How to Market a University in the Age of Social Media

Marketing a UniversityUniversity Marketing in the Age of Social Media By Cynthia Fobert

Research shows that people are suspicious of slick brand messaging and resent interruption advertising.  According to Martin Brossman, social media guru and co-author of Social Media for Business, they regularly block, skip or mute it.  Instead, consumers rely on what some anonymous reviewers say about your product or business online because these sources are assumed to offer authentic unbiased accounts. Unflattering comments on social media can override commercial marketing messages, and this phenomenon holds true for any branded entity, including universities.

It is not a stretch to suppose that if prospective students are checking reviews to decide where to go for lunch, they might also consult Google or Yelp regarding which university they should attend.  Although social media may be a preliminary source of advice when selecting a college, not all universities are paying close attention to what is being said about them in these online forums.

 To arrive at a plan to help turn around declining enrollment at a large, public, research-intensive university, I conducted an analysis of its social media profile.  Let’s call this institution U-One.  Searching Yelp for reviews of all universities in that city, I found two rival institutions were represented, but U-One did not appear at all. Certainly, in-state students would know about the existence of U-One from local media coverage and advertising, but for any out-of-state or foreign students for whom Yelp serves as a preferred platform for reviews, U-One was invisible.

 There were Google reviews posted about U-One, but these were problematic.  Not only was U-One’s overall rating weaker than its cross-town rival, the top three reviews and the only ones visible when you opened the window were scathing and unanswered. Although the effect of these reviews is difficult to measure, U-One was not in a position to ignore them.

 I recommended that U-One establish a system of monitoring and countering negative reviews with statements written and posted by students who hold very different opinions.  Social media staff should be in the business of canvassing faculty for successful students who might be called upon to write occasional positive reviews or to provide timely responses to attacks.  These responses must be real, honest and entirely authentic.  Little should be managed beyond the timing.

Just based on size, U-One’s Facebook and Twitter numbers should dwarf those of the small public university with which I am most familiar, North Carolina Central University (NCCU).  But this was not the case.  Despite having one-sixth of the student and alumni populations of U-One, NCCU had more Facebook likes and 14 times more Twitter followers.  A review of U-One’s Facebook content revealed why.

 Social Media Performance Comparison

U-One

NCCU

Student Population

55,000

   8,300

Alumni Population

250,000+

40,000

Facebook Page Likes

13,000

16,000

Twitter Followers

500

  7,000

 Prospective students will check out a university’s Facebook page to see what is happening on campus. It is a critical engagement and marketing vehicle.  At the time of my review, U-One’s Facebook timeline included a post of the CEO’s formal statement regarding an on-campus shooting.  Living 1,000 miles away, I would never have known about this incident had it not been for this post.  How many prospective parents and students learned of this episode this way?

 Other posts exhorted students to complete their senior surveys.

 Facebook offers a golden opportunity to showcase for prospective students what a vibrant and exciting life is in store for them if they choose to attend.  Consistent with the medium’s culture and message properties, content should be fun, social and full of great photos.  Posts should suggest things to do and see on campus and follow up with pictures and news about what they missed.  Primarily, the interests served by the posts should be those of your followers.  Otherwise, why should they follow you?

 Communication such as the CEO’s response to a serious incident on campus, crime reports, surveys and deadlines is better disseminated through segmented mass email.  Targeted email and web-page announcements are the workhorses of business communication. In an emergency, Twitter, phone and text messages, email, webpage alerts, and on-campus video and loudspeaker announcements get the job done.  Let Facebook be Facebook.

