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Are City Planning Programs With It? The Good, The Bad, and The Boring
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Are City Planning Programs With It? The Good, The Bad, and The Boring


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This presentation examines the use of social media by city planning schools in the United States. It identifys key ways that planning schools are using social media and opportunities for improving and …

This presentation examines the use of social media by city planning schools in the United States. It identifys key ways that planning schools are using social media and opportunities for improving and coordinating social media efforts.

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  • Slide: To start I just want to share with you some demographic information on social media usage. This graphic illustrates who is using which social media sites by demographic.
  • Slide: If you look at education specifically. Those with some college and a bachelor’s degree are heavy social media users. Particularly LinkedIn. So knowing that our students are big social media users, are we?
  • Slide: After looking at the survey responses our big conclusion is that we are clueless when it comes to social media. Most of you aren’t using the most popular social media sites for either personal or professional purposes. For example 86% of you do not have a Twitter account and 2/3 rd of you don’t have a YouTube account. Almost ½ of you don’t have a LinkedIn account. I’ll be honest with you that is just pathetic. LinkedIn is a professional networking site and ALL of us should at LEAST be using linkedin. So that is the bad news. The good news is that about 2/3 rd s of us use Facebook for both professional and personal purposes. And also good news is that we spend a similar amount of time on social media as the United States as a whole. On average Americans spend 6 hours a month on the most popular social media sites. I’ll come back to the survey results again in a few minutes.
  • Slide: I want to turn now to the audit of your social media presence. I specifically looked for your presence on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Slide: From the social media presences that I found you are getting significant participation. Collectively, your YouTube videos have gotten more than 150,000 views, you have close to 10000 Twitter followers and LinkedIn members and more than 8,000 Facebook fans. Collectively this is a very significant level of engagement. A very important point to make is that you may not have created the social media presence. Just taking my own university as an example, one of our alums started our LinkedIn group, while our student association started our Facebook student group, I started our City planning alumni Facebook page and our School hosts our YouTube presence. I did not differentiate on whether it was housed by the unit or by another person.
  • Slide: Of the planning programs that we looked at we found that more than half of you are on YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook. There are fewer of you on Twitter. One of the significant challenges is deciding whether it is planning specific or not. Many of us have presences at the School or College level. The key was to see that there was significant planning content.
  • Slide: I’m going to move into more detail about what specifically our universities are doing. We’ll start with YouTube. You should know that the average person spends 15 minutes a day watching youtube videos.
  • Slide: We are using YouTube in different ways. For example one professor at Wayne State has had more than 2,000 views of her one minute video that describes her research on food systems planning. I want to take two separate YouTube videos from universities that have achieved high viewership.
  • Slide: USC is at the top of the list in terms of video views with more than 3,700 views of their videos. USC has a good approach, they have tons of lectures on their YouTube page that allows people to view the types of lectures that people can expect to experience at USC. And they have an opening video that is the welcome message from the Dean. This is a fairly typical approach talking about why their School is so good. Let’s take a look at this video and I’ll let you tell me what you think. What do you think about the video? I’ll tell you that this is the type of video a number of my faculty wanted me to make. When I talk to the faculty they say this is what we need to do. Well let’s look at what prospective planning students say about this video.
  • Slide: I asked a few students who were applying to graduate planning programs to look at this video and give me honest feedback. Here is what they said. It’s way too long and that they’ll watch 60-90 seconds max! That means you only have one minute to get your message across. They said its bland and that they were bored. They said they wouldn’t have bothered to watch the whole thing, they would have turned it off. They said they give a video a max of 20 seconds before they make a decision to keep watching or not. How terrible is that, USC went to all this effort and students are turning it off because it is too boring. They said it was campy and looked like something they or anyone else could have made. And this one is critically important, they said its about the school not me! This is the me generation they want to know what is in it for them. How do I fit in and the USC video is really about why USC is so great not about why it would be great for a student. In a nutshell, they said it just wasn’t social media ready. I asked them what social media ready meant to them. They said look, a social media video is short, fast action, funny, and memorable. I’ve looked high and low and almost all of our planning videos are pretty similar to this. And I have to say that this is one of the best. There are tons of talking heads, but a real lack videos that meet student expectations, they aren’t short, fast action, funny or memorable.
