Webinar Recording: Secrets to a More Social Admissions Decision Day

Mallory Wood, mStoner’s director of marketing, and Bruce Floyd, University of Florida’s social media specialist, present a brand new case study on the concept and execution of #UF17.

The University of Florida took advantage of their admissions decision day celebrate their newest members of the Gator family. UF rallied around the hashtag #UF17 so their team could coordinate communications with the accepted students as the University sent out acceptance notifications online,. The results were dramatic — in roughly eight hours they saw 644 unique tweets from 966 individual Twitter contributors. These conversations totaled over 4.57 million timeline deliveries and reached 370,000 members of the Twitter community.

In our webinar, Mallory and Bruce examine: Campaign strategy, planning, and goal-setting. Campaign management. Measuring results and beyond.


Content Strategy: Indiana University lets students tell the story

Your institution’s students and alumni are the best advertisements. Creating content that turns their achievements into powerful stories will engage both prospective families and alumni. And while you’re at it, why not make that content shareable? Social media strategy in 2012 must go beyond putting icons on the homepage. Curating stories in a way that entices your audience to interact, share, and explore deeper will only lead to success.

Jay Steele, Data Manager in the Office of Enrollment Management at Indiana University, is taking this approach to content and social media strategy with WeAreIU.com–a story-sharing platform for the IU community.

WeAreIU

How should institutions interact and engage with prospective students and what digital media tools exist to facilitate that connection?

In an attempt to answer this question Jay explored research on admissions, social media and Generations Y and Z. His research led to some conclusions and more questions:

  • When prospective students are in the decision making process, they want to hear from current students.
  • There is value in face-to-face interactions. How can we replicate that in a digital environment?
  • Traditional blogs are great, but how can we take that idea to the next level?
  • Student voices on official institutional websites carry a different sense of authority to prospective students.
  • Colleges and universities do not have control over the tool or the conversation on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. And many institutions are trying to get the tools to fit their goals, instead of the other way around.
  • How can we promote institutional messages by tapping into the existing networks of current students?

The answer? WeAreIU.com, a site that gives students (and alumni) an opportunity to contribute their IU stories and share those stories with their networks.

Unlike blogging programs at other institutions, Jay opened up the opportunity to any IU student interested in contributing content. The site, which launched in February, now has over 120 regular student contributors and a web-to-post form where anyone can contribute. In less than 6 months they’ve captured over 600 stories.

Nitty-gritty details

  • Interested students had to answer two questions: Why do you want to share your stories? Why are you qualified?
  • This is a volunteer-only program.
  • Each student has their own account on Compendium, the platform for WeAreIU.com.
  • Students were expected to attend a training session.
  • Students are expected to post a story once every couple of weeks. (Jay and his staff moderates all posts before they go live.)
  • Students are encouraged to share their stories on other social networks.
  • Anyone is able to share their story via a web form. (This was a smart feature to add. Students and even alumni are choosing to share meaningful stories this way.)

The Results

The site is young but there are already signs of its future success. Most of the traffic to WeAreIU.com is from search, social sharing, and direct. (The site is not currently promoted on IU websites.) Roughly 2/3 of the site visitors are new visitors and the site is seeing an average visit duration of over 2 minutes. Jay estimates that of the 120 contributes about 25 are “die-hard” and generating a lot of traffic to the site with their posts.

The best part? Indiana University now has a repository of student stories to use in other marketing campaigns on the web or in print. Jay knows that raising awareness of the site internally is key. And he’s sharing the stories with faculty, coaches, and student life in hopes that they’ll find ways to use the content to help market IU.

“You never know where you’ll see success coming from and you have to be ready, willing, and able to adapt. We don’t have a calendar or deadlines. The site is organically growing and the stories are authentic. Prospective students recognize and appreciate that.” – Jay Steele


Reel Deal Monday: Big Things Are Within Reach, Nina Blanco

This post was originally featured on mStonerblog.com

Profiling current students is one of the easiest ways to show prospective students the potential opportunities available at your institution. This idea isn’t rocket science, but it can have a big impact. Here is the second video in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s new series “Big Things Are Within Reach.”

