Are Teens on Twitter? My 2 Cents.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Concepts, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter | Posted on 31-08-2009-05-2008

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Another week, another blog post about the continuing debate of the question “Are Teens on Twitter?”

We first heard from Mashable, who reported in early August that the “Stats Confirm It“.  Then, the phrase ‘Teens Don’t Tweet’ was a trending topic all day long. Not because of the usual Mashable RT crowd, but because of teens coming out of the woodwork. At any given moment, search.twitter.com results would resemble something like this that day:

So the latest ‘research’ comes from a TechCrunch post, and it’s again spreading like wildfire. Don’t miss the first line of the article: “This guest post is written by Geoff Cook, cofounder and CEO of social networking site myYearbook.”

This research (or is it just a well-positioned promotion for MyYearbook??) is now causing people in higher ed to exclaim on Twitter that “More teens tweet than Facebook“.  False. Absolutely False. According to the post, a higher percentage of twitter users are teens than the percentage of Facebook users who are teenagers. But when it comes to straight numbers, teens on Twitter don’t even compare to teens on Facebook. Not yet, anyways.

Looking at Quantcast.com data, 22% of Facebook’s 98.7 million monthly US viewers are 17 or younger.  That’s 20,614,000 teens.  On the Twitter side? 9% of Twitter’s 28.0 million monthly US viewers are 17 or younger. That’s 2,520,000 teens. According to that count, there are 818% more teens on Facebook each month vs. Twitter. More teens tweet than Facebook? Hardly.

Are they on Twitter? Are they not? What should we do?

Here’s the thing.  Twitter should not be at the core of your marketing strategy. Yet. But should you have a presence? Absolutely. Do you need to know how to use the site? Yes.  Are you building your presence and community as the site grows? I hope so.

If you use Twitter, remember the last time you complained about a bad experience with a company or site and they weren’t there to listen online?  What about your favorite brands that you desire to interact with online and receive valuable information from?  What do you think of them when they aren’t on Twitter, ready to listen? It’s a huge customer service opportunity. Conversations about your institution are happening all the time online, and in increasing frequency on Twitter.

Apply the same thought to your institution or office.  Twitter is not going to solve all of your goals and objectives.  But there are teens out there ready to engage and interact with you.  They want to connect with you, and if you are not there, you’ve missed an opportunity.  (Or worse, someone else takes over your brand/identity and runs with it like many universities we see in our research.)

Final Thoughts

The research is nice. But how much weight should you actually put into it? My challenge do you is this: do your own research.  Throw a quick survey together and integrate it into first week activities.

IU East did, and found out that 67% of incoming students are on MySpace, while only 60% are on Facebook. (Twitter? 6%.) If IU East had just ‘followed the research’, they’d be listening to everyone who says MySpace is dead and missing out on reaching a large percentage of their student and alumni base.

Almost a year ago I reminded everyone to do their homework after a conference.  The same thing goes for any research online.  If you’re changing your entire marketing strategy based on what Mashable or TechCrunch posts on their site, you’re going to have some issues. And if you’re retweeting and spreading this information without even reading or confirming it… please stop.

What do you think?

Do you agree with the research that’s out there? Disagree? Indifferent?  Let me know below in the comments!

ACU Live! Building Community around the Globe

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Community, Concepts, Embedding, Facebook, Higher Education, Marketing, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Twitter, Video, Web | Posted on 26-08-2009-05-2008

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As many open their campus doors this week to new students, Abilene Christian University decided to open its doors to the entire globe.  And when the Opening Chapel kicked off at 11am on Monday, there were hundreds of alumni, parents and campus friends watching and praising along with the students.

