I Don’t Have Time for Social Media

“I don’t have time for social media!”

Have you heard these words come out of your mouth?

We can spend hours creating and editing blog posts, sharing links, uploading photos and streaming live video.  The many possibilities to get involved with social media can seem to be daunting and a huge time suck if there is no understanding of why we are doing all of this.

Interactive Marketing Strategist, Stephen Dill (@srdill) tells us about his initial resistance to Social Media.

(Please hold computer sideways to view this video)

After spending a little time with his mentor Aaron Strout, Stephen found Twitter to be his answer.  He could spending 24-48 writing and rewriting  ‘perfect’ blog posts, until he discovered he could produce multiple 140 character updates and maintain the level of quality on Twitter in much less time.  Twitter is not necessarily the answer for everyone, but for Stephen it made a lot of sense because he was spending so much time reworking blog posts.

Twitter facilitates millions of conversations and it is important to  understand what conversations we want to be part of and who cares about what we have to say.  If used properly, Twitter can be a real time saver  because it allows us to cut through unwanted clutter,  follow people talking about things we want to know about, and directly engage in conversations with the people who care about what we have to say.

At a recent Social Media Meetup I heard an interesting piece of advice for graduating college students. The panelist said, “If you are interviewing with a potential employer and they have no plans to using social media, run for the door as quickly as you can because that company will not survive.”

So, if you hear yourself saying “I don’t have time for social media”, the time is now to start developing a strategy, setting goals and understanding how to use the tools available to participate in the conversation!

Developing Personal Relationships Results in More Effective Student Recruiting

Life is all about relationships.

I recently had a conversation with an admissions recruiter at a school in Boston and our conversation turned to how she became so effective at recruiting international students.  She told me that her success was a symptom of her ability to connect with prospective students and their families.  To get students to apply and ultimately attend her school she never regurgitated her university’s talking points and facts but rather took time to get to know each prospective student on a personal level.

Her conversations with students were about her family, her life, her experiences of traveling around the world.  She would ask prospective students’ about their lives, dreams, motivations and goals.  After taking the time to have a conversation that was not merely ‘small talk’, the student and their family would start asking questions about the school she represented.  That’s right, by taking the time to create a personal connection, the student would begin to ask unprompted questions about her school leading to a submitted application and many times a deposit!

So if personal relationships help us recruit quality prospective international students, how can we create more personal relationships without having to spend excessive amounts of money to travel around the world?

Embrace the conversations that students are trying to have with you on social networks!  Today’s prospective student, without being conscious of it, loves to develop relationships.  This can be seen with the phenomenal popularity of social networks.  Students live on social networks, spending hours leaving comments on their friends’ profiles, photos, blogs, etc.  They ask and answer questions in forums about how to get a student visa or how to beat the SAT exam.  They update their status on Facebook and Twitter.  The point is that with social networks, today’s prospective students are more personal than ever and we need to embrace this fact.

We as admissions offices need to gain the confidence of today’s prospective international student today more than ever before.  If we want to attract the top talent to our schools we need to respond to their comments and questions we need to comment on their content, we need to get conversations started, we need to share our lives and create personal connections.

To get personal we need to do more than put up a Facebook page, more than direct students to our website, more than write e-mails.  We need to interact, communicate and get personal with our prospective international students!

Social Media is not a Waste of your Admissions Office’s Time

Not only is our interaction with students via social networks going to grow but the fact of the matter is that it is much more effective to interact with students via social networks and here’s why…

Many admissions recruiters have this idea that social media (web 2.0) is not a productive use of time.  One example of this is the apprehension admissions offices have of setting up a Facebook page.  Some of the offices I have spoken with feel that if they run a Facebook page they will be wasting time having to moderate slanderous comments left by visitors or even have to interact with more prospective students.

Rather than worrying about having to respond to all these comments positive or negative we should realize that these interactions are a great opportunity for us to reach tens, hundreds even thousands of prospective students!

