Join us at the CCCU Chief Enrollment Officers Conference

Join Nathan Alexander, our Senior Marketing Consultant and Director of Christian College Marketing, at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities' 2013 Chief Enrollment Officers Conference, January 3-5.

This year re-tool for success. As we kickoff 2013, updating your multi-channel marketing, college branding, and enrollment management becomes imperative.

Come see a sample of our new Digital Viewbook - the new way to reach students and parents online. Also, be sure to grab your USB drive with a copy of our groundbreaking research, How does your school rank on Facebook?.

Understanding your Social Snapshot

Social Snapshots serve as a baseline to help you establish a standing among peer institutions and measure any goals your institution has already agreed to. What?! Don't have one? Click here to order your own.

Keep in mind that this snapshot only provides information about one piece of the puzzle - Facebook. When you run an audit of your social media presence, you’ll want to take other tactics into account - Twitter or Pinterest, for example. You'll also want to take a look at your internal processes and procedures.

We've created a 7-Step Action Plan to grow and improve your social strategy through measuring performance.

  1.        Analyze what you have
  2.        Develop realistic goals
  3.        Develop strategy based on audience
  4.        Build audience
  5.        Test/refine content
  6.        Survey matriculants
  7.        Iterate

In today's post we are going to focus on step one, analyze what you have. Looking at your Social Snapshot (order one here, they're free so no excuses) we will introduce you to the key metrics as well as the story they are telling. Additionally we will reference ways to fix or improve what you have based on our industry-wide study on Facebook. Download the full report in this previous post.

Social Snapshot Key Metrics

While each metric will tell you more about the performance of your page, the first three you want to hone in on are Fans, Engagement per Fan, and Active Fan %, boxed in red above. The chart below is a guide based on enrollment size.

Social Snapshot ChartNow, let's look more in-depth on what these metrics really tell us.

Fans

Ultimately this is a measure of Reach, how many people have the potential to interact with your Facebook communications. If you find you are falling short in this area make sure you are integrating Facebook communications with your entire campaign, on- and off-line. Changing your content and frequency of posting can also enhance your Reach, but you must look at other metrics to determine how this change should take place.

Engagement per Fan

One of the most discussed metrics in our industry, but the calculation varies somewhat depending on the source. Here we are looking at the number of comments, likes, comment likes, and wall posts divided by the Fan count of the page. Simply put this is the average number of times a Fan interacts with your page in a year. In order to improve this you must produce content your audience will react to. Look at what posts are getting the most responses and adjust your content strategy around them. Also asking questions or specifically asking for a response can increase a post's engagement.

Active Fan %

Personally I find this to be one of the most telling social metrics in our industry, however it is widely underused. This tells us how many of your Fans have interacted with your page over the past year. It varies slightly depending on your school's size, but most institutions should be getting about a third of their audience to interact with them. In order to make the best strategic changes, you must also look at the demographic makeup of your Facebook page as well as the overall character and personality of your school.

I often see institutions with a very high Engagement per Fan and a low Active Fan %. This means the page has a relatively small number of people interacting a lot. Usually this happens when the strategist finds a topic that gets a high response and stays inside that topic without expanding to topics other audience members would respond to. While it is important to maintain a high engagement, a social strategy must account for the entire audience they are reaching. Just as a diverse campus builds a strong institution a diverse Fan page creates a healthy and well-rounded experience.

Look for my next post to learn more! Also, please sign-up for our newsfeed in order to receive more information on Social Media and Higher Education Marketing.

Incorporating Social Media With Your Campus Tour

In our last post, we talked about utilizing QR codes to create a self-guided campus tour. Not ready to make that leap into the QR realm? Here is a stopgap measure that might be a less expensive and more immediate way to turn any visitor carrying a smartphone into his/her own tour guide!

Many social media outlets now incorporate geo-tagging into their applications. Don’t let the term sound fancier than it is. Geo-tagging is the ability to use a smartphone’s GPS feature to help attach the user’s location to a post on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter.

This is a perfect new tool for your enrollment marketing toolbox.  There is one popular geo-tagging app that is encouraging businesses to utilize it for the purpose of promoting their locations or products: Foursquare. This is the app we will focus on for the purpose of creating a social media-driven campus tour.

The Set-up:

  1. Log onto Foursquare and claim your campus. Chances are there are multiple entries out there already. The one you claim will be the one you can edit and access analytics about.
  2. Take it beyond macro. Claim every building on campus. This may not be ideal for a vertical urban campus, but should be relatively easy for any campus with multiple buildings spread slightly apart.
  3. Create content for each location you’ve claimed. This is not your college website. Foursquare is a social media and geo-tag driven game. Remember to keep the content light. You can add links to drive students to your own website to add depth.
  4. Encourage your tour guides to use it immediately. Your tour guides or ambassadors are current students with credibility in the eyes of prospects. Encourage them to check-in often and to post honest, yet positive thoughts on their experiences in each building.
  5. Assign someone to monitor the comments on the locations. Foursquare can be a conversation generator. You want to know what’s being said about the different locations. This can be done by an Admission Counselor, a student intern, a tour guide, etc.

