A Couple of Presentations

I’ve done a couple of presentations around here in the last few weeks.  Below you’ll find the Slideshares to each.  I find Slideshares to be mostly useless, so if you have any questions, @drewmillikin.

This is a presentation I did for our admission office.  It’s basic overview of our four core social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and now Instagram.

 

This is one that I just gave to a small group of trustees.   It’s a case study of how we used social media to share the announcement of our new headmaster.

 

Happy Birthday!

Every time I see a birthday notice in my Facebook feed, I make sure to write them a little birthday note .  This is a 180 degree turn for me.  I used to ignore them, and even took sort of a Scrooge approach to it.  I have no idea why; I just did. I’m also at the age where I’m not longer psyched about birthdays.  They’re just one step closer to 40.

I decided to stop being a jerk and start doing this soon after my birthday this past year.  I usually get annoyed by those little red notices alerting you that someone has posted on your wall, but it rocks seeing a bazillion well wishes on your Facebook page on your birthday. I’m kind of on this whole, let’s be more positive and less critical kick as well (let me know if it’s working).  I now figure that if I can push those birthday well wishes from a bazillion to a bazillion-and-one, well, why not be part of the awesomeness.  If I’m Facebook friends with you, then we’re close enough that I can give you a little birthday love.

So if I’ve missed your birthday, (those helpful little notices don’t show up on the mobile) then here’s a happy belated birthday to you!

The Way Back Machine

I was clearing out my Google Docs when I came across this  little gem.  It’s a document that I wrote to my then protegé, explaining our social media strategy which I helped develop.  It’s now four years old and they’ve gotten way more sophisticated, but I found it interesting to look back at some of the predictions I made, and also, how much of it is still relevant today.

My favorite part might be, ” At its best, a college education is an opportunity to grow intellectually and emotionally.  It is a chance to create long-lasting relationships and connections personally and professionally.  At its worse, it is a four-year summer camp with booze, sex and drugs. “

The Successful Electronic Marketing Campaign
Andrew M. Millikin

The successful electronic marketing campaign incorporates multiple media channels in a complimentary manner to an institution’s marketing efforts in print media.  There are four important points to remember throughout the campaign.   Actually that’s a bunch of B.S.  There are a ton of things to remember, but here are a few that came to mind:

  1. Keep the message on target.  A successful electronic campaign will seamlessly blend the focus of a print marketing campaign and vice versa – be truthful to the institution on both accounts.
  2. Be quick.  Be nimble.  Damn the committees!  Committees are where good ideas go to die.  Avoid them at all costs.  Embrace the mantra that it is easier to beg for forgiveness than ask permission of a committee.
  3. It’s not about what you want.  It’s about what they want.  It’s about creating a space and creating tools for people who care about a subject to share, collaborate and create (stolen from Brad J. Ward who stole it from the insufferable Seth Godin).  Keep the information accurate, but don’t try to control the message.
  4. You sell a cool product.  At its best, a college education is an opportunity to grow intellectually and emotionally.  It is a chance to create long-lasting relationships and connections personally and professionally.  At its worse, it is a four-year summer camp with booze, sex and drugs.  Either way, for the right audience, it is a cool product.

I.  Email Marketing

KnightLites

The KnightLites emails provide a branding for our email communication.  At its simplest, KnightLites is a monthly newsletter highlighting Saint Michael’s strongest programs including M.O.V.E., the Smuggs Pass, Fire & Rescue, PBK and also on campus signature events such as P-Day and Jibbfest.

The Knightlites brand is also used to send information to targeted groups as deemed fit.  For example, news may come out that an English major has received a grant to write a novel.  A KnightLites will then go out to prospects who have selected English as an interest of theirs.  This can be done for all academic interests and extra-curricular interests.  It’s best to stay away from NCAA sports interests as there are NCAA regulations that govern how athletic programs are marketed to high school athletes.

