If you’ve searched for your school’s Class of 2014 group on Facebook, you might have noticed another group come up in the search results. The group has your institution’s name in the title, but it’s a “roommate finder” sponsored by URoomSurf.com. The logo for the group, a gigantic blue U.
Whoever is behind this is fully aware of what happened with FacebookGate last year.
Whoever is behind this learned that as a community, we weren’t big fans of them 1) using our official logos and 2) calling it an official group.
Whoever is behind this learned that it’s best to be transparent about who is behind the group.
This year’s story starts with Scott Kilmer from Abilene Christian University, a BlueFuego client. He started with a general inquiry to URoomSurf asking for them to provide the contact on ACU’s campus that has purchased their services and/or given permission for URoomSurf to host a matching program with the indication that ACU’s residence halls would be able to fulfill the requests created there. After URoomSurf noted there is no affiliation, Scott asked that they remove the group, which URoomSurf would not. They did, however, change the name of the group from “Abilene Christian University 2014″ to “ACU 2014″. (Luckily, ACU owns the copyrights for both and Scott will now be pointing to 2 lines of the Facebook TOC: 3) We will provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. 5) If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.)
So this is where it gets interesting. I passed the email chain over to the rest of the BlueFuego team to keep them in the loop, and Joe comes back to me with a simple email. ”Does this name ring a bell???” The WHOIS on URoomSurf.com brings up this name: Justin Gaither.
Either the person behind URoomSurf is so intimate with the details of FacebookGate that they even decided to register the domain name after one of the perpetrators, or it is indeed Justin Gaither who is again behind it, back for round 2. The same Justin Gaither who owned a company last year called MatchU, which had no web presence and was left largely unremembered/unscathed through the whole incident as College Prowler took the majority of the PR hit.
I’m leaving it open as to whether it’s Justin Gaither behind this again, but here’s what we also know. It certainly makes sense to forget the MatchU name all together and go with something else to match roommates, such as “URoomSurf.” It also lines up that there’s yet to be a website for URoomSurf.com, just as last year with MatchU.
So, here we go again. Here’s the spreadsheet of all of the groups and member names to date, feel free to chip in. We’re already seeing the same trends as last year, such as common names starting groups as admins.
Last year I mentioned that I thought this would be less of an issue if they had 1) not pretended to be official institution accounts, 2) used copyrighted images, and 3) had been transparent about who was behind the group. They certainly listened to the community. So now that you know the information at hand, what do you think? What is the institution’s place? Discuss in the comments below.
And a huge thanks to Joe and Scott for kicking this off and making this post happen with their sleuthing!
UPDATE 2: It’s nice to see they’ve actually put a placeholder on their .com site. We’ll see what happens from here.
UPDATE 3: I removed erroneous claims pointing to a Craigslist ad. After last year’s Craigslist connection with hiring students to do the dirty work, I overlooked a sentence and did not fully read the Craiglist ad I posted.
I’ve been doing some research on Augmented Reality for higher ed, and ran across a great campaign utilizing it. First, you might be thinking “What the heck is Augmented Reality?” (If you already know, skip below for a great example of AR in Higher Ed).
Wikipedia’s definition states that AR is:
Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality.
In a nutshell: when I open the UrbanSpoon app on my iPhone and point the camera around (live direct view of a physical real-world environment), it’s going to show me what restaurants are around me (merged elements based on GPS data and compass location) to give me a mixed reality that looks like the below image. From there, I can click on it, get user-generated ratings of the restaurant, see a menu, check their open hours, and more. Another way AR works is by reading a “marker” on paper and doing something with it via webcam, as you’ll see in the video below. (Doritos did this awhile back too.)
Augmented Reality in Higher Ed
One university that’s pushing AR is Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Their partnership with an agency called BCM has created one of the better Augmented Reality applications I’ve seen for student recruitment. Check out the below video to see what they’re doing with AR and leave your thoughts in a comment below! (If the below video isn’t visible, click here).
I’m really excited about my upcoming webinar, Strategies for using Facebook Groups and Pages to Yield Students, on Thursday January 28th from 2-3:15pm!
The webinar is $199, and half of the proceeds are going directly to Hope for Haiti, a 501(c)(3) organization that’s using 100% of all donations to help those affected by the recent earthquake.
