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What I Learned About #SocialMedia Editing Social Works


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This is a handout for the presentation I did at PRSA's summit for the Counselors to Higher Ed section on 18 April 2013 in Washington, DC. I shared reflections about what I learned about social media in researching and editing the case studies for our book, Social Works.

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What I Learned About #SocialMedia Editing Social Works

  1. 1. What I’ve learned about #socialmedia Michael Stoner PRSACHE 2013We’re not in a post-social era, we’re in the post-hype era.Time to make social work for us.Social media = web-based tools used for socialinteraction. The most important brand names areFacebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, thoughblogs are an important component of any socialstrategy.Social networking is what people do with socialmedia: rank, comment, share, post, rant, etc.
  2. 2. Social Works Campaign: a focused effort to achieve goals using a variety of channels appropriate to the results soughtSocial Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students, and GetResults is unique. The 25 case studies in Social Works demonstrate that social media has the maturity andreach to be an integral component of campaigns focused on building awareness, recruiting students, engagingalumni and other key audiences, raising money, and accomplishing important goals that matter to a college oruniversity. The case studies in Social Works will inspire college and university communicators, marketers, web teammembers, and other staff, offering models and details for highly successful initiatives. And, they will convincepresidents and other senior leaders that social media is not just valuable, but essential, to achievinginstitutional goals. In short, Social Works belongs on the shelves (or on the e-readers) of college and universitystaff who want to learn how to get results with social media. Published 25 February 2013 by EDUniverseMedia.
  3. 3. “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest;and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Confucius
  4. 4. 1.Social media ≠ technology.
  5. 5. 2.Social media ≠a magic bullet.
  6. 6. There were many, many predictions about how Second Life was going torevolutionize learning, teaching, and student recruitment:Ohio University went further to build its virtual community in Second Life throughthe exploration of teaching/learning. The university has a well constructed campusin Second Life with various buildings such as a student center, learning center, andarts and music center. Students may explore the virtual campus and join real studentorganizations at the student center. Student groups can meet and collaborate on thevirtual campus just as they might on the real one. There is also a virtual art andmusic center where students may meet artists and listen to live music in thecyberspace (Briggs, 2007). (From
  7. 7. 2. (corollary) There isno magic bullet.
  8. 8. 3. Everything is connected to everything else. []This is Barry Commoner’s first law of ecology and mStoner’s first law of branding.It’s essential to keep in mind when structuring communications and marketingactivities. Because of the way the world works today, it’s easy for organizationalanomalies to be observed and amplified. Consistency counts. Not only inappearance (do your communications look like they come from the sameorganization?) but voice.Furthermore, your online presence doesn’t occur in a vacuum but is alsoconnected 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.
  9. 9. Your ecosystem ...• Compelling brand: aspirational but grounded in institutional reality.• Powerful stories: reinforce brand, multiple media, well-told, shareable, demonstrating value.• Compelling creative: a strong visual vocabulary for your brand & stories• Strong channel strategy: well-managed, connected, curated
  10. 10. 4. Social is important in a campaign.But there’s a lot more toa successful campaign.
  11. 11. Case 25: “Promoting Faculty Experts: The University of Nottingham and the Election of 2010,” Social Works, pp. 215-222.The communications and marketing team at the University of Nottingham created a campaign focused on positioning Nottingham as the definitive source of expert commentary on the2010 UK elections. This involved both staff members in the communications and marketing team as well as faculty with expertise in politics. By live blogging 24/7 during the electionseason, they wanted to draw the attention of reporters and major media , scholars at other institutions, the general public, potential students, and public opinion influencers. Before theeffort began, they developed a series of goals to which they attached specific numbers. For example: “to generate 20 pieces of national and international [media] coverage…”; “… to helpincrease applications by at least 5%.” In preparation, the team researched reporters, bloggers, and experts, developing extensive lists of media contacts. One staff member worked closelywith the faculty experts and bloggers to time tweets and posts in response to developing election themes. Traffic was largely driven by Twitter (123 tweets with 7,779 click-throughs),online PR, and linked placement of faculty experts supported by their blog posts and traditional PR work. By the campaign’s end, 104 blog posts had delivered more than 90,000 pageviews. The campaign exceeded all the targets set by the office. And: “Every item of national media coverage on Election Day featured a University of Nottingham spokesperson,” for atotal of 466 national media hits. Applications to the School of Politics & International Relations rose 15%.Relevant
  12. 12. Channels: Election 2010 blog posts expert commentary YouTube explainers about key topics & issues email reporter updates & reminders Twitter reporter updates & reminders website updates, links to key articles
  13. 13. Social woven into campaigns Roughly what percentage of your campaigns* included social channels? 2013 52 2012 41 *campaign defined as “a focused effort to achieve goals using a variety of channels appropriate to the results sought”From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey of Social Mediain Advancement 2013In the past two years we probed if (and how) institutionswere using social media in campaigns, which wedefine as “a focused effort to achieve goals using a varietyof channels appropriate to the results sought.”Note that this definition can (and sometimes does) includeefforts to raise money, but is intended to acknowledge thatsocial media is often incorporated into initiatives thathave objectives other than just fundraising.
