Archive for the ‘conferences’ Category

Adventures in Philly

July 24, 2008 2 comments

I’m currently writing this while sitting in a plane parked on the tarmac at Philidelphia Airport. My flight home from the eduWeb Conference 2008 was supposed to leave at 6:30pm EST. It is currently 8:50 EST. Mine was one of many flights that were either delayed or simply canceled coming out of Philadelphia. The primary reason for the delay is weather. It is storming here in Philly, has been for about an hour and is apparently supposed to be for the next 8 hours. No word from the captain on whether or not we will be leaving soon, or even at all. I just wish that they had pulled back up to the terminal so that we could at least spread out in the airport. Eat food. They have served first class their food (dinner entrees with wine), but have yet to come and offer anything to those of us in the cheap seats. I guess that’s what you get for not being rich…haha. Just kidding. As I look behind me, I think I see the flight attendants serving drinks to the passengers behind, so that is a good sign. At this point, this is just another random step in this trip.

Overall, I’m very, very pleased with my experience at the conference. It was my first conference where my primary focus was meeting with other people in the higher education industry that share my job. I went to a conference in April, but that was more to learn to use a product that we had purchased (Banner). While this conference offered some great insights into how students use social networks when researching and choosing colleges, I think my take-away will be the people I have met and the relationships I have started to build.

Most of all, this conference has encouraged me to start blogging again. And to take it seriously. Not to just post about whatever’s going on, but to really think about what I’m writing. I guess part of what I’m feeling is that I’m actually starting to finally feel like an adult. To take stock of where I am professionally and start to plan where I’d like to be at a point in the future.

I hope that if I ever get out of here, I’ll be able to attend more conferences in the future and offer something of value to the higher ed web community.

To be continued…


eduWeb 2008: It’s the Community Stupid! Karine Joly Closing Keynote

Karine Joly, founder of

Posts on

2005 – RSS (17), podcasting (46)

2006 – blogs (84)

2007 – video (51)

2008 – social networking (58), twitter (12)

So Many Tools, So Little Time

Facebook, Blogger, flickr, twitter, myspace, WIkipedia,

“The medium is the message.” Marshall McLuhan – Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man 1964

“The conversation is killing the messanger, the message and the recipient”

We are in communication overload. It has become very difficult to keep up with the conversation. We have reached the tipping point of information and the ability to upkeep

Big Questions:

What’s important?

  • twitter, blogs, facebook, myspace, what should we do?

How do you catch up?


How do you keep up?


Stop, breath and start to think about what is the core mission of web marketing and communication in higher education. Remember that we are in the relationship building business. Every day, we do whatever we can to build a long lasting relationship with our constituency, the students. We tend to forget that high school juniors and seniors will become a current student, will graduate and will become a regular and major donor. So it’s really until their death do us part and they leave us a nice benefit.

Conversations build Relationships

You can have authentic conversations with people that are many miles away from you institution.

The community has become central to our job today, because we can’t build relationships with our students without incorporating the community in our plan.

Book: groundswell – by Charlene Li & Josh Bernof

Really good book, talked about a lot at the conference. Mentioned in both keynote speeches.

“Community is about people’s need to connect [even with you], not your need to control”

7-Step Plan

  1. Their Needs
  2. Your Goals
  3. Participatory Design
  4. Exclusive Valuable Content
  5. Listen, Identify, Empower
  6. Cross Promote
  7. Treat them as Stakeholders

What can you do for them?

You have to ask the students what their needs are, what are their expectations, their preferred communications channels. You have to approach the students like a waitress and ask what they are needing.

What do you want?

Focus on your goals.

If you build it with them, they will come.

You can build a beautiful website, but no one will come if you aren’t working in the community. You have to approach it by building it with your audience/community. The few will help you get to the larger community.

Exclusive Content – Conversation Starters

There are so many options, you have to give them a reason to come. Imagine you are backat home and you are known for your great holiday cookies. Chances are, they will come by and get a cookie. Same with social space on the web, you must offer something different that will push people to come and visit. Exlusive content are the cookies, and Conversation Starters are like very focused answers to questions about campus.