Perceived Goals

  • Sharing opportunities available for students attending SIU with prospective students. (“This could be you!”)
  • “This series focuses on students gaining hands-on experience and pursuing their goals,” stated Tamarah Cook, manger of social media at SIU.
  • Tamarah added that this series directly supports SIU’s overall branding messages.

Evaluation

  • “Big Things Are Within Reach” videos are created and produced by students on the Social Media Team. Awesome! Giving capable students a project like this is really smart. They’re in touch with the current student body, have the ability to easily find these unique stories, and the end result will often look more authentic.
  • If you aren’t required to have a three to five second intro of your institution’s logo, get rid of it. You can always put your logo at the end of the video or add a small watermark over your frames in the beginning. The first five to ten seconds are critical to retaining your viewers. In some ways I consider those intro-logos to be a punishment!
  • I love the b-roll and effects selected for the beginning of the video. Making it clear very quickly that Nina’s story is unique and taking place outside the typical academic setting was a smart decision. As a viewer, I’m curious to see and hear more.
  • The shots of Nina in action are interesting and fun. Filming the interview from her DJ chair enhances the story and provides authenticity. Smart visual choices!
  • When you’re profiling current students with web video it is really important to select people who will be natural and relatable in front of the camera. Nina was a great choice.
  • Layering music or other audio underneath a person speaking is a common practice, but you have to be really careful to not distract viewers from what is being said. The music was well selected for Nina’s video profile, but overall it needs to be toned down. Many video editors will auto-adjust layered tracks for you, known as “ducking.” Make sure you manually re-adjust if necessary. In fact, you might have to reduce the volume of your layered tracks to different levels throughout the video depending on how loudly the person on camera is speaking. Once you have all the audio tracks properly layered and adjusted, always give the entire video one final listen, with you eyes closed. It’s amazing what you might pick up when you remove the sense of sight and just focus on listening.
  • It’s important to select your visual effects wisely. Too many transitions, flashes, or filters can be a bit overwhelming.
  • Perfect length.
  • More could have been done with the description and tags. What if a student wants to take Nina’s path? What is the next step? Why not provide a link to her major’s academic page? And better tagging will increase the likelihood that other videos from this series will appear in the side column of related videos.
  • In case a prospective student discovers these type of videos on your YouTube channel, create YouTube playlists for your video series when two or more videos are posted.
  • In case a prospective student randomly stumbles across this video, don’t make it difficult for them to discover the rest. Using YouTube annotations you can quickly and easily link to the rest of the videos in your series.

Results

  • This video fits well into the theme “Big Things Are Within Reach.” And Nina is a great example of a SIUC student pursuing special opportunities.
  • The video has received a modest number of views.
  • Selecting a title for the series that is in line with other branding efforts allows SIUC to take advantage of SEO opportunities. For example, notice the first sentence on the how to apply page.

Rating

rating 7.5

My rating for this video is a 7.5. The video series is a fantastic idea to enhance the “Big Things” tagline and profiling Nina was a smart decision. I took into account that this series is student created and produced, but there were some audio issues and other minor details that prevented me from giving the video a higher score. Overall, it is an interesting and enjoyable video to watch.

Thanks for sharing this series, Tamarah!

Don’t forget to submit a video from your institution.


Reel Deal Monday: If you can… You can go to Brock

Sometimes dealing with criticism head-on is the best approach. The saying goes: “If you can walk and talk, you can go to Brock.”

Karine Joly covered this video when it published in February 2011. Read her Q&A with Kevin Grout, Marketing and Communications Manager, for a background on why and how the video was produced.

Perceived Goals

  • Address the misperception that Brock University accepts anyone who applies.
  • Highlight the intelligent and engaged community at Brock.
  • Positively enhance the University’s reputation.
  • Incorporate into undergraduate recruitment initiatives.

