Tag Archives: highered

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.


The new technology at college fairs, what does it say?

Arm with barcode tattoo

There is a new piece of technology at NACAC college fairs, the “pocket sized laser scanner” which allows college reps to quickly scan student’s contact information if the student has registered online before the fair.  NACAC created a video explaining the tool which is found on YouTube.

NACAC debuted the scanner at select national fairs last spring, however they came at an extra cost to the school.  At 19 national fairs this spring, Admission reps are encouraged to use the scanners without paying additional fees.

I spoke with an admission colleague at Saint Michael’s College, Jeremy Brown, to get the scoop:

What benefits are there for admission officers, when participating at NACAC fairs that have scanners?
The biggest benefit is that the students’ information is legible and thorough. No more struggling to make out a student’s name, e-mail or physical address. Also, because presenting a bar code out is easier than filling out in inquiry card, the admissions representative has an opportunity to gather more leads.

Personally, the biggest benefit was that it let the geek inside of me sing with joy! Using gadgets is so fun and that little “beeeeeep-beep” that would sound when the code was read was just awesome!!!

What benefits are there to the prospective students?
Without a doubt, it makes the process a lot less daunting for the student. I have seen some kids at other fairs who have inquiry card-fatigue near the end of a fair and may be less apt to fill out that inquiry card than when they first got to the fair. Even the kids who are smart and bring labels for inquiry cards may run out.

Do you see any drawbacks to either party?
With the ease that comes with the Lead Retrieval devices, an admissions rep will definitely get more prospects, some of which will be soft prospects. The student will get more college materials in the mail and the college will have a group of students who may not be entirely interested and just were “scanned” because their friend was being “scanned”.

But if the college’s messaging is strong and they have a solid communication plan, the hope will be to move them from a ‘soft prospect’ to a student who visits your campus and is won over by the school.
______________________________________________________________________

What does this say about our society? We want convenience.  We want information quickly.  We can not be bothered to have a 3 minute conversation with an admission rep or take 1 minute to fill out a contact card.

What does this say about higher ed? Are we turning students into merchandise?  Do we value quantity versus quality?  Is this a sign that higher education is less “education” and more “business?”

Do you think the benefits of using a scanner outweigh the negatives?  What are your thoughts?  Contribute to the discussion in the comments.


Facebook and Enrollment – What do future students want?

Recently All Facebook has been all about higher education.

In my previous post “Admission Counselors on Facebook?” I attempted to clear up some miscontrued Kaplan survey results that All Facebook reported on.

Today’s headline?

Students Get To Tour College Campuses On Facebook

My first reaction = It’s cool… it’s really cool…but who will actually do it?

My opinion on Facebook and Enrollment:

When Suzie HighSchool gets home from softball practice she might log into Facebook.  But, I’ll put $10 on the fact that she is not going there to conduct her college search.  She is going to Facebook to connect with her peers and future classmates.  Suzie hits up your website or sites like Zinch (which are geared towards the college search process) to start her college search.

I believe that future students search for your institution on Facebook typically after they have applied to your school or have been admitted.  They want to join groups related to the college, their class year, and/or clubs and programs your institution offers that are of interest to them.   In short, they go to Facebook to connect and engage with other humans.

I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on this story and on using Facebook in the enrollment marketing strategy.  Do you agree or disagree with me?  Let’s get this conversation started…


Admission Counselors on Facebook?

Nothin’ like twisting around some statistics to start off your Monday.

Higher ed and Admission folks may have missed this article over the weekend from All Facebook but twitter was well… a-twitter with this Huffington Post story this morning that ominously warns prospective students to clean up their Facebook profile or else be rejected from every school you have applied to.

Comparing apples to oranges

To state (in the original article) that “Four out of every five college admissions offices use Facebook to recruit students” is not equivalent to “Four out of five college admission offices use Facebook in the application decision making process” which is the conclusion that the Huffington Post jumps to.

This blatant misrepresentation of Kaplan’s statistics (which I can’t seem to find) is frustrating.

Admission Officers are busy

I spent two years in Admissions and during reading season you are… big surprise… READING!  God help me if I had time to do anything else.  I google’d an applicant once because the essay seemed too good to be true given the student’s test scores and transcript, but even in that case I was googling the essay and not the student herself.

(The essay was too good to be true, but that is besides the point.)

Mark Rothbaum of Varsity Outreach (a company that designs customized college Facebook apps for “community building and targeted communication” between admission’s and prospective students) told me, “I haven’t talked to a single admission counselor who has searched for a student on Facebook.”

