Category Archives: Content

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.


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:


A #highered holiday card I actually like

As you can probably tell from my title, I am rarely impressed with holiday cards from higher education institutions. More often than not I find them to be forced, too long, boring, etc.

There are a couple video holiday cards this season that I’ve been particularly impressed with. The College of William & Mary and Wofford College produced amazing video holiday cards. Both focus on the talents of current students (Wofford actually wrote their own holiday song!) and they are very well produced.

I often think we try to do too much with video. Let one concept shine through and you’re golden. That is why I like these two examples in particular. They keep it simple. They focus on the cheer that a holiday song will bring viewers. They are the perfect length.

My alma mater and former employer, Saint Michael’s College, produced their very first video holiday card this year. And to my happy surprise, I love it.

Why?

  1. The music featured in the video is from the Sleepless Knights, one of the acapella groups on campus. Featuring students is important to higher education video engagement. And it saves you from violating any copyright laws.
  2. The theme of the holiday card is “giving back at Christmastime.” They are able to execute this theme in a way that engages the viewers and sprinkles in some good ole’ cheesy-humor. St. Mike’s is a catholic institution and the founders, the Edmundites, are known for their generosity and giving back to the community. They didn’t produce a video holiday card to be like all the other institutions out there. This theme was well thought out and relevant for the institution. Three cheers for being mission-driven AND entertaining.
  3. The mascot, Mike the Knight, is the star of the video. He gets the point across but keeps it light and humorous. Who doesn’t want to watch a school mascot decorate a gingerbread house?
  4. It is under 2 minutes. My attention never faltered.
  5. The video is appropriate for any audience. Viewers are treated to many notable locations on campus as Mike the Knight goes about bringing Christmas cheer to students, faculty, and staff. Alumni will enjoy seeing familiar places and prospective students get an idea of what campus looks like.
  6. It’s my alma mater. I’m partial.

Have you seen any holiday cards that have impressed you this year?


Beyond Blogging, #heweb11

As promised, here are my slides for my 9:30 AM (CT) presentation of Beyond Blogging: Create an Integrated Online Student Ambassador program.

If you can’t attend HighEdWeb this year, I hope that you will follow along with the hashtags #heweb11 and #soc2 this morning. Leave any questions or comments you have as a comment and I’ll be sure to respond!


Thoughts: 2011 E-Expectations Report

Think about your web presence and not just your web site.  Your web presence is anywhere, anytime.

your web presence

This is the concept that Nick DeNardis and I opened with in our Penn State Web Conference presentation called “Give Your Content Legs and Run With It.”  This idea is also stated in the very first sentence of the 2011 Noel Levitz E-Expectations Report.  “The rise of social networking and the growing use of mobile Web access have fundamentally expanded how students access information and interact online.”

Your audience interacts with content.  Are you spending your time wisely to create the content they need and want?  How can you know what that type of content is?

The 2011 E-Expectations Report can help guide you.

This report surveyed 1045 students and 517 parents from across the USA to find out what their online expectations are during the college search.  If you work in Admissions or do recruitment-focused marketing, this report is a must read.

Key Findings

While I strongly encourage you to read the report for yourself (and perhaps even print it out and go through with a highlighter!) I have pulled out what I believe are three key findings and my reactions to them.

55% of students watch videos on college web sites

This number is up 13% from last year’s survey.  Also, 27% of students report that they visit other video sites (like YouTube) to look at schools on their list, up 17% from last year.

What type of videos are they seeking? Nearly half of respondents report that student life-related videos are most interesting.  These are videos that highlight on-campus activities and events and simply give prospects a sense of what it is like to be a member of your college community.  These videos are typically short, fun, easy to watch, and feature current students.

Here are some examples of great student life videos:
Lunch Break – Boston College
Penguin Plunge – Saint Michael’s College
Gym, Tan, Laundry – Stonehill College
First-Year Trips – Dartmouth
The Final – 2011 – West Virginia University (an awesome recap of the Class of 2011′s thoughts on life and leaving WVU)

47% of students and 57% of parents say a bad experience on your site will have a negative effect on their perception of the school

In fact, E-Expectations reports that 1 in 5 students will actually drop a school from consideration.  This alarming statistic makes me want to immediately do user testing on my institution’s website to make sure that information is easily found and the content is useful and interesting.

The report did not ask students what they considered to be a “negative experience” but we know that for many prospective families the website is their first “visit” to your college.  How much time is spent training student ambassadors and admission staff with the goal of portraying an exciting and positive (yet accurate!) account of the school?  That time will be wasted if students are writing off your institution before they even show up.

The report also found that both students and parents are first clicking on academic programs or admission information.  If you are trying to decide where to spend your dollars and/or time beefing up your site, doesn’t it make sense to start there?

