Making the Most of Your Online Prescence


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The handout for my presentation at the FIHE conference in Chicago, 2 May 2011.

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Making the Most of Your Online Prescence

  1. 1. FIHE 2011 Making the most of your online presenceFIHE Conference, 2 May 2011Michael Stonerpresident,
  2. 2. college search 1995 Cocktail party circuit College Guides Letters & phone calls Viewbooks Direct (paper) mail Long-form videos CD-ROMsCollege search in 1995 was largely an offline affair. FTF, word-of-mouth, was tremendously important. Though somewebsites did exist, the primary communication betweenprospective students and parents was through the phone,letters, and print. Long-form, produced videos weredistributed on video cassettes. Cutting-edge colleges anduniversities were experimenting with “interactive media”distributed on CD-ROMs. Tulane began distributing “DiscoverTulane,” an imaginative “viewbook” on a floppy disk, in 1992.One consequence of how the process unfolded is thatapplicants were identified fairly in the process, allowinginstitutions to track them over time and communicate withthem throughout the application process.
  3. 3. college search 2003 IM & chat Direct email Lewis & Clark College Google .edu websiteBy 2003, word-of-mouth was still important (though by 2003, conversationsoccurred over email as well as FTF) and, for teens, IM and chat. Direct paper mailwas being replaced by direct email in search.But more important than either was Google. Typing in the name of an institution youheard about somewhere into Google’s minimalist search box brought you directly toits website.At this point, a college or university website assumed enormous importance.Depending on how well the site facilitated the search for answers to questions fromprospective students, they might apply or cross the institution off their list. Collegeslike Lewis & Clark began identifying students who could augment institutionalmessages with their own insights into institutional life. Blog posts containing theirwords began appearing on .edu websites, next to “official” content.
  4. 4. college search 2011 Facebook Third-party sites Stealth applicantsToday, word-of-mouth is facilitated, augmented, and amplifiedby Facebook and a few other social channels. Many morevoices have become part of the conversation, among themthird-party sites like Unigo, Zinch, College Prowler. Thesesites enable conversations about colleges and what they offer(academic, social, etc.) in which anyone can participate.There is little filtering here. Colleges can have a voice in thediscussion, but they are only one of many voices in theconversation.As a result of all the information available, applicants nowoften appear in college databases when they apply — far laterin the process than in 1993.
  5. 5. changes? more info available to more people, faster more voices, more opinions many more channels institutions lose control of the messageThese are some of the major changes that have occurred inthe past 20 years — more information from more peopleoffering more opinions delivered over more channels. Today,institutions have lost control of the message as electronicchannels & social media in particular enable individuals tocommunicate rapidly with each other.
  6. 6. Ne w real i t i es for 20 1 1So, given this landscape, let’s look at some new realities for 2011 that makeonline communications significantly more important — and challenging — forall institutions. Not just colleges and universities.
  7. 7. 1. Everything is connected to everything else. is Barry Commoner’s first law of ecology and mStoner’s first lawof branding. It’s essential to keep in mind when structuringcommunications and marketing activities. Because of the way theworld works today, it’s easy for organizational anomalies to beobserved and amplified. Consistency counts. Not only in appearance(do your communications look like they come from the sameorganization?) but voice.Furthermore, your online presence doesn’t occur in a vacuum but isalso connected to everything else you do:People’s experiences with your staff when they visit your office.A customer’s experience with your accounting department.The condition of your buildings.
  8. 8. campaigns a focused effort to achieve goals using a variety of channels appropriate to the results soughtGiven the new realities, it’s essential to think about yourcommunications as part of a larger ecosystem. You’ll usemultiple channels to market your institution and informimportant audiences about your brand. And variouscampaigns will use multiple channels to achieve specificresults.
