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Jisc SM4BCE Case Study FINAL


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Jisc SM4BCE Case Study FINAL

  1. 1. BackgroundThe Social Media for Business & Community Engagement (SM4BCE) project originated as an ideaamong members of staff in Coventry Universitys Corporate Partnership Unit (CPU). The CPU is partof the University’s Business Development Group, a team of staff who focus on developing theUniversitys activities with external partners with the aim of generating income for applied researchactivities and raising the profile of the University with key stakeholder groups in business and thecommunity. The project was inspired by the Universitys 2011/12 student recruitment campaign,which saw Coventry University become the first UK University to use augmented reality technologyin its advertising, combined with a feeling that the way the University was marketing itself tobusinesses wasn’t keeping up with developments in technology and social media. This was ofparticular concern as Coventry University, like many other UK Universities, is currently trying todevelop new sources of funding – particularly for applied research. CPU submitted a bid for JISCfunding that addressed these issues and investigate how new technologies and social media couldbe used to engage business and the community.Aims and objectivesSM4BCE aimed to change the way Coventry University interacts with its stakeholders in business andthe community. At the time the bid was written, the University’s business-facing marketing reliedalmost exclusively on printed marketing materials which, coupled with an outdated website, made itdifficult for business and community stakeholders to find out what we did and how to engage withus. This project aimed to learn from best practice in the use of new technologies and social mediaboth within Coventry University and from across the Higher Education sector as a whole.The key objectives for SM4BCE included:An evaluation of current best practice in the use of social media and related technology forbusiness and community engagement designed to inform institutional development acrossthe sector;Understanding how businesses and other non-student stakeholder groups currently interactwith us and how they would like to interact with the University;Starting to use social media and related technologies to support business developmentactivity;Developing a toolkit designed to inform our future business and community engagementstrategy as well as to inform the development of the sector.ContextCoventry University already has a strong reputation in the field of business engagement however, ata time when Higher Education Institutions face unprecedented pressure to work more effectivelywith partners in the public and private sectors, it is vital that we explore the potential of newtechnologies to enhance Coventry University’s organisational capability in this area. As new methodsof communication, such as social media, become the norm there is a risk that the University willcease to interact effectively with its target audience unless it starts to use these channels effectively.
  2. 2. The project also had wider relevance to the UK Higher Education Sector, primarily because CoventryUniversity is not alone in seeking to increase the proportion of its research income that is private-sector led. The current government budgetary constraints are unlikely to be relaxed in the nearfuture and most UK HEIs therefore have to seek alternative sources of research funding.The Business CaseIf Coventry University is to build on its current success in business and community engagement andto meet the institutional target of 25% of applied research income to be private-sector led by 2015,as laid out in its 2010-2015 Corporate Plan, we need to ensure that the channels we use forengagement with business are sector-leading and fit for purpose. The 2010-2015 Corporate Plan alsosets out our aim to explore web-based collaborative tools and applications and to developinnovative models of research communities. To be successful in both of these aims the Universityneeds to understand its current capabilities in this area and to work with stakeholder groups todevelop relevant tools and strategies for future business and community engagement.The increasing prevalence of social media and related tools means that universities such as Coventrywill have to become more innovative in the ways in which they seek out and collaborate withpartners and clients. There is a growing expectation that communication should be multi-channeland interactive – not simply a website and an enquiry telephone number. This project allowed us toexplore a number of new methods of engaging with business and community partners in a numberof key areas which can then be used to inform the business and community engagement strategy ofthe institution and develop the social media toolkit.Key DriversThe key drivers for SM4BCE were:1. To retain a strong position in the field of Business and Community Engagement;2. To ensure that our communications with stakeholders in business and the communityremain relevant, keep pace with rapidly changing communications technology and use themost appropriate channels;3. To help Coventry University meet its corporate objectives of increasing the proportion ofapplied research income which is private-sector led to 25% by 2015. This can only be doneby strengthening our relationships with existing private sector partners and developing newrelationships;4. To help Coventry University continue to innovate in the ways it communicates with itsstakeholders, particularly with its students as they become the business stakeholders of thefuture.JISC Resources UsedA range of JISC resources were reviewed as part of the project. Using social media for business andcommunity engagement is in its infancy within HE, which may be why the majority of JISC resourcesavailable were of limited relevance to SM4BCE. It took some time to find a comprehensive list of JISCresources that seemed relevant, and when these were located, there were limited details on whatthe resources contained, meaning that time was spent reviewing only to find that the resourcewasn’t relevant. Details of the JISC resources used and reviewed as part of SM4BCE are below:
