Category Archives: marketing

Best Time to Post Facebook and Twitter Content

From: Raka Creative


The Rise of the Tablet

It is difficult to ignore the significant number of tablets people are tapping, watching, and reading on when you go out into the world. This number is only going to rise as the amount of content available for these devices such as apps, e-books and videos, increases. No to mention the portability these light machines afford.

As an institution it is good to keep in mind that many of your prospective and current students are accessing your online content from tablets. It is important your institution’s online materials are optimized for tablet, and mobile, viewing. (Note that Flash files do not play on the iPad, although there are some third party apps that allow Flash to open on the tablet).

If you are a marketing, communications, or recruitment administrator take a few moments and view your online web resources (website, electronic brochures, PDFs) from several different brands of tablets to ensure your materials are readable and usable for prospective and current students accessing them. Better yet, consider developing a mobile app. Students will appreciate they can access institution information specifically built for a tablet or mobile device.

Several great examples of mobile apps built for univerisities are:

Flinders University
Griffith University

Below is a helpful infographic overview from Urban Times of the current tablet market.

Moving Away from Email

There have been a number of statistics released in recent years showing the drastic decline of email usage among digital natives, aka current university students. With the popularity of texting, mobile apps and social media students want their information in bite-size pieces; little snippets they can read on the go. This means as we correspond on behalf of the institution we need to consider the amount of content included in our messages and focus on disseminating just the most essential information. Think of it as: “they probably won’t read beyond the third line, so get it out in two.”

Here’s a great quote on the decline of email communication from We Are Social comScore 2011: It’s  a Social World:

Not surprisingly, the ”digital natives” are moving away from emails in favour of social networks: email usage among 15-24 year olds has dropped by 42% over the last year whereas usage of social network grew by 34% in the same time period. Social networking sites now reach 82% of the world’s internet users, i.e. 1.2 billion people around the world.

Gone are the days of 5 paragraph emails where you can provide long introductions, program overviews, hyperlinks to multiple pages of your website and prose about how great your institution is for them. Instead of sending one long correspondence every few weeks think about sharing your information with students more frequently, in shorter, bite-size pieces.

Several suggestions on how to do this:

Facebook: Create pages and groups as necessary to support the communities you want to engage. Many institutions create a new page for each incoming class. This online space is a great way for students to engage with their future classmates and then keep the discussion going after they meet face-to-face at orientation, start classes, and to plan social events. You as the administrator can post important information and encourage a discussion via the comment and like features.

The chat feature is a great tool for quick interactions with individual students. I like to call the chat feature the new version of “open door policy.” If you have the chat feature enabled and Facebook open on your browser at the office students will see you online and may drop you a quick note or question via FB chat. I have advisers who tell me that sometimes these “quick questions” can turn into a 20 minute chat session. My suggestion is to have a rough time limit (which you don’t necessarily need to tell the student about). If you have been going back and forth for more than 5-7 minutes, ask them to make an appointment to come in so you can give them further, undivided attention.

Twitter: Create those winning taglines that have a hook. The 1-2 line text can then be followed up with a hyperlink to a website URL for more information. Here are few examples:

1. “Submitted that scholarship application? The deadline is just 5 days away!” [insert hyperlink here]
2. “Register for your classes early and receive a $10 bookstore gift card.” [insert hyperlink here]
3. “Signed up for the New York City trip? Only 5 spots left!” [insert hyperlink here]

For example 1 include the link to your institution’s online scholarship application.
For example 2 include the link to the online registration website.
For example 3 include the link to the activities page where students can sign up for the trip but also see what other events are coming up.

You could then encourage students to tweet back to you when they have followed the link or completed the call to action. If you see students signed up for the NYC trip after your tweet, tweet them to thank them for signing up and tell them how excited you are they are participating.

Text Message: In the US text messaging is usually an additional cost for students so receiving promotional content that bears a cost to the receiver the is not the best way to win over your audience. The good news is that many phone operating systems are moving to free text services within their own platform. For example, RIM implemented Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and recently Apple created iMessage for iPhone OS5 users. This allows free messages to be sent to phone owners on the same platform.

This doesn’t mean you need to roll out a blanket advertising campaign and text every prospective student in your contact list, rather receiving a short personal message from you about their application process or class registration might be a great way to prompt them to ask you that looming question about scholarships that has been on their mind.


On a fun, and partially related note, here is an interesting article from the New York Times, Everyone Speaks Text Message, on how Text Messaging is actually creating language development. Another positive outcome as a result of technology advancements.