  9. 9. Search ABOUT PBO BLOG ORANGE SPOTLIGHT ALUMNI BUSINESSES VIDEOS AND PHOTOS GET ORANGE STUFF BEAVER MARKETPLACE PARTICIPATE Orchard View Farms MAP YOURSELF 87 students stopped by the MU chosen for this months Orange Spotlight. to share their PBO stories on OSU’S IMPACT March 31. We know there are thousands more. CAMPUS BANNERS Share your story OSU ALUMNI ASSOCIATION Our Impact ORANGE SPOTLIGHT Leading the Green Do you know a business that: From the PBO Blog Revolution: OSU is a recognized national leader in teaching, Is owned by an OSU alum April 9, 2010 research, service and Has lots of OSU alums OSU Press author Robin Cody management practices enhancing working there releases first book in 15 years sustainability and environmental responsibility. The university’s Supports OSU April 1, 2010 progressive work in these areas Drives innovation Family Trees are a major reason why Corvallis repeatedly has been named Supports economic growth March 31, 2010 among America’s top green, Serves in the community Share your Powered by Orange sustainable and livable cities, story and why others in higher asdfasfasf education look to OSUs If you know a business that fits authentic, holistic approach as a this description then please nominate them for the Orange Spotlight. An model for other campuses. honor that will go to one business every month starting in April. At the more on OSUs impact end of august we will be giving away two OSU Football season tickets to one lucky person who has nominated a business. Contact us with your comments, questions, and feedback Powered by Orange v2.0 Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon 97331-4501 phone: 541-737-1000 Copyright © 2010 Oregon State University | OSU DisclaimerOregon State University has done this exceptionally well withits Powered By Orange campaign, which began as a way toutilize social media to create buzz in Portland, OR, the state’slargest media market and developed into a broad brandingand awareness campaign for the university. This is thePowered By Orange blog, which is the centerpiece of thecampaign.There’s a lot of detail about PBO in our blog post:
  10. 10. channels web website & blog map Google Map w/PBO pins other SM Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn merchandise PBO t-shirts & tschotskes real world store signs, bus wraps, ads personal meetings, displays,OSU used a large number of channels in its initial launch inPortland and continues to utilize multiple channels as thecampaign has expanded.
  11. 11. it originally targeted Portland, the campaign expanded quickly. PBO evolved into a broader awareness-building campaign forOSU. To make this shift, PBO initiated the Orange Spotlight in 2010. The feature invites nominations for businesses that are “Poweredby Orange”-—-“owned by an Oregon State alum, have lots of OSU alums working there, or are just friends of OSU. They also driveinnovation, support economic growth, and serve in the community.” Each month, a winning business is selected for the “OrangeSpotlight,” which includes a feature story on OSU’s website, promotion on its social networks, and inclusion in a campaign to pushOSU fans to featured businesses via Powered by Orange. People who nominate businesses are entered in a drawing for OSU Footballseason tickets.The result? David Baker, one of the architects of PBO, said, “We’re getting hundreds of nominations for businesses with some kind ofOSU connection.” The benefits can be real for businesses profiled. “We just spotlighted a vineyard in Napa Valley, Lamborn FamilyVineyards. Its owners are graduates of the OSU horticulture program and using sustainable growing techniques. Lamborn got greatpublicity when picked up the story. This gave us a great story to reuse as we talk about OSU’s new wine institute.It was a win-win for all concerned.”The “Orange Spotlight” nominations have enabled OSU to gain detailed information on hundreds of businesses. Baker noted, “That’sa pretty significant result for us.”
  12. 12. PBO themes and imagery carried over to OregonState.eduwhen OSU redesigned its website last year.
  13. 13. 2. It’s time to get real about social media.Social media is an extremely important component of anyonline presence in 2011 and there’s a lot of buzz about it in thecollege and university community. Social media hastremendous benefits to any institution: but this is a time forrealism, not hype. In order to be effective with social channels,institutions need to be strategic in their thinking about them;be clear about what social media is good for, and what it’s notgood for; connect it to other key marcom channels; fund itappropriately; and set appropriate goals — and measureprogress against them.
  14. 14. #ETHIC_FAILIf you don’t believe social media has consequences, here’s asingle tweet that damaged the reputation of luxury brandKenneth Cole, brought about a huge amount of opprobriumand condemnation online and offline, and caused Cole himselfto apologize for his insensitivity on a blog post.
