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?


Merry Christmas Joel Goodman

Some of the #highered crew participated in a Secret Santa swap this year. Here is my gift for Joel Goodman.

Thanks to Seth Odell and Jillian Odell for being an inspiration and making this song the best it could be. You rock.

 


Stuck in a rut.

I am stuck in a rut. Or, trapped by “The Dip” as Seth Godin calls it.

You might have noticed that I am blogging and tweeting less frequently. (Or maybe you didn’t. Hey, you’re busy. I don’t expect you to keep tabs on me.) Lately I have felt like I have nothing to say. And I don’t just want to blog or tweet for the hell of it.

I haven’t felt that creative spark in the last month that has driven my blog for the last year. (I was excited to see that I recently passed my one year blogging anniversary!) I am asking myself why? Why do I blog? What are my goals? What do I hope to give or gain from the experience? These are not questions that are easily answered right now.

So what am I doing to get out of the rut? (That is what really matters.)

1. I am reading more. I am trying to draw inspiration from books, blogs, tweets… inside higher education, outside higher education… anything! In fact, I just bought “The Dip” in hopes it will help me pull out.

2. I am choosing to tweet less. Right now it is about listening.  And I don’t really care if that affects my Klout score.

3. I am writing this post. Because a friend told me a couple weeks ago that simply getting back in the habit of writing, even if it isn’t the most inspirational or fantastic writing I have ever done, can only lead to good things.

4. When a good idea strikes me, no matter the time of day, I am writing it down. And I will act on it. I have promised myself that.

5. I’m asking you for help.

What do you do when you are stuck in a rut?

Please inspire me.


Inspiration for Facebook tabs from outside .edu (Part 4 of 4)

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this series of blog posts on Facebook tabs for mStoner’s blog. It has been fun to explore how other industries are engaging their customers, viewers, and supporters in social spaces. Sadly enough, all good things must come to an end.

The Book of Mormon on Broadway

book of mormon Facebook

You probably know that Facebook users no longer need to “like” your Page before they interact with wall content. But, did you know that Facebook tabs have a nifty feature where you can limit tab content to those who have not “liked” your Page? Encourage the “like” by telling potential-fans the value that exists under the hood, the value they can only get by clicking the “like” button.

The Book of Mormon, NYC’s hottest show on Broadway, gets your “like” by allowing you to stream the cast recording for free. And there are few things better than free, especially when it comes to streaming music.

book of mormon Facebook tab

See how the tab changed after I “liked” the Page?

The ability to listen to the soundtrack for free is a great way to introduce the show to the un-initiated or give super fans a reason to keep coming back to the Page. Book of Mormon identified the number one value-add they could provide their Facebook community and they were smart enough to require you to “like” their Page first. Kudos!

How do we make this apply to .edu?
I rarely see .edu Pages taking advantage of this feature. The tough part is figuring out what value you can offer to your audience.

If you have a Page just for your institution’s alumni you could place videos from reunion or information about upcoming events under the hood. Or draw inspiration from Indiana State’s approach and offer a roommate finder to your incoming class.

indiana state university Facebook tab

What are your favorite Facebook tabs from outside .edu? We’d love to hear your thoughts and see your examples.


Inspiration for Facebook tabs from outside .edu (Part 3 of 4)

The third post is a series of blogs I wrote for mStoner’s blog. This one is my favorite!

rue lala facebook tab

Discount shopping sites have revolutionized how American consumers are accessing designer brands. Rue La La isn’t the only one in the marketplace, but they are by far the most interesting when it comes to their social presence. I’m often tweeting about how innovative and engaging they are and recently I featured their blog in a guest lecture to a business class at a Vermont college.

second rue la la screen shot

 

A month ago Rue La La did it again, showing their social media prowess with a brand new “Inside Rue” Facebook tab. The goal is clearly to introduce you to the fabulous team at Rue. I think they nailed it.

The tab is clean and full of interactive and sharable content. It incorporates video, quizzes, and calls out to various twitter accounts. There are at least five ways within the tab where you can share content you find interesting with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

 

 

rue lala facebook tab 3

How do we make this apply to .edu?
I hope you can imagine the endless ways this example could be translated to .edu Pages! Feature admission counselors on twitter and their territories. Incorporate your institution’s branding and messaging into fun wall post sayings. Highlight the videos your marketing team spent long hours creating in an easy to view and easy to share format.

My favorite idea to pull from Rue is the interactive quiz. How easy would it be to put together a five-question quiz for prospective students to take so they can figure out what “type of student” they would be?

What ideas are you inspired to try after seeing Rue La La’s tab? Share your thoughts with us!

Next up: Broadway, of course.


Inspiration for Facebook tabs from outside .edu (Part 2 of 4)

Note: I am a regular contributor to mStoner’s blog.  This is a cross-post from my recent entry there.

simpsons Facebook tab for nedna

To gear up for the fall season premiere, the Simpsons asked viewers to vote on whether or not Ned and Edna (Nedna) should stay together. Who doesn’t enjoy sharing their opinion? Fun and interactive, this is something that will engage a casual viewer to the most passionate fans of the show.