BlueFuego and ACU paired up to create a virtual Opening Chapel, complete with uStream, Facebook and Twitter embeds at http://www.acu.edu/live.  In total, over 1500 people visited the stream within the hour, and a consistent 300-375 people watching at any moment. In total, there were 367 viewer hours on uStream for the hour of broadcasting! Alumni from around the US and as far as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, Germany, and even a village of 400 people in Ukraine tuned in to participate in the opening festivities.  For many, it was the first time seeing a Chapel since graduating from ACU.  From others, it was a way to participate when they couldn’t make the annual drive this year.  But for all, it was an experience that built affinity and pride in their alma mater, ACU.

And ACU is back at it again tomorrow night, for the season opening Football game.   Pictures on the scoreboard from the 1,000+ students with iPhones in their hands (take THAT, SEC!!), live viewing parties from around the US being pulled into the scoreboard via Skype, and much, much more.  All a part of the continued initiative to increase affinity and school spirit and utilize the available technology.  I can’t wait to get down to Texas tonight to prepare for tomorrow’s event, it’s going to be a blast.

Take a look below at the ACU Live page, complete with uStream Watershed, Facebook Fan Page and Live Stream embeds, as well as Twitter hashtag updates. Below that, read some of the updates from everyone watching the event. I’ll be honest, I got goosebumps seeing the community interact with each other and participate in this event.

You want to see a school who’s doing some of the most cutting-edge stuff in higher education?  Keep an eye on ACU.

2009 Digital Readiness Report

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Marketing, Research, Strategy, Web | Posted on 10-08-2009-05-2008

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Here’s a recent report that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers in the higher ed arena.

The 2009 Digital Readiness Report, a study conducted by Eric Schwartzman with the support of online newsroom provider iPressroom, Korn/Ferry International, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Trendstream, also identifies which new media and social media communications skills are most important to today’s hiring decision makers.

(Don’t want to give your contact info? Here’s the direct link.)

The Digital Skills Rank, in order, for Academic Institutions is:

1. Blogging/Podcasting
1. Social Networking
2. Media Relations
3. Microblogging
4. SEO
5. Content Management
6. Email Marketing
7. Social Bookmarking

How would you rank these 8 items within your office?  Keep in mind this is from a PR perspective, but I certainly didn’t expect email marketing to fall slightly above Del.icio.us.

The Anatomy of #WatchItSpread

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Research, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter, Viral, Web, Webinars | Posted on 06-08-2009-05-2008

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A few weeks ago, while preparing for a webinar on Twitter (Missed it? Here’s your 2nd chance.) With nearly 75 schools in attendance, I thought it would be cool to actually show off the power of Twitter. Little did I know it would become a trending topic and travel all the way around the world in 24 hours!

The Anatomy of the Tweet

As simple as the update seems, there is quite a bit of strategy built into it. First is the core of the message on Twitter, “What are you doing?” Well, I am showing a webinar audience how quickly a message can spread on Twitter. Sounds fun, right? Next is the call to action: Would you please RT? According to Dan Zarrella’s The Science of the ReTweets, the four most common words in a retweet are:  You, Twitter, Please, and ReTweet.   (Check, Check, Check and Check! Was not planned, but interesting to know.) By asking someone (You) to RT (Retweet), I was asking for a simple moment of their time, and nothing more.

Finishing the tweet is the #watchitspread hashtag.  Any viral effort on Twitter should include a hashtag, because people know what it means and it helps organize the results/answers. Finally, the length of the update.  By leaving enough room for RT @bradjward I made it easier for people to RT the information without having to cut/shorten words to make it happen. Easier = better. And a final thought on retweets.   You’ve surely seen people (maybe even me!) send an update “I’m showing twitter to my boss/friend/wife/dog, say hi!”.  Effective, but nowhere nearly as viral.  Why?  Because if I send that message, it stays rather limited to my network.  On Twitter, if I @reply to someone and you don’t follow that person, you won’t see my update in the message.  So after the initial people say hi to me, it does not spread past me into their network.  Very limiting.

