In an effort to be transparent, below is what I typed up for my Vice President of Enrollment and Retention (AKA – my boss) regarding my key take-aways from Statmats 08. I may be wrong or right, but these points represent what I learned and need to leverage for my individual political situation. They in no way encompass everything I learned – that would be way too much information for my VP! Thanks again to everyone who presented. I look forward to keeping in touch and learning from each other as we move forward in our efforts.

 

No one knows exactly how to use social media for higher education marketing – but they are trying. Many universities are trying it, but no one has a strategy that is perfected. Everyone is testing different things for their individual audiences. It is a usual strategy to have a student take on the content management – community management – for social networks since they know them best.

 

ROI/analytics and building a community – make sure you are doing both. Information was presented on creating a return on investment calculation and Google/email analytics to suggest that efforts result in revenue for the university. It was cautioned that these should not be the only results you are looking for: that traffic and applications do not tell the entire picture. Building a community virtually and continuing the conversation openly with prospects and current students and alumni should be the focus – not just hard and fast numbers.

 

There are many things out there, but we should not do all of them. Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut, Twitter, Ning: the list goes on and on and will only continue to grow. Create a social media strategy and stick with it making changes as lessons are learned along the way. Outline concrete goals and stick to them to see if what you are doing is moving the needle. By using everything randomly we don’t know what sticks or not and risk confusing our audience. All branded social media offerings for the university as a whole should be integrated and have a strategy.

 

Everyone is still learning. As mentioned previously, no one has all the answers. Those that presented said that they are trying different things and finding what works for their particular audience, campuses, and goals. There will be mistakes. We are all learning from each other and sharing our knowledge via Twitter and blogs. By integrating all of our successes and failures we anticipate finding ways to further our individual goals.

 

What’s Next?

 

·        Over the next month, I will be creating a social media strategic plan that will integrate current and future offerings.

·        Suggested Reads: Groundswell, Made to Stick, Here Comes Everybody, Wisdom of Crowds.

·        I will be tweaking the monthly Google Analytics reports to be more inclusive of community building – not just number crunching.

·        I will be monitoring news, blogs and twitter for mentions of our university

·        I’ll be taking a closer look at our email campaigns to see if we are targeting them well with specific content

4 Comments

  1. Good takeaways I am in the process of putting together a social media plan as well.

  2. When Rachel and I did a presentation on Facebook at SUNY CUAD, I emphasized the point that no one is really an expert in this area. Moreover, if a guy in his 50s wearing a suit and tie tells you he’s a social-media expert, you should laugh derisively in his face. (That last sentence was more implied than anything.)

    Yet it’s interesting that so many of us trying to figure out social media are turning to the best place for answers … fellow users of social media. I’d like to say this is almost a synecdoche, because I really want an opportunity to use that phrase correctly in a sentence, but alas it’s not quite right … much like most observations about social media are.

    FWIW, I did send this synopsis to some important people at my college, as we’re very much trying to grasp this 800-pound iguana … so you may yet be considered an expert at an Upstate college. That won’t get you a raise, but still.

  3. Interesting takeaways. Sadly I had to miss this year’s Stamats because there were just too many conferences on at the same time!

    As a guy in his 40s, I have to defend the “guy in his 50s” — some of them are very smart, and if they spend 3 hours a day on social media, they get it too. Just because somebody’s young does not make them an effective strategic thinker. Caution!

    And as for Stamats’ party line that “nobody gets it” I think they’re deliberately ignoring SkoolPool — in the interests of full disclosure, yes, my company’s product — which has added cross-platform functionality. Now users can connect across Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, and all the other OpenSocial platforms, and our data warehouse gathers analytics on their use, consideration sets, and decision process.

    Sure, things are evolving fast, but as you say, that’s no excuse not to try some things out!

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