Simple Tip: Find and Follow

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


We’re heavy in commencement season, which means hundreds and thousands of people are sitting uncomfortably close to strangers and relatives for what seems like eternity to watch someone walk across the stage for 15 seconds.

So what’s a person to do when boredom sets in and they’ve read the pamphlet 3 times?  For some people, it’s time to update Twitter.

Bored Commencement

So what’s an institution to do?  Find and Follow.

Get on, search for your institution and try several variations.  Abbreviations of the name, acronyms of the school, and the words commencement, graduation, etc.   You might be surprised at how many people you find.  And isn’t that what Twitter is all about?  Expanding your network to be able to interact with and share information with people who have an interest or connection to your institution.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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 »

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


picture-2This weekend I noticed a new site called in the news and set up a group for Higher Ed at

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 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.

Are you listening?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology, Twitter, Usability, Web | Posted on 21-10-2008-05-2008


Are you listening to everything out there that’s being said about your school yet?

If you don’t have your ear on the train tracks, you’re never going to see it coming. And it’s going to hit you. Hard.

Some students would rather voice their opinions and concerns on the web than take the time to send you an email or *gasp* pick up the phone and call you.

Case in point:  Our online application was intermittently down for nearly 24 hours. Did anyone call us? No.  Did anyone email us? Nope.

Did Danielle voice her frustration on Twitter? Yes.

It just took a quick message for me to figure out the problem and realize that our online application was doing this:

Thanks, Danielle. Without your message, who knows how long it would have been or how many frustrated students would have turned around and not worried about trying to apply to Butler.

10 Reasons to Monitor Twitter

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Free, Management, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter | Posted on 23-09-2008-05-2008


I know I talk a lot about Twitter, and I know my research is showing that there are not that many students on it, but I truly believe that Twitter will eventually hit a tipping point with this demographic. It’s encouraging to see so many schools name-saving their accounts or starting to engage with people.

I want to provide you 10 reasons to monitor Twitter as a university or college, all from the past 10 days.

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An Update on Student Bloggers + Twitter

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts, Twitter | Posted on 04-09-2008-05-2008


I’ve been dragging my feet this week on getting this post together as we finish up some whitelisting with Twitter, but Karine’s latest post gave me a little motivation to showcase what we’re doing with Twitter this year. :)
First, a huge thanks to @nrsgroi for his hard work in coding with the Twitter API to bring this concept to fruition. He is a coding rockstar, and the amount he wrote for this project is massive.

This project was an extension of what we started 4 months ago with Twitter, and we’ve now implemented it for each blogger. When the ‘party badge’ went foul and started pulling in random tweets from people, we had to remove it from the Blogger Homepage. In addition to showcasing recent tweets on the homepage, each blogger has their individual badge on their blog. For example, right now you would see that Ashlen has a recent update of:

“ready for the weekend. Dinner at Weber Grill and the Colts game on Sunday should be awesome! Oh yeah, and studying too…”

What does that tell me, ‘between the blog posts’? I should expect a blog post Sunday or Monday about her trip to downtown Indy and some pics from the Colts game.

The beauty of the code Nathan has written is that if a) Twitter is down, or b) we hit our API request limit, the <div> tag that the info shows in disappears. Pretty slick. Which also means when you try to go look at the site, it might not show at this point. So here’s a screenshot of the new Blogger page in action:

(Click to Enlarge)

Like I have said again and again, use the Twitter platform without ‘using the Twitter platform’. In other words, don’t get caught up in how many followers you have, if students are using Twitter (2 of 319 in my most recent research), etc. Instead, think of how you can use the technology to portray something for the prospective students that is easy to use and integrates seamlessly into your current recruitment strategy.

I also mixed the ‘About Me’ intros up a bit. Instead of the typical text, I recorded an audio version, threw a beat behind it in Garage Band, and stole some photos off Facebook. Mashed it all in to Animoto, and voila! 9 intro videos in a day’s work. So far they’ve combined for over 550+ views in less than a week. See below!

Would love some feedback on all of this. How are you going to make your Bloggers stand out as it becomes more of a commodity in the recruitment process?

Twitter, Your Free Text Messaging System.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Branding, Concepts, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, RSS, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter, Web | Posted on 20-08-2008-05-2008


A lot of discussion lately has revolved around how/why/if/should Twitter be used in Higher Ed. While my recent research of nearly 300 incoming freshman shows that……..2 students use Twitter, I want to go back to a point that I made in my last post about this topic.

Does the student even need to know what Twitter is, or that they are using it?

Here’s a freebie for you.

Twitter Text Updates. Twitter was essentially designed and built around SMS, but seems to veered from that. Let’s not forget about this powerful feature. Here’s my step-by-step guide to get started. I can’t lay it out for you any more than this.

Read the rest of this entry »

eduWeb 2008….. now what?!?!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, RSS, Social Media, Speaking, Thoughts, Twitter, Webinars | Posted on 25-07-2008-05-2008


It seems like nearly everyone has arrived home from eduWeb 2008 after travel issues plagued the trip back (I’m still waiting on my luggage…). So today you’re getting settled into your desk, fresh with ideas and energized to change the world. You’ve got notes, resources, new connections at universities and colleges across the map, and you’re ready to rock.

