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.
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!
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!)
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.
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.
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.
There are countless blog posts about differentiation and standing out from your competitors. Rather than try to brush broad strokes about what I think schools should do differently, I think I’ll paint a different picture on this one.
Over the past two days I’ve been updating BlueFuego’s Social Web Research, which has exposed me on over 3,000 URLS for admissions, alumni, and .edu homepages of 1,000 university and college sites (400 sites to go!). I continue to see the same boring story again and again. So I decided to set up some advanced searches on common quotes and sayings that continue to pop up.
(And if you want prospective students to “Become a VIP“, there are 16,799 other URLs just like you.)
Are you really that different? Have you taken the time to look at your 10 most frequent cross-app schools to see what students see there? I’d venture to guess there are more than a few similarities. I think back to this blog post, Give Them More Than The Expected, and encourage you to look outside of the basic/expected product and give them the Wow Factor.
What better way to get back on the blogging horse** than a quick blog post about Horse Racing? (And more importantly, betting.)
The Social Web is a Horse Race
Think about the Kentucky Derby, the premier race for three-year old thoroughbred horses. These three-year old horses are bet on, talked about, and speculated about who is favored to win. A known statistic in the horse betting world is that the favored horse will only win about 33% of the time. This is the horse that SUPPOSED to win, yet it only does one in three times.
Who are you betting on?
As you develop platforms, strategy, community, conversation and more around these social web tools, are you betting on one to take you to the finish line (your goal)? Do you put your chips on one horse, maybe the favorite? Just crossing your fingers and hoping to win big? Do you accept the fact that if you’re wrong, you lose it all? Doesn’t it seem a little safer to spread your chips out a bit?
This all stems from a thought I offered during the AACRAO Panel in Dallas yesterday. The main point was this: we’ve narrowed the field down from all of the tools available (for this point in time), and everyone’s placing their bets on which tool is going to win. Instead of betting on one site to win for you, here’s an alternate perspective:
The social web is like a horse race. If you’re on every single horse, you’ll win.
I’m not telling you to be on every tool and site available. That’s absurd. And besides, not every horse is in the Kentucky Derby… just the best, the ones that made the cut. I am telling you to focus on the big players. If you’re ignoring MySpace because Mashable or another blogger said to, and you haven’t done your own primary research, you’re potentially missing an opportunity.
And as I mentioned at the beginning, the Kentucky Derby is only for 3 year old horses. Know what that means? There will occasionally be a new field to bet on. Lucky for us, it’s not a one year cycle (more like 2 or 3). Tools you used last year and tools you are using this year might not be used in the coming years.
Be flexible. Be adaptable. Win the race.
**My apologies for the lack of content of the past few months. Things have been excitedly hectic at BlueFuego (you can read about recent company developments later this week on the BlueFuego Blog. Subscribe here). I’ve always been of the mindset that “If you don’t have anything good to blog, don’t blog anything at all.” I want to respect your time and your inbox/reader with the content I push out, and bring you relevant information. I appreciate when you stop by and comment on the occasional post, and I pledge to do better for you in the coming months!
Another week, another blog post about the continuing debate of the question “Are Teens on Twitter?”
We first heard from Mashable, who reported in early August that the “Stats Confirm It“. Then, the phrase ‘Teens Don’t Tweet’ was a trending topic all day long. Not because of the usual Mashable RT crowd, but because of teens coming out of the woodwork. At any given moment, search.twitter.com results would resemble something like this that day:
So the latest ‘research’ comes from a TechCrunch post, and it’s again spreading like wildfire. Don’t miss the first line of the article: “This guest post is written by Geoff Cook, cofounder and CEO of social networking site myYearbook.”
This research (or is it just a well-positioned promotion for MyYearbook??) is now causing people in higher ed to exclaim on Twitter that “More teens tweet than Facebook“. False. Absolutely False. According to the post, a higher percentage of twitter users are teens than the percentage of Facebook users who are teenagers. But when it comes to straight numbers, teens on Twitter don’t even compare to teens on Facebook. Not yet, anyways.
Looking at Quantcast.com data, 22% of Facebook’s 98.7 million monthly US viewers are 17 or younger. That’s 20,614,000 teens. On the Twitter side? 9% of Twitter’s 28.0 million monthly US viewers are 17 or younger. That’s 2,520,000 teens. According to that count, there are 818% more teens on Facebook each month vs. Twitter. More teens tweet than Facebook? Hardly.
Are they on Twitter? Are they not? What should we do?
