since graduating from ACU.  From others, it was a way to participate when they couldn’t make the annual drive this year.  But for all, it was an experience that built affinity and pride in their alma mater, ACU.

And ACU is back at it again tomorrow night, for the season opening Football game.   Pictures on the scoreboard from the 1,000+ students with iPhones in their hands (take THAT, SEC!!), live viewing parties from around the US being pulled into the scoreboard via Skype, and much, much more.  All a part of the continued initiative to increase affinity and school spirit and utilize the available technology.  I can’t wait to get down to Texas tonight to prepare for tomorrow’s event, it’s going to be a blast.

Take a look below at the ACU Live page, complete with uStream Watershed, Facebook Fan Page and Live Stream embeds, as well as Twitter hashtag updates. Below that, read some of the updates from everyone watching the event. I’ll be honest, I got goosebumps seeing the community interact with each other and participate in this event.

You want to see a school who’s doing some of the most cutting-edge stuff in higher education?  Keep an eye on ACU.

Social Web Callouts: Research from BlueFuego!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Callouts, Facebook, Flickr, Higher Education, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, YouTube | Posted on 03-08-2009-05-2008

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SquaredPeg is back with a new design and ready for another academic year! After a few months off from blogging I’ve had some time to get re-energized about this site and am looking forward to the coming months!

We released our initial BlueFuego research on Social Web Callouts on SquaredPeg 6 months ago and figured that the numbers were going to quickly grow. Now that we’ve compiled and crunched the numbers again, we’re excited to share some of our findings with you. Please feel free to pass this along to your co-workers and colleagues, especially if you are trying to make the case for your institution!

Social Web Callouts in Higher Ed

Of the 1,387 four year schools researched on August 1, 2009:
562 schools (40.5%) had one or more Social Web Callouts (SWC’s) within the criteria.
54 schools (3.9%) had SWC’s on all three criteria (Main, Admission, Alumni).
161 schools (11.6%) had SWC’s on 2 of the 3 criteria.

Of the 1,387 schools, 247 (17.8%) had SWC’s or links on the main .edu homepage. Of these 247 schools:
78.1% linked to Facebook
64.4% linked to Twitter
44.5% linked to YouTube
21.0% linked to Flickr
12.2% linked to MySpace
9.3% linked to LinkedIn
6.1% linked to YouTube (Embed)

Of the 1,387 schools, 235 (16.9%) had SWC’s or links on the main Admissions site. Of these 235 schools:
80.9% linked to Facebook
45.6% linked to Twitter
29.8% linked to YouTube
12.3% linked to Flickr
10.2% linked to MySpace
9.9% linked to YouTube (Embed)
3.4% linked to LinkedIn

Of the 1,387 schools, 282 (20.3%) had SWC’s or links from main Alumni site. Of these 282 schools:
87.23% linked to Facebook
42.20% linked to LinkedIn
40.78% linked to Twitter
18.44% linked to YouTube
12.06% linked to Flickr
11.77% linked to MySpace
5.32% linked to YouTube (Embed)

AlumTweet – Your Alumni on Twitter

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Twitter, Viral | Posted on 18-06-2009-05-2008

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I’ve always had an idea in my mind of a hashtag that everyone on Twitter uses to post their alma mater and graduation year, which would help colleges and universities find their Alumni on Twitter (outside of the mandatory search.twitter.com and other searches).  Afraid of ‘creating more noise’, I was always hesitant to start a hashtag and try to promote it endlessly to success.

Well, now there’s a way to do it.

Head to http://www.alumtweet.com and fill out your information, and post it to your Twitter account.  People are doing it all across Twitter this morning. As more do it, more people will click and be interested in the site and ultimately end up filling it out themselves.

As an institution, you no longer have an excuse for not being able to find Alumni on Twitter.  Get to work, just like @DrakeBlake. :)

Who’s Linking? Research on Social Web Callouts.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Analytics, Callouts, Embedding, Facebook, Flickr, Higher Education, Integration Week, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter, Web, YouTube | Posted on 13-03-2009-05-2008

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This post wraps up Integration Week at SquaredPeg.  Be sure to check out the posts from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!

Today I’m lending the platform over to my partner and co-founder of BlueFuego, Joe Gaylor. Joe has spent the last week working on some very interesting research.  Over the past several months we have noticed that some schools are very up front with their social media efforts, other bury their hard work deep in a 3rd level text link.

While we don’t have specific research on this, we can tell you one thing:  To your target audience, the Facebook ‘F’ is probably just as familiar as other ‘brand name’ logos. So why not put it where they can see it? If you have a great Facebook page with tons of quality content and engagement, brag about it!

