Should You Pay Attention to Peach?

peach logo

It’s gotten a generous amount of buzz over the last couple weeks across the interwebs, but what is this new messaging app that is apparently the next best thing? Peach. Cute name, basic interface and functionality. Seems simple enough, but you’re probably either rolling your eyes right now or shuddering at the thought of having to add another platform to your workload. “Chandler, do I really have to pay attention to this one?” The short answer is maybe, but read on to find out more. You could end up a full lap ahead of your competition in the higher ed world.

In a nutshell, Peach is a messaging app. Think along the lines of the seemingly millions of them out there. Yes, there’s yet another one trying to make a splash. It allows users to send simple messages to their friends who they add on the platform. Send text, pictures, and GIFs to your friends quickly on a clean interface. There isn’t a main stream on Peach like there is on Facebook or Twitter, so you won’t be inundated with posts you don’t want to see. It gives it a more intimate feel.

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There are three central sections – friends you follow, friends of friends, and your profile where you can see all of the posts you’ve sent. Your friends can see, comment and like your posts, just like on the other major platforms.

What’s different about Peach, and what it has to be banking on for its success, is its Magic Words feature. Whenever you type “GIF” for example, it will allow you to automatically search for and post a GIF. The intriguing part of the feature is that while there are plenty of commands that are well-known (draw, shout, move, etc), there are plenty left to be discovered.

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As it is, it’s hard for me to see a direct translation to the world of higher ed. Not sure there will be enough students willing to become friends with you to make it worth your while, but that was also the case with Snapchat. Peach says it “reads every review to make Peach better for you.” If it can stay around long enough to evolve and not become another casualty in the failed app cemetery (RIP, Meerkat), it very well could be an app you don’t want to ignore.

Best Practices: Instagram Ads for Higher Education

After a rollout period as slow as Christmas, Instagram finally made its ad platform generally available.

Using the Facebook Power Editor, colleges and universities can use Instagram to promote clicks to your websites or landing pages with images or videos.

In our experiments with Instagram, we’ve taken some of our best practices from our social media and banner advertising campaigns and applied them to this new channel. We’re seeing that Instagram has been performing well in terms of click through rates – 2 -3% on average.

Best Practices for Higher Education Instagram Ads

Campaign Integration

As the name implies, these are ads. As such they should be consistent in tone and design with your other marketing campaigns. Even though Instagram is technically a social media  channel you are still using an ad that needs to conform to your brand and message – and contribute to your goals.

Use Email Lists for Remarketing

Speaking of campaign integration, get more out of your student search lists and your house lists by creating an audience segment with emails. Not all of your emails will find a match in Facebook, but the ones that do will be served ads that will help increase awareness and keep your school top of mind.

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Be Simple With Your Design

Instagram (and Facebook) require that no more than 20% of your image is covered by copy. This prevents you from using infographics or a large typeset design.  If you are going to add text to your image, keep it small and have a clear call to action such as “Apply Now” or “Come See Campus!”  Facebook provides a grid tool to verify that you are within its specs.

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Don’t Forget Your Logo

Even though you need to keep your image clutter-free, don’t forget to put your logo in the shot. Without the logo, it could look like just another image.  Depending on your brand and campaign guidelines, building recognition with a consistent look and feel.  Also, if you are going to show students, try to include them showing off their school colors.

Be Interesting

When our designers are looking for an Instagram image, they want it to be interesting. We like to find pictures that are dynamic, show action or even drama. Athletic shots or excited students in the stands tend to catch the eye more. Remember, you are interrupting someone’s social media experience. Use that opportunity to make an impression.

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Always Be Testing

When advertising in Instagram and Facebook, we create at least two different ads to see how they perform against a particular segment. We’ll create one with just an image, one with a CTA button. This way we can save a results database and make sure that we are always improving.

What have you found that works with your Instagram advertising. Tell us about it in the comments!

6 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your Next Campaign

Trying to increase enrollment? Of course you are!

Social media can help you do just that and it’s a tool that every institution should include in its digital marketing arsenal.

But how are you supposed to get the most out of it?

You want to connect with your audience where they are. Over 84% of your high school prospects are on social, and 71% of them are active on multiple social platforms. Over three-quarters are highly active on their phones, as they send an average of 30 text messages per day. If that’s not enough, Facebook is now the most popular mobile app in America.

Ok so if your students are all online, does this mean print is dead? Well, not quite. While digital is playing an exponentially larger role, it just means the landscape is changing. And as marketers, we need to adapt or get left behind.

On the groundswell of mobile and social media usage, we need to take a 360 degree view of the print and digital experience. Teens switch between both digital and physical worlds easily. Institutions of higher learning, in turn, must think from the social handset up, and provide a stellar real world experience.

Here are some of the benefits of social and how you can integrate it into your next campaign to help supercharge your results.

Response Speed

There are plenty of steps in the recruitment funnel, and throughout the process, students have plenty of questions. The quicker you can respond, the longer you can keep them engaged, and social allows you to do this immediately.

Keeping a sense of humor and honesty about everything helps as well. They might even share your conversation – turning what could have been a negative interaction into a positive that could not have been possible on any other medium.  In the exchange below, the Bradley University social media manager, kept the conversation about Search emails light, human and honest.

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(Reference: Uversity, Chegg, 2014 Social Admissions Report Webinar)

Monitor Perceptions and Activity

The beauty of social is you can see in real-time what students think about your school – from a wave of excitement about the school’s big win in the NCAA tournament, to a single disgruntled student upset about his lunch that day. Knowing what people are saying about you will keep your finger on the pulse of your audience, and can help you adjust your strategy accordingly.