Here are some resources to help you evaluate the design, structure, and content on your school’s website and to help you keep up with web trends:
Meet Content
Rebranding in Higher Ed- Higher Ed Live
EDUCheckup
eduStyle

While 80% of students surveyed have a Facebook account, only 27% have viewed a college Facebook page and nearly 2/3 of that population say the experience had no influence on their decision.

Well this was a bit disheartening, I will admit.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a college that is not putting time and effort into developing a Facebook presence.

My approach to Facebook?  To the best of your ability try and emulate online the vibrant campus community that occurs in real life.  Facilitate interaction between current students, alumni, staff and faculty, and even prospective students under one roof.  I’ve never felt that having a Facebook Page just for the admission office was a good idea.  The audience changes too quickly to ever build a strong following and I’d much rather send prospective students to a main institutional Page so they can see broader information and have the opportunity to interact with the community

Many schools find that accepted and enrolled students are more likely to join a “Class of” Page or Group.  These students are interested in connecting with each other at that point.   A recent post on .eduGuru examined community-building on both Pages and Groups that you may find helpful.

Other Resources:
SUNY Plattsburgh makes excellent use of tabs on their Facebook Page to bring all of their audiences together under one roof.
Tim Nekritz at SUNY Oswego expressed his belief on having just one Page to rule your various audiences back in January.

Know YOUR audience

When it comes to re-evaluating your web presence, this report will give you a jump start.  However, you may find yourself scratching your head at some of the findings.  Your audience of prospective students may behave differently than those surveyed, which is why it is important to collect and pay attention to your own metrics.

For example, E-Expectations found that only 1 in 4 students review blogs.  I know (because we ask them) that 2 in 3 enrolled students use SMCBlogs as a tool to help them learn more about Saint Michael’s College, but our audience and the type of student we attract is very different than other institutions – especially big state schools!
________________________________________________________

There are many more compelling and important results to this survey that I did not discuss in this post.  Here is a Storify compiled by Mike Petroff on the findings he found to be important.

What results of this report did you find particularly interesting?  Please share your thoughts below.


How to use Facebook Questions as a business

Question mark cuff linksWith the boom of Quora and Formspring, I think many marketing professionals figured that it was only a matter of time until Facebook revamped their Questions feature.  It has been roughly one week since Questions relaunched and I have noticed more individuals asking questions than Pages.

(Here’s a post by Mike Petroff regarding how to enable Questions for your Page account.)

I oversee and/or directly manage a number of Facebook Pages for the institution I work at and thus have been fortunate to have the opportunity for a little trial and error.

In as short of a time as one week I have learned 3 important lessons when it comes to using Facebook Questions as a business.

1. People are lazy, so give them options!

Let’s compare these two questions:

Example 1:
No options are given.
Zero votes tallied
Facebook Question

Example 2:
3 options are given
62 votes tallied

Facebook Question

In Example 1 the answers are clearly “yes” and “no,” just like in Example 2.  So why didn’t anyone respond?  Because they were being asked to fill in the answers instead of just clicking on the radial button to vote.

Make it easy for your audience to engage with you.  Take the guesswork out of it.  If the answers are clear, provide them.

(This being said, I can think of plenty of situations where you might want to leave the answers up to your audience.  Think about which approach is right for you based on the question and amount of responses you are hoping to get.)

And don’t forget, unless you want people to add options uncheck the box!
Anyone can ask a question on facebook

2. Don’t forget the fold.

Only 3 answer options will appear above the fold, but as you can see below there were more options given. 

SMC Athletics Facebook Question

Yes, Facebook tells you how many answer options are not being shown.  However, will people take the time to click and “see more?”

SMC Athletics Question Facebook

In this example, no one has voted for “Not quite the finals.”  Either SMC students have a lot of faith in the men’s lax team or they aren’t taking the time to see what that last option is.

My recommendation is:  try to boil down the answers to 3 and go with it.

3. The answers will move based on votes.

When people vote the answers will rearrange and put their choice on top.

Here’s the original:

Planet radio station facebook question

 

 

 

 

 

 

And after I voted:

Planet radio station facebook

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
The lesson here?  Don’t letter your answers!

I think that Facebook Questions could be a valuable tool for your business.
Whether you choose to use this tool in a funny or serious way, having the ability to ask your audience a question and get an immediate response is priceless.

What other tricks have you discovered?  Contribute to this discussion in the comments.


Create an online student ambassador program.

A couple weeks ago I was given the wonderful opportunity to present at the eduGuru Online Summit with a presentation titled: Beyond Blogging: Create an Integrated Online Student Ambassador Program.

Here are the slides:

On April 10 at 7pm ET I will be guest hosting Higher Ed Live and speaking with Evan Grenier of Stonehill College about the importance of creating an online student ambassador program. I hope you will join us!


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