  • Slide: Let’s look at another video. This is one I put together for Ohio State back in November 2009. I had a lot of discussion with our faculty who really thought we should go the USC route. But I held firm and told them we don’t need a video telling students how great we are, what we needed was a video that defined planning. Let’s face most students don’t even know what city and regional planning is. I’ll let you see this video and you can judge for yourself what you think. As part of our recruitment strategy we realized that we needed a social media presence and one of the biggest challenges for planning programs is that most students just don’t know what city and regional planning is. We realized that we needed to define planning. We listed to our planning community and decided that we would find a way to create a compelling image of what planning is. That we could define planning. I’ll let you see this video and you can judge for yourself what you think.
  • Slide: I showed the same set of students the OSU video. I told them up front don’t be nice just because I’m from OSU, although there may be some bias. Here is what they said. This video kept my interest, I would watch the whole thing. It is open and allows students to draw their own conclusions. They see it as me centered that it allows them to see how they could be a planner. They found it to be visually appealing and imaginative encouraging them to imagine themselves in this career. I will tell you that this was the best possible investment of my time. I spent $750 for stock video footage and then 125 hours of my and another faculty member’s time to create this video over a three week period. Every draft got posted to Facebook for student feedback and we held two focus groups to get feedback on later drafts. That’s a lot of time for a minute of video, but the payoff is that every student that watches this video walks into my office ready to sign up to be a planning major. That said it isn’t perfect. We recognize that this is a great first step but we need to create more videos. We have put together two more, but we need to boost our video presence.
  • Slide: What are the key lessons administrators should take away. When you create videos for websites and YouTube you need to think small screen. Will it look good on a small screen. Short is key. Your videos should ideally be under 60 seconds, but no more than 90 seconds at the outside. The video must have entertainment value. And remember you only have 20 seconds to get to the point otherwise you’ll lose viewers.
  • Slide: LinkedIn is a professional networking social media site that connects people who are part of a professional network. Harvard, Cincinnati and USC have more than 1,000 members on their linkedin presence. In looking through LinkedIn it is primarily being used to connect alumni and keep them connected to the planning program.
  • I’ll highlight the University of Cincinnati which has a group at the school level with more than 1,300 members. Interesting there are two DAAP alumni presences one with 1,300 members and one with under 200 members. I’m not sure what the difference is. But Cincinnati has been effective in connecting their alumni.
  • Slide: Most of these networks have people that are connected, but the very best are able to move beyond just connecting people and have high levels of dialogue among alumni and the program. This is from OSU’s CRP alumni. You can see that three different alums posted questions and in all cases they got some kind of feedback. The question around public transportation generated four questions. I’ll admit our level of interaction has been very modest, but I’m happy that our alumni are using the LinkedIn presence as a way to connect and ask questions.
  • Slide: The key lessons for you are that you have to invite new users. Using LinkedIn requires you to reach out. That means sending invitations out to your alumni network. The Administrator needs to encourage dialogue among members. Once you stimulate discussion then it will help foster members in initiating their own dialogue. And most important is to value LinkedIn as a professional network.
  • Slide: Facebook is a social media site that people use frequently. They use Facebook for personal and professional reasons.
  • Slide: Harvard, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and Berkeley have more than 1,000 fans to their pages. There is a high use of facebook by alumni, although there is also significant use of Facebook by student groups. Berkeley’s example is at the College level. They have organized theirs to be open to alumni and students. They use it to communicate about events for example. Challenge is that you have to monitor the page to get rid of the spam that gets posted.
  • Slide: Our student association is a heavy Facebook user. They post information about upcoming meetings, share social and professional development opportunities, and job openings.
  • Slide: Facebook is the most heavily used among the social media sites for our students, alumni and others. Facebook is particularly good for sharing information about events and other activities. The best use is for current students because they are already on Facebook and using it on an almost daily basis.
  • Slide: Twitter is the least used of the social media sites among our programs. Twitter allows for short messages to be distributed to followers. Chicago, Harvard and Virginia have more than 1,000 followers. Twitter is primarily being used to share information with their followers be it alumni, students or others.
  • Slide: I particularly like Chicago’s use of Twitter. They created a careers Twitter feed where they post job opportunities. This is a really creative way to share job opportunities. You can see they have more than 1,400 followers that receive these job updates.
  • Slide: Because of the 140 character limit, Twitter is best used for pushing information out. But its important to remember that this one needs a constant feed of information, whoever is responsible for updating the Twitter feed needs to do so on at least a weekly basis, but preferably daily.
  • Slide: I’m now going to turn back to our own self-assessment. What did we as administrators say about our social media use?
