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!

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.

Are you listening?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Twitter, Usability, Web | Posted on 21-10-2008-05-2008


Are you listening to everything out there that’s being said about your school yet?

If you don’t have your ear on the train tracks, you’re never going to see it coming. And it’s going to hit you. Hard.

Some students would rather voice their opinions and concerns on the web than take the time to send you an email or *gasp* pick up the phone and call you.

Case in point:  Our online application was intermittently down for nearly 24 hours. Did anyone call us? No.  Did anyone email us? Nope.

Did Danielle voice her frustration on Twitter? Yes.

It just took a quick message for me to figure out the problem and realize that our online application was doing this:

Thanks, Danielle. Without your message, who knows how long it would have been or how many frustrated students would have turned around and not worried about trying to apply to Butler.

Interview Week: Jordan Goldman, CEO of

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Higher Education, Interview, Recruitment, Research, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 13-10-2008-05-2008


This week is special. Why? My birthday is on Thursday. That’s right, I turn 25 and cheaper car insurance is just around the corner (except for that speeding ticket I got last week…..). But you know how we do things here at  So keep your gift cards, animal balloons, and the keys to that Porsche.  Instead, here is my gift to you.  4 interviews with 4 people from all aspects of higher education.  And on Friday I’ll wrap it all up with some new projects to keep an eye on.

Today we’re going to kick off this 4-part series with an exclusive interview with Jordan Goldman, CEO and founder of Unigo is a new platform for college students to share reviews, photos, videos, documents, and more with students on their campus and across the country.

Alright, let’s get started. – Jordan, most people might not know it, but you’re no stranger to the Admissions. You were interviewed by the NY Times at 17 about the admissions process and later became subject of ‘The Gatekeepers’, a bestselling book.  You’ve also published two college guide books. What intrigues you so much about higher education admissions?

Jordan Goldman, CEO of

Jordan Goldman - I think … choosing what college you go to is an enormous decision.  It’s stressful, it’s incredibly expensive, in many cases entire families save for years and all chip in … and where you eventually go does shape you to an extent.  It helps teach you how to think, helps direct how you approach problems, helps define who you are and what you do with your life.

Up until very recently the best way to make this stressful, four-year, $50,000 to $250,000 decision was to buy a college guidebook.  And when I was 18, I came up with an idea to help make those guidebooks a little bit better – I created a series of 100% student-written college guidebooks, called Students’ Guide to Colleges’, that were published in a couple of editions from Penguin Books

About a year after I stopped doing Students’ Guide, I started thinking about the limitations of print guidebooks – each college only got a small number of pages, with no photos, no videos, no interactivity.  For a decision this important, that resource didn’t seem helpful enough.

High school students and parents needed more accurate, authentic, honest information.  And college students needed a place where they could really represent their college lives – if they loved their school, if they had issues with it, if they were someplace in-between.  The internet provided the opportunity to create an enormous, comprehensive and totally free resource that could help everyone.

I realize I’m going on a bit of a tangent here, on the very first question … but one of the things we were able to do with Unigo, that I think is pretty exciting, is that we strove to create something that was actually responsible and representative.  That we didn’t just sit back, open a review platform, and hope people came.

So what we did was, we hired an 18 person editorial team, and decided Unigo would initially cover 250 colleges.  We spent about 3 months researching every one of those colleges.  Then we hired interns on the ground, who really believed in what we were trying to accomplish and who helped corroborate our research.  For the next 5 months, we reached out to current students one by one, telling them we wanted to create this giant and honest resource and asking them to be a part of it.  We put in extra effort to ensure we received reviews from students from every major, extracurricular, gender, race, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation and more … students who love their school, who have issues with it, or have mixed feelings.

In the end, at 250 colleges, more than 15,000 students contributed more than 35,000 pieces of content.  In some cases, a full 10% of the student body took part.  And the value of having that volume of reviews is, if we have 150 reviews of a college, you can search by a variety of criteria.  You can say, only show me reviews by English majors, or African American students, or politically right-wing students at a left-wing institution … so you can see a school from the eyes of someone who’s just like you, and interact with them.  And as we go forward, we still have our 18 person editorial team, as well as the ability to rate, star, comment on and flag all content throughout the site.

SP -  You graduated college in 2004 and I finished in 2005.  Isn’t it amazing how much things have changed since we went through the process? What are the biggest game changers, in your opinion?

JG - I really think the internet transformed – or has the ability to transform, is still in the process of transforming – the entire educational landscape.  So much more information is available than ever before, ideas can spread and be shared and worked on collaboratively to create all sorts of new things.  And much of it is made available for free!   So many traditional barriers to access have been torn down.  It’s really exciting.  This has really broad applications – Project Gutenberg, for example, making tens of thousands of books instantly available to everyone, or Wikipedia putting an enormous range of knowledge instantly at our fingertips – and, in the case of Unigo, it means prospective students who previously couldn’t afford to go on campus tours all across the country, who weren’t able to grab a current student by the arm and ask them questions – now they have a way to find an amazing range of authentic information right from their living rooms.  Prospective students have a way to interact with one another and ask each other questions about these schools.  And they have the ability to see each college from the perspective of someone just like them. Sure, Columbia is a great school.  But is it a great school for African American students?  What about students from California?  Is it the same experience for a wealthy student as it is for someone a bit less well-off?  How about a conservative student, or a gay student?  Those are questions Unigo can instantly help you find the answer to.  We want to move the focus away from overly broad rankings that don’t tell you much of anything, and over to “What’s the college that’s actually best for YOU?”

