On Monday, February 25th, nearly two months into the new year, higher ed communicators finally received a sign.
EDUniverse gave us a beacon of hope in the congested, convoluted, and inefficient world of social media (mis)use, when they announced the release of Social Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students and Get Results, a collection of 25 results-oriented, higher ed case studies.
Brought to you by 17 authors, one mStoner, Inc. team, and chief editor Michael Stoner, Social Works will no doubt serve as a guidepost to those wanting to learn from higher ed institutions that implement and execute successful social media campaigns.
Even if you think you have a patented social media strategy that delivers ROI, Social Works is still for you, providing valuable insight and essential benchmarking to push your social media strategy to new levels of success.
From earned media flash mobbing to 24-hour fundraising, Social Works will be the most valuable
book manual in your 2013 social media toolkit. Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll find between the sheets:
- Florida State University: In its 36-hour Great Give Campaign conducted entirely online, the university raised $186,000 and gained many new donors. (sample chapter!)
- Johns Hopkins University: Johns Hopkins staged a “Fantasy Reunion” campaign, based on Fantasy Football, to increase giving and participation in its real reunion, increasing registration and giving.
- Rochester Institute of Technology: RIT added student videos and created a webseries to help prospective students gain a first-hand glimpse at real life on campus.
- University of Wisconsin-River Falls: UWRF made it easy for students to share their accomplishments with family and friends on Facebook and Twitter, resulting in a significant increase in authentic, target audience engagement and word-of-mouth marketing. (p.s. we’re honored that this specific case study represents our little corner of the book, thanks to Amy Luethmers @uwriverfalls !)
Social Works is a book for every campus communicator interested in how to get results with social media. Cutting to the chase, if you want to learn more about the social media challenges and ultimate successes that 25 of your peers have faced and overcome, head over to EDUniverse and order your copy of Social Works.
Social Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students and Get Results is the only book that explores how colleges and universities around the world have used social media in successful campaigns. It contains 25 case studies of campaigns from 27 institutions, written by 18 contributors, and has a lengthy chapter on how to develop a successful campaign.
Educating students and stakeholders isn’t a one-shot deal, we encourage you to promote readabout.me throughout the academic year – keep the morale and excitement high. To help you communicate the benefits of readabout.me we developed an quick FAQ’sand messaging.
- What is readabout.me?
readabout.me is a platform we use to publicize your accomplishments, like making the Dean’s list studying abroad, or landing an internship. This platform allows us to organizes all of your achievements online at readabout.me where you can claim and view your personalized stories. You can even share these positive stories with family and friends in social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
- Why are you using readabout.me?
We want you to get the recognition you deserve for your hard work, academic success, and scholarly activities. readabout.me is the best way to showcase these accomplishments and we send a copy of your story to your hometown newspapers.
- Who really cares?
Everyone really – family, friends, and particularly prospective employers. Did you know that 75% of company recruiters are required to do online research on job candidates and 70% have rejected applicants because of information they found online.
- What’s readabout.me do?
It creates a visual, institution verified, resume that showcases everything you’ve achieved from the time you enroll through graduation and all the great accomplishments in between. readabout.me helps you create a powerful professional profile and positive online identity. The best part, it doesn’t require you to do any work, we do it for you.
Most higher ed institutions let students opt-out of releasing directory information about them during the admissions process. You may want to have a quick conversation with your registrar or student records office to find out about your institution’s opt-out process or just verify with them that these students have been omitted from the spreadsheets you use. If a student slips through the privacy net, here’s what you should do:
- Don’t panic! The information contained in your Achievements, like First Name, Last Name, and Hometown, does not conflict with FERPA and is considered “Directory Information.”
- A student can remove their profile and achievements immediately after claiming it on readabout.me. They’ll see an “Opt Out” link while logged into their profile.
- If a student doesn’t want to claim their profile but would like to opt-out, they should use the “Contact Us” link on readabout.me. Additionally, you can email the student’s request to our firstname.lastname@example.org address, and we’ll opt them out for you.
- Use your delivery report to follow up with the media their achievements were sent to. Your delivery report will contain the phone numbers and email addresses of the newspapers their story reached. Drop them a quick line and ask them to omit the student’s name.