  3. 3. 1. Online Promotion of Research Expertise: was a particularly useful resource providing invaluable information for the first stage ofthe project which reviewed current practice on social media within the higher educationsector. SM4BCE used the resource to establish a benchmark for where Coventry Universitywas in terms of social media use. The project final report was based around a review ofUniversity websites – the team looked at 75 in the UK as well as some overseas forcomparison and some key findings stood out:i. The assertion that there was “too little interactivity and too many brochures”resonated very closely with our experiences at Coventry, in fact this was essentiallythe rationale behind the bid to JISC! Brochures definitely have their place, it’s reallyimportant to have tangible publicity materials but these days people expectwebsites to be much more than a repository of downloads. This prompted membersof the project team to look at for improving the interface for our digital andalthough this doesn’t solve the problem of “too many brochures” presenting them inmore innovative and interactive ways may be a big step forward.ii. The report found that social media was used mainly for student engagement – againsomething the project found at Coventry. Even social networks aimed at businessusers such as LinkedIn weren’t used in a co-ordinated way by HEIs. The presence ofstaff on LinkedIn was entirely down to personal choice and there was no drivetowards a “corporate” presence.iii. The assertion that online channels were unimportant in establishing business andcommunity relationships but very important for maintaining them was of interest tothe project. This prompted the project manager to explore this is in the focus groupsessions as the University’s online presence could be seen as its shop window andthe way SM4BCE envisaged progressing was to help create more partnershipsthrough more effective use of different social media.2. Addressing barriers to Business and Community is addressing a specific area of Coventry’s Business & Community Engagement andbuilds on an already strong culture of Business & Community Engagement at CoventryUniversity. Therefore, this resource was not relevant to our experience as it looks at how toembed a culture of Business & Community Engagement at an Institution.3. Benchmarking: project manager anticipated that this resource would be of use when benchmarking inthe initial stages of the project. However, none of the tools provided were particularlyrelevant for this project.4. Collaborative Online Tools (for BCE): technology covered by this resource was considered already too mainstream, given thepace of technology change over the past few years. Coventry University is already usingmost of these tools and they are not relevant to the aims of this project.
  4. 4. 5. Embedding Business and Community Engagement (BCE) infoKit: resource is aimed at big institutional programmes to create a culture of Business andCommunity Engagement. Coventry University already has this sort of culture and the aim ofSM4BCE is to address technology change and ensure communication with business andcommunity groups keeps pace.6. Impact Calculator: resource was identified because it was thought it might be a resource for measuring theresults of the project but it concentrates on measuring cost and efficiency savings which isnot a particular aim for this project.7. Maximising the Impact of BCE resource was simply at too high level for SM4BCE which looks at a specific facet ofBusiness and Community Engagement rather than at the creation and enhancement of aBusiness and Community Engagement Culture.8. Walking Thru Time: is a very specific app based project with a different aim to ours. However theirexperiences would have been useful if SM4BCE decided to go down an app-based route.OutcomesResearchDesk ResearchThe first stage of SM4BCE was to undertake desk research into the use of social media for business-to-business communications. There was not a huge amount of existing research available for review– social media research has tended to concentrate on the benefits of business-to-consumercommunication which, whilst interesting, is not quite what the project is trying to achieve. Some keyfindings included:- peer influence-based, community-oriented marketing, hold[s] much greater promise forcreating sustained growth through authentic customer relationships (Bill Lee, HBR)- Far from a distraction…social media proves a surprising boon to productivity (Ryan Holmes,Fast Company)- 90% of companies using social technologies report some business benefits from them(McKinsey Global Institute)The project also had access to a number of surveys undertaken by other areas of Coventry Universitywhich had relevance to the SM4BCE project. The first of these surveys, undertaken by theUniversity’s Marketing & Communications Department, contacted external stakeholders whoreceived a copy of Coventry University’s applied research magazine Innovate to explore enthusiasmfor digital editions of the magazine. The findings were that:- 85% of respondents would prefer to receive the magazine in a digital format;- Respondents would prefer to receive the magazine on a format that could be accessed froma PC, laptop or tablet computer;- No respondents wanted to receive a magazine that they could view on their mobile phone.
