social media

2018 Own It! Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference

I’m delighted to share that I have been selected as a speaker for this year’s 2018 Own It! Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference in Ulster County, NY at The Darlene L. Pfeiffer Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at SUNY Ulster.

My workshop is entitled, “Know Enough to Be Dangerous in Social Media Marketing.” Stand out in the marketplace and grow your business with concrete tools and tips that will help you to know enough to be dangerous — in a great way — with social media marketing.

Social media is easily accessible but can be very complex to use it well to market your business. It can also be detrimental to your business if not used well. There are many tools available to help entrepreneurs — so many that it can be overwhelming to know where to start. This workshop will help you break through the madness and learn enough to be considered dangerous — in a great way — with social media marketing.

Knowing which social media to use to market your business and how to best use it can be confusing for many, especially because the landscape changes so fast and often, and can be quite noisy. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — which should we use and why? We’ll look at these outlets, as well as some great tools that will help your posts look professional, be engaging, and timely. In addition, we’ll review some automation tools that are available, but more importantly, we will focus on the pros and cons of content automation.

A live assessment of two attendees social media channels will be offered, along with offering tangible ways they can improve to better engage their target audiences.

Attendees will leave the workshop knowing which social media outlets are worth the investment of time and will reach their target audience; master a handful of tools that will make their social media posts look professional and stand out; and will learn about the pros and cons of using scheduling tools to automate some of your content.

As a female entrepreneur in the Hudson Valley, as well as a New York State Certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise, I’m excited to share my experience and expertise in social media marketing to help other female entrepreneurs thrive and grow their businesses in the Hudson Valley.

Should you jump on social bandwagons?

This article was originally published on InsideHigherEd’s Call to Action Blog on February 9, 2016.

Last month there was a great deal of hype about Peach, a new social network that seemingly came out of nowhere. It is a bit like Facebook (lite), Twitter and Tumblr combined. You can post a short update and photos; search for an animated GIF to share your emotion; answer pre-defined questions or trigger Magic Words; wave, “boop” or “cake” friends; and see your friends activities. (Here’s a Complete Beginner’s Guide.) It’s currently only available as an app for iOS, but they say they’re working on Android and other features too.

Brands such as Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster on Peach), who interestingly didn’t jump on the Instagram bandwagon, have established a presence and are starting to experiment. They share tomorrow’s word-of-the-day today in a doodle and sometimes with perfect animated GIFs to bring the meaning alive. According to this article, their new strategy focuses on exposing people “to the love of language” rather than just share definitions.

So, should you jump into using Peach and will it be the next Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? Or, will it go the way of Meerkat, Google Wave and Buzz which were hot out of the gate and fizzled fast to non-existence? With typically stretched human resources and bandwidth in higher education, how do we evaluate whether we should jump on the latest social bandwagon? Here are some strategies to consider.

  • DO land grab. Grab your institution’s username. It doesn’t mean you need to use it — it holds a place for you if you’re going to play the Wait and See approach.
  • DO research audience use. Read news articles (avoid tech-writer and paid blogger hype) and seek research data on use of the new media by target audiences from sources such as Pew Research Center and eMarketer. Poll or survey your specific audiences too. A great moment for this is during the college visit.
  • DO think outside the box. How can the latest tool be used for your brand platform?
  • DO think carefully about your brand voice, tone and association. Are they a strong fit for this new media?
  • DO use it personally first. Have your own playground to experiment before you bring your institution’s name into the mix.
  • DON’T delegate to student workers. Sure, staffing and bandwidth is tight, and students can be super helpful to help you stay on the pulse of what’s new, but marketing staff should be driving decisions, content and strategy.
  • DON’T feel you have to use every new social tool soon after it launches. Waiting can be an acceptable strategy. Universities being first on new social sites aren’t given any kind of special award. Make sure you’re mastering your existing media presence first.

