AIKCU and SMSummit

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Branding, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts, Twitter | Posted on 10-06-2009-05-2008

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Yesterday was quite a day.  I drove down to Louisville, KY to meet with the good people of AIKCU and do a 3 hour workshop on the social web for higher ed. For the first 30 minutes of our time together, we connected in to the Social Media Summit, presented by Mark Greenfield from the PSUWEB09 conference. I ‘took the stage’ for 15 minutes to share a few Twitter and Facebook research tidbits from our extensive 60 day data.  It was really neat to be able to do this, and present at a conference from a conference.  The AIKCU members got to watch the participation of over 300 other higher ed professionals in real-time, and we had a great time.  (Yes, that was our laughter you heard… :) )  From there we moved into a lively discussion on a wide range of topics and had a great discussion.

(You can see some of the backchannel from yesterday here.)
(You can see the slides from SMSummit embedded below, or click here.)

But the coolest thing I saw all day was at Campbellsville University.  When I walked in to the building, I met Katie.  Her title — Director of First Impressions.

How awesome is that? How would your front desk person think differently about each visitor if they had a title like that? Kudos to Campbellsville and Katie for making a great first impression on me, and for having BlueFuego in town for the day!


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MiFi… WiFi for me.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Flickr, Higher Education, Lifecasting, Marketing, Photos, Recruitment, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts, Web, YouTube | Posted on 03-06-2009-05-2008

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If you haven’t heard yet about the awesomeness of the MiFi and how it’s going to change the way you think about media, allow me to explain.

The MiFi (available through Verizon and Sprint) calls itself the ‘intelligent mobile hotspot’.

Thinner and shorter than an iPhone, and as simple to use as pressing an on/off button, the MiFi is essentially a router in your pocket.  You’re able to connect up to 5 devices to it and use the signal.  On Verizon, I typically am on a 3G network and have averaged a 2.0mpbs download speed.  I rarely notice a lag in page loads.

At last check, the price of the MiFi was $99 with a $50 rebate. A $40/month subscription gets you a measly 250mb of data.  Upgrade to the $60/month package and get 5GB of data.

So how does this affect my job?

Two words: Streamlined Media.

With a MiFi, you have internet whereever you go, for whatever device you need (as long as Verizon really is everywhere they say they are!) To explain streamlined media and how you can take advantage of it, let me offer a few examples.

1) Event Photos live to the web

Go pick up an Eye Fi 4GB Explore Video SD Card for $99 and put it in your camera.  The Eye Fi allows you to upload photos as soon as you hit a pre-registered wi-fi network.  With the MiFi, you no longer need to wait to get back to the office to send photos. Do it on the fly, right from the event!!

Here’s what you can do with the Eye Fi:

1) Set the card to instantly upload photos to Flickr with a tag for the event.  We’ll pretend it’s Commencement. So we set up the Eye Fi to upload each photo taken to Flickr with the tag commencement2009.

2) Set up a page on your .edu website that will show all of the photos taken.  Link to it from your social web efforts, the home page, the commencement page, the live video streaming page, and more.

3) Put some simple code on it that will pull in photos from Flickr. (Put your username where the red is.  Find it here.) Use the API to create something like:

<iframe align="center" src="http://www.flickr.com/slideShow/
index.gne?user_id=XXXXXXXX@N00&tags=commencement2009" 
frameBorder="0" width="750" scrolling="no" height="750"></iframe>

4) Go wild!  Take photos and they’ll automatically be put on your .edu website.  No need to get back to a computer and get them uploaded, have someone resizing images and putting them on the web.  Streamlined.

2) Live Video anywhere on campus

If you haven’t realized that it’s time to get serious about video, wake up.  Video is becoming increasingly important and with the MiFi you can provide it.  Whether it’s using the same steps above to do YouTube videos on the fly or have a uStream feed from anywhere you have a signal.

And remember this that I talked about last January?? Next week, it will be 2 years to the day since I put together the plan for it at Butler.  With the MiFi, it just became that much easier. And yes, it’s coming to a campus near you very soon.

3) Campus Tour Enhancement!

This one comes from Adam Epstein at WPI (@epsteada on Twitter, blogs at http://epsteada.com/), and some discussion we had while I was at NEACAC last week. (If you want to see the slidecast of my presentation, it’s over here.) Adam talked about the possibilities of photos during the campus tour, and when the students arrive back to the Admissions office…. BOOM!  They’re already on the screen as they walk back in.  For a tech-savvy campus like WPI, that’s pretty cool stuff to show off.