BlueFuegoAnalysis of Social Web Callouts on .edu Sites

Read the rest of this entry »

Friendraise before you Fundraise

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Fundraising, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 03-02-2009-05-2008

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Just wanted to share a simple thought I had working on a project last week.

Do friendraising before you do fundraising.

I’m more likely to give a good friend the $$ they ask for.  But a stranger or someone I haven’t talked to in years?  Probably wouldn’t give them the $$ they ask for.  Why is that? I’ve kept in touch with my good friend.  I’ve seen all of the great things they have done over the past several years for others (or for me).  I’ve helped them out, they’ve helped me out in the past. We’re friends. We have a relationship.

Compare that to your university or college.  This school in particular told me that they haven’t been very good in staying in contact with their alumni.  There was even a period where donors didn’t even receive a thank you note after giving. People want to feel appreciated, especially when they are giving up their money during these tough times.

It’s all about relationships. And that’s why I’m excited about all of these tools on the web that help facilitate friendships. Nearly every time someone on Facebook or Twitter asks for donations towards a cause, whether it’s a Polar Bear Plunge, March of Dimes, etc. I’ll usually give $5 or $10.  Why? Because I have a relationship with that person and I’d like to help them out. The amount might be small, but the friendship facilitated it.

And what would happen if my Alma Mater asked for a small donation on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn after we’d been ‘friends’ and adding value to each other for a few months?  I’d donate.

What can you do for your alumni? What can your alumni do for you?  Work together.  Be friends, and when that time comes, they’ll probably hesitate less to give $$ to the cause.

There’s something going down on Facebook. Pay attention.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Blogging, Community, Concepts, Ethics, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts, Viral, Web | Posted on 18-12-2008-05-2008

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*First time to SquaredPeg?  Subscribe via Email or RSS today or follow @bradjward on twitter for more frequent updates.*


I really need you to listen up for this post.  Please.

Something is going down on Facebook, and it has implications for your school.

Several weeks ago I was contacted by my friend and colleague Michelle at Winthrop about some questions pertaining to her Class of 2013 Facebook Group. The email read:

Since we are on rolling admissions I’ve been watching to see when a 2013 group would spring up.  Interestingly we have no info on 18 of the 23 members.  In fact, even though they are all out of state they all (include two 08 alum of Miami) seem to be connected.  My only thought is that they could be a group of squatters?  Would that even be beneficial to them?  Have you see anything like this or have any thoughts?

I did some research for her, and looked through the friends of Patrick Kelly, the creator of the group. At first, I saw nothing out of the ordinary other than the two ’08 alumni and the fact that this small group of 16-18 students were all interconnected with each other, like she said.

Yesterday, we sent out our admit packets.  Today, I got on Facebook to see if a Class of 2013 group had popped up yet.  I found 2.  One has the exact logo that was used for last year’s group, a non-Butler bulldog image, so I click on that one.  And I look at the Creator of the group.  Patrick Kelly, Plano Senior High School. I check our system. No Patrick Kelly that has applied and been admitted to Butler.

I dig deeper into Facebook, searching for ‘Class of 2013′ groups. And here’s a list of what I find.

University of Michigan.
Cornell.
Indiana University.
George Washington University.
Duke (?).
University of Alabama.
Tulane
.
Brown.
Northwestern.
Vanderbilt
.
Pittsburgh
.
University of Illinois.
Auburn.
West Virginia University
.
Michigan State University.
Boston University.
Penn State.
University of Wisconsin
.
Washington University in St. Louis
.
Temple University
.
University of Georgia
.
University of Chicago.
University of Iowa.
University of Vermont
.
Georgetown.
Dartmouth
.
Virginia Tech
.

And guess what?  This is only from the first 7 pages of a search that returns more than 500 results.   Start looking at the names of the group creators and admins.

Justin Gaither.
Patrick Kelly.
Jasmine White.
James Gaither.
Josh Egan.
Ashley Thomas.
And more.

See how many times those names appear in admin for these groups, and look at their friends and see how many times those names pop up.  A LOT. This isn’t just the Common App Effect, where students apply to every school under the sun. These people aren’t interested in going to every school they have started a group for. No, this is an inside ring with a common purpose.  They don’t always create the group, but they do always get in, friend someone, and get control rights.

You might have the same thought I had at first.  I responded to Megan, “That is very interesting. I don’t really see where squatting could be beneficial. After all, the students who join and participate will steer the group in whatever direction they take it.  I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

Sure, not for one school. Not for tiny little Butler, with 900 incoming students.