  15. 15. Here are some ways in which social media can be utilized fordifferent institutional purposes. What is your institution tryingto achieve with the social channels it’s using?
  16. 16. top strategic goals for social media Goal rank (1 to 5) Engage alumni 4.3 Create /sustain/improve brand image 4.0 Engage current students 3.5 Increase awareness/advocacy/rankings 3.5 Build internal community 3.5 Engage admitted students 3.2 Engage current faculty & staff 3.1 Engage prospective students 3.1 Engage the local community 3.1 Recruit students 3.0 is what schools, colleges, and universities around theworld are trying to acchieve through their social mediaactivities according to our research with CASE and SloverLinett Strategies.
  17. 17. who are institutions reaching via sm? Alumni 91% Donors 75% Employers 65% Government Organizations 61% Friends & Supporters 59% Media 54% Parents of Prospective Students 48% High School Guidance Counselors 46% Parents of Current Students 40% Prospective Students 36% Current Students 25% Current Faculty & Staff 21% is what schools, colleges, and universities around theworld are trying to acchieve through their social mediaactivities according to our research with CASE and SloverLinett Strategies.
  18. 18. Social Strategists struggle with relying on engagement data We asked 140 Corporate Social Strategists: What measurements are most important to evaluating the success of your program? Engagement data: Retweets, comments, fans, likes, followers, members 65.5% Sentiment: Overall opinion of what people say 46.2% Website Traffic 39.5% Conversions or leads 34.5% Customer satisfaction rates: Net promoter, survey satisfaction 33.6% Share of voice or total mentions 27.7% Actual product revenue 21.8% Other (please specify) 10.1% 0.0% 20.0% 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% 100.0% Source: Survey of Corporate Social Strategists, Altimeter Group, November 2010 © 2010 Altimeter Group [source: Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group]Measuring the effectiveness of all this chatter is not easy andschools, colleges, and universities struggle with it. Some of themore sophisticated are trying to move beyond countingtouches such as Facebook “likes”, Twitter “retweets,” etc., andattempting to explore how these translate into meaningfulengagement such as applying, giving, or otherwise supportingan institution.But social media is new and even well-funded commercialentities struggle with how to measure its significance inmeaningful ways. This chart, from noted consultant JeremiahOwyang, summarizes what measurements corporate socialstrategists use to determine effectiveness of their efforts.
  19. 19. 3. A Facebook page is not a social strategy.To many people, Facebook = social media. But having aFacebook page is not, in itself, a social strategy. And despiteFacebook’s efforts to encourage other websites and marketersto use Facebook credentials to log into their own sites,adoption of this technology hasn’t soared. Many people(including me) are cautious about using Facebook exclusively,or too widely, because of concerns about too muchcommunication being forced through a single channel.
  20. 20. 81%consumers who have “unliked” a company on Facebook
  21. 21. 71%consumers who are more selective about “liking” a company
  22. 22. 4. The net is in your pocket, where you are.As mobile devices become more powerful and common, manypeople are using them to access a variety of content. Socialchannels — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — are being optimized formobile access. And a lot of new tools, such as so-called“location-based services” or “geosocial” tools provideinformation and other activities to mobile users focused onthe location at which they access the web. Examples includeYelp, which offers reviews of restaurants and otherbusinesses; SCVNGR, a mobile gaming platform; and manyothers.
  23. 23. content on mobile platforms FIT mobile site William & Mary “Dress the Griffin” appColleges, universities, and businesses are responding bydeveloping mobile-friendly versions of their websites —essentially slimmed-down versions of their sites. They’re alsodeveloping “apps,” small programs that do something specialor fun for important audience segments, like this examplefrom William & Mary which allows fans to dress the collegemascot.
  24. 24. 5. An online presence doesn’t just happen.Of course, none of this will happen without focus, staff,budgets, goals, and measurement.
