Tag Archives: Social network

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.

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Molding young minds

Last night I was given the honor to speak to the inductees of the National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society at my high school alma mater, Chateaugay Central School.

What do you say to a bunch of academically-driven high school students in only 10 minutes?  How do you say it in a way that they’ll actually pay attention?

Naturally I decided to talk about Facebook, throw in a Rebecca Black reference, and give them tips for applying to college.  The theme of the speech was “by working hard you can achieve great things.”  When the night was over I heard from numerous students and parents that this was one of the few speeches they actually listened too.  That felt good.

I decided to post the speech here for my readers to see, comment on, offer constructive criticism to.  Who knows, maybe one day they’ll invite me to speak at Graduation.

June 2, 2011 – Chateaugay Central School NHS and NJHS induction

“Good evening everyone.  I am honored to be speaking tonight at your Academic Awards ceremony and National Honors Society induction.
So naturally I am going to start by talking to you about Facebook!

Students… raise your hands…

How many of you have a Facebook Profile?
Keep your hand raised if you have written on your friend’s wall or commented on their photos.
Have you have “liked” a Page or joined a Facebook Group.
And what about YouTube… How many of you have watched a video on YouTube?

Look around the room.  Nearly every student has their hand raised right now, or had it raised at some point in the last minute.

When I was in high school, not a single one of those websites existed.

Facebook launched right about the time I graduated from high school and YouTube was created during my freshman year in college.

Why am I telling you this?  Because if those sites didn’t exist and you hadn’t just raised your hand, I wouldn’t have a job right now.

These companies, that are part of our everyday lives, did not exist when I was sitting here being inducted into National Honor Society 10 years ago.  And, these companies were founded by teens and 20 something year olds.  People who are not much older than you or I.

In all of those hours you have spent social networking have you ever stopped to think that there are very real people, you are looking at one in fact, whose job is to leverage those sites and use them for marketing purposes?  I go to work every day and immediately log into Facebook, sign on to Twitter, and pull up YouTube.  I am tasked with creating content that will grab the attention of a high school student.  I have a very cool job, right?  Saint Michael’s College pays me to Facebook.

But my job is more than just facebooking.  Facebook might be the tool that I use, but my job is actually about understanding HOW you think, HOW you communicate, and WHAT is important to you.  Think of it as the psychology of a high schooler.

I need to be able to talk your language so that I can craft messages and videos that will get your attention.  If you are singing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” – I better be singing it too.  My job is to understand you.

So here I am.  Working online on websites that did not exist when I was your age.  And it is very likely that you will one day work in a job that does not currently exist.  It is really difficult to imagine that, isn’t it?  How can you possibly prepare for something that doesn’t exist?

The world is changing, faster than ever before.  And you are expected to keep up with those changes.  But how do you do it?

The work that you are doing in the classroom today is molding you into who you will become tomorrow.  If you work hard now you will be given opportunities in the future.  You might think that by making time to study extra hard for that History test or staying during double to work with Mrs. Johnston on your math homework is only affecting your grade or your performance in class right now.

That’s not true.  By putting in the extra effort you are shaping your personality and who you are as a student.  You are showing your dedication to actually understanding the classwork, not just getting the best grade.  You are becoming a role model for your peers.  Your actions are saying, “I value education.”  Imagine what a classroom would look like if every student gave 110% all the time.

By going the extra mile now you are setting yourself up for a bright future.  I spent two years working in the Admission office at St. Mike’s.  I interviewed high school seniors interested in attending college, read their essays and recommendation letters, and made the decisions as to whether or not we would offer them acceptance to the college. Who was accepted?  The students who clearly had worked hard.

That doesn’t mean that they didn’t struggle from time to time.  Working hard means to be focused. It means that at any given moment you are doing what is important.  Working hard means to go the extra step.  It means revising your essay or redoing your homework when you are given the opportunity – not just for a better grade but so you learn from your mistakes.

Now don’t tell my boss, but I am going to give you three insider tips for getting into college.

#1
Your senior year grades are the most important of them all.  If you are an athlete looking to play basketball in college… would you quit the team senior year?  That just doesn’t make sense!  Senior year is the most important – you want to be a starter and make it to the Final Four and have college scouts recruit you.  You are working hardest senior year.

Think of academics in the same way.  Senior year should be your most difficult year.  Colleges want to see 4 years of math, science, and a foreign language on your transcript.  Senior year is your final preparation for difficult college work.  Study hard, don’t sit the bench.

#2
Your essay should be about you, not about your game-winning goal or a biography of a relative.  Your essay is the one place in your entire college application where you have 800 words to say anything you want.  The best essay I ever read was from a student who visited monks in Tibet, his experience interacting with their community and how fascinated he was by their lifestyle.  The essay ended with a beautiful line about how the monk was actually more fascinated with the kid’s braces than anything else.  A very unexpected ending to a beautiful story.  What did it show me?  That this student appreciated a global society, other cultures, and had a great sense of humor.  How could I not want a student like that at St. Michael’s?

#3
High school is the time to find your passion – whether it is playing the tuba, being a champion for clean energy, or volunteering your time to tutor elementary students.  My mistake in high school was thinking I had to do everything in order to get into college.  And that is just not true.  Colleges want to see that you have pursued your passions versus signing up for French Club because you think it will look good on your application.  And believe me.  Colleges can tell the difference.

Now since we have been talking about Facebook I am going to give you Bonus Tip #4.

If you wouldn’t say it to Mrs. Andre (the principal), don’t write it online.  Even if you delete a comment, it is never truly gone.  The last thing you want to do is ruin all the hard work you’ve done academically in less than a second.

Facebook, Myspace, Twitter – they are all vauable and powerful tools when used correctly.

So be smart and safe online.  Give everything you write or post the “Mrs Andre test.”

So to bring this full circle I want to get back at my question: How can you possibly prepare for something that doesn’t exist?

I worked hard in high school to arrive at college where I had to work harder to do well academically and be recognized.  I received a strong liberal arts education and had the opportunity to study at Oxford University, this has prepared me for my career not just my first job.  And I worked hard in that place in order to enter the workforce when the economy slipped and jobs weren’t readily available.  I looked for a job in an economy that told me I had to work even harder to get noticed.  And so I did.

And now I work in a position that was created for me because my work ethic, dedication, and academic success was recognized and appreciated.  And now I am given the opportunity to speak at conferences all over the nation to people who are more than twice my age… and they regard me as an expert in my field.  Why?  Because I work hard and that started here at CCS where I learned the importance of scholarship, leadership, service to my community, the importance of character.

I’m speaking to the best and the brightest that Chateaugay Central School has to offer.  You should be very proud of yourselves.  You are the academic leaders of this high school.  What are you doing with that power?  How are you making your high school and your community a better place?

And don’t forget to think outside the box when it comes to your career.  Most of you will work for a company or in a job that does not exist right now.  Prepare yourself, give everything you do 100%, and next time your mom tells you to get off Facebook – just tell her you’re doing it for me.

Thank you.”


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.


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!


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