The Nedna tab keeps it simple. Watch two 50 second videos to determine whether you are pro or no Nedna and then cast your vote. (My only complaint is that the voting redirects you to the Simpson’s website versus voting within the tab.)

 

How could this apply to .edu?

Research continues to show that your constituents enjoy viewing web video. The 2011 E-Expectations Report from Noel-Levitz highlights that the majority of prospective students and their parents will watch videos about your institution if they are considering you. Comscore reports that in August Facebook was the third most popular site for unique video views.

Is your campus holding a contest? Maybe you are searching for a new mascot or elections for student body president are coming up. Taking the Nedna-approach you can showcase the options with video and then let the students vote.

Many institutions host video contests, asking students to submit videos highlighting their favorite place on campus. Have you thought about letting students vote on the winner? Put the top three videos on a Facebook tab and let the students decide.

Have you experimented with video in a Facebook tab? Leave a comment and share your example.

Next up: Online shopping goes social.


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!


Inspiration for Facebook tabs from outside .edu (Part 1 of 4)

Note: I will be a regular contributor to mStoner’s blog.  This is a cross-post from my recent entry there.

It is important to provide your audience with a cohesive web experience. Customized tabs on Facebook can help achieve that goal, but they can do so much more! In the coming weeks I will highlight examples of compelling Facebook tabs from outside .edu that encourage your audience to “like” your Page and will keep them coming back.

Barack Obama – Are You In?

Obama Facebook tab

No surprise here, the Obama campaign is well-respected for using social media in new ways to inspire supporters.

Obama Facebook tab

I love the idea behind the “Are You In?” tab. First, you show your support by clicking “I’m in!” (simple, quick, and really what could be easier?) and then you are given the option to connect your Facebook account to see if your friends are in too. You are prompted to share that you “are in” on your wall and encouraged to invite your friends to join. Obama wants his supporters to spread the word for him, clearly aware that Americans trust friends and online recommendations far more than advertising messages.

Obama Facebook tab

How could this apply to .edu?
Envision “Are You In” as “Are You Applying?” Once you click “I’m Applying” the tab allows you to connect your Facebook account so you can share the good news with your friends. The tab then morphs into a place where you can invite your friends to join and interact with others who are also applying. Keep it social by giving prospective students a place to offer each other essay writing tips or ask current students questions about campus life.

Is your institution doing something new or different with Facebook tabs? We’d love to hear from you.

Next up: A favorite cartoon.


Rethinking a presentation

Next week I am presenting “Beyond Blogging: Create an integrated online student ambassador program” at HighEdWeb in Austin, TX.   I presented “Beyond Blogging” at two other conferences, therefore it should be a cakewalk, right?

Wrong.

This presentation was built from the perspective of someone who worked in a marketing office at a college specializing in social media.  In the past “Beyond Blogging” was essentially a case study of my former employer and the expansion of a blogging program into an online ambassador program.

I no longer work for a college, or in a marketing office, and I enjoy social media but my job doesn’t revolve around it.

Plus, HighEdWeb is a killer conference and you have to bring your “A” game.

Enter the need to rethink, revise, and expand the scope of “Beyond Blogging.”

Luckily, the knowledge I can draw on from managing the ambassador program is still very relevant and useful.  Insert examples and experiences from other institutions, and voila!  A new presentation is created.  A better presentation is created.  

And in the process the entire point of the presentation changed.  It’s no longer just about showing why ambassador programs are important.  It’s about showing ambassador programs can be created and will work anywhere.

To prepare for the presentation I spoke with higher education professionals at Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Oswego, College of William & Mary, and the Glendon campus of York University.  Combine these interviews with my knowledge from Saint Michael’s College and you have mixture of public and private; small, medium, and large; liberal arts, technical, and research institutions; and even an international campus.  These five schools are a great cross-section of the higher education industry.  (I only wish I could have added a community college to the mix!)  And guess what?  Online ambassador programs work for all of them.

The key is identifying what your goals are and finding the right mix of tools to support those goals.  This is what my presentation will focus on.

“Beyond Blogging” is in the social media track, Monday morning at 9:30am CDT.  This presentation is relevant for anyone who engages in admission-focused marketing.  If you are attending #heweb11 I hope to see you there.  If not, I hope to hear you in the backchannel and I promise to post my slides Monday morning so you can follow along.

Here’s a teaser:

Adam Lambert = Saint Michael's College

I was also inspired to recreate this presentation from a couple posts on Seth Godin’s blog.  Maybe they’ll inspire you too.
Really bad Powerpoint
The atomic method of creating a Powerpoint presentation


Blogging Basics

Today I have the good fortune of guest lecturing in a Consumer Behavior marketing course at Saint Michael’s College.  Students in the class will be blogging and tweeting all semester.  For many, this is the first time using these social networking tools.

My presentation, “Blogging Basics,” covers information that I think is essential for a new blogger to know and I’ve included examples from some of my favorite blogs (and a clip from the musical Avenue Q) to help deliver the points I make.

What advice would you give a new blogger?  Why do you blog?  (A tough question when you start to think about it!)  Leave a comment and let me know.

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