The Advantages:

  1. It’s free. At the moment, Foursquare is not charging businesses for the ability to claim their venue, edit the content there or access web analytics.
  2. It’s easy. Almost anyone can get the ball rolling, you don’t necessarily need someone from IT. As a matter of fact, this might be a great project for your new hires or your new tour guides. Have them do some research on each building and then put together your brief copy for each venue. They will get more familiar with campus as they put together their first big project for you!
  3. It’s fun. Foursquare is a game. Users are encouraged to check-in often, comment, etc.
  4. It’s social. Foursquare ties into social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. By checking in on your campus, not only are your visitors learning more about you, they are telling all of their friends about it simultaneously! This takes word-of-mouth to a whole new level.

Engaging someone in conversation doesn’t mean walking up to them and shaking their hand anymore. Conversations occur when you are not even there. If you are not ready to engage visitors to your campus at any moment, you risk losing potential students.

Mark Twain once said, “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” Self-guided tours of your campus powered by either QR technology, Foursquare or both can help ensure that you never miss the opportunity to engage a campus visitor again.

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How to Integrate Social Media into Direct Marketing Search Campaigns

I often find that clients must explain the importance of social media to their internal partners. In particular, they must show why they need resources for monitoring and maintaining conversations. Based off my interactions with several clients, I developed what I call The Rule of Nine.

This is a grid that shows social media interaction, measures online and offline conversations, and builds a feedback loop into the search process.

Rule on Nine

Ultimately your goal is to demonstrate whether or not increased communication with students will improve the likelihood of them attending your institution.  Developing a feedback loop creates valuable numbers you can use to improve the overall enrollment experience students have at each phase of the cycle.

Columns

Imagine a tic-tac-toe board, a 3 x 3 square. Each vertical column represents a phase of the enrollment process.

The first column represents awareness. This is either the time before a student knows you, or the student knows something about you but is unsure about everything you have to offer.

The second column represents inquiry through application phases. This includes every step from the moment a student recognizes what you have to offer and makes some inquiry until submitting an application package.

The third column represents acceptance through the first day of class. This is the highly important yield phase.

Rows

The first horizontal row represents traditional channels. This is what we are used to with e-mail, direct mail, advertising and online media buys. It also includes outbound and inbound phone conversations.

The second row represents social channels. At the awareness phase these outreach projects work with online influencers to become a part of the lateral communication that occurs between students and other influencers.

The third row represents monitoring and metrics that occur while we engage in traditional and social campaigns. This includes mentions, engagement between advisers and students, and among students themselves as they enter the yield phase and move into their first day of class.

Goals

Each column is associated with some goal. In the first phase the goal is to increase awareness and share-of-voice in the marketplace. We can also monitor sentiment.

As we move into the inquiry through application phase you want to see the number and quality of conversations students are have with counselors and advisers. Obviously the goal is to increase and improve the quality of communication at this phase.

During the final phase of the process you want to measure conversations that students are having with each other. It’s pretty well known that intrusion by faculty staff or some authority figure tends to disrupt the natural flow of communication students have at this phase. Our goal is not to interfere, but measure the number and quality of conversations in order to predict an increase in number of students that make it to the first dayof class.

By drawing this grid out to potential skeptics you can explain the importance of social media and how it interacts with traditional search processes. I look forward to hearing about your successes.

Talmadge Boyd

5 Advantages To Using QR Codes On Campus Tours

Uh, oh. We’re using techy acronyms. That sounds intimidating and expensive, right? Honestly, it doesn’t need to be either. QR code technology has come a long way over the past few years both in terms of user-friendliness on the creator’s side and availability of use on the consumer side.  It is quickly also becoming a standard tool for enrollment marketing in higher education.

Ok, so what is a QR code? If the name doesn’t ring an immediate bell, I think I can safely say that you are familiar with them, even if you didn’t know what to call them. You know those square, typically black-and-white bar codes you see on billboards, posters and other advertisements?

Those are quick response (QR) codes. Each is unique and links the scanner’s mobile-phone to some form of content residing on the internet. This might be a landing page, video, picture or some other item. Let’s talk about how these funny looking little boxes can help you engage campus visitors more effectively.

The Set-up:

  1. Set up a unique QR code for each building on campus and incorporate into signage at the entrance to each building.
  2. Establish a brief mobile-enhanced landing page for each building on campus.
  3. Update the landing pages annually to ensure all information is up to date.

The Advantages:

  1. Accessibility. Anytime someone visits campus, they can show themselves around and learn more about your institution. 24/7/365. No more missing opportunities.
  2. Self-contained and institutionally controlled. You create the landing sites which can be as simple or complex as you wish. All of the content is yours. You don’t need to worry about commentary, ratings, etc. unless you want to add a social component to them.
  3. Training. The self-guided tour becomes a training tool for your campus ambassadors and tour guides. They can scan the codes, review the content and refresh their patter at any time.
  4. Assists on-campus populations. No more brand new freshmen checking their schedules nervously to see if they are in the right place. Your new students will walk around like they own the place from day one.
  5. Consensus building. Solicit input from faculty who teach in the buildings, students who take classes there, etc. Incorporating short videos make the sites more personal, build campus-wide support for the project and give visitors information straight from the horse’s mouth. Involvement breeds support.

If you’re still a little intimidated by QR codes, there is another way to allow visitors to explore your campus in a more interactive and engaged way using their smartphones. In our next blog entry, we’ll explore one way to use social media to bring your campus to life.

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