St. Mike’s is considered one of the 80% of schools that use Facebook to connect with students, but that’s all we do, we connect with them and we do it appropriately – through Pages and Groups.  Admission counselors aren’t friending students or witch hunting them.  I continue to connect with hundreds of prospective students via the Class of 2015 Group, but I will never click on a student’s name to see their profile.  I don’t have the time and frankly, I don’t care.

Are you John Smith? Or John Smith?

Have you ever accidentally friended the wrong person?  Maybe not, because there is a good chance you can recognize them from their photo.

I just did a search for John Smith of Boston, MA.  Do you want to guess how many results were returned? 8 bagillion.

Most admission offices do not require head shots to accompany the application.  If I don’t know what John looks like there is no chance of me finding the correct one, and remember I don’t have time to be doing this search anyway…

Is this even legal?

In my conversation with Mark, he raised the question of the legality of all of this.  That’s an answer neither of us had and one I doubt a school wants to be put in a position to find out.

What’s your take on these articles?  Are you an admission counselor that consider the Facebook profile of their applicants?

UPDATE 1:  Here is the Kaplan Survey that both articles referenced.  Big thanks to Katye Robare Munger for locating it.

The results actual say that the majority of schools do not have official policies regarding using social media in the decision making process and of the schools that do have a policy, nearly half are not even allowed to visit the social networking site.  This question is asked completely separately from the question “Do you use Facebook to recruit prospective students?”

UPDATE 2: What does an Admission Counselor actually look for in an applicant?  Carrie Pratt, Admission Counselor at Saint Michael’s, writes this blog post.


“Chance me” Facebook! Will I get in?

Mom: “Hello, my daughter Laura was rejected from your fine institution today but 6 months ago Facebook told her she had “big happy face” great chance of getting accepted.  Explain yourselves!”

Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but Broadway Rules had a record number of highly qualified applicants this year and Laura’s grades and test scores didn’t make the cut.”
OR
Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but there are more factors to the admission process than just grades and test scores and we felt like Laura wasn’t the right fit overall for Broadway Rules.”
OR
Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but the recommendation letters we received all said that Laura is a pompous jerk who doesn’t work hard or care about excelling in the classroom.  That’s not the type of student who succeeds at Broadway Rules.”
OR
Mary Ann, Director of Admissions at Broadway Rules University: “Sorry, but Laura’s 3 paragraph essay on her uncle who kills cats did not impress our admission office.”
OR …

Point made, I hope.  The admission process is A LOT more than the basic set of questions presented by AdmissionSplash, the new Facebook App which attempts to predict if a student will get into the colleges on their list.

It is surprising to me that AdmissionSplash is making waves (heh heh), because this is not a new concept.  In admissions we call this “chance me.”  AdmissionSplash is not the first, nor will it be the last, of these types of sites.  MyChances.net, College Confidential, and Collegedata.com are all sites designed to match you to the “right” college based on your interests, grades, test scores, and more.  The buzz must be because this is the first “chance me” on Facebook and it allows you to share your results with your friends.

As a former admission counselor I can sit here and tell you that the admission process is more than just grades and test scores until I am blue in the face.  If it wasn’t then there would be no need for admission counselors, they’d be replaced by computers.  But high school students and their families love the “chance me” game.  They crave the (false?) assurances that these types of sites can give them while waiting for the decision letter to come in the mail.

These sites are flawed.  Each year is different for admission offices and the “type” of students they accept – based on enrollment needs, number of applications, etc.  Knowing the profile at Saint Michael’s College I entered in a number of different profile possibilities – some I knew would be clear admits/denys and others I knew were gray areas.   To say the least, I was disappointed with the results that AdmissionSplash spit out at me.  While I can’t speak for the three other colleges on my list,  the data I entered to get the results below should have produced the “fair” or “good” face for St. Mike’s.

admission splash image
What do you think?  How seriously do prospective families take a “chance me” site or app?  Can we trivialize the entire admission process down to just a few data points?


VYou vs. Formspring

There are a number of Q&A services on the web, but the three that seem to be getting the most attention in the press lately are Formspring, Quora, and VYou.  Each service offers the user something a little different, but the underlying principle is that people enjoy asking and answering questions.

Last week I posted my thoughts on Formspring vs. Quora, taking the position that the former has more possibilities for connecting with customers.  This week I thought it would be interesting to look at Formspring vs. VYou in the same light.

VYou is a video Q&A service that launched in late October 2010 which Tech Crunch described as “YouTube meets Formspring.”  Users record a video response to questions (typed messages) they are asked.  Simple as that.