Emily Truax, Boston University’s social media manager, shares in this case study how their university started experimenting with Snapchat in early 2015. Knowing their audience and understanding the platform’s unique capabilities, they bucketed their snaps into news, events and celebrations. Although there was a fun factor, Truax says one of their primary goals is finding new and engaging ways to repurpose existing content their office has produced and the ways in which the stories they shared on Snapchat contributed toward that goal.

How are you using newer social media in strategic ways? Do you struggle with deciding which media your university should use?

Managing social media is a team sport

Who should be responsible for social media? This has been a hot discussion topic on higher education listservs, community message boards, Twitter, and other forums. My answer? It depends. Institution size, strategy, community management, and monitoring are some of the factors higher education professionals should consider in determining where responsibility lies.

The current debate is reminiscent of the late 1990s, when higher education communications and marketing professionals were having conversations about who should be responsible for an institution’s website. Then, as now, people were calling for policies, guidelines, and rules. We’re in the same boat all over again. Facebook and other social networking sites were so easy to set up and launch that before we knew it, most colleges and universities already had a presence—official or not. While institutions’ use of social media has matured, we’re still working out how to best use our current social media platforms. And now we have to begin thinking about how to incorporate the various location-based social networks into the mix.

Just like the website, social media have evolved to a point where they have the attention of senior-level communications professionals and administrators. And like they did in the 1990s Web era, communications and marketing professionals need to incorporate these new media tools into their overall marketing strategy and ensure that they represent their institutions in the best possible light. It’s yet another area where knowledge, consistency of voice, and customer service skills are imperative to an institution’s online reputation.

An institution’s size, resources, and level of support for social media greatly affect its approach to these platforms, both in terms of what’s possible and what’s practical. Mark Greenfield, an associate consultant with the higher education marketing firm Noel-Levitz, believes it’s important to first understand an institution’s culture as it relates to transparency, openness, authenticity, and control. He uses the “openness audit” (from Charlene Li’s book Open Leadership) to begin the conversation about campus and organizational culture, which helps inform social media strategy planning.

Neil Bearse, manager of Web-based marketing for Queen’s School of Business at Queen’s University in Canada, concurs with Greenfield. “The same individuals who are in charge of setting the overall business strategy of an organization should be responsible for the oversight of strategic implementation of social media—the same way they are overseeing the use of other communication methods,” he says. “No single person should be in charge of all social media channels.”

Having just one person responsible for social media is akin to putting one person in charge of every aspect of the institution’s website. In social media strategy efforts, forming partnerships with staff members from admissions, student affairs, alumni affairs, and communications and marketing is critical.

Listen, assess, and evolve

Social media have provided higher education with an unprecedented opportunity to really listen to and engage with its various audiences. Mentions of your institution in blog posts and on community bulletin boards, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms can now be monitored, aggregated, and ranked with sentiment ratings, giving you an almost real-time look at what people are saying about your school.

The need for community managers, which has grown quickly in the corporate sector, is beginning to increase in higher education. It’s important to have staff members throughout your organization tracking this information and playing community management roles on your various social media presences. These functions help free up those who are driving social media strategy as well as the overall strategy for other marketing channels.

A committee of about 15 faculty and staff members managed the initial strategy for Emerson College’s social media presence. The group met biweekly to discuss the status of their efforts before launching the Massachusetts institution’s official social media channels, which are now managed by four staff members—three in the communications and marketing office and one in enrollment.

The committee no longer meets regularly, but representatives do attend the marketing and communications office’s weekly news editorial and Web content meetings. Committee members also plan to host monthly social media workshops for student organizations, faculty members, and departments to continue talking about the development of the college’s social media presence, says Mike Petroff, Web manager for enrollment at Emerson. Meanwhile, the overall strategy continues to evolve through new marketing initiatives by the admissions, marketing and communications, and institutional advancement offices.

At Tufts University, also in Massachusetts, a working group of up to 50 social media practitioners representing a wide range of schools and offices meets monthly to share information and examples of work and to discuss emerging services and platforms, challenges, and ideas about how to use certain tools, according to Georgy Cohen, manager of Web content and strategy. While the group is not a governing body, it devised the university’s social media guidelines and is working to develop more social media resources for the Tufts community.