  5. 5. These findings were interesting as they showed a strong appetite among respondents for digitalcontent but that mobile-phone optimised content was of limited interest.The second survey, undertaken by the University’s Engineering & Computing Faculty, contactedexternal stakeholders for their opinions on Coventry University’s business services in order to betteralign the Faculties activities with business needs. Key findings included:- A single point of contact was valued for client projects and enquiries;- Word of mouth recommendations are important;- Collaborative, strategic relationships which are developed jointly are valued highly;- There is low awareness, even among current clients, of the full range of the Faculty’soffering (and therefore presumably the University’s offering);- There is a real need for both mass and targeted marketing to raise awareness amongpotential business partners of the University’s offering and activities;- It is essential to develop ongoing links with alumni ;- Pro-active contact with prospects, current and previous clients – as well as alumni – iswelcomed.These findings, whilst not specific to social media activity and focussed on a specific Faculty’sbusiness related activities, are interesting evidence about how Coventry University is perceived. Theissues raised, particularly around communication and awareness of what Coventry University has tooffer to businesses, could to some extent be addressed by a good social media strategy.Benchmarking StudyA benchmarking study was the second phase of the project and was undertaken in order to providea firm idea of how exactly Coventry University compares to other UK Universities in the field of socialmedia use, particularly for business interactions, as well as giving us some idea about best practice.Approximately 70 UK Universities were reviewed with the sample being taken from the followinggroups:- Leading UK Universities – those that top the Times and Guardian League Tables;- West Midlands Universities ;- Post-1992 Universities – former Polytechnics awarded University title in 1992;- Business-facing Universities – those awarded the highest level of HEIF5 funding;Some of the findings are as follows:Social Media take-up is high in general98% of Universities surveyed had a Facebook profile100% of Universities surveyed had a Twitter profile98% of Universities surveyed have a company profile on LinkedIn97% of Universities surveyed have a YouTube accountThe level of engagement and the audience targeted vary hugely from university to university.Use of Social Media for business engagement appears to be less commonOnly 3% of HEIs surveyed have a dedicated “business” Facebook pageThe proportion using Twitter for business engagement via a dedicated account – 22% – isslightly higher but still not even a quarter of the sample
  6. 6. Only 51% of the sample actively used their LinkedIn company profile to promote theiractivities, jobs and servicesUniversity Social Media Sites have a large audienceAverage Facebook fans: 27, 600Average Twitter followers: 9,500Average LinkedIn followers: 3,700Average Youtube subscribers: 935 (Average video views were much higher – over 460, 000)Universities are experimenting with a variety of Social MediaIn addition to the main four social media services used – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube –the Universities surveyed used a total of 20 other social media and social content-sharing sites.These ranged from photo-sharing site Flickr to Chinese microblogging service Weibo.This supports the original assumptions made about that the use of social media in HE– namely thatUniversities are in general very well engaged with social media but their activities via these mediaare focussed primarily on student recruitment and engagement with the potential of social mediafor business and community engagement being overlooked.Stakeholder Engagement SessionsOne of the earliest issues the SM4BCE project team discussed was around understanding howbusinesses wanted Coventry University to communicate with them. There was already someevidence from the desk research stage of the project (see above) that the University could do moreto ensure its stakeholders were aware of business-facing activities and opportunities to get involved.A logical next step was to engage with some of our business and community stakeholders to seewhether social media would be a sensible way to address this issue. As a result we held two focusgroups in December 2012 and April 2013Stakeholder Engagement Sessions: Focus Group OneThe December focus group had 6 members: three from various areas of the University involved witheither social media or business engagement; and three representatives were invited from outsidethe University. Discussions were held about engagement with social media and thoughts onCoventry University’s current offering. Key points to come out of this session were:LinkedIn is the best social networking site for developing business relationships. Facebook isseen very much as a non-business site.Twitter is a good tool for marketing activity, particularly raising awareness and advertisingevents but it was seen as quite superficial.It is important to link your printed media to your social media presence and/or your websitee.g. via QR codes or Augmented Reality tools such as Aurasma.Coventry University’s current social media is very student focused and not useful forbusiness contacts.It is important to develop a clear strategy for social media activity that can be reviewed andupdated regularly.Internal communications are also really important for large organisations – social mediaaggregation sites such as Yammer can be helpful here.