We’re going to be discussing all of the changes that have been made to Facebook since the Class of 2013 came through. Learn more about how you can leverage the updates to Groups to build community and help yield students for your incoming class. Get informed about the recent changes to Pages that will help you segment and target your messages better, and what trends are coming out of BlueFuego’s research of over 1,200 higher ed fan pages.
I have many key learning objectives for participants of this webinar, including:
- Learn the key differences between Facebook Pages and Groups, and which you should use.
- What to do when students (or spammers!) have already started your Class of 2014 Group or Page.
- How to successfully join and contribute to the community and discussion on Facebook.
- Measuring outcomes: How to track and gauge success of your yielding efforts.
- Targeting messages: Why the kids in Wichita don’t care about the yield event in Cleveland!
- Social Web Callouts and .edu Integration: How schools are promoting their presence on Facebook.
- Q&A Time: Get specific with your institution’s situation!
I just finished my advance copy of Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? It was certainly different than other Seth Godin books, focusing more on you as a person and what you can personally do to make yourself a necessity at your job or in the marketplace.
Oh, and I should mention before the review, I have a free copy of Linchpin to give away before it hits the shelves on January 26th. After you read my review, answer the question at the end of the review as a comment and I’ll choose my favorite by the end of Friday and ship the book on Saturday AM! (If you win, look for me on the dust cover!)
This year, rather than rely on Twitter to hold my predictions, I’m putting them in blog ink. Turns out Twitter will only let you go back 3,200 tweets, so I can’t get back to mine from last year.
1) One that I posted last year was that 2008 was about expanding your social networks, and 2009 would be about refining them. While it was certainly true for me, 2009 was very much a year of expansion for most people. Twitter and Facebook exploded in popularity, and everyone wanted to friend everyone. In 2010 you’ll see a lot of people starting to trim their friend lists and cut back to something more manageable and meaningful. Many already have, so you won’t be the only one to cut those people you’ve been on the fence about for awhile!
2) Mobile will continue to grow, but mobile marketing won’t be “mainstream” yet. Look towards 2011/2012 for that. (If you’re in the Asia markets, 2010 is probably your year.)
3) Study Abroad markets will continue to evolve due to the economy and world events. The marketplace will get much more competitive for US students looking to travel elsewhere. (Did you know that International Education is Australia’s 4th largest export?? Crazy!)
4) Universities will begin to move control of social web presences from the web team to the marketing team. (More on this later.)
5) As people continue to be bombarded with brands and messages on social web platforms, your messaging will need to be more relevant and on target than ever. We’re already seeing declines of up to 70% month-to-month on Facebook Page engagement. Hooking an RSS feed to your page and expecting results is not an option. Neither is posting the same stuff month in and month out. Variety and Relevance will win in 2010. (Nice Rhyme!)
6) Budgets will continue to force offices to look at cheaper and more effective ways to do marketing. Budgets should be picked through with a fine-tooth comb. The whole industry is going to take a hit.
7) New tools? Location based features will become more widely used. Integration of mobile into the classroom and on campus is possible. User generated content will continue to be a great source for marketing.
Well, there are a few predictions for this year off the top of my head. What’s on your list? Put it in a comment below, so we can look back next year and be amazed or be appalled
A couple of months ago I had a spare day on a client trip. I went to on Tripadvisor.com to see what there was to do in Wollongong, Australia. The number one result? SkyDive the Beach. I decided to take the plunge and it was pretty amazing. (Video here.)
I’ve reflected back on that event many times in the past weeks, thinking of the rush, the thrill, the adrenaline (and more importantly, the landing!). I believe that skydiving can be a great metaphor for how we jump into the social web and use it. Stick with me.
Tandem Skydiving starts with some initial training. Here’s how you jump out of the plane, and here’s how you land. That’s it. Nothing can truly prepare you for what’s about to happen in a few short moments.
From there, you take a slow, spiraling plane ride up to 14,000 ft and you begin to see the world from a much broader view. Before you know it, you’re getting shoved out of a plane and you’re free-falling at 120+ miles per hour towards the earth. You do this for about 9,000 feet, and then, hopefully, your parachute deploys. It’s a violent jerk that lasts for a few seconds. Your head is still spinning, but you start to feel a sense of calm. And for the next 5,000 feet, you’re gliding and gently coasting through the air, still taking in the scenery, but from a much smaller perspective. You view of the world shrank from 15,000 to 5,000 feet. You then zone in on your landing point, the end goal, and begin floating towards it. You pull the strings to line yourself up, you get closer and closer, and you finally touch down to the ground, reaching your goal.