A Look Into The Life of Millennials

Courtesy of: FastCo Design

A look into our target student population, Millennials, and how they view the world, education, politics, work and more.

Full article posted here

6 Best Practices for Universities Embracing Social Media

Content from: Hubspot
Original article posted at Mashable

This article breaks down a few important tips to help educational institutions develop their social media strategy.

Their 6 point best practices are as follows:

1. Develop a Strategy and Set Goals

2. Pick and Choose Your Platforms

3. Empower and Support Individual Departments

4. Put Guidelines in Place

5. Develop a Consistent Voice Across Platforms

6. Communicate Across Campus

Some key take-aways from the article are to consider what audiences you’re attracting (prospective student vs. current student vs. alumni) and to choose your platforms accordingly.  There is also a lot to be said for choosing a few key platforms and providing a consistent presence on them rather than spreading your office too thin on every social network, but failing to provide regular content updates and engaging with the online community.

One of the biggest challenges we often face is communicating across departments within an institution. Many of our departments have different goals (obviously admissions is looking to recruit new students while the program offices are more focused on disseminating information to current students), but see if you are able to connect with one staff member within key departments across campus in an effort to unite on the social media front.

If even 4-5 departments band together it will generate a much stronger online presence, create a consistent voice (to Hubspot’s point #5), and increase your reach. This endeavor may take a significant time commitment upfront and may require quite a bit of scheduling to have some sit-down face-time meetings with department representatives.

In the beginning of this process you may find that the topic of social media does not even make it on the agenda. Be patient. Focus on relationship building and provide examples of how your office can support their department’s goals. Also keep in mind that many university officials didn’t grow up in the Web 2.0 generation, and still many think it is not important as an “official channel of communication.” Once you have developed their trust you can present your united social media concept and showcase how it will deliver benefits to their office, as well as yours. Think of this process as an investment that can provide long term benefits for the institution as a whole and ultimately greatly help with your recruitment and retention efforts.

Read the full article here

Image credit

Higher Education Social Media Strategy

Source: Fathom

Higher Education Social Media Strategy (PDF)

This is a helpful white paper on social media strategy specifically focused in the higher education field.
A few key take-aways:

  • Communication now often occurs in small bits of information posted online frequently; ” social media is perfect for posting snippets of information [on a daily basis] that would otherwise go ignored.”
  • People prefer personalities to brands, so have a real person behind your Facebook, blog and Twitter posts sharing their opinion and perspectives
  • Know your audience and choose your social networks based on who you are trying to reach and what information you want to share with them
  • Use social media as a vehicle to achieve your customer communication goals. Create a strategy that incorporates using social media to connect with your customers. Don’t just be online because “that’s what everyone is doing.” Have a plan of engagement and genuine interaction.

Image Credit

The World Map of Social Networks

World Map of Social Networks

Vincos Blog post highlights the changing landscape of social networks from June 2009 to the present.   The most recent map, December 2010, was just released according to Alexa and Google Trends for Websites.

As we seek to stay abreast of new platforms and engaged with our students in the social media world it is important we understand where our students come from, both literally and figuratively. While Facebook is the most popular social network in the US, that is not the case in Brazil, Japan and China. True that Facebook is continually reaching the #1 position in more countries each month (just compare the charts for the past 18 months), but in places like China Facebook (as well as other social media sites) is still blocked.

If your institution has Facebook groups for the incoming class, or other pre-term campus activities, how do you include students in Japan who are on Mixi but don’t have a Facebook profile? Or in China where your incoming student group can’t log on to It’s important to find ways to engage your entire community so all students feel included in your online discussions.  It may be possible to encourage students to join Facebook after they arrive on campus but don’t underestimate the importance of reaching out and communicating with your new students before they arrive for orientation.

Just like we don’t want to see every country speaking the same language, diversity in social media platforms is good. While it may take you a bit more work to create online groups across different platforms it will be worth the effort when your new students from those countries see your institution took the time to sign up and engage with them on their own social platform.

If you’re not familiar with how a social network popular in another country works (or don’t speak the primary language it is written in) hire a current student from that country to manage the account and engage with those incoming or current students. Not only are you making the effort to create a presence on the social network by having an institutional profile (marketing and branding your school) you’re encouraging your new students to engage with their peers who share a similar cultural background. The outcome is win-win as you’ll be building your brand image across countries and lasting friendships on your campus.