So where do you go from here? Most of the time, someone who attends a conference follows a graph like this:

You get really excited at the conference. Your enthusiasm for your job is renewed. You have faith that things can be changed. But as soon as you get back to your office, confidence starts going down. Things start to return to business as normal, and before you know it you’re right back where you were before the conference.

Let’s do better than that.

Here is a quick 10-step plan to help you get the most out of your conference experience from eduWeb 2008 if you’re just getting your feet wet in a lot of the topics you heard about this week.

10 Steps to Maximize Your Conference Experience

  1. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor/boss/direct reports/team. Right now. Come prepared with a short and sweet summary (no more than 1 page) of key takeaways and implementations that you want to move towards. Have a discussion about each, and what steps you can take to get it done. Proceed.
  2. Reflect on resources other than yours. Use Matt’s post of eduWeb2008 content that we have all created to refresh your mind or to catch up on sessions you might have missed.
  3. Watch presentations again, or share them with your co-workers. Point out specific segments they should watch. Here are the streams:
    1. Email’s Role in the New Media LandscapeGreg Cangialosi
    2. Email Marketing for Higher EducationKyle James
    3. Head in the CloudMike Richwalsky and Josh Tysiachney
    4. eduWeb Closing KeynoteKarine Joly
    5. SkoolPool Facebook AppMelissa Cheater
    6. Blogs: The Many Voices of a UniversityHeidi Cool
    7. 1st Annual eduStyle AwardsStewart Foss
    8. eduWeb Opening Keynote (partial) - Mark Greenfield
  4. Join Twitter! Stay connected with others that you have met and continue to have conversations revolving around what you’re doing at work and the trending topics in higher ed. After joining Twitter, head over to Kyle James’ blog and start adding other higher education tweeters from the extensive list.
  5. Start using RSS. A few months back I did a quick how-to on getting started with RSS. Watch it and begin subscribing to blogs so that you can keep up with the information better.
  6. Start a blog. Head over to WordPress and start to type out some thoughts about what you’re working on. Be sure to email me your link at bradjward(at)gmail(dot)com so that I can add you to my RSS feeds.
  7. Try something new.  I personally am going to play with cloud computing to see how it works first-hand.  Think of one thing from the conference you’ve never heard about or used, and try it out.
  8. Book another conference for yourself or a co-worker. Karine Joly has an event calendar of upcoming conferences. Two to note are HighEdWeb 2008 and Stamats. Don’t have the budget? Try a Webinar.
  9. Read a book.  Check out my list of eduWeb 2008 Book Titles here.
  10. Join the Conversation. It’s not just the title of my eduWeb 2008 presentation, it’s something you can do to become more connected with others. Start commenting on blogs or posting in the uwebd forums. is also a great place to start, but there are many more great blogs out there. Check blogrolls of others to find many more quality blogs in higher ed.

I hope that you can take a few of these steps to get started towards better work and amazing projects. You can do it; be persistent and make change happen in your organization.

eduWeb 2008 was great. The conversations and connections that took place were so much richer and in-depth than any conference I’ve been to before. Kudos to the vendors for providing multiple networking receptions for us to gather at. The Meetup was also highly attended, with approximately 75 people joining us through the hour. I was glad to be a part of the event, and look forward to keeping in touch with all of you.

If this is your first time to SquaredPeg, subscribe to our RSS!

eduWeb Conference 2008 is underway!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Conferences, Flickr, Social Media, Speaking, Twitter | Posted on 21-07-2008-05-2008


I made it to Atlantic City and things are going great.  I met up at the Philadelphia airport with Karine Joly and Mike Richwalsky and we cruised the expressway down to the coast.  Last night I met up with Kyle James and Nick Catto and we drove to the beach and checked out the area.

Mark and I gave our 3-hour pre-conference workshop titled ‘Join the Conversation’ this morning, which went well. We streamed some of our presentation, but not the whole thing.. you gotta pay to see that! :)   You can check some of that out on uStream, cue to the 11 minute mark. My Mac was on the podium, so it’s not the greatest view.  We hope to stream some more sessions later, at a better vantage point obviously. We just wanted to use the site a bit to show people more about it. There was some twitter backchannel chat from Melissa Cheater, which was always fun to watch evolve while Mark was talking.

Lunch was great.  Had a chance to sit down with Billy Adams and Jacob Oyen from Twitter, as well as several others from our session to chat more about higher ed. Even bumped in to Rachel Reuben as I was leaving.

I love conferences, what a great networking opportunity.  If you see me around in the lobby, eating, between sessions, or gambling my savings away at the casino, stop me and say hi! I’d love to meet you all.

I started a Flickr group for eduWeb 2008 photos, so please feel free to add yours!

You can also find me on Twitter or keep track of all the eduWeb buzz on Twitter.

Don’t forget about tonight’s Meetup, located at the Poolside Cafe by… the pool. It’s tonight from 7-9pm. Hope to see you there!

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