Once a student opts out, our platform will never send another achievement notification about them again… Even if they accidentally make their way back onto one of your spreadsheets.
Feedback from readMedia users is critical to client success. Our symbiotic partnership with over 450 higher ed institutions helps us define new best practices and drives our technology roadmap.
readMedia users are strategic, results-driven, and creative; we continue to learn from your success and we want to share your wisdom with the readMedia community.
You can find examples of how schools are promoting readabout.me on campus in our online guide, but we cherry-picked some great readabout.me marketing tactics; giving you an opportunity to learn from and model your peers. These brilliant ideas for educating students will jump-start the student engagement process, increase sharing in social networks, and help you leverage your students’ success into powerful brand communications.
Giving students an incentive
St. Louis College of Pharmacy placed banners around campus encouraging students to share their achievements for a chance to win a $50 iTunes gift card.
Create a video
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette positioned readabout.me as a new student recognition program. UL Lafayette’s custom badges reinforce the university’s brand and they’re awesome looking too!
University of Wisconsin-River Falls created an informative, how it works, video.
Use your PR skills to land a placement in the student paper
Many colleges have had success with getting their student newspaper to run a feature on readabout.me. Students trust students, and student news is a reliable source of information that draws a strong student readership.
Saginaw Valley State University, “University goes online with academic profiles.”
Using social media to inform students
University of Delaware
One more from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a Facebook promo that received 213 likes, 4 additional shares, and 15 thoughtful comments!
Our clients’ readabout.me marketing inspired us and hopefully it inspired you. We are thinking about holding an end of year, best of, contest, where readMedia users submit their best readabout.me marketing strategies, creative badge designs, interesting stories, social media engagement, and more – for great prizes. This is still just an idea, but we’ll keep you posted.
Just about a month ago, Danielle and I, and about 250 higher ed communication heroes made their way to the palatial Fairmont Hotel in D.C., for what turned out to be, according to participants, CMC’s most interactive and engaging conference yet!
If you didn’t get a chance to make the pre-conference program, “Crafting Your Digital Strategy: Social Media and Beyond,” oh man, you missed a series of sessions that were worth their weight in gold. The pre-conference speakers did a fantastic job of presenting concepts and strategies that you could take back to your institution and apply immediately.
I was able to attend three out of four concurrent sessions, here are the actionable highlights from session speakers:
Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Brain Traffic, she’s a self-proclaimed “content therapist,” that recommended institutions to create a sustainable infrastructure to support your content strategy.
Melanie Moran, associate director of Vanderbilt University’s office of news and communications, tackled the challenges of having tons of content in a de-centralized environment, sound familiar? Her solution, “Create multiple doors to the same repository of content.”
Tom Evelyn, vice president for communications at St. Lawrence University & Mount Mercy University’s, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Marketing, Fritz McDonald, dialed down the formality with a conversation style session, but turned up the heat by asking folks if they’ve experienced the “social media revolution on their campus.” Some words of wisdom from Tom and Fritz: 1) strategy should drive choices, 2) condense your media channels, 3) kill the Pinterest buzz, and 4) try new ways of pitching stories, e.g., tweet-a-pitch to the media.
Michael Stoner, president of mStoner, gave a pointed word to the wise, “…the web is about content, not color.”
CMC 2012 Tag Team Champions, Mike Petroff, digital content strategist at Harvard University and Executive Creative Director at North Carolina State University, Tim Jones, did a deep-dive, case study-style, and here are some takeaways:
- If you get one thing out of this session, it would be to look into using Storify!
- Create relationships with current students; let them be your brand champions.
- Messaging architecture that takes your institution’s name out of the headline will get you more attention!
- Tim Jones gave social media a little jab when he said, “I’ll take a placement over a +1 any day.”
- Communication isn’t about communicating; it’s about influencing outcomes.
- This is a link to their awesome presentation!
Some trend alerts from Wednesday’s pre-conference include: condense, refine, and distill your social media channels and web pages, include photos in your communications, they rank high & get picked up, create a goal oriented strategy to drive any communications initiatives, and try to always think of ways to repurpose content.
Danielle and I interviewed session speakers and attendees, gathering their thoughts on this year’s conference. The videos below cover participants opinions on session tracks and we even got some great advice from session speakers, like David Jarmul, assistant vice president for News and Communications at Duke and Melanie Moran, associate director of university news and communications, that we want to share with you.