Evaluation

  • Someone very smart chose to begin and end the video with one woman stating, “You know how the saying goes.” (Was that you, Kevin?) This is effective at the beginning because once viewers recall the full taunt, they are bombarded with Brock students and faculty sharing their academic accomplishments. Unless you’ve brushed up on your SAT-vocab recently, a first-time viewer might become overwhelmed with the academic opportunities and might not understand everything being presented. The quick pace of the video contributes to that feeling. By the end of the video, when one can’t help but think, “Wow, there is a lot going on there…” the first woman reappears. This time when she says, “You know how the saying goes,” the viewer realizes the full absurdity of the taunt.
  • One criticism. I wish they’d highlighted a physically disabled student who is succeeding academically… even though they can’t “walk.”
  • My favorite clip: I loved how Brock got the point across that they attract leaders and people who think for themselves. It was powerful to say “If you aren’t one of these…” followed by an image of a sheep. The message was clear and clever.
  • I think it’s interesting that Brock chose to use an image of a closing door to accompany the latter half of the statement, “Fall in love or lust.” But hey, it’s college.
  • Warning, this is really picky. The timing of “supportive” around 1:06 and the person’s hand touching his friend’s shoulder was perfect. Combining sensory cues has a huge effect for the viewer, whether they realize it or not.
  • I like the text they selected for the video description. It strikes a balance between being friendly and inspiring.
  • This video was very well produced. Audio, visuals, length, pace… it’s all works together seamlessly. Kevin shared with Karine that a professional crew shot the video, but the concept and script were developed internally.

Results

  • Nearly 30,000 views is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Unlike many higher ed videos I’ve seen, this one actually received comments. It is great to see that Brock took the time to respond to some comments from the institution’s account and individuals associated with the project left their responses too. (And for what it is worth, I think it was a smart decision to avoid some of the more ridiculous conversations.)
  • I’d be curious to hear more from Kevin on whether or not they feel the video helped counter misperceptions.

Rating
rating 9.5

It isn’t easy to tackle tough subjects head on and I commend Brock for having the guts to produce this video. This video receives a 9.5 rating because it was edgy, smart, and well-produced.

What rating would you give this video and why? Leave a comment below.


What is next, #casesmc?

Originally posted on mStonerblog.com

Michael, Susan, and I attended the CASE Social Media Conference in Chicago last month. It was a great conference and recaps and resource lists have been compiled to share key take-aways with the rest of higher education.

But, what is next? Everyone at #casesmc felt the energy and excitement around using social media in higher education. The faculty helped us think about evaluating our efforts in new ways and backchannel conversations carried on for at least a week after the conference ended. I know I’m not the only one who has a #casesmc search still running in TweetDeck!

 

This post is for the attendees who are looking to further their professional development with other conferences, want to add new blogs to their Google Reader, and hope to keep the conversation alive. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite #highered resources and linked to a number of thought-leader’s twitter accounts. And please feel free to add your favorite resource by leaving a comment below!

The three higher ed resources I couldn’t live without:

  • Higher Ed Live is a weekly web show network focused exclusively on higher education. Currently there are three shows: Student Affairs Live, Admissions Live, and Higher Ed Live. The guests are top-notch and the hosts do a great job leading the conversation. Bonus? The blog is just as informative as the weekly shows.
  • EDUniverse is a hub where education professionals can find inspiration, share solutions, and build their networks. Some of the featured topics include social media, video, marketing, and design. And anyone can create a profile and upload content to the site. Full disclosure: mStoner designed, built and maintains the site. But since launching in February, EDUniverse has quickly become the first place I check when I’m looking for new ideas.
  • LINK is the journal of higher education web professionals maintained by the HighEdWeb association. (More on them later.) LINK has multiple content contributors from institutions across the nation and Canada, which means you’ll often hear two different sides. In fact, their newest feature ALL CAPS focuses on bringing differing opinions together on various topics.

My favorite conference presentations from the last year:

Other conferences you’ll want to check out:

  • HighEdWeb is an organization of web professionals working at institutions of (mostly) higher education. This conference is roughly 3 times larger than #casesmc with over 500 attendees and 5 or 6 tracks to select from at any given time. The national conference is in October and I highly recommend checking it out.
  • 140cuse promises attendees that they’ll “leave with a fresh outlook on how the real time web can be used in your business and/or personal life to do something meaningful.” Unfortunately it overlapped with #casesmc this year, but check out the backchannel and see for yourself!
  • Confab: The Content Strategy Conference focuses on talking and thinking about content strategy. What opportunities exist? How does content impact user experience on your site? And mStoner is hosting the conference’s first higher ed lounge! Confab is sold out for 2012, but keep it on your radar for next year.