Monitor Your Competition

Similarly, you can monitor what your competition is doing as well. Whether you watch from afar as their latest hashtag sinks, or want to imitate one of their more successful campaigns, it can help you gain an edge in the crowded field.

Personalized Communication

If you want to stand out in the competition to enroll the best students, you have to separate yourself from the pack. Prospective students are overwhelmed with mail pieces and social is the perfect way to rise above the clutter from other schools – pretty literally. Personalizing your approach through social can go a long way in recruiting the best talent.

Support Other Marketing Efforts

With all the preaching I’ve been doing on social media, I still don’t believe it should be the only medium you should use in your strategy. However, it should complement your marketing efforts to create an integrated campaign that can be translated across multiple channels – including mobile, desktop, tablet, and yes, even print. Integrating a social element instantly provides the opportunity to expand the reach of your campaign. Adding a hashtag for users to follow, or encouraging students to create their own content can produce significant results for a relatively low amount of effort.

Drive Traffic to Your Digital Properties

You certainly can’t click on a link to a website on a piece of paper. But with with social, it makes driving traffic to your site seamless – and that’s what your audience is looking for. Want to get prospects to sign up for your next recruiting event? Social can help. Want to drive students to your shiny new landing page? Social. Want to encourage them to deposit and enroll? Social can even help there.

 

No matter what your digital strategy looks like, social media can and should be an integral part of your campaigns. Use its features wisely, and watch your enrollment numbers rise.

I Believe In Higher Education… Do You?

Ivory Tower

Recently, I came across a documentary – Ivory Tower. Written and directed by Andrew Rossi, this June 2014 documentary tackles the question: Is college worth the cost? Ivory Tower delves into the over 1 TRILLION dollars in student loan debt our country has amassed as of March 2014.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 launched the Federal Student Aid program with both grant and loan programs. As Ivory Tower reveals, in 1977 a Federal Pell Grant would cover, on average, 116% of a student’s college tuition. In 2014, only 42% is covered by the same grant. The remaining 58% is split between the institution, the state, the student and his or her family. With state funding for tuition assistance in drastic decline, student loans – both federal and private – have picked up the slack.

I have witnessed both the promise of a better future and the economic hardship student loans can facilitate. When I was a financial aid director I would often face a student sitting on the other side of my desk asking to withdraw from college. At the point they hit my office for counseling all they wanted was their ticket punched to leave campus and go home. Yet, when a student drops out of college mid-semester, they are sometimes subject to 100% of the institution’s charges, but only receive a portion of their financial aid prorated by the number of days they attended class. This can leave a student owing the institution upwards of $10,000 for being on campus just a few weeks. This student may never be able to repay the institution, receive their transcripts to transfer and could face default on their student loan which is not forgivable even in bankruptcy.

You might say it’s the student’s decisions that put him in this situation. This may be true. But many times first generation students, in particular, don’t understand the repercussions of their actions until they are facing them.

But what about the student who does graduate? As highlighted by Ivory Tower, average student loan debt is approaching $30,000. This $30,000 often impedes with the ability to buy a car, a home or even start a family.

With this daunting problem brought to light, Ivory Tower looks into alternative models for funding and delivering education. Examples included New York’s Cooper Union’s endowment funded college providing students 100% scholarships. Founder Peter Cooper’s mission statement for the college stated the college should be open with “free education to all.” Financial hardship due to failed hedge fund investments forced the college’s board to reconsider the founder’s mission when they charged tuition for the first time in 2014. Instead of attending college for free, students faced a $20,000 price tag.

Even more drastic is the San Francisco based Theil Fellowship program which provides $100,000 scholarships if students drop out of college to start their own business by “hacking” their education. By hacking one’s education, these entrepreneurs look to follow in the footsteps of drop-outs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. This Theil Fellowship model questions the need for formalized higher education. The documentary warns, though, that these successful college drop-out entrepreneurs are possibly the exception, not the rule.

The technology of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) present another option. Coursework becomes openly available to anyone with an internet connection, yet the solution is imperfect. MOOCs struggle to provide feedback and support to students. Community colleges were applauded for their usage of MOOC content with an in-classroom faculty member to facilitate content understanding.

Though Ivory Tower didn’t provide concrete answers for solving the issue of the student loan crisis, it did throw the doors of this discussion wide open. We as a society must either find a way to better fund education, use technology to improve the platforms for delivering education to lower cost or completely rethink the value of higher education.

I still believe in higher education… do you?

Homework:
Watch the documentary and join the discussion.

Resource:
Rossi, A. (2014) Ivory Tower. United States of America: Participant Media, Paramount Pictures & Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Amanda Randolph Scott, M.A.Ed.
Senior Strategic Enrollment Consultant

Instagram into Action for Higher Education

I am always looking for ideas and tips on how to do new things.

You may be like me and read the instructions on how to assemble a swing set. Or you may be the kind of person that can just do it without help from the printed word. More power to you if you can, but I like clear, concise, instructions.

I found these top 40 tips on Instagram marketing and I’d thought I’d share it with you. I find myself, my wife and my son on Instagram all the time. It’s a regular family affair.

How many other families like mine are using Instagram daily? According to Instagram, the app reaches 200 million active users who share 60 million photos on average per day. That’s a lot of selfies and food photos.

In fishing as well as marketing, you have to go where the fish are. Students are on Instagram. Where are you?

Take a quick read through this cool infographic and put your “Insta into Action!”

 

Please include attribution to Socialmediaonlineclasses.com with this graphic.

Instagram Marketing Strategies Infographic

http://socialmediaonlineclasses.com/instagram-marketing-stragies-infographic