Listen, Identify, Empower

By listening to the community, you will be able to identify the most active and vocal people. You must empower them because they are the growth of the community. They will help make your community stronger and stronger. It’s all about engagement. it’s important not to ignore those super-community members

Call them back – on their terms

Once they go, you have to remind them to come back. Let them know you are still there. Find out what kind of channels that they are using. You need to provide updates on their terms. Something that will entice them back into your community space.

Meet your new boss(es)!

They are now the real bosses of your department. What they want is paramount. The power users are your bosses. They will make or break your initiative with the community. It’s important to treat them well. If you do, they will be thankful and you will succeed.


Never forget that THEY know more than you do, just as the higher ed community knows more than I do.

Butler Unviersitysocial media website. Brad J Ward, Electronic Communication Director

  • 220k page views
  • 340 members
  • 1,61 forum posts
  • 68% incoming students found it helpful

Keene State College Ning Site, Mike Caufield, Director of Web Communication

They did a slow roll out, slowly letting more and more people know about it.

  • 697 members
  • 876 uploaded photos
  • 20 groups created by members
  • 82k monthly page views
  • 45% members invited by peers (Wow!)

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Vendor Social Network

  • 2,300 registered admitted students
  • 51% never made an official visit
  • of these, 83% submitted a deposit

The Last Word…

go to to help share with the whole community about your secrets about how you implement social media in your college.

eduWeb 2008: SkoolPool, A Facebook App Case Study

July 23, 2008 4 comments

Academia Group developed SkoolPool to find a Facebook app that students would actually choose. 87% of kids use their friends when deciding where to go to college. SkoolPool aggregated that information automatically. Students are more influenced by their friends than other sources, except for websites.

90% of students still want to be reached by e-mail. It’s not dead.

Screenshot to come later.

Students are doing your marketing for you, your logo on their facebook page.

Students can see a list of all the students that will be going to/are interested in a particular school. Every kid that is considering a particular school will show up on the list.

Schools can have free profiles on SkoolPool. The free package includes wall, community, events, contact info, but is only visible to users of SkoolPool.

The paid package has community, video, events, third party stuff, and is visible to all facebook, as opposed to just the SkoolPool app people.

Pros and Cons


  • Enormous Reach
  • Access to diverse data
  • Ability to ask for additinoal info


  • Facebook is a source of marketing info

SkoolPool basic facts

  • Passed 10,000+ users in Spring 2008
  • 5,965 active users, from 51 countries
  • referencing 1,400 colleges
  • New product will launch in September/October

There are over 1000 schools referenced in the US alone.

Age of use ranges from 15-29.

When students add or remove a school, the application asks why.

Some Planned Analyses of SkoolPool Data

  • College Preference
  • Preference over time: tracks month-over-month the college choices
  • Cross Application – where else are they applying
  • Conversion Rate – from “Still Considering” to “Applied and Still Considering”

Shaping Conversations

Academia Group did no ads at the beginning, but that didn’t work very well. Eventually they placed ads in Facebook, MySpace, Google and had ads through them. They then went through and dropped little notes into the groups created for Classes of 2012 and 2013, they grew 42% in one day. They found a 2% growth when placing notes on MySpace.

Facebook Pages

Out of the 400 or so Facebook pages related to specific colleges or universities that existed on Facebook in January, were spread over a few categories.

  • 307 general school landing pages
  • 62 related to sub-communities within a school
  • 22 libraries
  • 12 student unions
  • 8 branch or satellite campuses
  • 5 campus book store
  • 4 alumni

THe application will be going live on MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 and Orkut next year. Shooting for 80,000 total users.

Coming in SkoolPool v2

  • Multi-Platform
  • Detailed profiles
  • Voting
  • FB Page widget for schools – widget to allow students to add your school from your facebook page
  • Preview wall posts
  • Notifications
  • Video & Photos on basic level
  • Student videos
  • Scholarship newsfeeds
  • Applicant retention insight
  • sister site

SkoolPool will be utlizing OpenSocial so that you can see your MySpace SkoolPool friends as well as the Facebook users.

Research Subscriptions

  • Monthly Reports
  • Data Upload
  • 24/7 support

How High School Students Use the Web – eduWeb2008, Day 2

July 22, 2008 2 comments

In the interest of fair reporting, I’m bringing you an unbiased account of the presentation by Royall & Company from eduWeb Conference 2008. The following is that account:

The Evolution of the Web in College Recruitment

Late 1994: Netscape Navigator is released to the public. THis is the beginning of the popularization of the web.