  14. 14. 5. There’s a lot more to social media than Facebook.Facebook: still the dominant channel for social media in .edus according to CASE/mStoner/Slover Linett Survey of Social Media in Advancement 2012. Butthere are challenges to relying on Facebook.ROI: There are simple metrics we can get — reach, comments, shares, likes, etc — but because of Facebook’s one-page-fits-all model, it remains a challenge totie them to concrete business goals. Posts have a short tail; compare that to your website or blog (on mStoner’s blog, several of our posts from 2009 are amongthe most accessed today): Facebook posts get half their reach within 30 minutes of publication []Engagement fatigue: Michael Stoner,; Facebook Usage Declining: in .edu for social media: Chief Marketing Officers of 249 U.S. companies in August 2012 said they would increase current spending onsocial media from 7.6 percent of their overall marketing budget to 10.7 percent over the next 12 months. They expected to see that number rise to 18.8 percentin the next five years, according to a survey from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Is your institution keeping pace? [Moorman, Christine, and T. AustinFinch. The CMO Survey. Duke University, Aug. 2012. Web. <>]
  15. 15. Source:
  16. 16. @mstonerblog modifications of a widelyshared infographic about social media
  17. 17. Channel use/growth % Use % Growth Facebook 0 96 Twitter 82 2 LinkedIn 75 7 YouTube -2 71 Blogs -13 42 Flickr -13 38 -9 34 Vendor community -1 32 Home-built community 20 7 Geosocial -2 15 Pinterest 0 28 Instagram 0 27 Google+ 0 22 Tumblr 0 9 -25 0 25 50 75 100From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey of Social Media inAdvancement 2013This chart shows the percentage who say they use eachsocial media channel (at all), and the lighter green showshow this has changed since last year.The lower section shows the social media channels we askedabout this year for the first time.While Flickr shrinks, Instagram grows; Pinterest andTumblr may be taking some of the share that Blogs held inthe past
  18. 18. Responding to options • Many recommend a thoughtful approach about whether to adopt new social media channels: “Attempting to be everywhere by jumping on the latest platform without a clear sense of purpose is wasted effort. This is a case where more is not better.” • A sense of how the platform connects with your audiences is key: “Research where your audience is, and survey where they want to see you! If no one is on Google+, then it is a waste of time to add this to your efforts.” “Targeting platform to audience—i.e. current students via Facebook, alumni via LinkedIn and Twitter, integrating strategy and selecting what platforms make sense and what platforms not to utilize, dont be on all platforms in small ways, strategically select key platforms and focus resources on those few.”From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey ofSocial Media in Advancement 2013
  19. 19. 6. Don’t neglect the channels you own.Pushback from small companies, nonprofits: Facebook is screwing brands, driving reach down so brands will pay for more posts: “Facebook: I want my friends back!” [];“Facebooks EdgeRank Changes: A U.K. Company Claims Theyre Killing Small Businesses” []. Josh Constine, “Killing Rumors With Facts: No, Facebook Didn’t Decrease Page Feed Reach To Sell More Promoted Posts,” TechCrunch[] says that the actions by Facebook’ that sparked the blog post at Dangerous Mindsare beneficial in that they reduce spam in newsfeeds and therefore are good for brands. What’s striking to us is the lack of trust in Facebook, which makes Dangerous Mind’s claims entirelyplausible. Todd Sanders (@tsand) offers another view in “Facebook decreases reach… grab your torch and pitchforks” (, arguing that if you’re awesome, people will respond, no matter what the aggregate data says or how Facebook changes their algorithms.Underfunding in .edu for social media: Chief Marketing Officers of 249 U.S. companies in August 2012 said they would increase current spending on social media from 7.6 percent of theiroverall marketing budget to 10.7 percent over the next 12 months. They expected to see that number rise to 18.8 percent in the next five years, according to a survey from Duke’s Fuqua School ofBusiness. Is your institution keeping pace? [Moorman, Christine, and T. Austin Finch. The CMO Survey. Duke University, Aug. 2012. Web. <>]
  20. 20. Promotion & marketing We use mostly online tools to promote your social media initiatives, but also many offline ones. Website 90% Email 88% Social media 79% Blogging 27% Up 4% from 2012 SEO or search engine marketing 24% Internal publications 68% Direct print mail 54% External publications (not your institution’s pubs) 22% Outreach and marketing at events 59% Up 7% from 2012 Radio 7% TV 5% Other 3%From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey ofSocial Media in Advancement 2013
  21. 21. 7.Planning is your friend.