  7. 7. Social networking is about the individual – it is important to have a balance between“corporate” accounts and real people. People like the personal touch and good personalaccounts can reflect well on the organisation as a whole.The session reaffirmed many of the results of the benchmarking exercise – particularly that oursocial media is too student focused and we need to target business engagement activity to key socialnetworks such as LinkedIn and Twitter. However it was also thought provoking, offering ideas whichhad not been previously considered about such as managing internal communications andencouraging individual engagement.Stakeholder Engagement Sessions: Focus Group TwoThe April 2013 focus group had four members - three business and community representatives plusCoventry University’s Social Media Officer. Discussions centred on the benefits and drawbacks ofsocial media use. This group came to the same conclusions as the first focus group, particularly interms of social networks for interacting with other businesses – LinkedIn was again seen as the keysocial network with Twitter seen as important but not as strategically valuable. Other key points tocome out of this session included:Social media is not seen as a direct sales tool. Instead social networks are valuable forawareness-raising, public relations and networking with those whom you might struggle toengage with elsewhere. Social media content is seen as particularly valuable for drivingtraffic to a company’s website.HEIs in general still aren’t great at social media for business engagement. WarwickManufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick were highlighted as beingparticularly good.Social media is seen as a supplement to “traditional” modes of communications. People stillrely on e-mail or phone communication to really develop a relationship – even if thatrelationship originated on social media.There is value in using social media for internal communications, particularly in largerorganisations. Yammer was highlighted as were blogs and internal communication forums.Providing adequate resource to manage your social media correctly is a concern as ismanaging content disseminated via social media.Stakeholder Engagement Sessions: OutcomesThe focus groups were interesting and valuable in validating the project team’s existing thoughts andresearch about the value of social media for business engagement. The overall message receivedfrom both sessions was very clear: Coventry University need to be using social media to engage withits business and community partners and it needs to provide resource to do this well.Aurasma – Augmented Reality MarketingSM4BCE was originally inspired by the use of augmented reality in Coventry University’s 2012/13student recruitment campaign. This campaign used an application called Aurasma which allowsusers to access interactive content by using a smartphone application to scan static content inposters or leaflets. The actual process of using Aurasma is however quite complex and requires usersto have access to relatively high specification smartphones.