 U-One recently launched a slick, professional branding campaign with perfected photos and sanitized student, faculty and alumni statements. An illustration of the changing times in marketing today is the comparison of the number of YouTube views received by one of U-One’s professional marketing videos — less than 3,000 — with those garnered by an amateur, unsanctioned student production — 60,000 views.   How much less would it cost and how much more effective would it be for U-One to offer technical assistance to student interns to produce authentic videos marketing the university in a way that reaches those who regularly block, skip or mute obvious branding messages?

by Cynthia Fobert, a Graduate of The Social Media Management Certificate Training

Facebook Engagement: The Best Measure of Social Media Success

We all love the social side of Facebook: that warm fuzzy feeling when a client or customer posts a glowing comment on your page, or when hundreds of fans “like” a photo. As businesses, when we look at the bottom line for participating in social media we have to evaluate our return on investment (ROI). Evaluating the ROI for social media platforms can be a fuzzy area, and so here are a few Facebook Insights data you should examine.

Page Likes

The number of likes a particular page has will vary with the industry, and you should watch several other pages within your industry to compare how your page likes stack up against others. Resist the temptation to believe that the number of Page Likes is the best measure of your social media performance; it is simply one variable!

pages to watch photo for Facebook

To evaluate Page Likes data, click on View Insights and then Likes. Examine your Net Likes to measure your overall success in gaining and keeping followers. Do you have frequent, high numbers of Unlikes? Evaluate your posts to see what may be driving people away. Inspect your Organic Likes vs Paid Likes to determine if the content you are providing or the ads you are producing are driving fans to your page.

Facebook likes graph

Facebook graph showing likes and unlikes

Engagement

Engagement is a much better measure of how your social media efforts are paying off. When customers interact with your page, either by liking, commenting, or sharing posts, they are giving you mini-endorsements to all of their friends and family. The “reach” (or number of total people who saw the post) of these actions will be far greater than your base Page Likes number.

post reach on Facebook

How do you measure engagement? On the wall of your business page look for the “talking about this” number. This is the number of “stories” created by people who liked, commented, or shared your posts. These stories show up in the news feed of friends of the person interacting with you; thus showing your name to many people. The Talking About This number compiles those interactions for a week with a 48 hour lag time; you won’t see this number increasing for today’s posts until two days later. Bonus: you can see the Talking About This for your competitors pages too and compare your engagement with theirs!

Evaluate individual post engagement regularly to ensure you are posting quality content with which your fans will engage. Click on your Insights Tab and then Posts. First you’ll notice the days of the week and times when your fans are online. Pay attention to this data! If your fans are online more on Fridays at 8pm then time your posts for that time frame. Another option is to post at different times of the day and monitor what posts get the most engagement. It may be that your engaged fans are online at different times than overall fans.

Facebook graph of when your fans are online

Next examine the All Posts Published area. Click the drop-down arrow beside the Reach and check Fans/ Non Fans. A post with higher engagement will have more non-fans seeing it, which means more potential clients are seeing your name. Next click on the drop down arrow beside Post Clicks, Likes, Comments & Shares, and click on Engagement Rate. This is taking the number of people who engaged with your post and comparing it to the number of people who actually saw the post. High engagement on posts will help you determine if you are posting content relevant to your fans. Just remember this is a ratio of the number of likes, comments, and shares divided by the number of people who actually saw the post, and so a post with high reach is going to need a high number of interactions to have a high engagement rate.
Another handy data point within this tab is the Post Hides, Hides of All Posts, Reports of Spam, and Unlikes of Page in the drop-down menu of Post Clicks. If you have a post or posts with more than 1 or 2 of these negative indicators you need to reevaluate what you’re posting!

Facebook posts published and engagement on posts

By evaluating Page Likes and engagement, we can be sure our content is relevant to our fans which will drive business to our doors as well as solicit new customers.

Social Media for Business Book Launch Thursday August 4th in Raleigh, NC

new social media book authors in North Carolina

Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha talking about their new book, Social Media for Business, at the contributors' party.

On Thursday, August 4th, at the Raleigh Center for Excellence, the authors and contributors of Social Media for Business: The Small Business Guide to Online Marketing will gather to celebrate the launch of the book.

The gathering is open to the public by RSVP through Eventbrite.

Information about the event is also posted on various social media sites, including FacebookLinkedIn, and inside919.