  22. 22. “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans areuseless, but planning is indispensable.” General Dwight D. Eisenhower
  23. 23. A good plan includes1. Goals and objectives.2. Audiences.3. Channels, tools, and assets.4. Marketing & promotion.5. Timeline and budget.6. Benchmarking & measurement.7. Reporting.
  24. 24. William & Mary Mascot Communication Plan February 2009 - September 2009 Status Deadline Comments PLANNING Brainstorming Create an concept/identity for the mascot project complete 2/1/09 Joel Pattison designed - Mascot Search Build a website complete 1/31/09 Create a blog complete 1/31/09 Send graphic and concept to campus stakeholders complete 2/26/09 for their use in print and on the web KICK OFF Message/announcement from President complete 2/27/09 Release from University Relations complete 2/27/09 Spot in Alumni Magazine (March issue) complete 3/28/09 REINFORCE KICK OFF Announcement in WMDigest complete 3/4/09 post asking for feedback on guidelines Announcement in Student Happenings complete 3/4/09 post asking for feedback on guidelines thru 3/16 Announcement on myWM complete 3/4/09 post asking for feedback on guidelines thru 3/16 eConnections goes out 2nd Fri of each month; deadline Announcement in eConnections complete 3/12/09 is 1st Thurs of month goes out to 46,000 monthly; includes Announcement in Momentum complete 3/20/09 faculty/staff/currentparents Unveil Colonel Ebirt Blog complete 3/2/09 in FAQ and on Ebirts facebook Send Release to all three student newspapers complete 2/27/09 Announcement on Tribe Athletics website complete posted week of 2/27 and week of 3/9 Announcement in Tribe Pride Newsletter complete March Announcement on W&M Alumni site complete 2/27/09 placed in Campus Life section and "M"; 4/9 added to Communities page; added to Alumni and Current Mascot Search Widget for complete 6/5/09 gateways on June 5 - June 30 Added Mascot Search link to Athletics bridge page menu complete 4/15/09 Sent blurb and graphics to Business School complete 3/25/09 Included in Mason Experiences March 2009 Sent blurb and graphics to Law School complete 3/31/09 will appear in Law eNews for late MarchPortion of plan for William & Mary MascotSearch developed by Susan T. Evans, who ranthe campaign at William & Mary.
  25. 25. 8.Goals.Goals.Goals.
  26. 26. Goals/results: Election 2010 Involve 4 fac in media relations 8 academics became involved position fac as experts continued momentum in media requests Every item of national media featured a 20 pieces of intl. coverage University spokesperson. 466 items achieved, over 75% of them national or international. build media networks: 5 new Bloomberg, Reuters, the Guardian, New York outlets Times, International Herald Tribune, BBC. recruitment: 5% app increase 15% increase try out new online PR approach approach was basis for many subsequent projects gain experience with online & “The campaign built skills and capacity and social media has improved confidence and creativity.”1. To involve at least four new Politics academics in media activity by the end of the campaign and to develop their media expertise.2. To position Nottingham academics as key political commentators.3. To generate 20 pieces of national and international coverage, attaining an estimated advertising value/ ROI on budget of Elm (an ROI of 66,567%).4. To build media networks for the School and wider University, establishing links with five major new media outlets.5. To support recruitment activity and help increase applications by at least 5%.6. To trial successfully a new approach to online PR that could be used as a model in support of profile and impact to feed in to the Research Assessment Framework (REF).7. To gain experience of using blogging, Twitter, online tracking and other digital tools to build capacity within the Communications Team.Case 25: “Promoting Faculty Experts: The University of Nottingham and the Election of 2010,” Social Works,pp. 215-222.
  27. 27. Goals/results: Election 2010 “The campaigns value for money can also be measured in relation to the "legacy value" of the media connections built which continue to feed in to Nottinghams growing PR profile, a profile which has seen coverage double overall during the course of the [2011] year. Thanks to Election 2010, the School of Politics and International Relations at Nottingham has just launched a new, permanent blog - Ballots & Bullets - averaging a new post every day. “It has been successfully received by other members of the academic community and has also helped to improve the profile of the Communications Team. It prompted colleagues to speak to the Communications Team first and has, so far, made savings against the planned use of external consultants totalling approximately £50k as internal colleagues see what can be delivered internally by a newly invigorated team.”Case 25: “Promoting Faculty Experts: TheUniversity of Nottingham and the Election of2010,” Social Works, pp. 215-222.
