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

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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

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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?

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

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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!

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.

Facebook: Fan Page or Group?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 18-02-2009-05-2008

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My good friend @HowardKang is a senior at the University of Illinois at Springfield (my alma mater!) and is currently helping the Volunteerism office get started with social media at his internship.

He recently posted Facebook: Fan Pages vs. Groups for HigherEd Offices and outlines some great pros/cons when it comes to which you should set up.

Howard says that “I believe the Fan Page should be the main hub of facebook strategies” and “fan pages show more promise in terms of overall reach.” I’ll leave the rest of the article for you to read.

We know that Facebook Fan Pages are going to change soon (hat tip to @rachelreuben!) and things such as FBML might disappear, but Howard outlines a lot of great points to consider.  Make sure you check out his article and take the time to subscribe via RSS.  He’s worth reading and offers a fresh perspective from a current college student view.

Friendraise before you Fundraise

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Fundraising, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 03-02-2009-05-2008

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Just wanted to share a simple thought I had working on a project last week.

Do friendraising before you do fundraising.

I’m more likely to give a good friend the $$ they ask for.  But a stranger or someone I haven’t talked to in years?  Probably wouldn’t give them the $$ they ask for.  Why is that? I’ve kept in touch with my good friend.  I’ve seen all of the great things they have done over the past several years for others (or for me).  I’ve helped them out, they’ve helped me out in the past. We’re friends. We have a relationship.

Compare that to your university or college.  This school in particular told me that they haven’t been very good in staying in contact with their alumni.  There was even a period where donors didn’t even receive a thank you note after giving. People want to feel appreciated, especially when they are giving up their money during these tough times.

It’s all about relationships. And that’s why I’m excited about all of these tools on the web that help facilitate friendships. Nearly every time someone on Facebook or Twitter asks for donations towards a cause, whether it’s a Polar Bear Plunge, March of Dimes, etc. I’ll usually give $5 or $10.  Why? Because I have a relationship with that person and I’d like to help them out. The amount might be small, but the friendship facilitated it.

And what would happen if my Alma Mater asked for a small donation on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn after we’d been ‘friends’ and adding value to each other for a few months?  I’d donate.

What can you do for your alumni? What can your alumni do for you?  Work together.  Be friends, and when that time comes, they’ll probably hesitate less to give $$ to the cause.

BIG News! I’m leaving Butler University.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 21-01-2009-05-2008

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If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I announced last Friday that I’m leaving Butler at the end of the month.

What’s next? BlueFuego.com

I have partnered with Joe Gaylor from FJGaylor.com to start a new company that will help Colleges and Universities use the web to achieve their marketing and recruitment goals. I’m looking forward to sharing my extensive knowledge and skills of web-based recruitment and marketing with other universities, just as I have with Butler over the past 20 months. We have hit the ground running with our clients and I am excited about staying in higher ed, just in a different capacity.

Butler has been an amazing workplace for me and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to grow here and work with so many great people.  Keep your eye out for a job posting if you’re interested, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to give it some thought if you’re interested. Indy is a great city and Butler is a magnificent school/workplace.

What’s changing on SquaredPeg? Hopefully nothing. I hope this continues to be a place where you can get recent news on what’s hot, my thoughts on higher ed, and posts about cool projects or efforts out there. I hope to just keep doing what’s worked. You’ll notice some small text changes on the site, but nothing major for now.

So, be sure to check out http://bluefuego.com and email me at brad(at)bluefuego.com if you’re ready to take your recruitment and marketing to the next level. We’d love to work with you.

Well, that’s about it! Again, thanks for reading/subscribing. :)

PS – I just wanted to say thanks again to everyone on Twitter who has sent me a message, DM, or email to congratulate Joe and I on the new company.  Very inspiring!

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