1994-1995: Common Application becomes available in a floppy disk

1995: Embark was founded as Snap Technologies

1996-1998: Colleges and universities begin to establish info sites

1997: est.

1997: Royall & Company’s online Fast Application is launched

1998: College established

Late 1998: (princeton) goes online

1998-1999: Common App is available online.

1999: Royall & Company launches eSearch. EMail use expands in recruiting

1999: established

2000: Royall & Company’s eQual program is launched

2000: UNC System develops first-of-its-kind prospective student portal

2001: College was est.


2002: RSS and other means of widely and efficiently dispersing information take hold

2002: Royall & Company launces Waitlister

2004: Web 2.0 emerges

2004: MySpace and Facebook are launched

2005: YouTube was created (former PayPal employees)

2006-2007: All members agree to accept Common Application online

2007: Case Western Reserve University runs tours of a digital replica of its campus in the virtual world of Second Life

University Research Partners

Insights from Partners

  • College-bound high school students view websites for information: they are not particulary interested in sites as sources of entertainment
  • Functionality and ease of navigation are imperative
  • Some students indicate that more thatn two or three clicks to find what they’re looking for makes them want to leave a site.

Sources Used in College Search

  • College specific websites – 82%
  • Other students/peers (over social media) – 63%
  • Letters from specific colleges – 51%
  • Email messages from specific colleges – 42%
  • many more

Website Use

  • 82% of college bound high school students use inst. websites as an info source during their college search
  • students use inst. websites (.edu) more than any other
  • students trust .edu sites more than other
  • But are moving to social media sites

Sophomores and Juniors use websites to develop their short lists of potential schools

They want to know:

  • Can I get in?
  • How much does it cost, and can I afford it?
  • Does the school offer majors in my areas of interest?
  • Students often find it difficult to find their major on your website

Seniors use websites to:

  • Make an informed decision on where to apply

What they told use this past weekend…(they is a panel of students)

  • Last year, 55% of urCompass panelists indicated they used social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace
  • Do you have an account on a social networking site – 85% college and 94% college students

Students indicated that they think that colleges and universities should have pages on social networking sites.

In your opinion, what is the best source of information about colleges provided on social networking sites like Facebook?

  • Current Students – 100% high school, 85% college
  • College or University officials – 67% high school, 71% college
  • Former students/alumni – 51% high school, 57% college
  • Other prospective students – 0% high school, 28% college

Students indicate that they would like to communicate with current students using Facebook and MySpace by reading notes, IM, Comments on wall, email them on their own, email them through the site.

Students would like to see message boards on college sites (anonymously) where they can ask questions and get answers from real people.

Key Insights

  • More and more students are beginning their college search before schools are contacting them
  • Web-based searches are most common, so your website is a critically important tool
  • Your inst. website may be inadvertently creating barriers for prospective students, and driving them to social networking sites
  • Most students want more rather than less information
  • Your current students are considered a great source of information
  • In almost all cases, earlier contact with students in better for them and their families.

Research You Can Do

  • Regularly review website use and “Page Views” to measure traffic
  • Personally navigate the website periodically, beginning with the home page, and time how quickly you can find: The Application, A Specific Major, Tuition and Fees, Financial Aid Information
  • Invite local high school students to your office and ask them to fin the information most important to them on your website
  • Keep a record of questions you get from students and parents who call or email you. Many will be contacting you because they can’t find the answers on your site
  • Check our your competitors’ presence on social networking sites; you may be able to borrow from others to develop your own plan

Recruiting 2.1 – EduWeb Conference Day 2

July 22, 2008 1 comment

Brian Niles, CEO of Target X presents a seminar on the revolution in student recruiting.

A quick survey of the room reveals that the mix of people is about even across web folk, admissions folk and marketing folk. So a good mix of people here.

Quick Philanthropic word: The Power of X, 1% of profit, 1% of the product and 1% of time is spent on philanthropic efforts.

There are three levels of dealing with students.

6,000 ft level – The Perfect Storm

  • High school graduates, reduction in the number of students coming
  • Generational Shift

Questions we’re asking:

Have you actively engaged parents?
Have you promoted the ROI?