Three higher ed blogs I have to read:

  • EDUCheckup is a video review of higher education websites hosted by Nick DeNardis. Nick scores sites on visual, information, and code.
  • CASE Social Media blog is a great resource. Some #casesmc faculty and attendees regularly contribute content.
  • Meet Content, co-authored by Rick Allen and Georgy Cohen, aims to “empower higher education to create and sustain web content that works by providing a resource for sharing and learning.”

Some non-higher ed links to check out:

  • Seth Godin’s blog tops this list. Simply put, he is insightful and thought-provoking.
  • Six Pixels of Separation is Mitch Joel’s blog on the Twist Image site. There is a wealth of information and links to other resources here.
  • Comscore is a great resource if you are looking for surveys and data to support your work. I find their monthly U.S. Online Video Rankings to be particularly helpful.
  • Dribbble is an excellent resource for design inspiration. Designers from all industries contribute snippets of what they’re working on to the site. And it was recently pointed out to me that a quick search on responsive design brings up a number of interesting results.

If I think of any more resources I’ll be sure to update this post.


Reel Deal Monday: A day in the life of Gettysburg College, Leap Day Photo Project

This post was originally featured on mStonerblog.com

I love starting my week with video. Here’s one from Gettysburg College. What better day than Leap Day to capture campus life via photos and short video?

Perceived Goals

  • To showcase life on Gettysburg College campus.
  • I believe there are broader purposes for this video than simply using it as a recruitment-focused marketing tool.

Evaluation

  • If I was giving out points, I’d give Gettysburg 279 points for creating an interactive and integrated social media campaign for the Leap Day Photo Project. Not only was this video shared on Gettysburg.edu and YouTube, the College promoted the project on Facebook and encouraged user photo submissions on Tumblr and on a special Posterous account for the project.

Facebook Gettysburg College

  • YouTube Insights gives valuable information into the success of your videos. As a regular viewer, I am able to view the top three gender + age demographics for any YouTube video. Of course, when you are trying to recruit a traditional undergraduate student the goal is to have “Female 13-17″ and “Male 13-17″ among the list. A day in the life hit a home run with the “Female 13-17″ demographic. I’m going to roll with awarding arbitrary points and grant Gettysburg 78 points for connecting with half of their target market.
  • As you know from my last review, I think it is extremely important to update description, tags, and the category for YouTube videos. Because this project has an interactive component, I think Gettysburg should have encouraged photo submissions with a link to Posterous or Tumblr right within the video description. And why isn’t “Leap Day” a tag? 40 points awarded for not leaving these sections blank. 18 points taken away for missing an opportunity.
  • The length is perfect. The video moves along and the visuals are nicely timed with the music. (Little details like that make all the difference.) This is the type of video where length can easily get away from you, so kudos for keeping it to just over one minute.
  • Campus looks great, students look happy, and a woman was wearing a Gettysburg hoodie. “Duh,” you might be thinking, “why would I show trash or unhappy faces?” Well, getting these images isn’t as easy as you might think when you are snapping candid photos and shooting random video clips. And most of the photos and videos have that raw, “I just pulled out my iPhone” feel.
  • Academics, athletics, and food. I think my one complaint is every photo or video can be placed into one of those categories. What about the impressive performing arts groups? Or photos of students volunteering with the local youth?

Results

  • By sharing the video in multiple places, the view count is over 1,000.
  • I’m wondering if Gettysburg can attribute new photo submissions on either Tumblr or Posterous directly to this video. (Paul, are you out there? Have any insights?)

Rating

rating 9

I give this video a 9 because Gettysburg paid attention to details. Lining up the images and music may have been something a less-experienced video editor would have overlooked. And this video will be easily repurposed, increasing the return on investment. The length is perfect and I walk away feeling good about life on campus at Gettysburg.

Paul Fairbanks, Director of Web Communications, Communications and Marketing, submitted this video and says, “We feel the video was successful in both capturing the day and reflecting life at Gettysburg College. We are pleased with the view count and will re-use the video in the future.” Well done, Paul.