The Social Web is a lot like Skydiving. First, you hear about it. (We’re pretty much all past these first few stages, so reminisce for a bit.) You look into it a little, and it seems fun. You sign up for it, and search around for some initial training. Blogs, podcasts, and books provide you some general information of what you can do and what to expect. But like skydiving, nothing can truly prepare you for what’s about to happen. For example, there are intrinsic values of community managers and marketers that aren’t easily trained. Like skydiving, a lot of learning comes from doing.
So you become ready to take the plunge. You’re at the top, with your 15,000 foot view of the Social Web. (And someone has probably shown you an image of the Social Media Landscape, a Conversation Prism, or an Ohio State Social Media Butterfly at this point.) You have this great view of what’s possible, and you’re able to see it all. It’s overwhelming, but thrilling. It’s daunting, but it seems doable.
Next, you jump. The freefall begins. Your heart is racing, the new sites, tips, tricks, blog posts, links, tweets and tools are flying by you faster than you can consume them. The first 9,000 feet go by so quickly you hardly have time to take it all in. You’re scrambling to make sense of what’s happening with it all.
Before you know it, your parachute springs opens at 5,000 feet. You now have a much smaller view of the world, a more targeted view. Your end goal is closer and much more visible, and you’re able to focus on it and move towards it more carefully and methodically by pulling the right strings in the right direction.
Where are you at in your jump?
I’m going to assume that for most of you, the parachute has deployed or you’re ending your initial free-fall. You’re able to breathe a little more and you’re not looking at the 15,000 ft view of the social web anymore. You’re down around 5,000 feet, focusing on a smaller landscape of tools and sites to work with. Are you focusing on the goals more carefully now? Do you know where you want to land with your project? And when you get there, are you ready to take it all on again?
If you haven’t deployed your parachute yet, maybe you’re thinking it’s time to settle in and focus on a few that work best. If you’re still freefalling, you might still be trying to decide how much is manageable and where it all fits in. Regardless of where you are, know this: many others have gone before you, many others will jump after you. And for the most part, we’ll all survive.
Oh, and one more similarity. For both skydiving and the Social Web, you’ll definitely run into someone who says “I cannot believe you are doing this. You’re ridiculous.” Ignore them. Both are a blast.
There are countless blog posts about differentiation and standing out from your competitors. Rather than try to brush broad strokes about what I think schools should do differently, I think I’ll paint a different picture on this one.
Over the past two days I’ve been updating BlueFuego’s Social Web Research, which has exposed me on over 3,000 URLS for admissions, alumni, and .edu homepages of 1,000 university and college sites (400 sites to go!). I continue to see the same boring story again and again. So I decided to set up some advanced searches on common quotes and sayings that continue to pop up.
(And if you want prospective students to “Become a VIP“, there are 16,799 other URLs just like you.)
Are you really that different? Have you taken the time to look at your 10 most frequent cross-app schools to see what students see there? I’d venture to guess there are more than a few similarities. I think back to this blog post, Give Them More Than The Expected, and encourage you to look outside of the basic/expected product and give them the Wow Factor.
Chancellors and Presidents on Twitter. A glimpse into the daily life and events of a university’s highest ranking official. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Over the weekend, I was pointed to a tweet by @TeecycleTim, web extraordinaire and mastermind behind @MarquetteU. (Side note – Tim recently received a $1K donation from an alumni through direct message on Twitter. More on that later this week.)
Fast forward five months to November 27th. Michael Knetter (@DeanKnetter), Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison, tweets:
And Biddy, in what was meant to be a direct message, responds:
My thoughts: Forget the Direct Message, Biddy! In the future, tweet that publicly (like you mistakenly did). It’s funny, it’s light-hearted, and it shows your human side. (Her PR team might beg to differ.) While I have no clue if you actually shouldn’t be tweeting during a furlough, I wouldn’t think it would matter. (Feel free to tell me I’m wrong in the comments below, I’ve never dealt with a furlough.)