  • Slide: You all said that there is more that we could be doing. That your use of social media is new and that its too early to tell if what you are doing is successful. When you could point to success you all said that Facebook is what is working for you.
  • Slide: In looking holistically at everything we are doing its really clear that we have taken a very ad hoc approach to social media and that we need to coordinate our social media presence. You said this is an area you need to work on. Tufts is an excellent example of this coordinated approach. You can see that they are using Facebook for alumni that they are also using a blog and twitter. This is up front on their front page of their website allowing visitors to the site to see what social media sites you are using.
  • Slide: On average you reported there are multiple people that post to the social media sites, some that are created in-house others operated by others, and that we don’t have dedicated budget or people assigned to social media. And our social media presence is muddled at administrative levels higher than the planning program. All of this points to a need for a comprehensive communications strategy.
  • Slide: To conclude are we ready for social media? Well, maybe we’re ready to experiment, but we need to work to develop coordinated communication strategies that allow us to most effectively use social media to meet our needs to communicate and engage with our program’s planning community.
  • Slide: Since Twitter is the least utilized social media platform among our planning programs, I’ve got a Twitter 101 handout for you. And for those already on Twitter I have handouts on how to use Twitter for more advanced purposes. If you want to learn more about technology you can follow me on Twitter. I tweet typically once daily with an example of an interesting technology application in planning. At this point I’ll turn it over to Tom to discuss Virginia Tech’s approach specifically.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Source: thatgrumguy Social Media Are City Planning Programs With It? The Good, the Bad, and the Boring Jennifer Evans-Cowley, PhD, AICP Associate Professor and Head City and Regional Planning The Ohio State University
    • 2.  
    • 3.  
    • 4. Source: Luz
    • 5. Planning Programs Who is Doing What? Source:
    • 6. Planning Programs Are Noticed
      • 151,171 YouTube Views
      • 9,368 Twitter Followers
      • 9,866 LinkedIn Members
      • 8,410 Facebook Fans
      Source: Maggie Osterberg
    • 7. Planning Programs Have a Presence
      • Of the 63 University Planning Programs Considered
      • 58% (37) are on YouTube
      • 58% (37) are on LinkedIn
      • 51% (32) on Facebook
      • 28% (18) on Twitter
      Source: Andy Schultz Source: maebmij
    • 8. YouTube Who is Doing What? Source:
    • 9. YouTube Usage
      • Ohio State, Wayne State, Virginia Commonwealth, and USC have >1,000 views
      • Different approaches to video content including lectures, marketing, and student work
      Source: Pouwerkerk
    • 10.  
    • 11. What Students Said About the USC Video
      • Way Too Long
      • I was bored
      • It’s Campy (anyone could have made that)
      • It’s About the School, Not me! How do I fit in?
      • Not Social Media Ready
      Source: Andy Schultz
    • 12. We Define Planning
    • 13. What Students Said About the OSU Video
      • Kept my Interest
      • Allows Student to Draw Their Own Conclusion
      • You Centered
      • Visually Appealing
      • Imaginative
      Source: Alexandre.Formagio
    • 14. Lessons Learned
      • Think Small Screen
      • Short is Key - Max 90 second video
      • Must have entertainment value
      • Get to the Point in < 20 seconds
      Source: thatgrumguy
    • 15. LinkedIn Who is Doing What? Source: inju
    • 16. Source: Andy Schultz Source: nan palmero
    • 17.  
    • 18. Lessons Learned Invite New Users Encourage Dialogue Value the Professional Network Source: johnlamb
    • 19. Facebook Who is Doing What? Source: west.m
    • 20.
      • College of Environmental Design (CED), UC Berkeley
    • 21.  
    • 22. Lessons Learned Most heavily used Good for events and information sharing Best for current students Source: johnlamb
    • 23. Twitter Who is Doing What? Source: keiyac
    • 24.  
    • 25. Lessons Learned Best for Pushing Information Need to update at least weekly Source: kengo
    • 26. Source: thatgrumguy Chairs Self-Assessment
    • 27. Self-Assessment
      • There is more we could be doing
      • Too early to tell how we are doing
      • Facebook is the most successful platform
      Source: Alexandre.Formagio
    • 28.  
    • 29.
      • Need for Comprehensive Communication Strategy.
      Looking Forward Source: Yagan Kielyagio
    • 30. Source: alberto.devega Ready for Social Media?
    • 31. Source: Slava Baranskyi Twitter –EvansCowley Email – [email_address] LinkedIn – Jennifer Evans-Cowley