Tag Archives: Education

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

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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.


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


Is access to higher education a right?

One of my favorite songs from the musical In The Heights is “96,000.”  The main character, Usnavi, discovers that someone in the neighborhood has won the lotto for $96,000.  The song is about what each character would do with all of that money ranging from moving out of the barrio to paying off debt to getting a new hair weave.  In all cases, $96K would completely change the life of the winner.

And as I was watching this video tonight it struck me.

$96,000 is not enough to pay for a Bachelor’s Degree at many universities and colleges in the USA.

Actually, many undergraduate degrees are twice this amount!  I know I am not the first person to point this out.

Yesterday Seth Odell tweeted,

tweet on higher education

An excellent question that sparked a lot of conversation including,

tweet on higher education as a right is education a righttweet is higher education a right answer

I guess we have to start at the definition of what a “right” is and if we look to the constitution or the Bill of Rights… well as Katie pointed out, neither document articulates a right to education.

But we have all seen the information released that graduating from college helps you earn more in your lifetime.  And most recently the numbers show that college educated individuals are more likely to be employed in general.

So if higher education is the numero uno ticket to long-term success… how can it not be a right?

Seth phrased his question well asking if “access” to higher education is a right.

I think there is a fundamental difference between the right to higher education and the right to access higher education.

And personally, I believe access to higher education should be a right.

Does this mean we should all get to go to Harvard?  No.  To me this means that you should have a choice of institutions to attend even if you were born in a low-income area, even if your parents aren’t able to afford an expensive education, even if you don’t win the lottery.

If access to higher education is being hindered by extremely high tuition costs, what does that say about the right to access higher ed?  Who is out there defending that right?  Or maybe I am out of line and it isn’t a right at all.

This is kind of a huge topic…

…and I will admit that I have not done extensive research on the lengthy debate of this subject.  And truthfully, I don’t care if you have either!  I’m very curious to find out what you think.  Let’s keep this conversation rolling.


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…


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