Advise and collaborate

Many departments want to leap into developing their own social media presence, so guidance on the use of social media is often a critical need, particularly at small to midsize institutions. To facilitate such a discussion, Queen’s University developed a social media brief to help departments determine which social media outlets should be used and to address the surrounding strategy.

I adapted the Queen’s document at my previous institution—the State University of New York at New Paltz—and added questions to help me better understand why departments wanted their own social media presence, including a statement of purpose, objectives and goals, target audience, execution plans, and maintenance. The document promoted discussions and helped determine whether a department or office’s website could be expanded to fit the need or whether a specific tool would be more appropriate.

For example, one department wanted to use Facebook to share more timely information related to events and programming. Using the social media brief to outline their objectives and goals made me realize—and helped me show them—that Facebook was not the best solution, particularly because they didn’t want to engage in conversations about the events. Instead, we added a calendar-of-events module to the department website, which the staff began to promote. In another instance, members of an athletics team wanted to foster community between current student athletes and former team members. Initially, they thought they wanted a Facebook group. After completing the social media brief, I suggested that Ning, a platform in which users can create their own social networks, would be the better tool to help them achieve their goals.

The technology aspect of social media is not an obstacle. The challenge lies in finding the right mix of strategists and executors to manage an institution’s social media communities effectively, which in most cases is a team effort.

This article was written for and appeared in the January 2011 issue of CASE Currents magazine. Copyright (c) 2011 Council for Advancement and Support of Education. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Stand Out! Customize Your Institution’s Social Media Presence

This morning I presented to a group of ~80 higher education colleagues who work in creative services offices for colleges and universities across the country. My session, Stand Out! Customize Your Institution’s Social Media Presence went beyond yesterdays Social Media 101 session and got under the hood with seven social networking sites to equip these designers with the specs and knowledge needed to customize their college’s presence.

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Don’t Link your Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Statuses

Last August Facebook gave Pages administrators the ability to publish their Facebook updates to their Twitter accounts automatically. Administrators can decide whether to share updates with their Twitter followers at all, and if so, which type of information to share, such as status updates, links, photos, notes, and events.

This, my friends, is what my friend Chris Brogan has coined “robot activity.” I agree and would go further and say you shouldn’t do it.

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Feeling Naked: A Tale of the Disappearing Facebook Fan Page

photo of the Facebook fortressOn the evening of Wednesday, September 30, the SUNY New Paltz Facebook Fan Page mysteriously disappeared. At first I thought it was a temporary glitch, but when it was still inaccessible on Thursday afternoon, I knew something was up.

The vanity URL (http://facebook.com/newpaltz) redirected to the Facebook home page. A search within Facebook for our university did not return a result with our page in it. Our fan’s profile pages no longer had our page listed as one they were a fan of. It was completely gone.

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Interview with CampusTweet.com

Last week one of my friends on Twitter tweeted, “Just added myself to http://campustweet.com  – Ithaca College and Georgetown University.

My immediate thought — is this another one of those sites that’s going to create buzz most of the day by our circle of common friends and then fade, or could this one actually stick? Lots of friends tweeted questions about it as more and more tweets “Just added myself to ….” came across the stream. The folks at campustweet.com (@campustweet on Twitter) were kind enough send me their e-mail address so I could ask them eight questions about their service. Here’s the interview.

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Trust Agents & Higher Ed

In the New York Times bestselling book Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith talk about the six principles of being a Trust Agent:

  1. Make your own game
  2. One of us
  3. The Archimedes Effect
  4. Agent Zero
  5. Human Artist
  6. Build an Army

These principles can be extended and used in the higher education space, specifically for community engagement, with prospective students, current students, and alumni, to name a few. (Notice, I didn’t use the term “community management.” Online communities don’t want to be managed. They manage themselves. If you follow principle #2, “One of Us,” you’ll get why. But, I digress.) Back to the principles and how this fits in with what you may be doing for your college/university, or what you may want to implement.