But for 500+ schools? Owning the admin rights to groups equaling easily 1,000,000+ freshman college students?

That’s huge.

Think of it: Sitting back for 8-10 months, (even a few years), maybe friending everyone and posing as an incoming student.  Think of the data collection. The opportunities down the road to push affiliate links.  The opportunity to appear to be an ‘Admin’ of Your School Class of 2013. The chance to message alumni down the road.  The list of possibilities goes on and on and on.

I’ve said many times, step back and let the student group start on its own.   Today, I change that position.  It seems that we have been gamed, and we need to at least own the admin rights to the group in an effort to protect our incoming students. To end the possibility of them being pushed ads and “buy these sheets for college” stuff this summer.  You know there is a motive behind all of this. And you know it has to do with money.  And you KNOW you’re going to get calls about it when it happens.

Tomorrow I will set up the OFFICIAL Butler Class of 2013 group. Tomorrow we will promote it to our students, and explain to them why the other groups are potential spam.  Tomorrow I will let them know we are not there to moderate them, but merely to provide the safe platform for them to interact and get to know each other.  I encourage you to consider the same.

For most of us, tomorrow is too late already. Luckily my group has 2 students in it.  Most schools are at 300+ students and growing every day.  Make an effort now.

I can’t wrap my head around this all the way yet.  I’ll be back around 9pm to write more.   Please, join me and comment with your thoughts. What I have said above might not be the right solution.  Maybe it involves Facebook’s help to take the ring down.  For the first time, I truly believe we can’t sit back on this one.  If you see more schools, add them to the list.  Together we can figure out a solution for our incoming students.

And please, blog/tweet/email this out to others and link to this so we can have a common place to figure out the best steps.


*added 5:47pm

*added 10:28pm

I have created a Google Doc to start trying to tie the schools all together. Collab with me! http://bit.ly/W1Cg
It’s pretty neat to see everyone working together! Check it out. Thanks for your help!

*added 11:37pm

About 15 people have joined me on the Google Doc (THANK YOU!!) and we are approaching a list of 150 schools now. Click here to see the progress.

To keep an eye on the twitter backstream as well, click here.

*added 12:25am

We have over 200 schools and are starting to notice some patterns.  Certain names are affiliated with bigger schools, and others are with smaller schools.  Some people are usually ‘creator’ and others are always ‘admin’.

*added 1:03am

A lot of the names are linking back to College Prowler. More updates after we do some research. *HUGE SHOUTOUT to the 15+ people helping out in the Google Document and on Twitter. You’re all awesome.  Be sure to leave a comment so I can recognize you properly.

*added 1:26am

We feel we can reasonably confirm that College Prowler is behind the mass creation of ‘Class of 2013′ groups on Facebook. More to come.

*added 1:40am

Out of the 243 ‘Class of 2013′ groups we listed on the Google Doc, these are the most frequent names (n=493) listed as Creator or Admin of the group:

  • Ron Tressler – 58
  • Justin Gaither – 55
  • Josh Egan – 42
  • Jasmine Smith – 20
  • Ashley Thomas – 20
  • Mark Tressler – 10
  • James Gaither  – 10

Searching these names on Google, my colleagues found several direct connections to College Prowler via LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, and more. Perhaps the most disheartening tidbit we found was a post spread across the US on Craiglist.  Here is an example of a local ad put out for a ‘Facebook Marketing Internship‘.

“Viral Marketing Internship (Spring Semester)
An internship that combines the addicting glory of facebook with viral marketing? It’s true. College Prowler Inc., the Pittsburgh-based publisher of the only complete series of college insiders’ guides written by students, is actively seeking an unpaid viral marketing intern who has a solid understanding of the web, social networking, and interactive marketing.
Responsibilities
- Implement Facebook marketing campaigns that will engage high school and college students
[...]
Hours: 15 hours per week
Salary: Unpaid, internship credit

UNPAID to do the dirty work. What a shame.

I am not here to say that College Prowler is a bad company. There was obviously a business motive behind the decision to create 250+ Class of 2013 groups.  Unfortunately, we may never know that decision now that this has been brought into the light by the higher ed community.  Stories can quickly be changed.  An incentive can be a service with one PR release.   Truthfully, I hope we don’t find out what future plans were down the road for this massive infrastructure that has been laid across Facebook to unsuspecting high school seniors.

I do need some sleep. I’ll revisit this again in the morning.  Please add your thoughts and reflections and ramifications as a comment below.  And again, thanks for your help everyone.

