Tag Archives: recruitment

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!

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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.


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?


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…

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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?


Follow up: Engage your audience by being interactive

Last month I wrote a blog post about engaging your audience with an interactive video quiz.  I promised to follow up with statistics, so here they are.

If you missed that post, in short, I created a 10 question video quiz that was advertised to our prospective seniors and applicants.  If a student made it to the end, they were instructed to visit our Admission’s Blog and leave their name and email address, this entered them into a contest to win some SMC gear.  The contest ran for the month of December.

Stats

Over 1000 people viewed the intro video to the Holiday Quiz.
– 26.9% of participants made it through all 10 videos.
– 12.4% of participants entered their name into the contest.

45.9% of participants who made it to the final video entered their name into the contest.

The average number of views per question = 285.6 (with the intro video removed from the calculation)

Analysis

The question was raised, “Are 10 videos too many?”  I was pleasantly surprised to see that a quarter of our participants finished the quiz, but should I assume that only 12.4% of our viewers were in the target market?  It would be naive to not realize that some prospect students only made it part way.

Using YouTube Insights I can see further into the demographics.  Looking at the intro video, 40% of the viewers were in the 13-17 age range.  This is excellent, but also indicates to me that for the majority of prospective students 10 questions was too many.

Our decision to go with 10 was based on the staff and questions we wanted featured.  I think next year I will cut it down to 5, see what the stats say, and compare to this year’s results.

Either way, this project was well worth my time.  124 students entered the contest in hopes to win swag.  In the process, they were educated about the college, introduced to our Admission team, and it was fun.  In fact, some of Saint Michael’s Admission Counselors heard from students (in person, on the phone, or even in their college application) that they thought the quiz was “cool.”

I think it would be interesting to cross check those 124 submissions with the future Class of 2015 to determine what percentage of participants actually enrolled.  Look for another follow up in May…

(Video view counts were recorded at 3:30pm on 1/11/11)

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