Social Media for Business is particularly valuable for the micro-business and solo professional, and small businesses with under 25 employees to draw a line in the sand. The perspectives in the book are from micro-business and solo professionals who bring their current experience of how to best use social media and other Internet channels to build, establish and maintain a strong, genuine and positive profile for you and your business on the Internet.

Publisher, Anthony Policastro, of Outer Banks Publishing Group, will be present through Skype.

Authors Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha will talk about the book and introduce the contributors and their articles.

We will be holding a raffle for a free Kindle book reader! A social media consultation with Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha worth $350 and other prizes.

Refreshments will be served.

Social Media for Business is available at the Book Launch, and will be available at various local coffee shops, supporting inside919 and Martin Brossman’s commitment to local businesses. Copies can also be purchased from the authors, as well as online. The book is listed on CreateSpace, as well as on Amazon.com, where it is sometimes, at Amazon’s discretion listed for sale.

Both Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha can be found on at least half a dozen social media sites by searching in Google.com.

The Social Media for Business Book-Launch in Raleigh – August 4, 2011 6pm Center of Excellence

Latest social media for business resource

Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha's Social Media for Business book, with contributions from 20 professionals in the field.

On August 4th at 6 pm Martin Brossman, Anora McGaha and half of the contributors to the Social Media for Business book, will join friends, colleagues and associates to celebrate the culmination of almost a year of work in writing, collecting, editing and publishing this new book.

Aimed at the micro-business, solo-professional and small business owner, this book is fresh with the in-depth experience, insight and best practices of two dozen professionals.

The book launch will be held at the Center for Excellence in Raleigh, just off 440 and Six Forks South.

Those in the Triangle who are attending are invited to RSVP, so we can plan for refreshments.

We  will be signing copies!

The Center for Excellence is a private resource center for meetings, classes and gatherings just south of North Hills, off Six Forks South in Raleigh, NC

Drawings for:

  • A free Kindle
  • A social media consultation with Martin and Anora worth $350.00.
  • Discounts on upcoming social media for business classes

Join us to celebrate and have a great time with quality people. Hors d’Oeuvres, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages from one of Raleigh’s best Catering by Design.

Please RSVP so we know the number of people coming (no-charge) and limited spaces to join us: http://smfblaunch.eventbrite.com/

The book is available for sale now on Amazon.com where you can write reviews! On CreateSpace where you support the authors better with your purchase. Or you can save on shipping and buy your copy at the launch.

Brossman and McGaha's Social Media for Business Book

Find down-to-earth, insightful, practical and valuable practices, tips, perspectives and explanations in Social Media for Business by Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha with chapters by 20 contributors. Written by small and micro business owners, with direct experience that can help and guide you in using the Internet and social media to grow your business, referral partners and your reputation, this book will help you and your business.

Short chapters so you can find what you’re looking for and get what you need to know fast.  If you haven’t read it yet, order it now. Amazon for $16.52. Or apply  Discount code: C47P9D2V when you order on CreateSpace for $16.00.

Let the tens of thousands of hours of research and experience represented in this book save you time and grow your business – for less than $23 delivered.  Read what reviewers have said on Amazon.

After you’ve read it, leave your own review. Have suggestions? Email info@thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com. We want to hear from you.

Quick Tips on Video and Audio Marketing

Beverly Mahone at the radio station

Beverly Mahone at the radio station

As a veteran journalist and TV and radio broadcaster, Beverly Mahone can appreciate the power of marketing through video and audio.

More and more people are discovering that they no longer have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a 30 or 60 second commercial. The growing popularity of social media now allows each of us to create our own advertising campaigns for the price of a video camera, plug-in headsets for your computer, and some creative imagination.

Video and audio marketing are great ways to get your name out there.

Here are a few video tips from Bev Mahone’s chapter.

1. Provide Quality Content. Offer resources or something else of value they can take away by watching your video.

2. Grab Attention With Your Videos. The goal is to attract your viewer’s attention, encourage them to research further on your site, and ultimately become a customer.

3. Take Advantage of All Your Social Options. Be a social butterfly. Connect with others on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Ryze, etc.

