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?


Snow people and social media

February 19, 2010

Last week at the CASE district II conference I wrote a note to myself in one of the sessions about social media. I commented that people in the session seemed to think figuring this social media “thing” out was so hard. I had an experience this past week that makes it seem easy and just about connecting people.

You may have heard that we got a bit of snow here in the Mid-Atlantic region. A few of our alumni staff members built some snowmen outside of the main administration building and dressed them up in Gettysburg gear, and sent us a picture. (below) The online content editor used it as a photo of the day (http://www.gettysburg.edu/news_events/photo_archive.dot) and we posted the link to our Facebook Fan page. It took all of maybe 10 total minutes total to execute. What were the results?

14 likes and 2 positive comments on Facebook

The page on our photo of the day site that we linked to got close to 400 unique views (which is more than our average news story)

Social Media is all about connection. Connect people to what they remember, love, want to see about your school and you probably can’t go wrong until the sun comes out and melts your snowmen away…


Connecting social media to strategic communications

March 5, 2009

Charlie Melichar who is the VP for Communications at Colgate wrote a blog post the other day that got me thinking. He titled it Social media sustainability and starts to ask some good questions about how you sustain a really good social media program. How do you incorporate that program into an overall strategic communication plan?

For many people just getting up a Facebook page or loading some videos to YouTube might be enough. Your Vice President may not interested in social media and that’s ok because you don’t have the time or the staff for it. I would make an argument to that group that you are really missing opportunities.

But for those of us that have truly invested time, staff, resources into social media Charlie asks some really great questions. How do sustain the program past a student intern or staff members with an interest? I think there is another blog post on that topic but I am interested if people have opionions on the topic? Thoughts, comments, suggestions…


New baby 2.0

February 19, 2009

Last night at 6:31 pm I became a dad for the second time. 

Of course that’s big news for the Redfern family but not necessarily interesting for readers of this blog looking for some type of higher ed web insight.  (Read on the next section is how I tie it back together.)

I was actually quite amazed at how people found out about Kaitlyn. Of course I made some phone calls to my wife’s parents, my parents, and brothers. But that was all I had time for so I posted the news on Twitter which also updates my facebook status. Within minutes hundreds of people from cousins to high school buddies had access to the news. The comments and congratulations started to roll in. I was amazed at how fast the news spread.

My Aunt didn’t hear the news with a phone call from her sister but rather from one of her children (my cousin) who saw it on Facebook. How amazing. I didn’t have to wait and send out an email almost certainly forgetting one or more friends. I could post updates and pictures throughout the evening and the rest of the week.

Clearly I had great content of high interest to my audience. Those two things put together and delivered via social networks made for a fun evening.


Rolling out a new president

February 8, 2009

Over the course of the last week I have been “heads down” as I like to say in a project. I ignored twitter, articles piled up in my Google reader, and some of my on campus constituents heard “we’ll get to that next week”.

Last week I had an opportunity that doesn’t come around every year for a marketing professional in higher education. On Friday Gettysburg College trustees unanimously named Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 our 14th president. It was one of the most interesting and quite frankly fun professional experiences of my career.

Since Dr. Riggs had been presented to campus the week before as a sole finalist we had a about a week to prepare for the announcement roll out but we wanted to think outside the box and incorporate our Web 2.0 and Social Media strategy. We had a detailed plan for the week with assignments so everything was all set to go come Friday morning and all we had to do was push the buttons. (It never quite works out as you plan but Friday was pretty close)

Shortly after the board voted the announcement was made in the following ways:

  • News release posted on website (also pushed to RSS feed and twitter account) Included within the news release was a short video (also posted to YouTube) of  Dr. Riggs which outlined her vision for Gettysburg’s future as well as a flicker photo gallery. Since she graduated from Gettysburg we were able to find historical shots from her yearbooks.
  • Large flash banner on the college homepage changed to reflect the announcement
  • On-campus email
  • Alumni and parent email
  • Text message to those who had signed up
  • Facebook update to fans as well as the fan page photo was updated to reflect the announcement
  • Gettysburg College Linkedin group had the news release posted

We attempted to keep things current throughout the day as well.

  • By around 3:00 pm we had posted a video interview with the chair of the search committee that was done that morning around 7:30 am.
  • We also posted to our flicker photo gallery photos from the different campus events and receptions throughout the day
  • The President’s website was completely updated by the end of the day.

Since we had enabled comments on our news releases in November and sent an update to fans on Facebook we have had quite a response to the announcement. We have received over 30 comments from alumni, parents, and friends on the news story and an additional 5 or 6 posts on the fan page.

As I said at the top of this post this experience the most interesting of my career. How did we do? Could we have taken advantage of Web 2.0 and Social Media tools in different ways? Could we have engaged our audiences better?

Let me know.


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