Quick Tips

  • K.I.S.S.  Live by it.  Keep It SHORT and SWEET.  I know not what you were expecting, but these are words to live my when it comes to email.  Think of the pyramid structure in journalistic writing – most important points first to catch the reader’s attentions and then bring in the less exciting, but often essential details. 200 words max.
  • Graphics and photos can add to a story, but because of the way SPAM filters and email services work, they should never be the sole content in an email.
  • Every email should have a purpose and each Email should always have an action message driving the recipient to take action.  This can be as simple as directing a student to the website for more information.
  • Don’t use “Click Here.”  It sounds lame.  At the same time don’t use url’s like http://www.smcvt.edu in the text.  The code that FER adds to track click-throughs makes it look ugly in the text.
  • Before you hit send ask yourself, “What is the goal of this email?”  Then proofread it 3 times.  Read it backwards and then read it forwards and then backwards again.  Check links.

The Next Level

The current campaign structure that we have is sufficient, but there is definitely more room to grow.  Raising awareness amongst faculty and getting them more involved in the recruiting process by using tools like email is certainly one way.

II. Social Media

It’s not what you want.  It’s what they want.  But you sell a cool product.  How do you get your message out?

A prospective student has three questions that they want answered.  Can I get in?  Will I fit in?  And now, perhaps more so than before, can I afford it?

Your task in is to not broadcast the marketing department’s message in relation to these questions, but rather to create a space where these questions can be asked and discussed, not with you, but with their peers.

Remember, it’s never about you.  It’s always about them and their needs.

Facebook

Facebook is the foundation of a social media marketing plan.  It’s the largest social networking site in the world, and we’ve only done an okay job using it.  To make it more successful, we’ve got to drive more traffic to the Fan Page.  Whether it is the Admission Fan Page or, hopefully, an overall Saint Michael’s College Fan Page getting the word out is key.

In the past, I was hesitant to use email to announce our presence on this social network because I thought it was their space.  That, in retrospect, was a mistake.  Again, we have a cool product.  It’s okay to let people know where they can find us.  Email,  blogs, what ever you can do to drive traffic to the site, and then you need to figure out what needs to be there for content.  That content has to be updated regularly and frequently.  A Fan Page without new and fresh content is a Fan Page without active fans.

The structure of Facebook is as follows:
Profiles
Fan Pages
Groups

Recent updates to Facebook have been in an effort to make Fan Pages more like profiles.  My sense is that Fan Pages are best suited for groups with broad interests i.e. the Saint Michael’s College Fan Page.  Groups are more suited for specific interests such as the Class of 2013.

I’ve found that the best content on a Facebook “Class of..”  is organic content.  Let the prospective students create their own.  They’re also a great place to advertise events like Blogger Chats.

Fan Pages are also great places for events. Ideally, we’d have a more proactive and technology friendly residence/student life staff and we’d have a better representation of what happens on campus here outside of classes.

The Next Level

The challenge is always, “How do we drive traffic to the Fan Page and how do we increase participation?”  Creating a Fan Page that isn’t focused on the admission process or just a rss feed for news from the marketing department, but rather is focused on current student activities, athletic events, special events on campus, will provide a service to current students and give prospective students a better idea of life at Saint Michael’s.

Getting multiple offices in line on campus will also be helpful as it will give them a glimpse into the task of recruiting perspective students and what they’re looking for in as far as student services, etc.

Ning

The Ning sites are customizable social networking sites.  We use two one for accepted students which is an invitation only site and another for prospective parents which has no restrictions.  Ning isn’t as user-friendly as Facebook.  It’s slightly harder to navigate.  I haven’t spent much time digging around in the guts of it (XXXX handles these), so I don’t know much about formatting options.  It seems like the simpler the better and like all of them, the more action the better.  Bloggers should be on both, and a reminder from time to time wouldn’t be a bad idea.  The key with these is to check it often and be able to respond to a post immediately.  If it’s allowed to sit, it will be forgotten.

The Next Level

The Parent Coordinator and you and XXXX need to work on whose responsibility this is.  To me its social media and therefore it makes much more sense for the social media expert in the office to oversee the page. I can also see the argument that the parent coordinator should be the one as they’re thinking about parents everyday as part of their job.  That being said I still think the social media coordinator is the one who should over see it.