  28. 28. Measuring ROI “It is difficult to measure ‘return on investment’ from the use of social media” 2010 34 2011 32 2012 33 2013 38From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey ofSocial Media in Advancement 2013
  29. 29. Donations are not primary outcomes for social How do you measure success for your SM activities? Rated in top two Outcome Measures (quite a bit/ extensively) Number of active “friends,” "likes" 73% Volume of participation 57% Number of “click-throughs” to your website 53% Event participation 40% Anecdotal success (or horror) stories 26% Penetration measure of use among target audience 19% Volume or proportion of complaints and negative comments 12% Donations 15% Number of applications for admission 10% Surveys of target audiences 9%From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey of Social Media inAdvancement 2013You see that donations are pretty low on the list of ways that CASEmembers typically gauge their success in social media. We are looking atmean ratings on a scale from 1 to 5 where 5 means it is used extensively.Top metrics are • Number of active “friends,” “likes” • Volume of participation • Number of “click-throughs” to your website, but the field is pretty wide.Perhaps it needs to be even wider, or more precise, because the sense ofdifficult in ROI is, if anything, growing over time.
  30. 30. The benefit of metrics • Many of those who reported their social media initiatives have not been successful noted that metrics were lacking. • By contrast, those who report their social media use has been very successful also say they have robust tracking mechanisms: “We’ve created a weekly dashboard of target metrics for all of our social platforms and our main websites that shows changes and topics that resonated. This has greatly elevated awareness of our efforts among university leadership.” “We don’t think, we know. Calculations and reports are submitted monthly on SoMe successes and returns, both subjective and objective. We’ve boosted ticket sales to events, recruited students, and increased awareness about many different things.”From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey of Social Media inAdvancement 2013We have a question on the survey that asks respondents to evaluatethemselves on how successful they have been in their use of socialmedia, and why. We see a relationship where those who say they weremost successful also talk about a dashboard of metrics that they lookat weekly or monthly.Were they able to achieve success because they were tracking whatworked and then did more of that, so the metrics enable success? Or isit that they can speak confidently of their success because they havethe metrics? We heard the comment “we don’t think, we know,” whichis certainly a satisfying thing.
  31. 31. 9.Your team needs your support. And the CEO’s.
  32. 32. Barriers to success persist % who see this barrier in their unit “quite a bit” or “extensively 2013 2012 Staffing for day-to-day content management 55% 49% Staffing for site development 44% 42% Lack of relevant human resources in my unit 40% 37% Slow pace of change 31% 22% Expertise in how to implement it 25% 23% Funding 26% 22% Lack of IT resources 22% 20% Lack of institutional clarity about who is responsible 22% 20% for social media initiatives Concerns about loss of control over content and tone 19% 17% of postings by others Lack of commitment by decision-makers 19% 17%From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey ofSocial Media in Advancement 2013
  33. 33. Need for experienced staff • Many believe that lack of staff devoted to social media hampers their success and that they could improve with help from ... “Dedicated staff person(s). Currently this responsibility is an add-on to current staff positions and responsibilities . . . .” • There are advantages to concentrating social media duties in fewer staff people with greater expertise and sense of the big picture: “I think we could do more to collaborate with other campus departments. In addition, our small staff . . . does not allow for social media to be an explicit part of someones job description. If someone was able to focus on it day in day out, we would be pretty amazing at it. As it stands now, we all collectively try to post when we can.” “We do not have in-house expertise to help establish strategic initiatives or to ensure our messages are consistent and aligned with other University messaging.” “At our level (a college within a large university) we have been very successful because we hired someone with solid social media experience who is in charge of all of our social media outlets. This person has set clear goals and has integrated social media into the majority of our campaigns.”From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey ofSocial Media in Advancement 2013In open-end responses, we heard that this add-on method has its detractors. There is anargument to be made for a concentrating socialmedia expertise in staff members who are moreexpert and more dedicated to social media asopposed to adding it on to the duties of manystaff members in many units. So there is somecall for collaboration between units to poolhuman resources on social media.
  34. 34. Champion, expertise key to success “A champion is essential to the successful implementation of social media in our institution” 2010 52 2011 63 2012 61 2013 72 80 “Expertise to help our social media efforts is readily available” 2010 26 2011 28 2012 31 2013 34From CASE/Huron/mStoner Survey of Social Media inAdvancement 2013I will end with this final look at some keys to social mediasuccess. In light of the comments we looked at in the lastcouple slides on the importance of expertise, it is heartening tosee that the sense that expertise is available has increased overtime.I find it somewhat unexpected that the sense that a championis essential to success of social media has only increased overtime. But let it be a challenge to any of you in the audience whomight like to take up that mantle: you are needed.
  35. 35. 10. Don’t be everywhereuntil you can be awesome everywhere you are. (@mstonerblog + @tsand)
  36. 36. CASE/Huron/mStonerSocial Media & AdvancementHandout from CASE Social Media & Communityconference with key highlights: Results from 2013: White Paper (focuses on campaigns using socialmedia):
  37. 37. ContactMichael Stonerpresident,