4. Show Your Personality. There’s nothing worse than watching someone who sounds like they’re uninterested in what they’re talking about.

Bev Mahone’s chapter in Social Media for Business also includes more detail and podcast tips.

There’s an old saying, “practice makes perfect.” The more you do it and work at it, the better you become. And always remember to enjoy what you do.

—-

What quick tip do you have for those starting out with video and audio marketing?

Brossman and McGaha's Social Media for Business Book

Find down-to-earth, insightful, practical and valuable practices, tips, perspectives and explanations in Social Media for Business by Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha with chapters by 20 contributors, including Bev Mahone. Written by small and micro business owners, with direct experience that can help and guide you in using the Internet and social media to grow your business, referral partners and your reputation, this book will help you and your business.

Short chapters so you can find what you’re looking for and get what you need to know fast.  If you haven’t read it yet, order it now. Amazon for $16.52. Or apply  Discount code: C47P9D2V when you order on CreateSpace for $16.00.

Let the tens of thousands of hours of research and experience represented in this book save you time and grow your business – for less than $23 delivered.  Read what reviewers have said on Amazon.

After you’ve read it, leave your own review. Have suggestions? Email info@thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com. We want to hear from you.

Acronyms for ROI for Social Media

One thing is sure about this social media era, creativity abounds. We’ve seen half a dozen different creative acronyms for the concept of return on investment.

ROA: Return on Assets

ROE: Return on Effort; Return on Engagement

ROI: Return on Investment (the old standby); Return on Interest

ROSM: Return on Social Media

Brian Solis has a February 2010 post that lists some of the acronyms in circulation. He includes a few listed above, and others: among them, Return on Attention is a neat one, and Return on Trust is a great concept. (Too bad “ROT” as an acronym is not so appealing.)

What acronyms have you seen and what do you think of them?

Brossman and McGaha's Social Media for Business Book

Find down-to-earth, insightful, practical and valuable practices, tips, perspectives and explanations in Social Media for Business by Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha with chapters by 20 contributors. Written by small and micro business owners, with direct experience that can help and guide you in using the Internet and social media to grow your business, referral partners and your reputation, this book will help you and your business.

Short chapters so you can find what you’re looking for and get what you need to know fast.  If you haven’t read it yet, order it now. Amazon for $16.52. Or apply  Discount code: C47P9D2V when you order on CreateSpace for $16.00.

Let the tens of thousands of hours of research and experience represented in this book save you time and grow your business – for less than $23 delivered.  Read what reviewers have said on Amazon.

After you’ve read it, leave your own review. Have suggestions? Email info@thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com. We want to hear from you.

Linking Into Sales by Martin Brossman and Greg Hyer

Left to right - Martin Brossman, Greg Hyer and Gary Thomlinson at the launch of Linking Into Sales

Martin Brossman has collaborated with local small and microbusiness professionals in producing three books on social media.

His first, Brossman’s Social Media and Online Resources for Business Directory, was an introduction for business owners who were not using social media, or had just started. It was distributed locally in the Raleigh, North Carolina area and helped launch a number of micro businesses through teaching them how to get free quality exposure on the Internet.

Linking Into Sales by Martin Brossman and Greg Hyer

Linking Into Sales

The second book, is this one, Linking Into Sales, with Greg Hyer (center in the photo). Linking Into Sales is a step by step guide to using LinkedIn for sales and networking. They share exciting examples of how powerful LinkedIn is.

How are they qualified to write this book?

Martin Brossman has been offering Sales Coaching and Training since he left IBM in 1995 with a focus that integrates web resources to enhance trust and support the Sales Cycle.

Greg Hyer is the founder of Hyer Media, LLC and several online networking groups such as the Linking the Triangle and Linking DC groups on LinkedIn.com. Greg organizes networking events and conducts training on social media tools like LinkedIn.com.

Reviews

Gary Thomlinson, on the right in the photo above, is a business strategy and execution consultant. He reviewed Linking Into Sales. Gary Thomlinson’s review. Below is a quote from Gary’s review.

