Cassie Dull is the online communications specialist at Park Tudor School, an independent school in Indianapolis, Ind.
You’ve been working hard on your Facebook page for a while now, adding more fans each week and posting interesting photos, links and status updates. And you’ve gotten a significant number of fans who have clicked on that little “like” button at the top of your page. But what do you do with your army of followers? How can you make them work for you?
First of all, you need to understand the different ways in which people engage on Facebook. There are varying degrees of engagement, from simply liking your page, to liking some of your content, to commenting and posting on your page. On average, a post gets about a 3 percent rate of interaction on Facebook, meaning that only 3 percent of your audience will like or comment on a post—and that’s only if it’s a good post in the first place. Post boring content and your rate drops significantly.
A friend of mine, Robby Slaughter, uses the 90-9-1 rule to describe social media audiences. Ninety percent of your audience are lurkers; they “like” your page, but they will never say anything or interact with you. Nine percent are intermittent contributors—they will say something once in a while. The remaining one percent are your heavy contributors, or superfans. They are constantly interacting with your Facebook page.
The key to using your Facebook fans to your advantage when creating an engaging community is to first identify your contributing fans. Who are the 10 percent who like or comment on your posts, post to your wall, share photos and tag you in their own status updates?
One of Park Tudor’s superfans is a young alumna living 1,700 miles away in Phoenix, Ariz. She not only reads our posts but also comments on them, and she occasionally shares her own stories on our wall, such as this one.
Pay attention to your superfans because they can be great storytellers for your institution. Also, look for ways to drive engagement with your fans by turning your intermittent contributors into superfans and your lurkers into contributors. Ask questions through your Facebook posts. Post pictures and videos. Start contests. Share updates from teachers or professors. Talk about traditions. Be conversational.
How do your contributors help build your Facebook community?
Ma'ayan Plaut is the social media coordinator at Oberlin College
As a young alum working at my alma mater, each fall, I'm awash with memories of my orientation at the same time as the new class begins flooding campus. My own orientation was filled with names and faces and meeting people in person who I had so happily met and fallen head-over-heads in friend-crush with through our Class of 2010 Facebook group.
Even as an administrator, I have been deeply involved with the incoming class on Facebook. I knew I had to do something to try and meet as many of these fascinating new students in person as possible, so I pulled out my trusty dragon backpack, filled it with the necessities (camera, iPad, water bottle and business cards) and informed my audience of my outfit on Facebook and Twitter. My plan was to embrace the "social" part of my social media coordinator job title.
I began with the northern part of campus, popping my head into as many rooms in as many dorms as I could—my only criteria was that the room contain first-years. My basic spiel was, "Hi! I am from the Internet! I answered your questions all summer, I blogged about you and I just wanted to say hello in real life and see that you're a real person. What's your name?"
This turned out to be a magical introduction. Most students (and parents!) recognized my name or identified my outfit from my Facebook post and were really excited to become involved with the two social media projects I had created for move-in day.
The first was a simple photo project, a snapshot of a new student (or students, if a roommate was also around) plus something to represent Oberlin or the class of 2015 in the photo. I got shirts (worn, held up to smiling faces or modeled on a sibling who was helping move in), sweatshirts, blankets, bracelets, IDs, lanyards and the ubiquitous hand signs for OC or 15 if it was too early in the unpacking process to have the Oberlin swag unpacked.
The second project was a video with a simple concept—grab as many new students as possible and have them say one sentence for the camera. The sentence had to include answers to the following questions:
I had planned to shoot videos just on move-in day, but many other interview opportunities arose during orientation so I extended the interviews through the end of the week. What emerged were a few gigabytes of spectacular videos of glowing incoming students in a variety of dorm rooms as well as inside, outside and hanging out in groups, grinning like their lives depended on it and with their voices dripping with the most natural enthusiasm possible. Need proof? See for yourself.
Why make a video?
What sorts of activities did your campus have planned to welcome the new class?
Have you heard about Colleen Jones yet?
Hopefully you have, as she might have the key to web, mobile and social media content woes in higher education.
Colleen Jones wrote the best book I've read so far this year: "Clout, The Art and Science of Influential Web Content."
Colleen has been kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about content strategy and higher ed despite her busy schedule (she was presenting in London at an international content strategy conference just last week).
1) A lot has been said about the need for content strategy in higher ed. In your opinion, what is the biggest content challenge universities and colleges have to face today?