Session speakers on blending traditional PR and social media
Participants talk about their favorite sessions
That pretty much sums it up; we can’t wait to see everyone next year!
P.S. Check back with this post on Monday afternoon, I’m adding a video interview of Laura Wilcox, director of CMC, as she shares with us what to expect in from CMC in 2013.
You’re the center of communication for your institution. The University employs you to create connections with the academic community and all of its stakeholders, and you’re successful in doing so. You have a communications strategy in place, you engage the community, and you present a consistent message at all points of contact. You rock!
So, why is it so damn hard to communicate with departments within your institution?
We understand that it can be hard to communicate with other departments. For this reason, we’re revamping our readMedia guide, and the new resource/help center will have a section dedicated to outreach and onboarding departments. In the meantime, I will give you what we have, some best practices to help you create relationships between departments, so you can get the information you need to crank out institution branded content.
- Create an Achievement Calendar. Once you’ve done this, you can identify the departments you need to contact to get the student information for a particular story or achievement. We just published an article that talks about creating an Achievement Calendar.
- Once you have identified the achievements you’ll be sending and the departments you need to reach out to, you can do to things. 1) Create an email to let other offices and departments know what readMedia is, how you plan to use it, and what you need from them and why. 2) Create a mini presentation and get members of a single office or department together to meet and discuss why publishing student achievements is beneficial to their departments and supports the institutions strategic plan and mission.
- Provide each department with a spreadsheet that includes the column headings necessary to create and post their students’ stories. Here is an example of what to ask departments to include in your spreadsheet.
We understand that departments do not always have easy access to student information; here are some suggestions:
- You can always ask for a master list of all students from your institution’s registrar office. A master list will allow you to create smaller spreadsheets for activities and achievements outside of graduation and dean’s list.
- Finally, seek out your “student database guru,” they can create a readMedia query (directory information on), enabling you to pull student information as needed. An example of when this would come in handy, when your study abroad coordinator sends you a spreadsheet half populated, you can refer to the master list to fill in the blanks.
If the suggestions outlined above still don’t produce fruit, call us, we’ll help you create a strategy and assist you in reaching these departments.
There are three very specific reasons for why over 400 colleges and universities chose readMedia:
- To create and distribute hometown media outlets
- Publish stories about each students’ unique achievements online at readabout.me
- Email students a link to their personal online stories that they can easily share with their social network
This article focuses on reason number three. readMedia gives you the extraordinary ability to create personalized stories of achievement that are emailed to every student and a general story that segments your student spreadsheet and sends the news to the appropriate hometown newspapers, in one fell swoop!
In order to get your students to claim their stories and share them with hundreds of friends and family members, you have to make sure their story includes more content about them and less content about your university.
Tip No. 1: Make sure the story itself includes more content about the student, department, and achievement, as opposed to three boilerplate paragraphs about your institution and one line about the student. Our online guide gives you access to over 40 single and multiple templates; feel free to view, download, and copy.
Tip No. 2: When creating your Single Format template, remember to include the student’s first name and last name in the headline. Our online guide walks you through the entire process of creating a headline for your Single Format template.
Research confirms students will share stories with their name in the headline and first paragraph at a much higher rate than stories that make a reader wade through the minutia. If you still need evidence to support these claims, check out this post featuring an article by TechCrunch guest writer Roger Warner.
Leaving the K-12ers out of this, higher education institutions work all year-long, and no, they don’t get out at 3 o’clock either. In fact, with all of the writing, media monitoring, event planning and attending, crisis communications, and addressing breaking news, many college and university communicators work well over 40 hours per week.
Admittedly, summertime tends to be less eventful, but thoughtful experimentation and strategic planning have campus communicators plugging away. To support this humble opinion, I quickly Googled, “Higher ed gets summer off,” and surprise, surprise, I came across a number of recent articles that address the old platitudes:
- Dr. Ray Pastore, blogs about teaching, researching, and preparing this summer.
- Kristine M. Khire, identifies the stereotypes and misconceptions about higher ed PR in a PRSA article.
- Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason, braces herself whenever someone asks her what she does for a living. Her recent blog post addresses what she does each summer, and provides a laundry list of summertime faculty development opportunities for schools on a budget.
What all three authors have in common, they use the summer interval to improve what they do, so they can make higher education better! While I wish I could shield the cogs of higher ed from these stereotypes, I come armed with only two tools, 1) this newsletter and 2) this blog.
Our June newsletter is dedicated to all the summer time workers in higher ed; may you continue to take this time to make higher ed better for your institution and its stakeholders, and may we have the privilege of giving you the resources you need to succeed.
My boss shot me a link to this great article by TechCrunch guest writer Roger Warner, titled “Social Media Gurus Push Conversations Over Kudos, And Fail.”
In his post, Warner writes about the proper and improper use of corporate social media marketing to engage audiences. Warner’s tidings can be applied to any industry, and certainly to higher education.
If I had to delineate and apply Warner’s wisdom to a higher-ed institutional marketing and brand communications plan, it would boil down to these key Do’s and Don’ts:
Social Media Marketing Do’s
- Give students a stage to tell and share their story
- Use social media to create conversations between people (not with your brand)
- Create stories to share by giving students great content and experiences that make them the hero, i.e., smarter, cooler, motivated, and generous
Social Media Marketing Don’ts
- Create social media experiments that simply invite people to participate
- Use everyday college-based information to promote discussion, i.e. brand to fan conversations
- Enhance your institution’s brand over your students personal brand
In the end, we all want the same thing: schools want students to increase performance, graduate, get a job, and give back; students want to have their achievements recognized, publicized, and shared; and, campus communications and public relations offices want to share their students’ achievements, bring big attention to their institution, and create a brand that represents the ultimate academic community. Let’s not forget, parents. Parents want, well…they want it all: school reputation, child’s success, and the proper recognition of their child’s achievements.
At readMedia, we see the big picture and our readMedia application allows you to successfully create social media content, based on the activities and achievements of your students.
Stop wasting time trying to engage your academic community and let it happen naturally by showcasing your stakeholder’s Achievements. Getting them noticed, will get you noticed.
It’s that time of year again; time to celebrate Graduation and recognize your students for everything they have achieved.
If you’re a readMedia client and you haven’t sent out your first badge, now it the time! All readMedia clients have the ability to publish and email a personalized achievement for every Graduation candidate. Each student’s tailored achievement comes with a super cool badge that they can easily share on Facebook, Twitter, or any social media network. These achievements and badges can be created, emailed, and posted online with very little effort.
Our Best Practices post gives you tips, benefits, and useful how-to guides for:
- Adding distinctions or “Honors” to your Commencement template
- Dressing up your Commencement story
- Preparing back-to-back Achievements
- Including Mom and Dad
Additionally, we encourage any client looking for a basic overview on how to send an Achievement to register for our 30 minute “readMedia Refresher.” The webinar will cover:
- importing a spreadsheet,
- composing a template,
- sending your Achievement (to every student, parent, and hometown newspaper), and
- viewing your Report, Web Statistics, and tracking traffic and social media shares.
If you need inspiration, take a gander at this impressive selection of past and present Graduation announcements:
- Eastern Connecticut State University >>
- Armstrong Atlantic State University >>
- Ashland University >>
- Herkimer County Community College >>
In closing, we’re of the philosophy, “It’s better to have and not need, than want and not have.” So, we’ve compiled a list of popular links that will ensure you have what you need to succeed.
- Editorial Checklist >>
- Learn from peer institutions >>
- Training and videos >>
- readMedia Guide >>
- readabout.me Guide >>
If we’ve missed anything or you’re just plain overwhelmed, contact us, we live for helping you – and we’re not being facetious. On the flip-side, feel free to reach out and let us know how much you love readMedia.
- The readMedia Team
So you wanna add a power-packed punch to your Commencement Achievement? Well, you’ve come to the right blog. Thanks to the readMedia editorial team, this article showcases at least four ways to amp up your brand presence while creating meaningful connections with your students, parents, and the media. Let’s get right to it.
“Honor” your students! Add an “Honors Placeholder” to your readMedia templates and you will automatically showcase your student’s unique scholastic achievements. Take these steps to add your graduating students’ Latin honors:
- Include a column for “Honors” in your graduation spreadsheet. Some of the cells in this column will be blank – no problem – not everyone graduates cum laude, magna cum, or summa cum laude.