Twitter

Twitter is the fastest growing social network in the world.  The challenge here lies in its users.  They’re older.  They’re more likely to be in there 30’s and 40’s than in high school.  It is growing though, and going after that older population isn’t a bad thing either.  It may mean that you’re connected with parents of prospective students rather than the prospective students.  Parents are of course major players in the decision process so again, this isn’t a bad thing.

Twitter can also serve as the blog post between the blog post.  The short 140 character updates provide another dimension and give a reader more insight into the lives of the Bloggers on the Saint Michael’s campus.

Once students get into this they begin to see it as their own.  It’s less formal than a blog and therefore, the content can get iffy.  I’m pretty anti-censorship and haven’t acted on anything, but there have been times….

The Next Level

I don’t know.  It’s a new medium.  Its growth was so steep that I don’t think that the real value in Twitter has been figured out.  As I’ve said many times though, it’s a great professional development tool.  Make as many connections as possible with social media professionals at other schools.  It’s a great networking tool.

Blogs

This is where the story really comes out.  I often tell the Bloggers that they just need to write about life.  It doesn’t’ have to be groundbreaking, Pulitzer quality stuff.  It just needs to be stuff and it needs to be updated frequently.   I think the team atmosphere that I created with the Saint Michael’s College Bloggers has helped aid in the frequent posts.  Meeting a couple of time s a month with them will help as well.  A blog that hasn’t been updated in 3 months is worse than no blog at all.  Again, I haven’t censored anything and I haven’t had to even think about it in these.  Typically they understand what to write and what not to write.

Quick tip

Never begin a post with “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while” or some manifestation of that phrase.  That’s an excuse and excuses are always lame.  Besides, it draws attention to the fact that you’re a slacker and are neglecting your blog.

The Next Level

This is a big one.  We have done a blogs pretty well in the last couple of years.  The key is finding good talent and getting them involved in the group to keep their enthusiasm going throughout the year.

III.  GO BIG OR GO HOME- The Big Picture Next level

The next step is simply to increase the media through which the conversation can continue.  While we have some presence on YouTube and Flickr, etc, it won’t take much to do a better job.

Flickr
Flickr has been very useful with students who are studying abroad.  XXXXX is very familiar with Flickr and he would be a great person to act as a photo blogger.

YouTube
YouTube is another area that would be an easy area to increase our presence.  Each time a Blogger makes a video, rather than import it directly into Blogger, they should upload it to the YouTube account.  The video quality will be better and it would mean more content on the account.  A quick ten minute sit down with the Bloggers would be sufficient to teach them how to do it.  It’s an easy process.

Ustream TV
This is a video/chat website.  We haven’t done much here and by not much I mean nothing.  It could be a useful tool though.  Maybe a simple, users post questions and someone answers them in the video.

Blogger Chats
What used to be called Virtual Open Houses.  Open House implies something more than just a chat room that’s why we’re changing the name.  There has got to be a better and probably cheaper chat program out there.  I would encourage you to find it.  In some ways, I think that Ustream TV might be that tool, but I’m not sure.

How did you learn all this, stuff?

By “stuff” do you mean useless crap or do you mean social media marketing expertise?

Different perspectives will value social media indifferent ways.  They will also value the research and the learning process in different ways.  To some it will seem ridiculous that you spend all day on social networking sites.  I spend a lot of time “listening.”  And by “listening,” I mean reading.  I read a ton of blogs and I am always keeping an eye on Twitter.  In fact, I’ve gotten more out of my peer group on Twitter than I have at any conference.   Develop a strong network there and listen.

The real challenge is implementation, and knowing when to stop listening and start gettin ‘er done.

Good luck,

Drew

Damn Facebook. You’re sketchy.

I needed help with that title, and reached out on Twitter land with this “Facebook is sketchier than__.  Fill in the blank.”  Below a few of the responses I got back.

@nickdenardis: Your mom at a high school party
@juliaalling: the guy in the next office who mumbles to himself. (this I believe is a reference to me)
and the required and always good for a chuckle “@tsand” from @epsteada

The response that was most apropos however came from Eric Bates on Google+ (which I love btw), “Eric Schmidt.”

