Social Web Callouts: Research from BlueFuego!

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

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

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

Social Web Callouts in Higher Ed

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

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

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

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

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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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.

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.

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 »

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?

Buzzable: Ask your Higher Ed Questions here!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Campus Safety, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter, Web, Zinch | Posted on 02-03-2009-05-2008

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picture-2This weekend I noticed a new site called http://buzzable.com in the news and set up a group for Higher Ed at http://www.buzzable.com/highered.

How does it work?  First, you login at the top using your Twitter login credentials. Buzzable says your password is encrypted and will never be shared!

Then, go to http://www.buzzable.com/highered and join the group. When you post a question here, it also posts it to your twitter account with a link to the Buzzable group.  Any responses that are made to your question from the Buzzable group are threaded as a conversation, making it extremely easy to keep track of everything being said.  You’ll likely even find new people to follow out of the 40+ who have already joined the group!

To keep track of everything being said in the Buzzable group without having to login, you can also follow @higheredbuzz, where all tweets are being aggregated.  But responding to @higheredbuzz or just responding in general won’t add your comment to the thread; you have to go through Buzzable to do that.

Click here to check out Higher Ed on Buzzable today.

College Admission Offices lead the way with social media!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 20-01-2009-05-2008

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I am very excited to share with you a recent study that comes from UMass Dartmouth, which looks at social media usage within college admission offices at 4-year universities.

Guess what? We’re doing pretty good. :)   As one who has been advocating and pushing the usage of social media in higher ed recruitment for a few years now, I just wanted to pass along some information from the study as well as a ‘thank you!’ to all of you out there helping to make it happen.

[Link]: Social Media and College Admissions: The First Longitudinal Study

According to the 10 page document, which states “The new study compares adoption of social media between 2007 and 2008 by the admissions offices of all the four-year accredited institutions in the United States”, in 2007 “institutions of higher education were outpacing the more traditional Fortune 500 companies as well as the innovative Inc. 500 companies in their use of social media to communicate with their customers (i.e., students).”

In 2007, 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 19% of the Inc. 500 and 32% of college admission departments.

In 2008, 13% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 39% of the Inc. 500 and 41% of college admission departments.

Some statistics to note

  • More private schools have blogs than public schools (72% vs. 28%)
  • 50% of schools with undergrad enrollment <2,000 have blogs.
  • Only 8% of schools use an internally developed application for a blog platform.
  • More schools are allowing comments on their blogs in ’08 vs ’07 (61% vs. 72%)
  • 54% of schools monitor the internet for buzz, posts and conversations about their institution (still not high enough, in my opinion!)
  • 29% of admission offices used social networking in 2007. 61% of schools did in 2008.
  • The % of schools not using any social media in their recruitment strategy dropped from 39% in 2007 to 15% in 2008.
  • 85% of institutions are using at least one form of social media. Usage is up for every tool studied.

I’ll leave some for you to look at. Make sure you download the PDF or DOC at the bottom of the link above and check it out.

I look forward to seeing these numbers continue to rise!

How #2013 will help us yield better.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Analytics, Community, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Thoughts | Posted on 12-01-2009-05-2008

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With the saga of #2013 behind us, it’s time to focus on the future and how lessons learned can be applied to benefit your university. One benefit in particular that I am already seeing is the potential for increased yield over the Class of 2012.

I didn’t see anyone else do Class of 2012 research, but I am glad that I have mine to benchmark this year against last year’s numbers. (All details can be found at http://squaredpeg.com/index.php/class-of-2012-research/ .) I find it helpful to monitor the growth and conversation of the group.

Here’s what I’m seeing with #2013:  By actively promoting the Class of 2013 group rather than sitting on the sidelines, we are seeing more students join earlier in the decision process and connect with students in a meaningful way. I sent out an email to all admitted students (like I mentioned I would do in the #2013 post) and it had a 37% open rate with a click-to-open rate of 26%.

As of January 11th, the group already has more members than the 2012 group did on May 21st (338 vs. 331).  That means we’re nearly 4 months ahead this year in terms of growth. Looking at wall posts, there are more posts as of today than March 19 of last year (246 vs. 226).  So the conversation has begun more quickly and is continuing to grow. Discussion posts are growing as well, 317 to date compared to 298 on April 16th of last year.

Comparing same-week numbers between 2013 and 2012,  there are 1700% more members, 1130% more wall posts, and nearly 16000% more discussion posts.

So what does this mean? A few things.

  1. At Butler, we adhere to the National Candidate’s Reply Date of May 1. So the more we can engage students and connect with them before that date, the better.  More deposits are a good thing.  The fact that our Facebook group is larger than it was at last year’s May 1 date shows that we have a larger audience of the admit pool to help and engage.
  2. Our yield events are very early in the year, with the majority of them happening in January and February. Right now we are coming up on 2 yield events, and it’s the main point of the conversation in the Class of 2013 group.  Students are asking who’s going to be there, making plans to meet each other, and they are already meeting friends and finding roommates.  This didn’t happen last year.  If a student knows other students who are going to a yield event, they are much more likely to attend.
  3. 5 students who emailed/messaged me are now the Admins of the group, so they already feel like a part of the Butler community.  The more you can share this experience and feeling with others, the more you will yield.
  4. The conversation is evolving sooner. Last March, 3 months into the research, I posted:
    “Now, some general observations. The conversation has taken what I believe is a typical course for this type of online/community interaction: Starting at “where are you from?”, going to “what major”, then on to “what early reg date are you going to?” and finishing with a deeper connection level, such as Roommate surveys, what dorm to live in, meeting up this summer, etc.”
    With that conversation happening sooner and the deeper connection level evolving earlier in the year, I can assume that yield will be positively affected.  It reminds me of the college Brian Niles once mentioned that sends their roommate assignments out as early as February.  Kids basically yield each other because they connect and after the whole “are you going? yeah, are you going?” conversation they begin to plan their room.  While we still aren’t sending out roommate assignments until late summer, these conversations will still take place and help us yield better.

So there’s one positive outcome of #2013 and FacebookGate.  What’s your story? Where are you improving?  How has the story helped you approach administrators?

Update on Facebook #2013

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web, Webinars | Posted on 21-12-2008-05-2008

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There is a lively discussion on the comments of my previous post as well as many other posts in the blogosphere about the situation and implications surrounding it. 11,000 hits in 24 hours… thanks for spreading the word.

In an effort to continue my mantra of ‘educate and inform‘,  I wanted to post separately to highlight this. On Monday I will host 2 free webinars (or more if demand warrants it) to briefly touch on the situation, offer suggestions and advice, and answer any questions that you have about Facebook or social media in general.

http://facebook2013.eventbrite.com

The webinars are limited to 20 connections.   If your school connects and has a projector, you can have as many as you’d like in the room.  You must register with a .edu email address or I will ignore your request for a ticket.  Just want to make sure that the proper people are getting the seats! :)   If you are already a social media maven, please consider leaving a spot for someone who might need the help.

Thanks again.  Keep the discussion flowing, I’m enjoying all of your thoughts and comments.

Brad