I am always telling anyone who will listen that the Saint Michael’s College bloggers that I work with are the best.  Many of them are eager to try out new tools to connect with prospective students.   You can see here how Derek Desranleau has creatively integrated VYou with his blog.  Another blogger, Christine, made her VYou account available for future students on Facebook.

Gabbi Hall has been an early adopter of both Formspring and YouTube, using the tools to connect with future St. Mike’s students.  I asked Gabbi a few questions about her experience.

What has your experience been using VYou and Formspring?

I currently have 52 video responses on VYou on a range of questions from “What are your biggest concerns about the future of journalism?” to “Advice concerning the academic advising process? Is there anything you wish you had known/done?”  I started using VYou on November 8th, 2010.  I have been using Formspring for about a year now and have answered 218 questions (as of 11-13-2011).

How do you advertise your use of these tools to prospective students?

I advertise Formspring and VYou through Twitter and my personal blog.  On twitter, I simply post the link to my pages and say “Feel free to ask questions about anything!”   I’ll also include hashtags like #smcvt, #college, #formspring, #vyou, etc.  On my blog, however, I embed the code directly into a post or page. For example, I have an “Ask Question About SMC” tab on my page.  When a person clicks on it, they can see my smiling face in the “Waiting video,” view previous answers, and ask questions.  They never have to leave the blog. I also embed it into posts occasionally in case readers aren’t clicking in the tabs.  I try to make it as easy and direct as possible!

Do you see benefits of one service over the other?

Feel free to add anything else Formspring’s got going for it that VYou doesn’t here.

I think the VYou puts a face behind the answers. Prospective students and parents don’t ever have to wonder if there is an admissions member behind the account. There is no denying the genuine nature of the answer when my make-up free, post-workout face is on the screen. Sure, that may not be my most glamorous look, but I also think prospective students don’t want to see perfect, smiling faces all the time.

VYou also allows students to ask questions and get a response like they might on the tour. It is kind of like students can go on the Interactive St. Mike’s Youtube tour and then go to a VYou account to ask their questions.  Like Formspring, the ability to maintain anonymity is great!

However, I’d say the biggest problem is that people are not yet familiar with VYou.  It’s a new system to figure out and understand.  I don’t think prospective students are likely to open their own accounts because it can make someone feel vulnerable putting their face out there. Formspring does allow a user to keep people in the dark by hiding their faces.   I do think the upside of Formspring is simply that more people, particularly high school students, are using it. They have accounts, so they are familiar with how it works. It’s already within their comfort zone, just like Facebook.  Other than that, I like VYou more.

What would you like to see added to Formspring or VYou?

The one down side to both tools is that there are no statistics aside from the number of responses.  I am not able to see how many views my page or the individual responses receive.  I’d really like to know what responses have been most useful or popular.

Interested in connecting with Gabbi?  Read her blog and follow her on twitter!


What is a viral video?

After realizing today that I had not listened to the Midd Kid rap video in far too long (it’s been at least a month), I also realized it was time to update my blog readers on the status of Midd Kid vs. Yale.

In a blog post from November 2010, I recapped my HighEd Web conference session “Using YouTube for Recruitment.”  I ended my presentation with the question, “What makes a video viral?”  I showed screenshots from the videos “That’s Why I Chose Yale” (YouTube musical from the Yale admission office) and “Midd Kid” (student produced rap video at Middlebury College) and asked the audience to raise their hand if they could recognize what video the screenshot was from.

While many of the attendees had heard of the “Yale” video, only one attendee had ever seen “Midd Kid,”  and he was from Vermont so he didn’t count.   Now, this was despite the fact that the videos were released roughly one month apart and “Midd Kid” had over 11,000 more views than “Yale.”   My point was that a video can not be considered viral solely based on the number of views it has received.   One needs to ask “Who is my target market?” and “Did the video reach them?”  According to YouTube’s Insights, at the time of the presentation, the top 3 audiences for “Yale” was Females 13-17 and Females and Males 45-54.  The top 3 audiences for “Midd Kid” was Females 13-17, Males 18-24, and Males 25-34.

Today “Midd Kid” is outpacing “Yale” by almost 58,000 views and the top 3 audiences for each video haven’t changed.  It’s important to note that “Midd Kid” did not have the extraordinary amount of press coverage that “Yale” received when it was released.

Yale disabled the ability to add comments on their video. (Side note: I’m not a fan of that.)  But, here’s a screenshot of the top two comments for “Midd Kid.”  I think the 2nd one is particularly striking.

midd kid comments

“This has probably made more people want to go to Middlebury than all the college’s recruiting efforts combined.”  Walee227, you are one insightful dude.

