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)

Coldplay does it again!

The first part of this post was written a week before the release of the new Coldplay album. I opted to wait to post till the album officially dropped.

Okay, so I got my hands on a pre-release copy of Coldplay’s newest album “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.” It’s perfection in a speaker. Now for those of you who are wondering about how I got it a full 7 days before release, I’m not going to tell you. Except to point out that I have already pre-ordered the album from iTunes and will be also purchasing a hard copy.

Written Today – 6.17.08

Back to the album, the foursome have put out a superb effort once again. After the huge success of X&Y, the expectations were pretty high. Coldplay has a way of putting together an album in such a way as to take you on an emotional roller coaster. They are masters of manipulating your emotions in time with the music.

In particular, the track “42” is a great example of how, within one song, a listener can ride along with the band as they reach rafter level anthemic rock and take it back down to a ballader’s pace.

The only criticism I have of this album is that it doesn’t seem to be as bold as X&Y. They’ve taken a step back from their previous offering and reinvented how they deliver their musical vision. But that is a very small criticism of an otherwise great album.

Categories: Music, Reviews Tags: ,

Flickr UnUsed

So, I was looking around today on Flickr and noticed that it had been a long time since I posted any of my pictures. I have taken a lot since the last time I posted, I just have been lazy about the post-processing and uploading. I’m going to remedy that tonight. I’m gonna post a bunch of pictures….maybe…haha.

But really, when I’m paying $25 a year to have a “pro” account, I’d probably be better off actually using the service.

Categories: Flickr Tags:

Indy is like a Fine Wine

At approximately 19:20 CST May 22, 2008, the lights dimmed in Warren Theatres in Moore, OK. The curtain was raised and the beautiful Lucasfilm Ltd logo came on screen. Now, the previous three times I saw this logo on screen, my mind was filled with what can only be described as apprehension. But, tonight it was excitement. The reason, Steven Spielberg. His direction was what Lucas was missing in the movies-that-won’t-be-named. Steven did not disappoint.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is most definitely an “Indiana Jones” movie. Now, to some, that distinction means nothing. To those same people, the simple fact that it was titled as such, qualifies. To those that truly understand and loved our previous three trips back to a time when a simple bull-whip could do so much damage, the distinction is important. I, of course, am not going to spoil any parts of the movie. I’m a better movie fan than that. However, I will say that the story and the acting are just as good as they were when Indy was a few years younger.

Harrison Ford, while looking the part of the older character, certainly had the physical chops to pull off this movie. I’m pretty sure he didn’t do quite as many of his own stunts has he had in the past, but he carries this movie on his back with the strength of Sallah. He has aged extremely well, and has not lost a step in the 19 years since he donned the ubiquitous fedora.

Shia LaBeouf has a good turn as the ironically named Mutt Williams. Supposedly, Lucas has ideas to take the story on using Mutt as the primary character and have Indy play a smaller role. After this performance, I think he could pull it off if the story is right. We’ve seen too many movies series’ go past their prime because someone wanted the story to keep going. Hopefully this won’t be the case. It has a good shot, as long as Lucas remains an Exec Producer and co-writer, and not step behind the lens again. He is far better a producer than he ever was a director.

Overall, it was a quality movie. Of course, it had the requisite references to the past movies, but they were done tastefully and weren’t overdone. I’ll be seeing this again in the theater and will of course be buying it to add to the collection.

Pretty Much Dumb

So, I’m dumbfounded how I can never really get a blog going. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s more that I feel like no one is listening. And they really aren’t. But it’s a double edged sword because if I don’t write, then no one will read and if no one reads, then I won’t feel like I need to write.

I find myself reading lots of blogs everyday, but they always skew towards technology, design and the like. I really would love to find a blog where someone is just writing. Maybe it doesn’t actually mean much to most people, they just write. 

I think that’s what I’m going to focus on from now on. I’m just going to write about what I’m feeling rather than worrying about what would be most popular to read. Because honesty in your writing is the most important thing. If you aren’t honest with yourself, you can’t really ever be truly honest with anyone.

So this will be a starting point for a true blog, not tech news, design musings, but whatever I’m honestly feeling or thinking about. If you want to stick around, I would love to have you. Talk back to me and let me know what’s going on in your world.