Category Archives: Marketing

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!
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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.

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Old Facebook groups to be archived

Facebook groups will be archived

Ready or not, it’s time to upgrade!

Facebook users who are the creator of the “old-style” groups will be receiving the above message starting today.  “Upgrade or be archived.”

I am personally excited for the opportunity to upgrade old groups.  Over a year ago I created the Class of 2015 group for Saint Michael’s College.  When Facebook launched the new group, (which includes a more interactive wall, chat features, post notifications, the ability to add documents and more) I was green with envy and sad that I wouldn’t be able to try it out with the Class of 2015.

Have you been using the new Facebook group for your incoming class?   Do you seen more interaction among the students?  What do you think about Facebook pushing old groups into the new group style?


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.


Is blogging dead?

Pew Internet released a report this morning regarding how different generations are using the internet in 2010.  Here is the full report and Mashable’s article.

Since I manage the SMC Bloggers, a number of people at St. Mike’s emailed me the Mashable article.  Blogging is dead!  We need to be emailing prospects more!  And look… IM’ing is making a comeback… clearly our Admission Counselors should reactivate those AIM accounts they once had.

If one takes a quick glance at the (kinda weird) infographic from Pew on Mashable’s site, I suppose they could make the above conclusions.

Here’s what I saw:
While the actual form of blogging isn’t a widespread activity, about 50%  of the Millenial generation is reading blogs.  It also appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to read blogs and the more likely you are to watch videos online.  As my insitution’s social media manager I have spent a lot of time cultivating a strong blogging and online video presence, this data encourages me to keep at it.

I’m not sure if any of the folks who emailed me actually went in and looked at the report.  If they did, they would have seen this graphic in the “Online Activities” section.

Pew Report Graphic

The data in this charge has been collected over the past four years and it is clear that prospective students are going online and spending time reading blogs, watching videos, and social networking.

Our challenge is in figuring out how to get a slice of that time for higher education.


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