- When you create your template, just add a placeholder for the Latin honors after the word ‘graduated’ in your title and body. Your text could look something like this: “(First Name) (Last Name) of (City) graduated (Honors) from readMedia University.”
- Click “Send Hometowner” and begin mapping your placeholder values, a pop-up will alert you that some of the records in your spreadsheet do not have values in this column. This is normal because, as we mentioned earlier, not everyone will have graduated with honors.
- Depending upon whether or not John Smith earned academic honors, your final Achievements will look like this: “John Smith of Albany graduated from readMedia University” or “John Smith of Albany graduated magna cum laude from readMedia University.”
Tip: If your list of graduates comes without honors, reach out to the source of your list, perhaps the Registrar’s Office or Dean, for a spreadsheet with honors included.
For more information on adding “Honors” to your templates, visit our readMedia Guide. As always, if you ever have template probs, don’t hesitate to reach out to the readMedia team at email@example.com or call 1-800-552-2194.
Make Your Commencement Achievement Pop
A Commencement announcement can be an online experience, simply add hyperlinks to the body of your template. Adding hyperlinks dresses up your Achievement and presents a strategic opportunity to drive traffic to your institution’s website, YouTube channel, or a collection of images on Flickr.
Armstrong Atlantic State University provides a great example of how institutions are leveraging the readMedia platform for Graduation. They’ve added a link to the official 2011 Winter Commencement release from their readMedia Graduation Achievement, and they added a link to their institution’s website too.
It’s your job to make sure this easy opportunity doesn’t slip through the cracks. Here are some ideas to get you started: add a picture of the Processional, welcome by the Dean, President’s remarks, the Commencement Speaker, or a shot of the celebratory hat toss, which by-the-way, was a tradition that began with the United States Naval Academy’s Class of 1912.
You aren’t limited to linking to individual images, provide a link to your YouTube page, where a reader can view the Commencement Address or add a link to your institution’s official Flickr photostream, and chances are, if they look at one collection, they will take the time to look at more.
By taking advantage of this capability, you can transform the standard Commencement announcement into a dynamic story that people want to read and more importantly, want to share!
Quick Reminder: Don’t forget, the media you attach to your story will be added to every instance of your announcement, i.e., every student on your spreadsheet will get that image attached to their personalized story. So, try to stay away from individual pictures of students and keep the attachments broadly appealing.
Getting the most out of readMedia (before Summer) by distributing back-to-back stories. Utilize the power of proximity to make your job easy. Forecast academic events and announcements, such as Graduation and Dean List, and get your templates ready ahead of time so when your lists come in, you are one step away from distributing your announcement to thousands.
readMedia first timers, set-up your templates for Commencement and the Dean’s List; expert readMedia users, simply choose a saved template, but make sure you change any time-bound information.
For more ways to piggyback announcements and construct a communications strategy for the year, visit our Achievement Calendar. There, you will discover over 35 Achievements and Activities that you and your students can promote throughout the year. Better still, we have made the process of creating content even easier by including a sample Single and Multiple template for each Achievement in the readMedia Guide. Feel free to download, copy and paste, and customize each template along the way.
Don’t Forget Mom and Dad
Here’s a quick and easy tip for making Mom and Dad feel a part of the celebration. When collecting your Graduation list for the Commencement announcement, include another column in your spreadsheet with a list of parent emails.
Including parents benefits your school in three ways:
- Parents get an institution branded announcement with their child’s personalized Achievement that they can easily share with their family and friends through email, Facebook, Twitter, or any number of social media networks.
- Your institution provides evidence to parents that you go the extra mile to personally recognize their child, making the parent feel proud of their child and more importantly, proud of their investment in your institution.
- Finally, think about the brand opportunity. One institution’s Graduation Achievement generated 15,055 page views and 1,213 shares on social networks like Facebook.
Q: How do I obtain the parents email address?
A: Try contacting the Parent Communications Department at your school. If you don’t have a parent communications office, contact the person that oversees parent and family involvement.
For more information on adding multiple emails, visit our readMedia Guide.