Colleges doing social media right

14 07 2011

Whenever I see an article about higher education and social media, my ears perk up. So, last Friday, when Jason, my husband’s cousin’s son, tweeted a link to a Mashable article about ways colleges can improve their social media presences, I was all over it.

As I’ve mentioned before, our campus has a Facebook page  and our own YouTube channel, but we haven’t plunged into Twitter yet. And, while we tried student blogs with limited success, we hope to launch a university-wide blog this academic year. (Keep that under your hat, OK? I haven’t really told anyone about that yet.)

Reading that Mashable article got me to thinking: Which colleges and universities are already doing it right? Where could I turn to get (and maybe steal) good ideas and get inspired to help bolster our social-media efforts?

Student Advisor, in conjunction with HubSpot, has published a list of the top 100 social media colleges

You won’t be surprised to learn which ones are at the top; they’re the ones you’d expect:  Harvard, Stanford, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Brown, etc.

Topping the list is Johns Hopkins, particularly for its Hopkins Insider Blog, which is presented by members of its admissions staff. Second is Harvard University, which has its own social media Twitter group called Harvard Social Media, although Harvard hasn’t tweeted since April 15.

West Virginia University, which offers a list of Facebook do’s and don’ts, is No. 46 on the list. Last on the list is Emory University, which has its Emory 360 YouTube feature. 

This video, which opens with scenes from a Transformers movie, is titled “Transformers: Is artificial intelligence dangerous without emotion?” and features an interview with Paul Root Wolpe, professor of bioethics.

After looking the list over, it’s pretty apparent that the schools showcased are much bigger and have more resources than we do. But, I won’t let that discourage me. In fact, I was hoping you could tell me what neat social media initiatives you’ve seen colleges undertake. What about your alma mater?

Tell me. I really want to know.

(Since this is my last post for my Emerging Media and the Market class — unless something incredibly newsworthy arises that I just can’t ignore — I sincerely thank each of you who has visited and offered a comment or two. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by. Izzie thanks you, too.)


Adver what?

12 07 2011

I spent the first 15 years of my career as a newspaper woman. In those days, the newsroom and the ad department were separated by this invisible — yet very noticeable — line in an effort to keep the two departments separated. After all, news is news. Ads are ads. The two should never be combined, right?

Then came the advertorial, a cross between editorial content and an advertisement. Some really look like news copy.

Did you happen to catch the word “advertisement” at the top? Makers of health-related products also use advertorials frequently.

Many folks tout the value of advertorials, saying they’re more effective because they don’t contain the puffery that often is in ads, and they’re presented as more of an educational tool.

Several people offer suggestions on how to make advertorials more effective, which include writing a good headline, having a strong opening paragraph, crafting compelling copy, using a byline, adding photos and captions, sprinkling with quotes, and opening and closing with a bang.

 I’m not the only one who feels squeamish about advertorials. T.L. Caswell, a former editor at the Los Angeles Times, last year criticized the paper for running a four-page advertorial in its paper.

This confluence of news and advertisement is also prevalent online, where they’re not always labeled as an ad but some other euphemism like InfoSites.  What makes online advertorials even more disturbing, according to Christopher Ma, executive editor and senior vice president of the, is how quickly a consumer can click from a news site to a ad-sponsored site, making it difficult to know which content is and isn’t an advertisement.   

What do you think? Are advertorials ethical even though they tend to deliberately look like editorial content? Were there any advertorials you thought were news? Tell me. I really want to know.

Top college videos and an escaping puppy

8 07 2011

One of my initial blog entries posed the question: Should universities be YouTubing? Young people are watching videos like nobody’s business, but the kinds of videos they’re watching usually don’t match with the videos universities are creating.

Enter my friend, James, who, as you may remember, occasionally sends me delightfully bizarre YouTube videos. Well, since he really is an academic at heart, he sent along a link on Wednesday from the Chronicle of Higher Education, which has compiled a list of the 10 most popular videos on YouTubeEDU for the 2010-11 academic year.

The Chronicle chose the videos based on their number of views. Topping the list with 473,289 views, was this one from the University of California at Berkeley where graduate Austin Whitney, who is paralyzed from the waist down, walked across the stage thanks to a mechanized exoskeleton the school’s engineers made from him.

Second on the list, at 351,890 views, was the commencement address Denzel Washington gave at the University of Pennsylvania.

An interesting side note: Denzel was in our town a couple of summers ago to film “Unstoppable.” Our president tried to reach out to the actor to invite him to speak at our commencement, but he was unavailable.

That list from the Chronicle makes me sigh because none of the videos on our university’s YouTube channel are on the publication’s list.  In fact, a few of our most-watched videos have only a fraction of the total views as those other videos. However, one of our most-watched videos, with 1,825 views, was created by our students to bring to life our tagline, beyond.”

But now, back to James. Just so you don’t think he’s a complete campus nerd, he also sent me this video on Wednesday, which shows what dogs do when we’re not home. (Consider it a little present for reading this far.) The other day, I caught Sophie, our Lab, in the kitchen, where we keep our Corgi puppy, Izzie, in her crate. I wonder if they are plotting the same thing.

Oh, I almost forgot. Are there any university videos you have watched and enjoyed? Tell me. I really want to know.

Mother may I?

7 07 2011

If you’re a certain age, you probably remember the game “Mother May I?”

Someone would play “Mother” and the others would stand a certain distance back. Each player would take a turn, asking Mother if he or she could move forward a certain amount in a certain way. For example, a player could ask, “Mother may I take six giant steps forward?” Mother could say yes, no, or offer an alternative. The winner was the one who reached Mother first.

Funny how in this highly technical age, in which we can communicate with others around the world using an assortment of devices that are getting ever smaller, permission still plays such a vital role.