So what can you think of?

There are probably 101 other ways to use this new technology, what do you have in mind? Where are we going from here as we get one step closer to an internet chip in our skin? :)   Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oh, and next time you’re at a conference, look for the BlueFuego connection.  And if you need an internet fix, come find me for the password. :)

mifi

Define your Efforts: Social Web Recruitment Funnel

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Facebook, Flickr, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter, Web, YouTube, Zinch | Posted on 13-05-2009-05-2008

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I’ve had this thought bouncing around in my head that came out of a client visit/strategy session… a visualization of the traditional recruitment funnel in terms of the social web.  This is what I came up with.

(Click Photo to Enlarge)

*NOTE* –   This chart is by no means inclusive of all sites or tools available. This chart is meant as a visualization of strategy to help you think about a framework for your recruitment efforts.  This chart is meant to be thought about, modified to fit, and executed as resources are available.

The Social Web Recruitment Funnel

The Funnel resembles a traditional recruitment funnel (suspects -> prospects -> applicants -> admits -> enrolled), and is designed to dissect 3 areas of recruitment:  Seek, Engage and Retain.

Seek.

The students are not always going to look for you.  Traditional methods such as name buys, print and email still hold a place in your marketing/recruitment arsenal.  But take a good look at web-based tools and sites, for example: Zinch, CollegeBoard and Cappex. Facebook might also be a method of seeking potential applicants and this platform can be leveraged as a great place for prospective student Q&A.  Use email and print to reinforce your message and to drive students to your social web efforts. Your .edu website is still important and things such as ‘Get more info’ need to be prominent and easy to find/fill out.

Engage.

This is where it gets fun.  Build your social web presence to start engaging and interacting with these prospective students.  Think outside of the box. Never before have we had access to so many opportunities to connect and utilize free tools, but approach with caution and don’t overwhelm your audience.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  It’s easier to make your web presence bigger. It’s much harder to shrink your web presence and cut connections and friendships with others on a platform you decide to no longer utilize or maintain. Allow them the opportunity to engage with you from the moment they show interest to the moment they step on campus.

Retain.

After the applications come in, your pool has decreased significantly in size.  Take the opportunity to create community with these students and allow them to interact with each other.  Host the conversation or set up a Facebook group for them to interact.  Promote it heavily through traditional methods such as email and print, but drive them to the conversation. If possible, scale back your efforts to a smaller collection of tools for this select group and focus on community management and getting them excited about your school and brand. Outside of the social web, continue interactions via yielding events and personal phone calls.  Use the web to enhance these connections and to network the students together.

Final Thoughts

These thoughts are from the 30,000 ft. view and hundreds of other decisions and ideas would go into each effort. A well-defined strategy would incorporate many, but not all, of these social web tools.  The most important thing is to know where your audience is and cater to them.

If you have any thoughts or comments, leave a message below or shoot me a message on Twitter (@bradjward).


Are you ready to Ignite the Fuego and work with BlueFuego on your strategy? Contact us today.
Twitter for Higher Ed Webinar: Back by popular demand!  June 10th, only $99.  Click to Register.

A View from the ‘Customer’

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 24-04-2009-05-2008

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Darryl from Plaid has recently posted his thoughts on the college visit process after a whirlwind trip in the northeast.  The post, titled how many $150K products do you buy from 20 year olds?, talks about many points of the college visit and selection process.  Here are some gems from the blog post:

————

+ What about having an admissions/marketing person on tour with a student guide? Co-presenting, for the win? Sales teams present to clients selling $150K products every day. Why not higher ed?

+ Everyone has a meal plan, quad style dorms, blue light security systems and lecture halls. Hand out a fact sheet to cover the obvious stuff that everyone asks (but must be covered.)

+ How could your tour be interactive? Is there a way to get the student/parent to participate?

+ Anywhere else in the consumersphere, you’re treated like a rockstar if you’ve got over $100K to spend. How could you treat potential students (and parents) like rock stars?

+ Every higher ed admissions/marketing person should book a trip to Vegas today and take the Zappos tour. Seriously. This is a tour of AN OFFICE, and it’s exciting, engaging, and you’ll want to work there. What could your university be doing to make your tour more Zappos-like?

————-

Go read the blog post today, and keep an eye out for future posts by Darryl on higher ed marketing!