One of my favorite examples of universities using Twitter comes from a Chancellor and President. Chancellor Nasser Paydar (@Paydar) from IU East and President Christopher Maples (@PresidentMaples) from Oregon Institute of Technology. Click the right arrow to go through the tweets.
Twitpic of your chancellor dunking a basketball on Twitter = Awesome.
If you don’t use Twitter, this post will be largely irrelevant for you. For those who do tweet, I hope it provides insight to my perspective and is a learning opportunity for others.
If you have been unfollowed by me, please take the time to read this so you can better understand.
(Tweetdeck for iPhone = I hate it. And yeah, that guy creeping over my shoulder threw me off at the end…)
I thought it’d be helpful to explain how I use Twitter, so that you better understand how my usage of Twitter might differ from yours. I owe it to you and I want you to better understand me as a person and the motives behind my decision to cut back.
Late this summer, I was following around 750 people on Twitter, with about 2,500 people following me. (Overall, I’m a small fish in the Twitter pond.) If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I have never hoped or intended to follow back everyone who follows me. For me, it’s not feasible or beneficial to use Twitter in this manner. (Everyone views Twitter differently, and you are welcome to disagree with my view, but that’s what it is for me.)
Twitter started to ruin my Facebook experience. I would see updates from someone on Twitter, then again on Facebook. I view Facebook as a more intimate relationship, so it made sense to me at the time to cut the cord on the Twitter side. Also, I was receiving these updates through the @BlueFuego account, which I monitor and filter through each day.
At the same time, I have made a conscious decision to cut back on using Twitter, as it cuts into things that are more important to me, such as time with family and putting food on the table.
How I Cut Back
I started systematically removed people, using a mixture of TweetStats.com, TwitterCounter.com, and FollowCost.com. Factors that weighed into my decisions were the volume of updates, the signal-to-noise ratio (your definition of this ratio will differ from mine), and the amount of conversations irrelevant to me or my interests. Not a single person was removed from my following list without a combination of these tools to decide. I did my downsizing in two waves, from 750 to around 400, and then down to 200 a month later. Looking back, that number could likely have been at 250 or so, as cutting people got harder towards the end of this process. And many of those last few are the ones whose feelings I have hurt. I should have known when to stop, but, again, if you know me you know that when I set a goal I reach it. 200 was the finish line for me.
During the this time I closely monitored my follower #’s and the amount of interactions I was having with people. For every single person, I was having the same amount of @replies and interactions with them as before, but I was able to follow Twitter better by not receiving as much noise.
Methods to ‘Following Everyone’ and Information Overload
Yes, there are MANY tools to help someone follow 50,000+ people if they wish. Tweetdeck, Seesmic, and other desktop-based tools allow a user to segment people into groups (not to be confused with Twitter Lists, which we’ll talk about in a bit.). I’m positive that every person reading this utilizes something like Tweetdeck.
For me, following hundreds of thousands of people is not valuable. These people usually have alternate ways of *actually* following along. You just don’t see them.
Even one of the most prominent bloggers and tweeters in the Social Web space, who I respect and admire greatly, has a separate twitter account called @My100, a blank account that is used for following a small crowd of less than 30 people. This person has recently blogged about Twitter Lists, and said he refuses to use them because people will feel left out. It’s the same for his personal account. It’s no longer possible to NOT follow people without backlash, because the precedent has been set, so this is one way that he has been able to cut back. At face value, everyone gets followed back and all is well. *Most* people with 5-10,000+ just sit on @replies and DM’s to interact with people. They don’t read what you’re actually up to unless it relates to them.
What about Twitter Lists?
Twitter Lists have recently been added, and they provide a way to follow a group of people without “following” them. After trying a few higher ed lists, I have found Anne Peterson’s Higher Ed Twitter List to be the best one out there, and the one that most closely resembles the way I used to use Twitter. It’s the one I follow, and when I’m at a desk, track to see what’s going on in the community. For me, this is a great way to stay abreast of what’s happening, in addition to the @BlueFuego twitter account. I have enjoyed Twitter Lists so far, because they offer me the flexibility to “stick my head into the fire hose” at my leisure and consume tweets when I can, rather than being forced to see them. But as far as mobile goes, they are useless to me. So let’s talk about mobile usage for a second.