What rating would you give this video and why? Leave a comment below. And don’t forget to submit a video from your institution.


Resource list from #casesmc

Wow! The CASE Social Media Conference was terrific. Kudos to the conference chair Susan T. Evans for pulling together some of the best minds in higher education to serve as conference faculty and presenters.

Here’s what some of the attendees had to say:

If you were unable to attend the conference, I’d highly encourage you to check out the session slides, live blog posts, and conference hashtag. I’ve taken the liberty of pulling together some of these resources for you here.

Slides from the presenters:

Blog posts recapping the presentations:


Reel Deal Monday: Pop quiz: the beginning

This post originally appeared on mStonerblog.com

Confession: I had every intention to feature the latest video from the Boston College Minute video series, “Problem in A minor.” The BC Minute series produced by Ravi Jain consistently tops my list for effective, interesting, and engaging web video content.

I went to Boston College’s YouTube channel to get the embed code for Problem in A minor and their feature video Pop quiz: the beginning started to play. And I was instantly hooked.

Usually I am not a fan of using auto-play and I never suggest clients take that approach with their YouTube channel. But I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t have thought to watch the video otherwise, because I was on a mission to find another link.

Please note, I have not interviewed BC staff about the production, goals, or outcomes of Pop quiz: the beginning.

Perceived Goals

  • To educate current students, prospective students, and the greater Boston College community about the Sesquicentennial Celebration.
  • I do not believe using this video as a recruitment-focused marketing tool for the institution was a primary goal.

Evaluation

  • The video is funny. I see a diverse student population, a beautiful campus, and students who seem friendly, interesting, and most importantly–real. I don’t care if they can spell Sesquicentennial (heck, I’m not sure I can either!) but it is funny watching them try.
  • The video is fast-paced, the audio is high-quality, and even though Pop quiz is nearly 4 minutes long–my attention was held the entire time.
  • The host does a great job interacting with the unsuspecting students. I think this was key to the success of the video. The side commentary at :11, :36, and 3:26 kept the balance between light-hearted Q&A and information overload.
  • It is clear from the Sesquicentennial site that Boston College is celebrating the anniversary all month. Pop quiz was filmed before the festivities began (+1 for thinking ahead) but wasn’t published until April 18 (-1 for failing to capitalize on potential web traffic for the entire month).
  • Nothing gets me more upset than seeing video information (description, title, tags) that isn’t filled out on YouTube. It is so simple and provides context for your viewers, this should be a must. Boston College always does an excellent job filling out this information. By giving viewers further information about the College’s 150th celebration, they were able to keep the video light and funny.

Results

  • No matter what audience I belong to, by watching Pop quiz I learn something new about Boston College.
  • I am not sure how or if BC promoted this video, but 347 views in five days is pretty typical of higher education web video. They are missing an opportunity to link to this video from the Sesquicentennial home page and the main Boston College Facebook page.

Rating

rating is 8

 

I give this video an 8 because it delivers otherwise “boring” College facts in a way that is fun and funny. And while it was a bit longer than I’d usually suggest, my attention was held throughout the entire video. If a prospective student interested in BC finds this video, I believe they’ll be interested and enjoy seeing the authentic student-to-student interaction. Pop quiz doesn’t scream “marketing” and the video is well produced.

What rating would you give this video and why? Leave a comment below.


Facebook Timeline Cheat Sheet

If you are in charge of your institution’s Facebook Page, get ready. Facebook will automatically push Timeline to all pages on March 30. Your institution has a wonderful opportunity to tell its story in a more visual and dynamic way. Change can be a good thing!

Download the Facebook Timeline Cheat Sheet to take full advantage of the new features Timeline offers, see size measurements for various images, and learn tips and tricks.

Facebook Timeline Cheat Sheet

And when you “go live” with your updated Page, tell me! Leave a link in the comments and let me know your favorite new feature.


A tribute to Robertson Chamberlain Engelsman

Disclaimer: people in higher education know how to have fun.


twitter screen shot

RIP to the short-lived Wikipedia page.

Follow the man, myth, and legend.


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