  8. 8. Despite a number of attempts, uptake of the augmented reality tool “Aurasma” have been relativelylow by research and business-facing teams across the University – something which can perhaps beattributed to its complexity as well as a lack of demand. It is however regularly used in CoventryUniversity’s applied research magazine Innovate and there are plans to use Aurasma in someupcoming marketing materials for our Low Carbon Vehicle and Integrated Transport & LogisticsGrand Challenge Initiatives. In an ideal world the project would have had access to these early in2013 so that we could get feedback about ease of use and whether businesses considered themvaluable however this has not happened. There has however been no evidence of demand foraugmented reality in any of the stakeholder engagement sessions undertaken whereas evidence ofdemand for engagement via social media has been consistently high.Social MediaTwitterIncreasing Coventry University’s business-relevant content via Twitter has been one of the majorachievements of this project. Access to tools such as Hootsuite (a social media management tool)has allowed the project manager to create and schedule content for optimum times as well as toengage with the rest of the University’s social media active staff.The main Coventry University Twitter feed (@covcampus) is and is likely to remain quite student-focussed – primarily because students use this feed to communicate with the University, somethingthat will remain in place for strategic reasons. However there is a strategic drive at the Universitytowards the use of social media for non-student purposes – in December 2012 a team of socialmedia officers were employed to support the development of research content – and this projecthas strengthened this strategic direction. There is a compelling case for a dedicated “business-facing” Twitter feed which would run in conjunction with the University’s main Twitter account aswell as with various other accounts run by faculty research teams. This would however requirededicated full-time resource.SM4BCE has not only provided content for the main Coventry University Twitter account but alsosupported the creation and promotion of content via supporting accounts including one dedicatedto Coventry’s strategic “Grand Challenge Initiatives” which is business and community focussed.When the project began the @grandchallenge account had been set up but fallen into disuse whenthe member of staff responsible took up a new role. With the support of colleagues from across theUniversity the project has now revived this account and it is being used on a daily basis.In addition SM4BCE has sparked quite a lot of interest in the potential uses of social media frombusiness-facing staff across the University. The SM4BCE project manager has worked with thefollowing to raise awareness of specific projects and/or events:- Faculty of Engineering & Computing Commercial Team:o Intrigue 2013: The Faculty’s first business open dayo Continuing Professional Development Courses- Sustainable Building Futures Projecto Training events for West Midlands companieso Awareness raising of the project’s activity
  9. 9. o Support for dedicated SBF twitter account- City Lab Coventry Projecto Publicity for an event at MIPIM in March 2013o Support with creating and using a dedicated City Lab Coventry twitter feedWhilst this has been successful there remains a compelling case for a dedicated business-facingTwitter account to engage with a business and community audience.LinkedInProgress on the use of LinkedIn has been small scale – primarily because it took approximately sixmonths to gain access to the Coventry University LinkedIn profile. The project has therefore only hadaccess to Coventry University’s LinkedIn profile since March 2013.In that time however the page has been updated with a more relevant summary of the Universityand much more detail on the products/services offered by the University, with a particular emphasison those that are relevant to business. This has led to a quadrupling of views of the Products andServices page in the last two months. The SM4BCE project manager has also spent a considerableamount of time developing content for profile updates which has been well received with data fromLinkedIn showing that overall content from the page has reached at least 30,000 people in April2013.AchievementsSM4BCE has seen its primary objective achieved – namely that of increased used of social media forbusiness and community engagement purposes. This can be seen via the increased amount ofbusiness-relevant content on the main Coventry University Twitter and LinkedIn accounts as well asby an increased interest in and take-up of social media for business and community engagementactivity by different people across the University.By working closely with Coventry University’s Marketing & Communications department the projectmanager has also been able to ensure that SM4BCE has had an impact on the University’s newMarketing Strategy. This has at the time of writing lead to a dedicated marketing plan for businessengagement which fully incorporates use of social media and interactive technologies such asAurasma. It is hoped that this will enable the learning from the project to be embedded and placeCoventry University in a market-leading position.In addition the stakeholder engagement sessions as well as several surveys carried out simultaneousto the start of the project have provided us with a clearer understanding of how businesses view theUniversity and how they would like to see us communicate with them. The strongest message whichcame out from all of the research undertaken by the project is that currently our social mediacommunications are too student focussed. The project has taken steps to start to change the realitybehind this statement but ongoing work is required to ensure that the business perception of howCoventry University communicates is significantly improved.Using the social media monitoring tool Brandwatch it has been possible to track the impact of theproject by looking at the number of times Coventry University’s business engagement activity was
  10. 10. mentioned across the web during the second half of the SM4BCE project when social media wasbeing actively used:This shows an initial large increase in mentions which dropped off slightly but which has remained ata reasonably high average level throughout the remainder of the project. A topic cloud has also beengenerated which shows the most-frequently discussed topics:The project has produced a number of outputs as well as this case study. The value of these outputsis as follows:- Project Blog: this captures the evolution of SM4BCE as well as some key insights into thework undertaken by the project and the resultant learning- Social Media Toolkit: this attempts to capture the learning from the project about actuallyusing social media for business and community engagement, particularly for those new tosocial media- Audio Case Study: this case study captures some key thoughts from Coventry University staffabout the aims, activity and impact of the SM4BCE projectBenefitsThe SM4BCE project has begun to see the following benefits:- Increased awareness of benefits of social media among business-engaged staff at CoventryUniversity;- We are starting to see an increased awareness of Coventry University activity amongbusiness and community partners – although this needs more development;- Business-facing social media activity is becoming integrated into a University-wide SocialMedia and Marketing Strategy.
