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


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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.

Integrating Twitter into the Application Process

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Integration Week, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 11-03-2009-05-2008


Maybe this week should just become Integration Week at SquaredPeg?  Monday we talked about some theory of integrating social media and yesterday I showed an example of using text + traditional media to reach an audience.

Today I want to chat about an example that I found while doing some client research for BlueFuego.  Davidson College has put a twist on using Twitter in Admissions. They pull 140 characters from student applications and tweet them, then mark the student on a  Google Map to show how far their app pool reaches across the states. The project is nearing completion, with 3 weeks to go.

From their site:

Twice daily throughout January, February, and March we’ll update our Davidson Admission Twitter feed with a quotation, shared anonymously, from an actual applicant to Davidson College.  We’ll also plot that applicant on a Google Map of the world — to show you just how far-reaching these student perspectives actually are.

We hope this project — at the very least – will help showcase the power of the Davidson applicant pool.

Google Map


Here are my 3 suggestions to make this work better:

  • Since you have some international applications, share tidbits from them too! Currently the map only shows students in the States. Truly be ‘far-reaching’.
  • Since Davidson isn’t too interested in conversation on Twitter (following zero people), embed both the Twitter updates and the Google Map on the Davidson site. This provides the Twitter and Google Map experience directly on the page and doesn’t require click-throughs.
    • Note: Twitter started providing new embed badges several months ago.  You can see one in action on the BlueFuego Blog. There’s even a red one that would fit Davidson’s branding VERY well!
  • If you are going to require visitors to click to Twitter or Google from your site, use target=”_blank” links to pop up a new window.  Otherwise, your site is gone in their browser and you’ve lost your visitor.

Overall, an innovative way to use the Twitter platform to demystify the app process and show the breadth of applicants!  Well done, Davidson.

Want to learn more about using 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.

Let’s put it into contxts.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Integration Week, Recruitment, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 10-03-2009-05-2008


After yesterday’s post on integrating web based tools or social media into your recruitment strategy, I figured it’d be helpful to follow up with an example of a way to do so!

Let’s use the web-based tool Contxts.com.  Launched in November 2008, it is a site that allows you to create a ‘business card’ that’s available via text. First, let’s look at how the site works.

Read the rest of this entry »

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


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?

Conferences in 2009

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


Following suit of Paul, Andrew and Karine, here is a list of the conferences I’m attending or speaking at in 2009. Mixed in will be a few BlueFuego Webinars and other Webinars that are still in the works.  To keep track of speaking engagements down the road, visit http://bluefuego.com/presentations.

If you’re going to be at any of these, don’t hesitate to get ahold of me ahead of time or during the conference so I can be sure we meet up. BlueFuego is planning tweetups at some of these conferences, so more info to come on that as we get closer.

2009 Presentations and Conferences Attending:

  • Innovative Branding and Marketing for Higher Education, Feb. 23-25 in Singapore, Singapore. I presented on how to integrate social media into a recruitment strategy.
    • Already happened! Want to hear more on my thoughts or see slides and video from this presentation? Head over here.
  • SXSW ‘09, March 13-17 in Austin, TX. I am co-presenting a Core Conversation panel with Dylan Wilbanks (University of Washington) titled “The Web In Higher Education: What’s Different?”.
  • MACAC, April 29-May 1 in Grand Rapids, MI.  I am co-presenting with Andrew Meyers (Hope College) on using social media in admissions.
  • OACUHO, May 24 in Toronto, ON, CA. I am presenting a 4-hour workshop on social media.
  • NEACAC, May 27-29 in Springfield, MA.  I am co-presenting with Drew Millikin (Saint Michael’s College) on ‘Your Mom Reads My Blog: The Power of Web 2.0 in College Admissions.’
  • EduComm Conference, June 16-18 in Orlando,FL. I am presenting ‘The Recruitment Long Tail’.
  • NACAC ‘09, Sept. 24-26 in Baltimore, MD. I am presenting on ‘Integrating Social Media into your Recruitment Strategy’.
  • Innovative Educators Webinar, Fall 2009. Details TBA.
  • Academic Impressions Webinar, Details TBA.

I really, really love conferences.  Great opportunity to meet all of you in real life and make new friends. Can’t wait!

I still have some availability to speak through 2009, so email me at brad(at)bluefuego(dot)com to talk about your event’s details. Can’t wait until a conference to hear more about effectively using social media at your University?  Contact BlueFuego to get a 1-on-1 session!