Also, for current students, it gives them a platform to represent their experiences.  Previously, if they loved their school, there was no real way to share that with the world.  And if they had an issue with their college, they could protest in front of the library, but that’s about it.  Unigo lets them create content about their college lives, and see what their classmates are saying.  It really allows a conversation to start, that’s beneficial to other current students, but also for the institution, to be open to legitimate peer review, to assess what students are actually experiencing and perhaps change for the better as a result.

SP - Unigo is currently featuring approximately 225 schools.  Are there plans to get all institutions on the site?

JG – Absolutely.  In the coming months, Unigo will be expanding to include nearly every school in the country.

SP - Unigo might possibly be the tipping point for user generated content about universities. As students find their voice and start to share it, how should universities react?

JG - I really do hope that universities will embrace the idea of Unigo, even if they’re a bit wary at first.  Not only is Unigo one of the largest sources of college information, we also take great efforts to be among the most responsible sources.  And the site is a perfect way for administrators to see what students think about their schools. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses and acting on the information they read, administrators can improve students’ experiences—and ultimately their schools’ reputations. A number of universities have already contacted us and are pretty excited about the platform.

SP - Admission Offices are currently at a crossroads between traditional methods and electronic recruitment.  How does Unigo help fill that gap, both for the student and the school?

JG – I think … in the old way of doing things, administrators traveled from state to state, from high school to high school, explaining their colleges’ missions and programs to prospective students.  Now, with sites like Unigo, any student can instantly access a world of information about what it’s really like to attend these schools, direct from the real experts – the students who attend them.  Any student can find out about schools that are right for them instantly, from their living rooms.  It takes a lot of the mystery and anxiety out of the process for high school students, and (hopefully) removes a lot of the leg work to increase awareness from college administrators.

SP - Last question. SAT and ACT as a predictor for college success…. Thoughts?

JG - The SAT and ACT can provide useful metrics, but they should always be viewed as part of a much larger package.  A student’s scores are only a small part of who they are and what they’re capable of, and should ideally be assessed in that light.

SP - Thanks for your time, Jordan, and keep up the great work!  If you haven’t checked out yet, what are you waiting for? Click the image below.

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


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.

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10 Reasons to Monitor Twitter

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Free, Management, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter | Posted on 23-09-2008-05-2008


I know I talk a lot about Twitter, and I know my research is showing that there are not that many students on it, but I truly believe that Twitter will eventually hit a tipping point with this demographic. It’s encouraging to see so many schools name-saving their accounts or starting to engage with people.

I want to provide you 10 reasons to monitor Twitter as a university or college, all from the past 10 days.

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Carleton College: Come visit, on us.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Thoughts, Zinch | Posted on 09-09-2008-05-2008


While I am still trying to get some measly gas cards to give out, Carleton College in Northfield, MN is giving away all-expenses paid trips to come visit their college.

Nancy, a high school student who contributes to the blog at, writes:

I got a small pamphlet-like letter in the mail late last week from Carleton College inviting me to enter a sort of contest where about 50 kids from under-represented groups get an all-expenses paid trip (YES, THAT INCLUDES AIR-FARE!) to spend three days on their campus. My initial reaction was: “WHATTTTT?! THIS IS AWESOME!!! *runs around house screaming*”

I think it’s safe to say that she feels special, selected, impressed, lucky, excited… you name it.

Head over to the Zinch Blog to read the rest of the blog post.

I had a chance to meet Matthew Ryan, the Associate Director of Web Communications and Development at Carleton during our flight delay after eduWeb.  They’ve got a lot of great stuff on their site, like this student-produced video about Carleton.

And I’ll leave you with one more quote from Nancy:

A piece of advice to all other colleges: If you want students to get more interested in your school, just offer them free trips! Please learn from the almighty, glorious, and benevolent Carleton College!

Review of our Youniversity.TV Experience

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Video, Web | Posted on 08-09-2008-05-2008


We just received our final video from, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on our experience with them since I know many other colleges are considering their services.

Our timeline went something like this:

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Google Docs: We’ll do it for you!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Google, How-To Tuesday, Recruitment, Research, Technology, Web | Posted on 02-09-2008-05-2008


I have long been a supporter of Google Docs, and a recent update just made me that much more excited to continue to spread the love to others.

This post will supplement my previous post on how to create a form in Google Docs. The latest update is that Google Docs will now compile data for you! Here are some screenshots.

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Twitter, Your Free Text Messaging System.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Branding, Concepts, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, RSS, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter, Web | Posted on 20-08-2008-05-2008


A lot of discussion lately has revolved around how/why/if/should Twitter be used in Higher Ed. While my recent research of nearly 300 incoming freshman shows that……..2 students use Twitter, I want to go back to a point that I made in my last post about this topic.

Does the student even need to know what Twitter is, or that they are using it?

Here’s a freebie for you.

Twitter Text Updates. Twitter was essentially designed and built around SMS, but seems to veered from that. Let’s not forget about this powerful feature. Here’s my step-by-step guide to get started. I can’t lay it out for you any more than this.

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