I asked for help finishing that sentence because I was inspired once again to write about Facebook’s increasing creepiness.   You’ve probably seen a few messages in your news stream that Facebook has begun storing all of the contacts on your mobile device.

WHY?
That’s my biggest question.  Why would I need my cellphone contacts in Facebook?  If I need to call someone, I would do it from my cellphone.  If I didn’t have their number and I was friends with them, then chances are I can’t remember who that person actually is or how I know them.  It’s probably that random friend of a friend that I met at a party, had a cool conversation with, but don’t particularly care whether I see them again and thus will never need to call them.

And why do I feel violated?
I’m sure it says it somewhere in the lawyer speak, but did I really need to give Facebook access to information on my phone when I agreed to the Terms of Use for their mobile app?

I guess Google does this, but it’s because I’ve purposely clicked a box to allow my Google Contacts to sync with my phone.  Facebook you just did it.   Couldn’t you have just asked?

How much longer will I put up with this?
It seems like with every move Facebook makes, it gets sketchier.  I won’t say I’m ready to nuke my account or anything like that, but I do hope that something new comes along. 

I’m kinda feeling the same way.

Linking Facebook to Twitter

This somehow started out as a simple comment to Rachel Reuben’s recent blog post this morning and somehow ballooned into a 568 word blog post of my own.

Rachel’s post essentially said that linking Facebook and Twitter updates is something to be avoided. Now, I think Rachel’s broader point is valid, original content on each channel is best, but I don’t agree with you that linking the Facebook and Twitter pages is bad idea. In fact, if we’re talking about fanpages for schools (personal pages, absolutely agree with Rachel. There’s already too much noise on both media, no need to increase it), I think it’s a great idea.

I have the Groton School fanpage linked to the Twitter page so that Facebook updates (photos, events, wall posts by me, etc) are published to the Twitter account NOT vice versa. The Facebook page is updated once a day.

Groton’s got 1,000 Facebook fans and 145 followers on Twitter (if you take out folks like jenna5443 who wants me to check out her naughty photos, probably more like 100).

Let’s say I’m doing an alumni event in NYC. I create the event in Facebook and it posts to the wall. It also posts to the Twitter account. Now I could go ahead and create an event in Twivite, but my audience is only about 100 legitimate followers. In an NYC event, we may get 300 – 400 people. When I do an event, I want my audience to see that there a ton of people going to this event. They’re not going to see that if I create separate events on Twitter and on Facebook.

I also contend that while it is the same content and I’m willing to bet that those 100 legit Twitter followers are also fans of Groton School on Facebook, how those two audiences access that content is completely different. I’m guessing that the Twitter user has Twitter open either on their laptop, BB or iPhone all day. I doubt that’s true with Facebook as many employers block it. I post damn good (it’s at least good, well maybe just okay) content to our Fanpage at least occasionally. That’s content that Twitter users might miss out on if I only posted it to Facebook.

Somehow my linkage is one-way. I don’t know how I set it up that way, if I did it consciously, or if I just got lucky, but I thin that’s important to note. I do agree with you that Twitter is a more active medium and it’s a place where it’s okay for me to send updates of the score of the football game. Facebook is not an appropriate medium for that. That’s annoying.

Now, the key is to be on both in order to respond. Yes, I may just be using Facebook to push content to Twitter, but I also have Tweetdeck open and I’m at the ready should anyone respond.

To me, this really is just another tool, and like any other tool, you need to understand how to use it. I’m not willing to say that you absolutely should or shouldn’t, but, rather, it depends.

*One other throw in here, people have been commenting that one major reason is the 140 character limit in Twitter.  Are you publishing novels to your Facebook status?  If you can’t say it in 140 or less, then don’t – Twitter, Facebook, doesn’t matter.  Huge FB updates are obnoxious and difficult to read on my iPhone.