(View screenshots here)

*added 5:50am, Friday

One thing that concerns me, after sitting back and looking at this.  Most (75+%) of the students who are joining these groups list themselves as ’09 high school students. The position is for a college internship. I don’t know too many high school seniors looking to pick up an internship in the spring of their junior year.  It reeks of inauthenticity.  I also noticed several high school names popping up throughout as the networks that these people were a part of.  Last I knew, to be a high school student and join a network you just had to have 3 people confirm you went there. Join a school, add random people as friends to confirm you (you’d be surprised at how many students would probably do this for someone they have never met or heard of), and you’re in.  Also, I have noticed that the friend list of these ‘students’ are often alphabetical.  Start with an A search and friend students until you get what you need.

*added 9:45am, Friday

With recent talk on Twitter about what a school’s role should be on a Facebook group, I thought this research would be timely.   (To see all of my Class of 2012 Facebook Group research from last year, please visit this page.) I surveyed our incoming class of 915 students, and about 315 responded.  These questions relate to the Class of 2012 Facebook Group:

16. Did other universities and colleges use these type of sites to contact you?
Yes:    70    22.44%
No:    242    77.56%

17. Were you ever helped with a question about Butler through a social media site?
For example: Facebook, Butler Bloggers/Forums, Zinch, etc.
Yes:    195    62.50%
No:    117    37.50%

18. How helpful is it to ask questions about Butler on sites like the BUForums or Facebook?
1 being ‘Not helpful. I would rather call.’
5 being ‘Very helpful. I like using the internet to get info.’

1 – 23
2 – 17
3  – 80
4 – 93
5 –   94
Average:    3.71

21. Butler Admissions’ involvement in the Class of ’12 Facebook group was:
1 being ‘Too much. Let us have our own area.’    1    4
5 being ‘Perfect. Got questions answered when I needed help.’    2    13
1 – 4
2 – 13
3  – 114
4 – 110
5 –   52
Average:    3.66

My research shows that it’s ok for us to be involved in a ‘Class of xxxx’ group.

*added 10:19am, Friday

Breaking News: @hollyrae may have found our list of intern students behind the creation.  http://www.collegejolt.com

*added 12:03pm, Friday

Update: Luke Skurman, CEO of College Prowler, has left a comment.

*added 4:15pm, Friday

I have chatted with reporters at both The Chronicle of Higher Ed and Inside Higher Ed.  Serious interest from them.  Also emailed my contacts at Chicago Tribune and Campus Technology.  Thanks to Sarah Evans at http://www.prsarahevans.com for her PR help.  Might have a lead for a CNN story next week.

*added 7:51pm, Friday

I’m planning a small, free web-based roundtable next week for anyone who is completely lost and needs some help or clarification.  More details to come. Thanks again for all your content creation and collaboration.

I’ve started Butler’s official group and drafted the email to all admitted students to notify them of the group and the tiny role we will play in it. I have asked in the email for students who wish to be the moderators/admins of the groups.  That’s where we are at right now. :)

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Interview Week: Dara Crowfoot, DePaulQuad.com

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Blogging, Concepts, Interview, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 15-10-2008-05-2008

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This is part 3 of Interview Week at SquaredPeg.  Missed past interviews? Click below.
Interview Week [Part 1]: Jordan Goldman, CEO of Unigo.com
Interview Week [Part 2]: Pauline from “The ‘C’ Word”
—————–

Today we’re talking with Dara Crowfoot from DePaul University about DePaulQuad.com, a social network exclusively for parents of current students.  This hit my radar a while back and it was great to talk with Dara and learn more about the initiative, so I wanted to share it with you.

Dara is the Director of Marketing Strategy at DePaul, and comes from an impressive marketing background including time as the Director of Marketing of Verizon Avenue at Verizon and Assistant Brand Manager at Kraft General Foods.

SquaredPeg.com: When was DePaulQuad.com launched?
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Making a Viral Video

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Analytics, Athletics, Blogging, Embedding, Facebook, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Mascot, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Video, Viral, Web, YouTube | Posted on 10-10-2008-05-2008

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It’s been nearly one month since I created and released the Butler Blue II video during our missing mascot fiasco (no, they were never found).

I’ve refrained from posting on this until now because I wanted to allow enough time to look at stats and analytics on the video to say if it was a success or not. Conclusion?  Success.

I’ve never been one to throw the word ‘viral‘ around.  [Example] You can’t make a video ‘viral’, it’s up to the people who watch it if they want to pass it along.   But you CAN help the video become viral by choosing your key influencers and letting it go from there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unexpected Growth

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

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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.