College tuition and fees are still a very small piece of the consumer spending pie.
Questions we’re asking:
Will students go closer to home?
How will you encourage them to visit?
Will offering more online courses help?
Will your recruitment staff travel less?

Lending Crisis
Questions we’re asking:
What is your college/you doing to cut costs?
How is your financial aid strategy adjusting?
Are you prepared to answer questions about finanacial aid earlier?

600 ft level – The Shift of Control

The Internet

Millenials + the internet = ?

Traditional recruiting doesn’t work any more

· Ex. Viewbooks

Social networking is the new future of recruiting

· Sharing and connecting

22% of teens have uploaded a video they have created

9 hrs spent on social media per week

Email – what we use to talk to “old people”:

IM/SMS – casual written conversations with friends

64% believe advertising is dishonest or unrealistic

Marketing Immunity – 3,000 – 5,000 daily messages

6 ft levelRecruiting Revolution

Undergraduate Trends

  • 71% of student start looking for colleges before junior year
  • 13% start in 8th grade
  • For >25% of colleges, admissions application was first point of contact
  • 75% of time that a student researches, they are doing it online (2004 stat)
  • 84% use the college’s website most heavily for research

Adult and graduate

· 64% prefer letters and print pieces

· 63% prefer email

· 71% use IM

Takeaway  – Preference for e-communication

Students want details on cost.

They desire to connect with faculty.

They want to be reached using new tools

Recruiting 2.0

You are no longer in control of the conversation – who, when, how

Differentiation and Distruption

How well have you articulated on your site how your school different? Why do we refer to other institutions as peers? They aren’t peers, they are competitors.

How are we different and how are we disrupting the process

Students make decisions based on four things:





Quality – NO longer differentiates, difficult to define in higher education

Everyone looks the same

– Colleges not being true to themselves (inauthentic)

A “me-too” product development philosophy

Leadership not providing clear vision


– a hundred reasons that differentiate you (overkill, but right on the intent)

– define how you are different

Stories not Stats – People not Programs

Biola University

– great parent program and corresponding web presence


– Kellogg MBA program (link)

Albright College

– got rid of viewbook, did a three time a year printing, just profile students (Faces)

– The stats were in the back, but inside, just profiled the specific students

– print and online integrated together, random student with profile at top

– Ning social network

– Also did Faces:Mentors that focus on faculty

71% say that the campus visit was the most trusted source of info

You must design the customer experience or the customer will design it for you – Tom Peters

Make the campus visit authentic, get rid of negatives (cigarrette butts), but also let the student stories come out

We are a Change Averse industry

Insanity, we are constantly doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result

Requires a change in campus culture

Retention begins with being authentic in recruiting

Are we truly putting what is authentic forward?

If we spend all our time thinking abotu what the other guy is doing, we will end up copying them


Power yourself with data & research

Talk to students – they’ll tell you

Trust your gut instinct

Calculate the ROI (when possible)

Ignore your competition – be who you are

Call them your competitors, but don’t let them define you

Students speak – survey link here

Don’t Flirt with Me – Study done for WSACAC 2008 presentation

About Recruiters/Admissions Counselors

“Most college gave to much a glossy image of themselves, the end result look the same.

If schools over advertise, there must be something wrong.

Be real, honest and straightforward.

You look desperate for a date, chill out.

If I’m not a candidate, leave me alone.

Reply to my requests more quickly

About Your Websites –

Hard to navigate

Outdated or unprofessional

Too busy or confusing

Too basic

Too many links

Today, the most important conversation is not the marketing monologue, but the dialogue between your audience

Wharton MBA (link)

Rethink the budget

Distrubution print vs web, on-campus vs off

Stop the “have to” activities (hint: start with travel)

Avoid the many online fads

Focus on what will work, not what always worked

Doesn’t necessarily mean additional funding

Start earlier

Brand recognition begins in freshman year

College search starts in sophomore year

Book List:

Beyond Disruption – Jean-Marie Dru

How to Drive Your Competition Crazy – Guy Kawasaki

The Business of Changing the World – Marc Benioff and Carlye Adler

Re-imagine – Tom Peters

The Overachievers – Alexandra Robbins

X Saves the World – Jeff Gordinier

Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug

Transforming a College – George Keller


Story Corps NPR (link)

TWiT (link)

Ted Talks (link)

Onion Radio News (link)

You Look Nice Today (link)