Pump up the jam or maybe just the incoming class

August 24, 2009

Last week I was spending some time getting through the hundreds of items in my Google reader. One of the posts I came across wason a blog called  The Old College Try: Marketing Higher Ed. The University of Toledo had done a video (in-house) designed to pump up the incoming students and get them excited about starting at the school.

I thought the video was really well done but did more than just pump up students. It did a really nice job of getting a group of salespeople (new students and parents) excited about the institution. What is the top question parents of new students are going to answer in their communities, at dinners, and other events back at home in September.

Where is Johnny headed to school again? How does he like it?

What better way to get a group of your best brand advocates to be excited and engaged about the institution. Well done -



5 things to tweet about this year

August 10, 2009

As our social media strategy at Gettysburg has unfolded over the last year twitter has taken on a larger and larger role. The institutional twitter account @gettysburg has over 900 followers ranging from alumni, to staff, to news agencies. I have found twitter as an excellent free way to engage people about Gettysburg College. If your institution is struggling with how to use twitter here are 5 fairly simple ideas for twitter projects over the next year that stretch across various higher ed audiences.

Follow
Follow all of your alumni, employees, and friends of the college with accounts or at the very least who are following you. As the social media voice of your institution you can now listen to the conversation about your school in this space and maybe even pick up some good retweet opportunities.

Admissions
Ask you admissions director to answer questions on the main institutional account for 2 hours one night close to the deadline to submit an application.

Campus Events
Pick a campus event, lecture, or speaker and have 2 or 3 students “live tweet” the event. Make sure they all use a hashtag so in your post event coverage you can pull a twitter search on that hashtag.

Vote
Ask your followers to vote for their favorite campus tradition. Make sure to publish the results not only on twitter but on the web, other social media sites, and your alumni magazine.

Annual Fund
Work with your development office to use twitter for a solicitation once during the year. Maybe your Senior Class gift campaign is the best place to try this approach. Make sure that you can track how many gifts and how much total money was raised from the twitter solicitation.


Interested in marketing academic departments

July 28, 2009

In Febuary on this blog I wrote a post about what makes a good academic department website. In that post I argued that

“Academics is one of the largest and most critical components of a college website. The department websites are at the center of that but it’s one of the sections that is hardest to manage at least at my institution.”

If you are interested in the topic Cognitive Marketing (@cogmark) a brand development marketing firm from Rochester NY presented on the topic at the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Workshop for Department and Division Chairs: Creative Leadership with Limited Resources in Pittsburgh, PA.

The session Attracting Entry-Level Students to the Major: The Role and Responsibility of the Department Chair, covered the recruitment marketing process, the effect of the Internet on the relationship with prospective students, the identity of the academic department, and the creation of a marketing plan for the department.

Session materials including the session handout including worksheets, and the video about the Millennial Generation’s use of Web 2.0 are available on the Cognitive blog.


April 1st – Yield season has begun where is your value?

April 1, 2009

April 1st is here and at private liberal arts colleges the admissions yield season is in full swing. Accepted students have until May 1 to make a decision and the month of April will be spent “wooing” them.

What are the things we on the web side can do to help out our institution’s enrollment efforts this year? Here are a few quick thoughts:

Feature value
At a time where the economy is uncertain parents and students will be looking for what they get for their money. Highlighting good graduation rates or retention rates as well as your career services area are critical to this effort.

Academic reputation
Students often choose the school with the best reputation. Of course you can’t change this in one month but keeping your focus on student and faculty research and academic achievement can help with this aspect during April.

Remember your brand
Strive to constantly talk about those things that really make up the core of your institution. Hopefully you have done some brand work in the last few years and can now capitalize on those key messages.


Governance where does the web sit at your school?

February 25, 2009

Over the last few years I have followed many higher ed blogs, attended many conferences, and made many professional connections. The question of

Where do you report?

always seems to come up. I have heard lots of different answers IT, Communications, Marketing, Admissions, Development, Advancement and on and on and on.

For the record my department (which is separate from Communications and Public Relations) reports to the same Vice President of Enrollment and Educational Services.

Does is really matter where you sit at the table or does your success really have a lot to do with how well you are able to collaborate? Lets face it the web touches everyone and every office. To be successful you have to please all of the people all of the time. Of course this topic could be a whole separate blog post.

What if people in web communications, web technology, web services or what ever it’s called at your school spent less time worrying and talking about where they report and more time on the key components that make a web person successful? Collaboration, innovation, strategic thinking. I have seen schools where the web reported to all the areas listed above and more and I have seen each of the scenarios successful and each of them not successful. It had little to do with where the web reported and more to do with how the job was done.


As 2008 ends 2009 begins…

December 23, 2008

It is a very quiet day here on campusl. Most of the offices have closed up for the holidays and people have gone home. Ironically enough just the online content editor and myself remain on the second floor. My email is cleaned up and the board in my office has been erased and the new 2009 projects are in place. I started to think back to the year behind 2008. I started 2008 with many projects to do and plans to fulfill. But as often happens during a year new programs started, priorities changed, and of course in case you hadn’t heard the economy tanked.

So mid way through the year our plans changed, priorities were shifted, and we adopted. I spent more time on facebook, linkedin, twitter, and other social networking sites than our edu site for the first time in my professional career this fall/winter in an effort to truly develop a social media strategy. It was fun, exciting, and really pushed me to do some of my best thinking.

As we begin 2009 I wonder what is ahead for Gettysburg and for the web. What will the climate of higher ed be in 2009 as enrollment numbers are shaky and development efforts are uncertain. Maximizing technology, content, free tools, and time will be at a premium. At Gettysburg we prepare for a major overhaul of the academic department pages, moving the catalog totally online, and moving the alumni magazine to a truly online format for at least 1 issue. Of course those are just the things we know about know. What really energizes me are the things we don’t know about and will have to adjust for mid way.

Hope you enjoy the holidays with your friends and families…see you in 2009!


You don’t need a redesign you need a web strategy (Part two)

October 23, 2008

What does a web strategy entail? A few items are essential. Identifying target and secondary audiences will be a key component. Once a strategy identifies these audiences decisions can be based on what the needs are of those specific audiences. Of course the easy answer here is that the web needs to speak to all audiences. While this is a nice, politically correct answer it will make your web manager’s job more difficult in the future. Part of developing a strategy is making tough choices.  By identifying who your website is designed for you are then able to address other audiences with strategies designed to give them the information they need.

A strategy should not just involve your public website in order for it to be successful. A careful calculation of all web tools should be done to create a comprehensive plan. A strategy needs to include e-communication tools, the college portal, e-commerce, and college related mini sites. It also needs to be developed within a collaborative environment.

Most institutions have some kind of overarching web group that “manages” or “oversees” the web.  A strategy should be developed and then implemented by a strategic team. Key players from around the institution should be included on the team and it should be led by the person with operational responsibility. The team will need to work collaboratively to meet development, enrollment, and retention needs. This strategic web group also needs to take responsibility for assessment, developing and tracking metrics, and benchmarking strategies. Assessing marketing efforts is an area where higher ed really falls down.

to be continued…


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