Facebook vs. Homepage

February 25, 2011

The king of promotion at a college is getting your event, story, or idea on the homepage. It is the most covented space in terms of promotion and has, at least at Gettysburg, replaced even the honor of being a feature in the alumni magazine as top dog. But when will being on the college homepage be replaced? What will replace it? How about a post on Facebook?

Facebook provides campus organizations with a great chance to reach their audience in a really easy way. Users have to actually visit our website to see your promotion on http://www.gettysburg.edu but on Facebook it gets delivered right to our fans newsfeed. We know that our current students and young alumni are on Facebook each day – how often to they read the stories on the homepage?

Our average news story gets about 500 unique clicks. An average Facebook post can get up to 10,000 impressions.With the number of people who like Gettysburg College increasing each semester (Fall to Spring we saw over 1,000 people like the Facebook Page) it is only a matter of time until a Facebook post is more coveted then the homepage.

Take a look at Missouri State’s website. http://www.missouristate.edu/ The middle section on news and events is actually a pull from various Facebook accounts. Is this the future of higher education sites?


Reflections on dotCMS bootcamp 2010

April 27, 2010

2 weeks ago I was in Miami at dotCMS bootcamp and  I had a few reflections I thought I would share:

The web is not a project and we shouldn’t talk about maintaining it.
When organizations redesign the website there is a high level of energy and enthusiasm across all levels during the planning and implementation stages. But that drops off significantly after the launch and as we get into “maintenance mode.”  As web professionals we need to remove the word maintenance from our vocabulary and start talking about growth. The web is not a project that has a defined start and end point. But rather a critical piece of your organization that needs to be constantly improving and growing.

ROI vs. RAKAWS
Should we worry about the ROI of web projects? We have to be conscious of how we spend our time and resources but web professionals should start to think about the value of Running A Kick Ass Web Site. What is the value of having key information like how to make a gift or how to get more information easy to find on the site for your large revenue generators.

Organization doesn’t matter
No matter how many people you have, or if you report to marketing or IT a really good web team does the following three things well:

  • Web Operations – Ensures that the tactics of Web site development align with overall organizational mission.
  • Web Execution – Day to day execution by the Web Team; the Web Team carries out plans developed by Web Ops.
  • Web Performance Measurement – Web analytics that are connected to business goals

There is nothing revolutionary here but some good thoughts to keep in mind as we wrap up one academic year and get ready for summer projects.


Social media icons on the homepage part II

October 8, 2009

Wow has it been an incredibly busy start to the school year. It seems like we never let our foot off the gas from commencement to convocation and we are speeding right through the first semester.

My last post on adding social media icons to the homepage received a number of comments asking me to elaborate on the negative comments I heard.  So I thought I would provide the community with some insight.

I think at lots of places there is probably  a reluctant acceptance of social media. What is this reluctant acceptance? The understanding that it is important to some audience but it can’t really be here to stay and it can’t really be worth the time that web guy puts into it. Of course maybe they said the same thing about that world wide web thing in the 90′s.

I think Nick was correct in his comment that the  introduction of new colors called attention to the icons instead of other elements on the page. Most of the comments had to do with the “look and feel” and I think people reacted to the blunt promotion of these sites. Every once in a while I still have to answer the question on campus – why are we spending time in facebook?

I did get some links showing me how other schools handle social media icons and a few people wanted us to move them to the bottom. But I think Travis makes a really good point in his comment that if we are going to put time, effort, money, and resources into social media we better be ready to promote them. But that promotion doesn’t just happen on the web. If you have a collaborative integrated marketing team cross promotion in the alumni magazine and other venues are equally important.


Social media icons on the homepage

September 24, 2009

A few weeks ago we moved 5 social media icons onto the homepage and the site tools on the website.

This was part of a broad effort to increase the visabilty of our social media efforts on campus. Why put effort into projects if you don’t promote them right?

I was surprised by the reaction that we got across campus in a couple of ways

  • I didn’t get much of a response just a couple of emails or verbal comments as I crossed campus
  • The emails that I did get were very negative

Adding social media to the homepage is a growing trend in higher ed. If you check out Brad Ward’s blog @bluefuego you can find a post he did in august comparing the use of social media on a homepage over the course of 6 months. Well worth your read.

Good luck as we continue to fight the good fight with social media in higher ed.


News school year = new opportunities

August 27, 2009

Like many institutions we are gearing up this week to welcome the Class of 2013. The new school year brings with it lots of new opportunities. Many schools are trying to figure out how to use social media and new technology to enhance their communications efforts. I encourage you to use the new school year as a way to try something new in your coverage of opening activities. Dive-in and give it a shot.

Are you wondering what to do with that institutional twitter account that just has your RSS feed? Tweet move in day. Use a hashtag and pull the search results to your site. Maybe some of your followers will be engaged and contribute to the hashtag with their own memories and recollections.

Are you wondering how in the world you can provide videos on your site? Go out and buy a flip video camera (they start at about $150). Go out and ask the incoming student and their parents why they chose your school? With Microsoft movie maker (which comes on our machines at my institution) you can quickly edit the video and load it right to YouTube.

Move-in day and convocation along with other opening day traditions schools have is a great opportunity to engage visitors to your website. You have a captive audience who will love to see photos, videos, and anything else you have to offer. This year make sure that you are not having a conversation with your boss after the fact about how “we’ll have to try those things next year.”


August is a good time for lunch

August 3, 2009

Over the years I have made it a habit to use the month of August to have lunch with a handful of people on campus. Usually I target the directors of the Career Development, Off-Campus studies, and the Center for Public Service. Each year these lunches have yielded at least one or two really good projects including student stories, travel blogs, or web enhancements.

Lunch on campus seems to work well because it strikes the right balance between informality and a meeting. I start by asking about what might be happening in the year ahead or what programs the person is most excited about in the coming year. Then I just sit back and take good notes.

August always works well too for a number of reasons. Most people (especially those in student affairs) are back from vacation since they are preparing for the arrival of the first year class. Additionally by august most divisions and departments have completed their goal setting and planning for the year. By August the directors of these key areas have a sense for what programs and people will have an exciting and interesting story to tell.

So since August is here my advice is pick up the phone and have lunch.


How University Vice President of Communications And Content Strategy Leadership Roles Are Likely To Change

August 1, 2009

I found a blog post that I thought was so good it was worth sharing here.

How University Vice President of Communications And Content Strategy Leadership Roles Are Likely To Change

The post by David Dalka who is presently a search engine marketing and content strategy management consultant talks about the role of the VP for Communications and what skills will be needed in the future for the position. I am interested to see what people think of his ideas. He lists a number of attributes the Vice President of the future will have at the end of the post. I thought they were all good but a few in particular popped out to me:

  • Person Will Understand How to Create Unified Content Strategy
  • Individual Should Be Passionate About Enabling Student and Alumni Personal Branding
  • Individual Has Experience Driving Change in Data Models, Technology and Process Standardization
  • Person Should Have Passion For Effective Spending and Budget Reform
  • Individual Should Desire to Make Education More Accessible To All
  • Person Should Embrace New Technology Like Mobile and Digital Signage
  • To give proper credit I originally found this post via Andrew Careaga’s blog higher ed marketing.


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