Sending the Tweet Out

During the webinar, I shared my screen, let them watch me type the message in to Twitter to show how easy it is to update, clicked Update and resumed the webinar. I planned to come back to a live screen share at the end of the webinar to show the spread of the message on Twitter. I figured anywhere from 30-60 retweets would be cool enough for the audience to see

About 30 minutes later, I paused to ask if there were any questions.  One school replied ” I want to see how our experiment is going.” Excited that they were into it (webinars = talking to yourself for 90 minutes and wondering what the 200 people on the other end are thinking/saying/doing), I decided to pull it up then.   To my surprise and excitement, there were nearly 750 retweets in the first 30 minutes. Wow!  I think the audience was sold on the power of Twitter at that point.

The Tweet Spreads

By the end of the webinar, Search.Twitter.com was showing around 1,500 updates in the first hour. (I incorrectly said 1,500 in 90 minutes in a twitter update after the webinar because I subtracted from the time the webinar began (1pm), not the time I sent the tweet (1:21pm). From there, it continued to spread. Quickly

Mistake #1: For this social experiment I should have put a timestamp on it. (Before 2:30pm EST, etc.) Then again, that would have limited the viral spread of the tweet.  But for the next 2-3 hours, my @mentions was rendered useless due to the volume of tweets coming through with @bradjward in them.

From there, the tweet evolved.  I eventually got dropped off of the tweet as people retweeted people who retweeted people, other @names because the original @RT.

Tweets containing #watchitspreadstarted taking on social issues such as AIDS and Swine Flu, Urban Etiquette and ‘underage girls having too many babies’. Another great point: You don’t control the message. You just share it. :)

The Results

By the end of it all, the total numbers of #watchitspread tweets totally nearly 10,000.  It bounced across the US, down to Australia, up to Southeast Asia, across Europe, and hit back on the east coast the next morning.  As a result, I was ranked #2 on ReTweetRank.com, above everyone on Twitter except @TweetMeme. With RT’s definitely playing a role in the algorithm on twitter.grader.com, I bumped up to #796 of 2,844,018 ranked people on Twitter. (I’m usually in the top 1,500.  Interestingly, I went on vacation the day after #watchitspread, and was silent on Twitter for a week.  It affected my rank greatly, going all the way back to nearly 40,000. I’ve since bounced back to around 1,500.) I also picked up about 200 followers in the 24 hours, a nearly 10% increase in followers.

The best part: @RainnWilson later that night posted a simple update: “DO NOT RETWEET THIS.” It instantly shot to #1 on the Trending Topics list. Why? Because everyone retweeted it.  Irony, gets me every time.

And no, I won’t be doing this for future Twitter webinars.  Instead, I’ll point back to #watchitspread as the example of how something can spread so quickly across Twitter.

Robots are invading your web presence.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 05-08-2009-05-2008

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Robots by Dan CoulterI’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently across many campuses.  Social web presences for colleges and universities are being operated by robots… or so it seems.

As schools grapple with more, more, more and even more places on the social web to interact/update/moderate/maintain/upgrade, they are quickly losing the personal touch with their audience.  Tools are available to make it easy to spread information out to multiple platforms, but every website is different. Every community is different.  And, with a few exceptions, every update you post should be different.

Your audience on Facebook is different than LinkedIn. And that crowd is different than Twitter. 1 message does not fit all. A ‘Social Media Marketing Checklist‘ is not going to make you do things better, but it is going to inundate you with endless tasks that make you lose sight of what’s important in your marketing strategy.

Keep it simple: Be human, interact with others, and keep your institution on their mind. Don’t get stuck in the rut of ‘I have to do this on Monday, this on Wednesday, this twice on Thursday….” Be flexible and be a part of the community.  Our research is proving it, being human wins every time.

Start by taking an honest look at your audience and how they want to get your information, and serve that audience first. (Alumni, Young Alumni, Current and Prospective students might all differ.) Ask them, like the FGCU Alumni Office did.  Take a look at this response. And the same with University of Miami when they asked “Facebook or Twitter?” Then build your presence from there, adding in what you can manage.

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)

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

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 »

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.

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.