Let’s imagine we are in New Delhi giving a presentation about our school to a group of 100 prospective international students.  100 students are sitting, listening attentively to how our school offers international students a life changing experience.  We talk about how our school is connected to job opportunities in various fields like, the sciences, engineering and finance.  We talk about how easy it is to get involved in the current international student community.  We talk about how many great international student events and student groups there are.

As we wrap up the presentation we ask if anyone has any questions.  One student raises their hand and asks ‘I want to know what I can do to improve my chances of being accepted to your school.  What kind of extracurricular activities do you like to see?  Which test scores do you look at closely?  What range of scores would give me the best chance of being accepted?’

As we prepare to answer this question we think if it would be easier to talk to the student one on one after the presentation or if we should answer the student right there and then?  This decision is a very important one!!!

If we decide to answer this question right there and then, 100 people get to hear our answer.  That is 99 more than if we answer the students question after the presentation!  Remember how our teachers in school would tell us not to be afraid to ask a question because 10 other people in the class probably have the same question? Well the same goes here, there are many other students with similar questions who might be afraid to ask so it is always important to answer as many questions as we can in front of as many people as we can.

So how does this relate to social media (web 2.0)?  Say on our Facebook page someone writes a comment on our wall asking the same question as above.  Or consider someone posts a comment about our school that is false and we now have to take a few minutes to share the truth.  By answering the question or the comment on our wall (not a private message or e-mail) it is as if we are answering that question in front of a large audience like in New Delhi.  Just because we are responding to one student doesn’t mean that tens, hundreds, even thousands of other students aren’t reading our answer!

Think about that for a minute.  Any time we respond to a comment left on one of our photos, videos, wall, etc. there is a possibility that there are tens, hundreds, even thousands of people who are reading what we write!

That is the power of social media (web 2.0).  Even though we aren’t aware of all the people who are reading what we write on Facebook, the effect of our communication via that medium is much more effective than writing e-mails or private messages in response to each individual student’s question or comment.

Consider this thought:

E-mail response = 1 person hearing the answer to a question

Social media response = tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people hearing the answer to a question!

Which do you prefer?

Photo by Hoong Wei Long

Social Media Jungle Boston

Today I spent my afternoon at Social Media Jungle in Waltham, Ma.  As a first timer you can never really know what you are getting yourself into when you go to one of these events, especially when the title includes the word ‘Jungle’ in it.   The title was fitting!

The morning session’s speakers included the event producer, Jeff Pulver, who spoke about the need to sometimes be vulnerable, as we learned it is not nearly as easy as it should be.  A bit later Steve Garfield spoke about ‘New Media Tools you can use to tell your story RIGHT NOW’.  I was not actually there for either of these presentations, but I was able to catch most of the conversation by tracking the #smjbos tag on my twitter feed.

I brought my Casio Exilim  ex-s10 camera along and thought I would share some of the presentations from the afternoon.

Chris Penn on the important numbers and how we should be thinking about the metrics.

FinancialAidPodcast.com

Steven Dill on “Social Media Lessons Learned: From the perspective of a skeptical Online Marketer”

Steven’s Blog

Leslie Poston on ”Bringing Generations Together For Success In The New Millennium”

Leslie’s Website

Maria Thurrell & Alexa Scordato on “Social Media: Make new friends but keep the old ones.”

Maria’s website

Alexa’s Blog

Nice head fake!  You had the audience thinking this was about friendship when all the while it was really all about marketing and what genuine human interaction  can bring to a brand.

Other speakers in the afternoon session included Matthew Mamet on Video 2.0 and Mike Lanford on “The evolution of conversation.” Overall there was a interesting mix of perspectives shared on how social media is changing the way we work and live.   There is a jungle of options to choose from when we look at the social media landscape today.  The takeaway: try many, know that not all will work for you, determine what does work and go with it!

Are Podcasts An Effective International Student Recruiting Tool

There was a question recently posted to an international student recruiting list serve about the use of podcasting with international alumni as an effective tool for prospective international students and educational advisers.  It made me think a little bit about how schools can use podcasts effectively to recruit international students.