Welcome to the Carnival of College Admission!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment | Posted on 08-04-2009-05-2008

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Welcome to the April 8, 2009 edition of Carnival of College Admission! Thanks to Mark Montgomery at http://greatcollegeadvice.com for letting me host this edition. I have found some great content and new blogs from the submissions below. Take a few seconds to look at the great posts below; you’ll definitely find something new and interesting.

JC presents SJ lol’s “Computer science major is cool again” | 6Bubbles – Grad School, Money, Life posted at 6Bubbles.

Erika Collin presents Top 100 Librarian Tweeters posted at Best Colleges Online.

Larry Ferlazzo presents “You’re Going To College!” posted at Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites Of The Day For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL.

Erika Collin presents Top 100 Tools for the Twittering Teacher posted at Best Colleges Online.

Sandi Mays presents The first free college – Online posted at Gen-Y Blogger.

Boarding Schools

Peter Baron presents Gould Academy 9th Grade Trip to China Follow-Up posted at onBoarding Schools, saying, “Brian Fisher conducted a Q&A with Tucker Kimball, Gould’s Director of Communications.”

Choosing the Right College

Wassan Humadi presents Majors, Minors, and Fields of Study at US Colleges posted at Al Jamiat Magazine.

Charles Naut presents Selecting your college posted at myCollegeBLOG, saying, “Short guide to help you select the right college.”

ESN presents Is an Online Degree for You? The Pros and Cons of Online Classes posted at Ace Online Schools.

Dave Van de Walle presents The Most-Requested U Sphere Blog Post Ever — and One Worth Sharing Again in These Crazy Times posted at U Sphere Blog, saying, “20 years later, still haven’t worked for an Ivy League grad…nothing against the Ivies, but it’s possible that there are schools that lack name but might make total sense for you/your kid right now.”

Adam Epstein presents Finding the Right Fit posted at Adamissions, saying, “Sure you have academics, location, and people. But remember that you are going to *live* in this location for the next four years. You need to be comfortable with your decision.”

Gil Rogers presents It this how students at your school really are? posted at University of New Haven Faculty/Staff Blog.

Elizabeth Kudner presents A Year Later: What’s Really Important in Choosing a College posted at myUsearch blog, saying, “Elizabeth Kudner from myUsearch.com offers the perspective from a freshman at Yale on what is really important when choosing a college.”

College Life

Wassan Humadi presents Making Sense of American Slang | Al Jamiat Magazine posted at Al Jamiat Magazine.

Jeannie Anderson presents No More Monkey Business posted at The Writer in Me – Teaching, Writing, Living, saying, “The story of a student who plagiarized.”

Financial Aid

Jim presents Understanding Your College Savings Options posted at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Peter Baron presents Podcast: Exploring School Sustainability with Patrick Bassett, President, National Association of Independent Schools posted at edSocialMedia, saying, “A podcast exploring school sustainability strategies in the midst of a recession.”

Nate Desmond presents 23 Warning Signs of Scholarship Scams posted at Debt-free Scholar.

Getting Admitted

Lora Lewis presents What, MORE Waiting? Advice for Students in Wait List Hell posted at Keys to College.

Todd Johnson presents True College Admission Rates posted at College Admissions Counseling.

Charles Naut presents Senioritis! posted at myCollegeBLOG, saying, “Advice on how to avoid senioritis.”

O. Daille Nation-Ashley presents College Decisions Are Out posted at CEOmum, saying, “The long wait has ended and now kids need to be guided on what next. Hope I can help in some small way.”

Carleigh presents Role Reversal: Colleges fear student rejection posted at Cramster.com Study Blog.

Mark Truman presents The Global Recession Means Budget Cuts For All Universities, Even Harvard posted at Omniac Attack!.

Linda Abraham presents 3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Which B-School Offer to Accept posted at Accepted Admissions Almanac.

Mark Montgomery presents Accepted or Rejected? The Envelope Please…. posted at Great College Advice, saying, “Feeling blue about not getting into your preferred college? In this post a student who attends his last choice college offers a bit of heartfelt advice on video. Check him out.”

Graduate Schools

Nesher presents Why earn an MBA? An MBA degree pays off! posted at Online MBA Study.

TJ Hanson presents A Graduate Degree in Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter? posted at The Digital Student Blog, saying, “One university set to offer a masters degree program in social media.”

Other Cool Stuff

PicktheBrain presents 5 Fascinating Video Lectures from Academic Earth posted at Universities and Colleges.

Tom Williams presents Presentation – SM for Recruiting posted at InnoGage, saying, “The embedded presentation in this blog discusses social media strategies, technologies and monitoring to enhance and improve recruiting efforts.”