#eduweb2008 High School Students Tell All

Presented by Bill Royall and Pam Kiecker

The Wealth of Stealth: the stealth market place. Website and other internet resources (think first contact application) -from the Lawlor Group

A few of the top most important information resources for students:

  1. Admission website
  2. Virtual tour
  3. Student blogs
  4. Online chats
  5. Instant messaging
  6. Personalization of website

Insights:

  • College websites are used for information not entertainment
  • Functionality: must be easy to use
  • Two click rule – it’s even more important now that there

Most frequently used sources during colelge search:

  1. Websites
  2. Other students/peers
  3. Letters from colleges
  4. Email messages from specific colleges

.edu websites are used more than any other. They are the most trusted and are used by all h.s. ages

Heavy traffic time winter break of their Sophomore and Junior years!!!!

They are searching for:

  • Can I get in?
  • Major?
  • Can I afford it? (GD financial aid again)

Seniors use website for:

  • Make an informed decission on where to apply
  • Develop a strong application
  • Make the FINAL choice

Everyone is on Facebook, but I’m surprised that the high school numbers are low. I’m not surprised that they’re not using it to get information on colleges.

I’m also surprised to see such a high the numbers were for those accepting of colleges on Facebook. I wonder if the students really understood what they were being asked. I also wonder about what kids picture when they’re asked about colleges being on Facebook.

More insights:

  • Website is important.
  • Connect with current students
  • Despite what you may think, students want more information not less. Email sin’t as dead as you’ve heard. This makes sense especially when considering how much Royall uses email and the incredible response rates they get in direct mail.
  • Students are saying, let me have it all and then I’ll sort through it and get what I want

Bill just suggested a financial aid estimator and how it can help enroll students!!!!!!!! No more!!!! I can’t take it!!!!!!!!

Well, the wait is over. Maria is finally on Facebook.

It’s funny that it happened this weekend because we were talking about it in class on Friday. Somebody asked me why she was holding out, and I told them that it was because she had no interest in it. I didn’t think she’d ever sign up.

What happened?

Her friend and college roommate sat down with her and set it up.

We had a couple of long distance friends (Mike from Chicago and Donnie from San Diego) at our house this weekend. They were both on Facebook and talking about how great it was when keeping in touch with everyone. Donnie convinced her that it was time to give in and sign up.

It’s new and she seemed to like it, but I wonder how long she’ll really stay with it. This will be like a little experiment.

We’ve been talking a lot about Facebook in our communications meetings recently. I’ve also been talking about it in the grad class I’m taking as well. Discussion have been around, use (should we -SMC- have a presence on it, should admissions counselors be on it, should teachers have profiles, etc) and if we are on it, then what is the appropriate level and what should we do with it. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting and blogging on the subject for work and class. My opinion evolves everyday.

I think Facebook is a great tool. I have to admit that since creating my profile over 2 years ago, I’ve become totally addicted to it. I like to connectivity that it offers. For example, I’ve been playing a Scrabble game on Facebook with my sister (a student at Colby) and my brother who lives in San Francisco and has been traveling back and forth to China.

Another aspect of Facebook that I like is its design. It’s simple (although it’s becoming less so now that it’s open to non .edu’s and the application clutter is getting obnoxious). To me, that is what set Facebook apart from MySpace is the simplicity of it’s design. There were lot’s of complaints form webbies about the stiffness and lack of flexibility of Facebook, but IMO, 99% of MySpace pages look awful because they allow for customization. When it comes to web pages regardless of if it’s a college website, a blog, or a Myspace page, simple is always better.

So if Facebook is a good thing, then should Saint Michael’s College have a presence on it or should we leave it for the students?

I haven’t figured that one out yet completely, but for now, my answer is yes – with a few caveats.

Right now we have a presence in two main mediums. We have a generic Admissions page and a Class of 2012 group. I think those a two great methods for us to get important information out, and especially as the 2012 group gets bigger and as we get closer to the end of the summer it will be a great way for students to meet and get to know each other.

I don’t think you’ll ever find us actively looking to “Facebook” people or invite them to groups. I don’t think that’s our role here. IMO Facebook is your space and although there has been a proliferation of ads there recently, it’s not a place to be actively marketed at or to. The idea of going out and “Facebooking” students to get them to our site just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The Facebook is going to be a hot topic for a while, or at least until the new big thing comes around. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions on our presence there and who we use Facebook and MySpace. Check out the Admission page and the Class of 2012 page, and you can find me there as well. Let me know what you think.

Cheers!