Here’s the thing. Twitter should not be at the core of your marketing strategy. Yet. But should you have a presence? Absolutely. Do you need to know how to use the site? Yes. Are you building your presence and community as the site grows? I hope so.
If you use Twitter, remember the last time you complained about a bad experience with a company or site and they weren’t there to listen online? What about your favorite brands that you desire to interact with online and receive valuable information from? What do you think of them when they aren’t on Twitter, ready to listen? It’s a huge customer service opportunity. Conversations about your institution are happening all the time online, and in increasing frequency on Twitter.
Apply the same thought to your institution or office. Twitter is not going to solve all of your goals and objectives. But there are teens out there ready to engage and interact with you. They want to connect with you, and if you are not there, you’ve missed an opportunity. (Or worse, someone else takes over your brand/identity and runs with it like many universities we see in our research.)
The research is nice. But how much weight should you actually put into it? My challenge do you is this: do your own research. Throw a quick survey together and integrate it into first week activities.
IU East did, and found out that 67% of incoming students are on MySpace, while only 60% are on Facebook. (Twitter? 6%.) If IU East had just ‘followed the research’, they’d be listening to everyone who says MySpace is dead and missing out on reaching a large percentage of their student and alumni base.
Almost a year ago I reminded everyone to do their homework after a conference. The same thing goes for any research online. If you’re changing your entire marketing strategy based on what Mashable or TechCrunch posts on their site, you’re going to have some issues. And if you’re retweeting and spreading this information without even reading or confirming it… please stop.
What do you think?
Do you agree with the research that’s out there? Disagree? Indifferent? Let me know below in the comments!
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.
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently across many campuses. Social web presences for colleges and universities are being operated by robots… or so it seems.
As schools grapple with more, more, more and even more places on the social web to interact/update/moderate/maintain/upgrade, they are quickly losing the personal touch with their audience. Tools are available to make it easy to spread information out to multiple platforms, but every website is different. Every community is different. And, with a few exceptions, every update you post should be different.
Your audience on Facebook is different than LinkedIn. And that crowd is different than Twitter. 1 message does not fit all. A ‘Social Media Marketing Checklist‘ is not going to make you do things better, but it is going to inundate you with endless tasks that make you lose sight of what’s important in your marketing strategy.
Keep it simple: Be human, interact with others, and keep your institution on their mind. Don’t get stuck in the rut of ‘I have to do this on Monday, this on Wednesday, this twice on Thursday….” Be flexible and be a part of the community. Our research is proving it, being human wins every time.
Start by taking an honest look at your audience and how they want to get your information, and serve that audience first. (Alumni, Young Alumni, Current and Prospective students might all differ.) Ask them, like the FGCU Alumni Office did. Take a look at this response. And the same with University of Miami when they asked “Facebook or Twitter?” Then build your presence from there, adding in what you can manage.
As I prepare for a 4-hour social web workshop at OACUHO in Toronto this weekend, I find myself asking this question….
Should I be designing my slides more for the people who are there, or for the people who aren’t there?
Here’s where the thought came from. I was browsing through my old presentations on SlideShare and realized that I’m reaching a much wider audience post-presentation. We’ve all been in this stage of ‘Presentation Zen’ and ‘Slideology‘ for many months as everyone tries to make their slides more simplistic, but are they still able to tell the story to the casual viewer online, and do they still reflect the message enough? In other words, is there enough meat on the bones of your slides to transcend into the online world effectively?
The Recruitment Long Tail – Stamats 08 (Slidecast – Audio + Slides to tell the story)
Presentation: 150 people
Online: 1020 views in 6 months
After these presentations happened in real life, they reached an audience on average 15 x’s larger on the web. Surely not all visitors viewed the whole thing, not all of them stayed after the first 5 slides, but they all came across the content. And if was easier to follow, would they stick around longer?
Which leads me to think: How can I create engaging presentation slides that capture the needs of both my live audience and my online audience? The live audience ALWAYS comes first. Bottom line. But would a little more clarification on a slide hurt for when you post it online later? Will it ruin your presentation? If you’re engaging, lively and captivating, does it even matter?
I’ll talk for several minutes this weekend on this slide:
But I wouldn’t expect someone on Slideshare to spend more than several seconds on it. On the other hand, you don’t want your slides to end up on the other extreme:
Just something to think about as you prepare for your next presentation. Be remarkable, be rememberable, and be aware of your post-presentation audience. See you on the stage!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
To keep an eye on the twitter backstream as well, click here.
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’.
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.
We feel we can reasonably confirm that College Prowler is behind the mass creation of ‘Class of 2013′ groups on Facebook. More to come.
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.
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.
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.