Cort Johnson presents Social Media is not a Waste of your Admissions Office?s Time posted at The goSwoop Blog, saying, “Looking forward to the next fair!”

Tom Williams presents Managing a Higher Ed. Twitter Fiasco posted at InnoGage, saying, “Read what happened with Webster University accidentally sent out a fake emergency message, over twitter…on April Fools Day!”

Khan presents The EMBA Story posted at Higher Education and Career Blog, saying, “Choosing an executive MBA program is like picking a mutual fund. There are so many choices that you have the nagging feeling that maybe you’ll choose the wrong one. Where should you begin?”

Eric Perron presents College Level Examination Programs (CLEP) Could Benefit The Average Student posted at Dream Strategy.

Test Prep

Nate Desmond presents 5 Ways to Waste Study Time posted at Debt-free Scholar.

Dagny presents Top 8 Ways To Give Your GMAT Preparation Extra Edge posted at TotalGadha GMAT, saying, “Strategies and tips to prepare for GMAT along with the experiences from the students who came up with flying colours in the test.”

That concludes this edition!! Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of College Admission by using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Twitter for Higher Ed

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 27-03-2009-05-2008

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I’ve been pretty deep in the research of 400 college and university Twitter accounts, and I’ve been impressed with both the adoption and the growth of this niche on Twitter in the past month.

We are looking at all types of accounts: Admissions, Athletics, Alumni, Departments and Colleges, PR, News, general institution accounts and more. Just wanted to share a few very brief stats and notes from the in-depth research.

  • Of the 400 accounts we are tracking, 26% did not follow anyone new in the past month.
  • The 400 accounts averaged a 93.3% growth in # of followers over the past month.
  • Harvard, always known for its brand monitoring (no logos on shot glasses, etc.) was late to the @HarvardU boat. Take control of your brand, or deal with updates such as this one.
  • Conversation is everything…………… or is it???
  • A small handful of schools are in the top 10% of # of followers, # of following, and # of updates.
  • Admission offices usually have the lowest # of followers out of all types of accounts.

One trend I’ve noticed is that higher education accounts just go out and follow EVERYONE, typically scanning lists of other institutions to build their following/follower numbers.

For a history lesson, here’s where I think it started.  Way back, nearly 18 months ago, a few of us who had become regulars with our personal accounts started branching out into institutional accounts. I consider @andrewcareaga the Nostradamus of Higher Ed Twitter with the tweet below. (Yeah… I was the only one who responded.)Missouri S&T Twitter

So what does this have to do with the trend of ‘follow everyone!’ Back then, we were lone rangers on uncharted territories.  We stuck together. Our follower lists were tributes to other brave souls giving this new tool a try at their college or university.  And somewhere along the way, it became standard. But also… back then, we didn’t really know what we were going to use the tool for. # of Followers, # of Following, it didn’t really matter.  There was no one else to talk to because you didn’t know who else was around. (Unless you were using Tweetscan, which is sooooo 2007.)

So is it good or bad to follow and everyone? We’ll talk more about that at the webinar. :)

With Twitter’s phenomenal growth (1392% from Feb ’08 to Feb ’09), it’s time to get serious.  Time to make Twitter work for you, and make it accomplish something.  Chris Brogan recently said that we are now in the ‘prove it’ stage of social media. And it’s the truth. It’s time for practitioners to step up to the plate and make something happen. And it starts with a strategy and knowing what you want to accomplish.  It’s more than following 500 random people and more than waiting for people to come follow you.

And that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about in the Twitter for Higher Ed webinar in 2 weeks.  Hope you’ll consider joining the rest of the schools who are ready to get serious about Twitter and who want to work smarter, not harder. :)

—-

Twitter for Higher Ed Webinar – 2 dates!  April 9th or 10th.
Only $99 to attend.  More information here.
Bring your pen and pad.

Celebrate! 200 posts at SquaredPeg.com.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 16-03-2009-05-2008

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Last Friday’s post was the 200th post published to SquaredPeg.com.  It’s been a great ride so far, thanks to all of you who read and share this blog with your coworkers, boss, colleagues and others.

The subscriber #’s for this blog have really grown in the past 6-8 months, which means you might have missed a lot of the early content.  Some of it was pretty bad, but some is worth mentioning again. Here is a list of the ‘top 10%’ of SquaredPeg…. 20 posts to take a first look at, or revisit if you’ve been around since the beginning.  Enjoy!