What do you think?  Is “Midd Kid” a viral video?… even though you may never have heard of it until today. Is “Yale” a viral video?… even though it isn’t fully reaching it’s target market?

Or are neither of them viral because they don’t have over 65 million like “Bed Intruder?”

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

Update: For your viewing pleasure…

_________________________________________________________________

Update 5/24/11

“Midd Kid” surpassed 1 million views while “Yale” continues to lag behind with roughly 925,000 views.

Recent audience view for “Midd Kid”

audience view for midd kid rap video

Recent audience view for “Yale”

audience view for that's why i chose yale video


Formspring vs. Quora

Today Formspring announced that it received $11.5M in funding from Redpoint Ventures.

This announcement comes at a time when Quora, another Q&A site, has been making waves in the social networking world.

Formspring also made a few changes on their site.  They changed the language from “Ask Anonymously” to “Hide My Name.”  They also added a “Respond” button which is available for any Formspring user to place directly on their website.  You can use this to increase comments on news articles, videos, photos, and more and then have those responses shared within the Formpsring community.  Like Quora, you can push your answers to other social networking sites.

New screen shot of formspring

Many people know that I am a big fan of Formspring, having been one of the first to use the service in higher education to connect with prospective students.  My interview on Higher Ed Live regarding Formspring has over 1000 hits, making it the most viewed episode to date.

Yesterday Patrick Powers wrote a great blog post on Quora which highlighted how your institution’s faculty could use the tool. 

Who is going to win the Q&A site battle?

I think the tool that you ultimately decide to use should be based largely on your goals.  Quora appears to be a great Q&A site for one to use personally, you can show how you are an expert on different subjects or get expert opinions on questions that you have.  I have never used Formspring as a personal account and do not have plans to do so in the future.  For me, Formspring is a better tool to use as a business or for a higher ed insitution.  Formspring, much like Twitter, allows you to customize the look and feel to your profile.  It allows you to provide your customers with a safe place to ask their questions.

So what do you think?  Formspring vs. Quora?


What you missed

Finally emerging from your cookie-coma?  Recovered from New Year’s Eve antics?

Here’s what you missed over the holidays:

Facebook beat Google as the top visited website in America in 2010.

700 billion YouTube videos were watched in 2010.

Seth Godin writes on why your web forms shouldn’t be annoying.

Admins on Facebook can now unmerge Pages and Places.

Bates uses “swing deans” to help minority students enroll and transition into college life.

Dean at Pomona College gives his take on the Common App in response to previous article on the Common App’s technical glitch.

Patrick Powers compiles his “favorite things” for social media and higher ed.


Should your bloggers be tweeters too?

Got Student Bloggers?

What else are you using them for?  Not to brag, but my SMC Bloggers are an impressive bunch and they’re doing a lot more than just blogging.  They are the face of St. Mike’s online recruitment efforts.  They manage Formspring accounts, participate in live chats with prospective students, film campus events, create videos, connect with prospects on Facebook and NING, and they tweet. I feel like a proud mom.

The hope is that you’ll meet them in one space and then recognize them in another.  When high-schooler Suzie is chillin in the Class of 2015 Facebook group, I want her to feel comfortable.  Hopefully she’ll be more apt to engage because she’s been reading Gabbi and Dan’s blogs and now she sees them answering questions and starting conversations on Facebook.

With that thinking in mind, this academic year I made it a requirement of the SMC Bloggers to use twitter.  (It was “highly encouraged” in years prior.)   Now I know there’s plenty of talk out there that says students under 18 aren’t tweeting.  Yes, I read  The Chronicle article and I saw the results of Noel-Levitz E-Expectations survey.   So am I wasting their time?

Nope.

During the 2009-2010 school year on SMCBlogs the 9 bloggers who were tweeting were by far the most “popular” bloggers.  During the year their blogs received about 550 visits/month.  The non-tweeters?  Only about 230 visits/month.

The most active tweeters continue to see the highest traffic to their blogs.
Over the past month the 5 most active students on twitter received an average of 347.2 blog visits.

We can compare this to:
5 students who do not use twitter* received an average of 167.5 blog visits.
5 “less-active” twitter users received an average of 114.2 blog visits.

Of course, there are many more factors going into why these students are (or are not) seeing traffic to their blogs and I know that twitter usage is not the only one.  Yet, I don’t think you can fight these numbers.  The active tweeters have more traffic to their blogs.  Plain and simple.

I want to hear from you.  I think there is a lot to talk about here.

Should your student bloggers be tweeters too?

*The 5 students not using twitter are volunteer blogging and are not paid, thus are not required to use twitter.  The SMC Bloggers that are contracted and paid are required to tweet.


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