Ah, that's easy. The number one content challenge that universities and colleges face is their view of their content problem and, consequently, their investment in a solution. Colleges and universities tend to look to technology as a magic pill to cure their content ills.
A couple of months ago, I talked with the website administrator at a college that had spent $100,000 on a content management system (CMS) and not one dollar on content strategy. So, this poor website administrator (yes, ONE administrator) was saddled with everything from migrating content into the CMS to wrangling content from stakeholders to managing the content once the new website was launched. And, how is he thanked? With executives complaining about the lackluster content. Well, what did they expect? They were lucky just to get the website launched with no disasters.
Now, I tell this story not to rag on a CMS. I tell this story to emphasize that a CMS alone cannot and will not ever solve your content problems. A hospital never buys an expensive X-ray machine and then forgets to establish the right processes or hire the right clinicians to use the machine. Why? That would be stupid, risky, and, frankly, malpractice. Yet, malpractice is exactly what colleges and universities do when they buy a CMS without investing in content strategy.
So, to overcome this challenge, colleges and universities need to understand the true source of their content problems is not technology. It's a lack of content strategy. The solution? Invest in the right people and processes that, together WITH your CMS, will make your content get results.
2) Many institutions are now struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for quality content for their websites, social media channels and mobile websites. How can they do it without a magic wand? Is there really a proven methodology for better content?
You're right that the pressure is "on" as students, parents, alumni and other users expect colleges and institutions to be available 24/7 on the web...including mobile and social. Businesses are facing the same challenge. If it's any consolation, businesses are struggling to adapt, too. But, the good news is you don't need a magic wand to adapt. You DO need good methodology. I'd venture to say that there are a few different methodologies out there. For a nice overview, check out the Content Strategy knol, which I co-curate. The core elements to the methodologies that work are analyze, plan, execute and evaluate. If you think about it, that's a methodology for doing just about anything well.
Jennifer Doak is the online communications specialist at CASE.
We all know your institution has amazing faculty, first-class students and a meaningful piano soundtrack—but what makes it compelling? Let’s take a look at some creative (and not necessarily high-budget) uses of online video.
1. Tell stories.
Valencia College, “Dear Valencia”: This promotional video centers on students writing letters to the school, the faculty and eventually the community, thanking Valencia for believing in their abilities. It’s a simple concept, but the editing and content are incredibly well-done—and the cast outtakes give it a real human touch.
University of West Georgia, “Go West”: These three promotional videos for the University of West Georgia use a great slogan, “Go West,” to its advantage. Proactive students head to campus on different roads, using various vehicles, to find their own way to success. Simple, effective and beautifully done.
2. Create intrigue.
Park Tudor School, “Founder’s Day 2011: A mystery’s a-brewing on campus”: I just love this Founder’s Day mystery. A team of two students travel across campus trying to find the president’s backpack, solving clues that use trivia about the school’s history. The video features a cackling villain, “Yackety Sax,” and karate-chopping staff members. It may not be the most viral video out there, but it’s a great way to build community—and I bet alumni loved it.
Whitworth University, “The Quest for the Golden Pinecone”: The pirate mascot’s choose-your-own-adventure-style journey was featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education earlier this summer, and for good reason. Admitted students were invited to watch the video and then choose what would happen next – progressive videos were then linked to the Class of 2015 Facebook page.
3. Find out what’s hot.
Online content is all about creating, sharing and paying homage to memes—why not join in?
Oberlin College’s Friday parody: Rebecca Black’s infamous earworm gets the commencement treatment for the Class of 2011.
Murray State Flash Mob: Flash mobs have become a huge trend on campuses in the past year, but I think Murray State’s got some amazing choreography here. I’m also a sucker for 90s dance tunes, school mascots and presidents riding the train. C & C Music Factory, anyone?
4. Show that you’re listening.
You may remember a previous blog post on Florida International University’s “Betsy Reads Your Comments” videos. But it’s not the only institution out there responding to their audience through YouTube.
Aberystwyth University’s social media team answers frequently (or infrequently) asked questions, taken from its Facebook page, and puts them on an interactive YouTube menu. I love its top 10 tips: “Don’t get too attached to kitchen utensils” is advice we should all pay attention to, in my opinion.
Do you have numbers to add to the list? Other fantastically creative ways institutions are using YouTube? Post ‘em in the comments!