Here are the two questions posed with my thoughts underneath:

1.  Do you think this is a good idea?

I think that creating social media (video, blog, podcast, twitter, etc.) is a great idea but only if done with respect to one’s overall social media marketing strategy.  For example, creating a podcast is great but a few things should be considered:

First, what is your intention of creating these podcasts?  Is it to entice prospective students to become interested in your school?  Is it for students who already know about your school and are merely looking for additional information?  Is your intention to create some sort of buzz around your school so students who haven’t heard of you are now learning about your school?  A clear understanding of the intended use of social media development is very important.

Second, to go along with why you are creating this content, clearly define who is your intended target market to hear these podcasts?  If your intended market is prospective students, have you considered if your podcasts are compelling enough to create a word of mouth buzz?  I have found through my experience that creating any type of social media merely to create it is no longer compelling enough for students to help spread content virally.  I have gone into more detail on the idea of creating compelling/wow type content in this blog post… http://tinyurl.com/bm3w9l

Third, consider how you’re distributing this content through the Internet.  The beauty of social media is that it can be easily ‘shared’ through various platforms.  For example, the podcasts that we have created are distributed through a newsletter, integrated across our other outreach on Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, Blog, Website, etc. where we not only allow prospective students to listen to it but to also easily ‘share’ the content through their favorite mediums.

2.  Is your institution doing this already?  If so, do you have any feedback to share?

We have found that the most successful podcasts are on the hottest topics like getting a visa, jobs after school, finding scholarships, tips for the SAT, etc.  While students are interested in learning what it is like to live on a school’s campus, the issues that are the hardest to overcome for a student are the ones that students tend listen to in droves.  Plus it is this ‘controversial’ content that tends to be shared the most virally, so definitely keep that in mind if your intention is to create viral buzz with your podcasts.

Photo by Juan Pablo Olmo

Technology & International Student Recruiting March Meetup

highres_70354191 It is Monday, March 2 and that means it is time for another Meetup.   At last month’s meetup we had a great discussion and expect more of the same this evening.  The event is intended to be an informal gathering that facilitates open discussion about web technology and international student recruiting. It is Free, we only require you to come prepared to learn, share and explore ideas about innovative international student recruiting techniques.

LOCATION:
73 Tremont Street
Amenities Conference Center
Boston, MA 02108

FORMAT:

6:00p-6:30p Networking & Refreshments

6:30p – 8:00 Open Discussion (topics decided by group)

8:00p – 8:30p Wrap-up

Create Effective Recruiting Media On The Fringes

In my conversation with Paula David of Clark University, she talked about hiring a ‘Director of Wow’. Her idea is to create content that will draw some sense of shock or emotion from her target audience.

Seth Godin, marketing guru, constantly preaches the idea of creating at the fringes.  Being safe is boring, those who push the envelope are the ones who draw attention and create remarkable content.

While visiting several admissions and marketing personnel this past week there seemed to be a common theme when talking about creating rich media… If we create rich media our target audience will undoubtedly want to watch it and will be enamored with it.

While this train of thought may have worked a few years ago I am of the mind that our target audience is no longer ooh’ed and ahh’ed simply by seeing a school’s rich media content.  The fact of the matter is that we not only need to ooh and ahh our target audience, we now need them to talk about it with their friends.

So what does it take to create on the fringes?  Here is a flow chart from Wired Magazine on our typical thought process when deciding whether or not to forward an e-mail.  If you look at what it takes, just to get someone to forward an e-mail you will realize why creating rich media for the sake of having it on your school’s admissions website is a waste of your time.

Click to see full size

To find inspiration on what works, look at some of the most talked about shows on television, Family Guy, Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live.  These shows might not be the most popular but they are definitely some of the most talked about.  The material that these shows use is controversial, it isn’t safe and therefore we are more likely to remark about it.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

Saturday Night’s Wii Guys

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Hulu – Saturday Night Live: Wii Guys“, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Now you might disagree with some of the content but this is what it takes to get generation y to share with their friends.  So be creative and find shocking ways to stimulate your target audience.

Photo by Hizonic