Why YOUR Twitter is not MY Twitter
Here’s the deal: Your view and my view probably differ. Why? Because the way we use Twitter is different. More than likely, you have a desk job (right?). You are able to use tools l have mentioned above to track, target, segment and follow many more people than I can.
This month, I will be ‘in the office’, meaning physically sitting at a desk for extended periods of a day, for a total of 4 work days. Four. If you work a desk job, you’ll be at your desk for 19 days this month. You already have a strong advantage over me, because you can use tools like Tweetdeck and Seesmic to stay up to date with everyone, and let them run in the background of your computer all day.
While this month is hectic for me, it’s not that out of line of most months. I’m in and out of 3 conferences in one day each (i.e. not staying to sit and listen to other presentations, which would be more like a ‘desk day’ to me). I’ll spend 6 full days on site visits for clients, and I’ll have 19 flights.
So please imagine being in my shoes for a moment. (They’re size 13) Not only am I consuming tweets in chunks, catching up between meetings and flights, but I’m doing it while mobile (and usually, while driving….).
I’d estimate that this is how I use Twitter for over 80% of the time. This leaves a lot… A LOT… of scrolling and filtering through my iPhone Twitter app to get through everything. And that’s not how I want to use Twitter.
The Final Straw
If you’re still with me, I hope you understand this one thing: I don’t tell you all of this so that you will empathize and feel sorry for me. I tell you this so that you will understand me.
Rule #1: Family comes first. It absolutely kills me to miss tweets from my wife, my mom, my brother and cousins, and other friends that I interact and see IRL weekly. One week during September, while traveling, I heard the same question from my wife or another family member three nights in a row on the phone. “Hey, did you see what I tweeted today about work/what the dog did/your dad/etc.?” ..…silence..….
It kills me to say that. I value the communication and relationship with my family above all else, and the moment at which I was frequently missing their updates because they were squished in hundreds and hundreds of other updates was the moment i knew I needed to downsize.
I have never intended to hurt someone’s feelings by not following them, but my personal decision to downgrade was first and foremost about family, secondly because I was usually receiving the same message across multiple platforms, and thirdly because my personal work lifestyle (mobile) does not match with my previous work lifestyle (desk job). Yes, there are mobile people who can handle it (at least at face value), but that is not my style.
What could I do better?
A LOT. I could manage my time better. I could travel less. I could do a lot of things. But this is where I am right now. I signed up for it, and I love it, but it’s not where I was 12 months ago. I’m a different type of Twitter user than I was before. My time is limited, my attention is stretched, my family is now involved. It’s a new ballgame.
Applications like Boxcar, which provide me push messages from Twitter for @replies allow me to be aware of anyone who messages me during the day, even more quickly than a direct message, email or Facebook message. (Like yesterday, when I was criticized for not following to someone or responding to them, yet I got back to her within 60 seconds. )
If you’ve been offended by my unfollowings, here’s what you could do better: Understand. Understand there is more than one way to follow a conversation, there are multiple ways to track what’s happening, and understand that you and me are very different people at the end of the day. That’s the beauty of the social web. You use it how you want to, and let me use it how I want to.
And you know what I could do better? Understand. Understand the value you put on a connection and relationship with me. I horribly underestimated it, and for that I apologize. My intent has never been to hurt someone’s feelings. My intent has been to align my usage of Twitter with my personal needs.
You’ll Get There One Day
The day is going to come for you as well. You’ll hit the point where there’s just too much. You’ll undoubtedly cut down your list one day after you define and realize how you want to use this tool. And when you do, when that time comes, I certainly hope you’ll better understand both sides of the issue.
If you want to be proactive, look around the higher ed community. There are people who have work/personal accounts, so that they don’t have to filter through the community noise. There are other people in the community who have never followed more than double digits. One person DM’d me to say she/he used Twitter lists to create a private “NOISE” list and a private “People worth following” list, and only track one of the lists. I’ll let you guess which one is used most.
Give Me Your Thoughts!
I continuously review my actions. If you think there is a better way for me to manage my Twitter presence, I’m all ears. Please leave a comment to let me know where I’m missing a tool or opportunity to do better with staying connected. If you somehow fell through the cracks and I’m truly not seeing your updates somewhere, please let me know so I can fix that as well.