“For example their book will help you discover some incredible ways to get the most out of your profile by enhancing it with a better format and infusing it with keywords so that you’ll be found. It will show you how to target customers, give and receive recommendations, join relevant groups to interact with and design your own weekly LinkedIn action plan. The lesson plans, throughout the book, are designed for the reader to take action. This goes beyond just being told what to do…it tells you how to do it.”

Martin Brossman and Greg Hyer maintain a podcast series on Linking Into Sales on the website recorded in a a recording studio with high quality audio. Topics include:

The Gift of Transparency

It’s Fake I Tell Ya!

Google Plus Overview and Insights

Old School is New School

Click on the white triangle on the grey bar labeled Podcast below the text in the post.

Check and see if the 20% savings on the book is still offered for liking their Facebook Fan Page. http://www.Facebook.com/linkingintosales

Visit the Linking Into Sales website. http://www.linkingintosales.com/

Listen to the Linking Into Sales Podcast Series – High quality and current audio recordings by Martin Brossman and Greg Hyer

View the book and reviews on Amazon.com.

Like Linking Into Sales on Facebook and get updates from the authors.

Follow us on Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/linkingin2sales

Find Martin Brossman and Greg Hyer on LinkedIn.

Martin Brossman’s third book on social media was a collaboration with Anora McGaha, and that’s Social Media for Business.

Ways to Use Photos Creatively in Social Media


Wall Flowers. With a camera on your phone, you can catch a photo anytime!

Photos attract attention far faster than words do.

So how can we be creative with photographs?

For some people getting creative means figuring out what to take pictures of.

For other people getting creative means adding graphics and enhancing the photos, making photo collages or doing interesting things with framing, naming and captioning photos.

Creative Subjects for Photos?

For businesses with brick and mortar, it may be obvious to some people, but not to others.

Don’t miss the obvious: your entryway, parking, signs, interior decor, the inside of your store, your products, customers in your store, pictures of you and your staff, images from your website, graphics you make to promote your products or an event.

Don’t forget the locale, seasons and events: local weather, local places to go and see, your business in different seasons, holiday related decor you use, events that happen in your store or that you participate in, other businesses you support, your sponsorship of any local events.

Consider humor. Humorous photos are good but think twice about who your customers are and make sure they’re appropriate for your audience.

What are Some Creative Ways to Work with Photos?

Social Media for Business by Brossman and McGaha in the Social Media Marketing section of the bookstore

Add text to photos. If you add text to your photos, you can point out things that your customers might be interested in.

Add graphics to the photo. An arrow and a note showing how your products are twice as big as someone else’s. A circle to point out fine detail. A star to announce some savings.

Some simple photo editing tools. If you’re not a Photoshop user, you can use PowerPoint, Picasa photo editor or Paint to add text to photos. You won’t have high resolution (it’ll be a little fuzzy), but you can do it. Be sure to choose a color text and design that is visible on the photo.

Most of all…don’t miss out – have a way to take pictures with you – ideally all the time .

Camera phones and handy digital cameras. Having a camera on your mobile phone is the easiest way to be able to catch photos anytime anywhere. Or, you can also get an small digital camera that fits in your pocket. Download the photos daily or once a week to your computer, choose the good ones to save, delete the poor ones, and you’ll be building your own media library for your online publishing.

Whether catching your team doing what they do best, a ray of sunlight on a plant in your office, or a customer’s pet (if they approve), capturing pictures of the ordinary moments in your day to day work life can be easy and rich content for your online social media program.

Find down-to-earth, insightful, practical and valuable practices, tips, perspectives and explanations inSocial Media for Small Business by Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha. It was written by small and micro business owners, with direct experience that can help you use the Internet and social media to grow your business and your reputation.

Let the tens of thousands of hours of research and experience represented in this book save you time and grow your business – for less than $23 delivered.  Read what reviewers have said on Amazon.

After you’ve read it, leave your own review. Have suggestions? Email info@thesocialmediaforbusinessbook.com. We want to hear them.