Top 6 Posts (# of Views)

  1. FacebookGate (December 18, 2008)
  2. 10 Reasons to Monitor Twitter (September 23, 2008)
  3. Flickr, Your Electronic Photo Database? (April 24, 2008)
  4. Want $100 in free Facebook Ads? (June 30, 2008)
  5. Try this one on your Boss (February 12, 2008)
  6. Class of 2012 Facebook Research (January 3 – July 31, 2008)

Top 5 Posts (Comments)

  1. FacebookGate (December 18, 2008 – 262 comments)
  2. Implementing Social Media on your Campus (December 9, 2008 – 43 comments)
  3. Let’s Kick it up a Notch (August 8, 2008 – 30 comments)
  4. Transitioning out of a Job (January 26, 2009 – 21 comments)
  5. What’s the ROI of Social Media? (October 29, 2008 – 21 comments)

Top 4 Favorite Ideas or Thoughts

  1. Lifecasters: Second Try (January 29, 2008)
  2. Twitter with Student Bloggers (May 15, 2008)
  3. Taking Chats to a New Level (October 30, 2008)
  4. Good Project Graveyard [Part 2] (November 25, 2008)

Top 3 posts that never got a comment:

  1. The Way Users Do Things (December 14, 2007)
  2. Good Project Graveyard [Part 3] (December 1, 2008)
  3. Blue II is Live (March 3, 2008)

Top 2 posts I wish I hadn’t written:

  1. Keep an eye on Twingr (November 14, 2008)
  2. SocioTown: A 3D Social MMOG (November 21, 2007)

1 post that changed my life:

  1. The Value of Face Time (September 13, 2007) – The beginning of the path towards BlueFuego.  Good stuff. :)

Thanks again to all of you who read or subscribe (RSS or EMAIL!). I really appreciate it. :)

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 »

Make your email work harder.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Integration Week, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Web | Posted on 12-03-2009-05-2008

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This 4th installment of the impromptu ‘Integration Week’ follows 2 examples of integrating social media into your current tactics and a brief discussion on Monday about the topic.

Today I want to share a simple, effective way that you can drive traffic to social media efforts on the web.

Yesterday I received an email from Nancy (@nancypricer on Twitter, as you may know!) about her registration for the upcoming Twitter for Higher Ed webinar. What I love about the email is how she has linked several social media sites of her University in the signature!

(click photo to enlarge)

webinar

We all send email.  A lot of it, actually.  So why not make it work harder for you?  This struck me as an extremely easy example of a way to drive traffic and get some eyeballs on your hard work.  If you’re an admission counselor, think of how many students/families you email with in a typical recruitment cycle.  You’re bound to get some clicks and some new fans/followers.

Tomorrow, to finish up Integration Week, I’m excited to share some research that Joe has been working on for over a week, dealing with social media integration.  It’ll be a great end to the week, and you won’t want to miss it.


Want to join @nancypricer and @tarletonstate and learn more about Twitter for Higher Education? Sign up for the upcoming webinar on April 9th or 10th!  Only $99 to attend. Learn more and register at http://twitter-higher-ed.eventbrite.com.

Have you checked your foundation lately?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Facebook, Higher Education, Integration Week, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 09-03-2009-05-2008

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This great post by Ron Bronson wanted me to talk a little more about a slide I use in several presentations, dealing with your .edu website vs. social media. One line in particular that stood out to me in Ron’s post is:

But using social networks can’t be viewed as a panacea, instead, we need to establish why we’re using them and adhere to that purpose.

Before you establish why you’re using social networks, I’d encourage you to first take a look at your foundation.

As a homeowner, you want to make sure your house has a solid foundation.  If you build on a bad one, you might be alright in the short run but you’re as good as done over time. No one wants to build on a bad foundation, and your social media efforts should be no different.

FoundationI always use this slide in presentations before diving into the ‘fun stuff’. Why?  Because without a solid website, you’re like the homeowner who’s building on sand.  Schools are using social media to essentially have new avenues to reach out to people, connect with them, be a part of the conversation, and build that relationship. But are they applying to your school there? Are they asking for more information? Are they giving a donation?  For most schools, no (and I would say… not yet, but soon). For most colleges and universities, you are using these tools, but the end goal is to get them to take action on your website.

Here’s the point: You can do the coolest stuff on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, but if the student gets to your site and can’t figure out how to apply or get more information, you have failed. Make sure your .edu website is solid. In most cases, it is… but a little usability testing can go a long way. (PS – you can do it with $10 and 10 minutes.) Do the little things now and you’ll succeed in the long run.

How’s your foundation?