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Simple status & engagement on Facebook

Last week I updated our university’s Facebook Fan Page status to say:

Facebook screen shot

I thought it might get a comment, or like, or two, but was absolutely floored to find this volume of response, most of which came within the same hour I posted.

And then it happened two more times within the same week.

Facebook screen shot #2

Facebook screen shot #3

Here’s an expanded view of some of these comments:

Facebook comments

Sometimes, keeping it simple just works. SUNY Plattsburgh is also having a great deal of interaction over on their page as is SUNY Oswego. Never before have we seen alumni comment on our wall. This spirit and sense of community is a gold mine for alumni relations. One of the comments was actually an alum asking if we have a separate Facebook Fan Page just for alumni. (We don’t. Yet.)

I didn’t have a strong strategy behind the scenes. We didn’t hold committee meetings to decide what to say.  I just hoped for some new students to share their excitement, to feel welcomed, and to breath a little life into our page, instead of the “business as usual” answers to the same questions over and over again.

Something as simple as a status update that ties to an emotional time in new, current, and former students lives seems to resonate. This has expanded my thinking on how we’ll use this feature going forward. Maybe your campus has certain traditions (i.e. Slope Day at Cornell University, Foundation Day at the University of Albany, etc.) – highlight or countdown to some of them, give them behind the scenes updates and snapshots.

How are you using your university’s status? Are you seeing this kind of interaction?

Division III Releases Social Networking Rule Change for Communicating with Prospective Student-Athletes

The Division III Management Council just released their newly adopted “noncontroversial change to the Division III electronic transmissions limitations.” They’ve given it a retroactive effective date of August 1, 2008 to match when their original legislation went into effect. They’ve also released this article: “DIII Council opens up use of social-networking media

  • Division III institutions now are free to use such media as Facebook and Twitter to publicize game results and other athletics news without worrying whether prospective student-athletes are receiving those “electronically transmitted” messages, provided the communication meets some new objective guidelines established by the Division III Management Council.”

The original bylaw said:

“Electronically transmitted correspondence that may be sent to a prospective student-athlete by, or on behalf of, a member of the institition’s athletics department staff is limited to electronic mail and facsimiles. All other forms of electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g. instant messaging, text messaging and social networking Web sites) are prohibited.”

They’ve now added to this — “except as specified in this section.”

  • “Any member of the general public may become a member of the group to which the electronic transmission is sent.”
    • In other words, no closed/gated online communities
  • “A prospective student-athlete who chooses to receive electronic transmissions through the electronic service must retain the ability to decline receipt of the communications at any time or may unsubscribe from all electronic service at any time.”
    • In other words, use common sense and always have unsubscribe options with all forms of communication.
  • “The content of any electronic transmission that is sent to a public group that may include prospective student-athletes must be the same for all members of the group (e.g. news alerts, admissions and alumni information, scores) and of a general nature.”
    • We can’t send custom content to recruits.
  • “The proposal does not allow direct person-to-person electronic communication with an individual prospective student-athlete sent by a member of the athletics department staff, or on their behalf, (e.g., instant messaging, comments via MySpace, Wall-to-Wall via Facebook, direct messaging via Twitter) except via electronic mail or facsimile. Further, the proposal ensures the communications are being sent from the athletics department or the institution, and not from the individual members of the athletics department acting on their own.”

This last paragraph is most crucial, and makes it even more important for collaborative efforts on your campus. Your athletic director likely received this communication (it was e-mailed at 9 a.m. ET this morning, July 22), but it may be a bit confusing for those that don’t have a great understanding of the various tools.  From that e-mail, they offer this example:

  • “If your coach uses Twitter or Facebook on their own for communication of athletics related information, and that information is delivered to prospective student-athletes, you will need to report that violation.”

Am I the only one thinking they’ve contradicted themselves here? On one hand they’re saying if it’s generic information and publicly available to anyone, then why would a coach disseminating that same public information in a public space be in violation?

Here is the complete PDF that was attached to the e-mail communication this morning. I’d love to hear your take on it.