  11. 11. In the long term it is anticipated that Coventry University will continue to develop its activity in thisarea. SM4BCE has achieved a lot in a short space of time but there is clearly much more that couldbe done to take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media for business and communityengagement. Social media is an incredibly powerful medium and, coupled with a strong website, canand should be used to strengthen the University’s existing relationships as well as communicate ourdiverse offering to a new audience. The impact of social media in developing internationalpartnerships has not been studied as part of SM4BCE however it is something that is important toCoventry University’s long term strategy. Increased globalisation and improved communicationtechnologies make the world smaller than ever before and therefore a strong social media presencecould potentially be key to improved international business development.DrawbacksThe SM4BCE project drawbacks included:- The research stage took longer than expected;- JISC resources were less relevant to the work of the project than expected;- With social media there is an instant need to post/monitor/follow up enquiries which reallyrequires dedicated full-time resource which project was not able to provide.A number of drawbacks which were anticipated but which haven’t materialised over the life ofSM4BCE are those of responding to complaints and brand management via social media. The instantand fast moving nature of social media communications means that a small complaint can turn intoa much larger issue if not dealt with correctly e.g. if a complaint on Twitter is ignored or a negativecomment on Facebook is deleted. Similarly, a negative or inappropriate comment made on acorporate social media account can also do lasting damage to an organisation’s “brand”. The firstissue of complaints can be dealt with simply by good customer service procedures – addressing thecomplaint and making an effort to resolve it will diffuse a difficult situation whatever thecommunication medium. The second issue of brand management is more complex and ultimatelyreflects an organisation’s culture – Coventry University has so far never experienced such anincident.Key LessonsThe key lessons learnt from the SM4BCE Project include:- Get central marketing/social media team involved from bid-writing stage;- Engage with stakeholders – internal and external;- Social media should not be developed in isolation – make your social media strategy part ofwider marketing/business engagement strategy, holistic offering;- Resources are key when developing your social media capability;- The SM4BCE project blog, required as a reporting mechanism, has been a great reflectivetool.Looking AheadIn order to maintain momentum and develop the findings of the project dedicated resource, ideallya dedicated business engagement social media officer, will be required. The business case for thisresource is being developed as part of the University’s new Marketing Strategy.
  12. 12. There are a number of other activities which could be undertaken in the future to support andenhance Coventry University’s business-facing social media including:- The creation of an online business newsletter/bulletin/RSS feed;- Further work with the Coventry University LinkedIn community, particularly with CoventryUniversity alumni, to really develop awareness of the University’s business offering to apotentially new audience;- Ongoing work to continue to integrate interactive elements into printed publications and toensure printed publications are presented in an engaging way when uploaded to theCoventry University website;- One of the main drivers behind the success of SM4BCE has been the close relationshipsdeveloped between the project manager and the social media team. To develop the work ofthe project continued close engagement between the Business Development Group and theMarketing and Social Media teams should be fostered.There may also be further opportunities to research in this area which may be of interest toacademic researchers in Coventry University’s Business School. The requirements for projectsustainability will be the appointment, ideally over the next few months, of a dedicated member ofstaff to continue this work. This member of staff will then have to ensure the continued engagementof business-facing staff and the continued development of Coventry University’s business-facingsocial media activity & profile.Appendix- Project Blog: Social Media for Business Engagement Toolkit: Accessed: is Dead, Bill Lee, HBR Blogs 13 Trillion Cost of Not Tweeting at Work, Ryan Holmes, Fast Company social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, McKinsey GlobalInstitute A-Z of Social Media for Academics, Professor Andy Miah of Social Media for Researchers and Supervisors, Vitae Success Stories, LinkedIn are UK University Websites hiding all their research? Guardian Higher Education Network