  25. 25. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Theme: Question Facebook feature Sharing stories Women’s Equality Day Soldiers and Families online LOE: Strategic Environment Equip and Train Equip and Train Strategic Environment Soldiers & Families Flickr: Pull 3-5 photos from various sitesPull 3-5 photos from various Pull 3-5 photos from various Pull 3-5 photos highlighting Pull 3-5 photos highlighting sites sites women in the Army Military Families Photo of day: “Convoy Fights off Insurgent “The Wall Hanger” “In the Early Morning Light” “Don’t Look Down” 6,086 Soldier/Family Oriented Ambush” 6,075 total views 7,373 total views 3,888 total views total views Facebook: #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: #2: Question: “Army #2: Highlight “Ft. Benning” #2: G/8 Video (Army #2: Women in Army History #2: Family Tour BCT Inspiration” (over 1,330 #3: Promote Army Videos Modernization) ( ( feature) #2: comments) on iTunes #3: Promote Women’s #3: Personality Profile of #3: Question: Improvements #3: Birthplace of National Guard Equality Day Women Soldier in supporting Military Family #3: ( Tweets: #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: Photo of the Day #1: #2: Trivia:7 Core Values (over 10 #2: Cross-promote “Ft. #2: Cross-promote Army #2: Trivia: 1st Women #2: Cross-promote responses) Benning” Modernization Video Generals? feature story #2: #3: Question: “Army #3: Promote Army Videos #3: Promote Women’s #3: Shout-out to Female #3: Question: Improvements Inspiration” (over 25 responses) on iTunes Equality Day Soldiers (about 20 in supporting Military Family #3: responses) Blog: “To Protect & Defend”-Army Army Blog Feature Bloggers Roundtable Personality Profile Photo Slideshow of “Welcome Inspiration (Army Technology) (Unmanned Aircraft Sgt. Tyronda Dorsey Home” Celebrations Systems) (over 1650 FB shares) STAND-TO! Pain Management Soldier Athlete Initiative Comprehensive Soldier Women’s Equality Day Army’s Land War Net Fitness Goal: To educate & engage with To promote external Army To inform Soldiers & To inform/educate audience To engage Military families audience initiatives & to inform audience of advances in on Women in Army History audience Army technology Measure of FB: 3 posts; 629 likes, 120 FB: 3 posts; 615 likes, 138 FB:3 posts; 1105 likes, 163 FB: 3 posts;1133 likes, 131 FB: 3 posts; 850 likes, 175 Effectiveness comments (aver. per post) comments (aver. per post) comments (aver. per post) comments (aver. per post) comments (aver. per post) Twitter: 4 tweets; 42 re-tweets Twitter: 3 tweets; 47 re- Twitter: 3 tweets; 50 re- Twitter: 4 posts; 51 re- Twitter: 3 tweets; 56 re- Blog: 3148 page views tweets tweets tweets tweets Blog: 3190 page views Blog: 3,563 page views Blog : 3,010 page views Blog: 4,392 page views Source: “5 day social media strategy template” by U.S. Army:’s an example of a template the U.S. Army uses to plot aweek’s strategy for its social channels. Note that they’vethought through how their messages will permeate all socialchannels, who’s responsible, and how they’ll measure results.
  26. 26. b e i ng succes s f u l o nli ne in 2 0 1 1These next slides summarize some of the key points and takeawaysfrom our discussion.
  27. 27. institutional well-organized websiteappropriate technology & staff to manage it clear goals + measurement multiple channels multiple voices
  28. 28. socal media specific goalsmore planning, less spontaneity institutional buy-in & support in-house expertise multiple SM channels
  29. 29. barriers to success lack of staffing & expertise lack of institutional clarity slow pace of change lack of commitmentuncertainty about SM usefulness
  30. 30. models Bethel University: Northfield Mt. Hermon School: Union College: William & Mary: wm.eduAside from Oregon State, mentioned earlier, here are someinstitutions that have done well with their online presence,connecting their website with various social channels.Northfield Mount Hermon School does a great job in bringingsocial content from Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and otherchannels into its website via NMHBook ( & Mary used social channels to conduct an award-winning campaign to choose its mascot.