Marketing guru Seth Godin touts the importance of permission marketing in his aptly titled book “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers.”

The idea, of course, is that people will be more receptive to marketing messages if they’ve already given permission to marketers to send them. While his idea works with traditional forms of advertising, it also applies to new forms like mobile advertising.

Researchers have discovered that mobile customers tend to have more positive attitudes toward and will have more trust in a company  if it has gotten their permission first before sending them messages on their mobile device.

Makes sense, don’t you think? It’s all about getting permissions first.

When I get emails from Amazon about book recommendations or special offers, I don’t mind because I’ve given them my email address. When Tastykake tweets about a new treat or special offer, I don’t fuss because I’m one of the tweeple (I’m not sure this is really a word,but I’m trying it out) following the company. When I see a message from Lands’ End   in my news feed, I don’t fret because I’m one of the many people who “like” the retailer’s Facebook page.

What about you? Do you find you’re more willing to accept messages when you’ve already given the advertiser the OK to send them to you?  If so, which companies have your permission? Tell me. I really want to know.

Old Spice guy, talking babies and whee-ing pig

5 07 2011

There is ample academic research that supports the idea that if, we, as consumers, have a positive attitude toward a company’s ad or  website, there is a greater chance we’ll have a positive attitude toward the brand and that we’ll buy the brand’s product.

And, of course, the converse is true. If you have a negative feeling toward an ad, you’re probably not going to like the brand or buy anything from that company.

Have you found this to be true? Here are a few examples that you’re probably seen.

Old Spice

You know the ones I mean: good looking Isaiah Mustafa, usually dressed in a towel, saying “Hello, ladies,” in that deep, sexy voice.

Did this ad boost your positive feelings about Old Spice? Did it prompt you to purchase it? It enhanced my feelings of the brand, although I have to admit that I already had positive feelings because Old Spice was the scent my dad wore when I was little.


Many of us laughed at these talking baby ads, but did they increase your positive feelings about eTrade? While I’m not prompted to invest in eTrade, it has made me view the company more positively, if for no other reason than because of the creativity of the ad.


What about this whee, whee, whee-ing pig ad from Geico? Did it affect your perception of the brand? Did it prompt you to switch insurance carriers or purchase insurance through Geico?

An interesting twist on this though, since we’ve been talking about emerging media, is how many of these “ads” you saw online instead of TV and if that affected your perception of them. After all, that Old Spice ad alone had more than 6.5 million views on YouTube, and millions more have watched the eTrade babies and  Geico’s  whee-ing  pig.

Do you have a more positive attitude toward the ad and the brand if someone you trust sends you a link to it instead of watching it on TV? I haven’t been able to find any research addressing that topic. Maybe that’s something I can do with my ample spare time.

Or you could just tell me your experiences. I really want to know.

Have you plunged into Twitter?

1 07 2011

Several months ago, I decided to dip my toe into the Twitter pond. 

Well, considering that the microblogging site has nearly 200 million registered users who post 110 million tweets a day, it’s actually more like a lake instead of a pond.

When I first signed in, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Whom to follow? Whom did I care enough about to want to know what they were doing at any given moment? But, after doing some splashing around (remember, we’re in Twitter Lake), I started to follow some marketing folks who were posting valuable insights and articles:   

We’re considering creating an account for our university, which will give us another communications channel with which to share valuable information with our followers.  Sounds like a good idea, right?

Right now I’m not so sure. While adult use of Twitter has increased significantly in just six months — from 8 percent to 13 percent — according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, that still means there are only 13 percent of online adults using it. And teens (we can them prospective students) aren’t adopting Twitter as readily.

Since the numbers indicate that our two biggest audiences aren’t splashing wildly in Twitter Lake yet, we’re just keeping an eye on it, trying to gauge the best time for the university to take the plunge.

What about you? Have you dipped your toe into Twitter Lake? Whom do you follow? How’s it working out for you? Tell me. I really want to  know.

The pope (and who else?) on Twitter

29 06 2011

Whether you knew it or not, Tuesday was a momentous day in the world of social media. That was the day the pope – yes, the pope in Rome — sent his first tweet. Don’t believe me? Well, the Vatican videotaped this historic event:

Not everyone thinks the pope’s foray into social media is a good idea. One writer for the Boston Herald thinks the idea of the pope’s sending spiritual guidance to his 40,962 followers in 140 characters or fewer is absurd. 

That got me to thinking. What other world leaders are using social media?

Well, the Dalai Lama for one, who tweets frequently to keep his 1,958,073 followers updated with inspiring tidbits like “We all have the right to lead happy lives.” He’s also on Facebook, and currently has 1,738,007 “likes.”

Several others are tweeting as well. According to The Huffington Post, 15 percent of the world’s 163 countries have representation on Twitter.  

Besides our president and vice president, other world leaders embracing social media include Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister who has 25,262 followers;  Sheikh Mohammed  bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, who has 419,565 followers; Gloria Arroyo, president of the Philippines with 3,330 followers; and Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s dictator,  who has 1,667,630 followers.

Each of these leaders is also on Facebook where Netanyahu has 139,678 likes, bin Rashid Al Maktoum has 445,512, Arroyo has 3,267, and Chavez has 41,300.

Matthias Lüfkens, associate director of media for the World Economic Forum, says Twitter has become a key tool for leaders to use to communicate directly with their electorate. Proving that point was South African president Jacob Zuma  who in January asked his constituents for ways to improve the lives of South Africans. “This is your platform, the President is listening.” A month later, he thanked everyone who sent him suggestions.

Do you follow or “like” any of these or other spirtual and world leaders? Tell me. I really want to know.