This is a guest blog post by Audra Ang, senior development writer and social media coordinator for the Duke Forward campaign.
It’s been a very interesting—and a very humbling—process trying to establish a social media presence from ground up for the Duke Forward campaign. Building a following across channels is only one key piece of the puzzle. Keeping people engaged is another. Both are contingent on a willingness to experiment—and fail.
We’ve had a measure of success with content that informs (e.g. gift or campaign milestone announcements) and content that features our donors, the face behind giving at Duke (e.g. Q&A with donors). Working with our more established partners like Big D and Duke Athletics has helped us grow our reach with new audiences.
Duke Forward’s On the Road events—which bring Duke and Duke Forward to alumni communities around the world—have been particularly fertile social media grounds for us. The events give us great content like Facebook photo albums of attendees at academic sessions with top faculty and students, and alumni writing three things that they love about Duke—securing likes, shares, tags and comments. Here’s one example and another. Twitter has also been another very interactive space for us.
During our most recent event in Miami in February, we ramped up our efforts with a new trivia contest connected to Coach Cut, who was a speaker at the event. We hoped it would build some excitement, get attendees engaging with us more—and reward them for it. Who doesn’t like swag?
We wrote up promotional content on the table tents that were placed around the event space.
The question was: “In which year did Duke play its first Orange Bowl game?” and the first three people who Tweeted us the right answer won footballs autographed by Coach Cut.
We got our winners very quickly and even had a fourth person Tweet that they had gotten in their answer in in a timely fashion. Luckily, we had a couple of extra footballs so we gave one to her as well. The most rewarding part of the contest was how happy everyone was about winning and how excited they were to get their picture taken with the coach.
We’re planning on continuing the contest through our next few events, with different prizes depending on who our speakers are.
**Footnote: The Annual Fund liked the idea of the contest so much that they did the same thing at this year’s Big Event!
This blog post by Jeremy Fern originally appeared on the Seventh Point: Media Street Smarts Digital Recruiter blog.
Do your prospective students really care what you have to say? Or how you say it?
In the early 2000s, I started my higher ed career as a rookie admissions counselor at a small North Carolina university. Those were the days of big monitors and Internet speed so fast you could literally watch your screen load like a PowerPoint swipe effect. I still remember the massive paper-cuts I’d get preparing colorful manila folders for each of my students, keeping handwritten notes of every minor detail down to their favorite candy bar and the name of their dog.
Back then social media wasn’t the hotbed it is today. Sure, most of us had a MySpace page and toyed around with AOL Instant Messenger, but we were focused on letters, postcards, phone calls, and emails. Let me be clear that there’s great and lasting value in these traditional ways of cultivating relationships with students. In fact, today direct mail print publications are still ranked as one of the most influential means of connecting with prospective students.
But let me challenge your thinking too. Do your prospective students really care what you have to say or is it about how you say it? AOL Instant Messenger was popular back then, and I used it to recruit students quite successfully. As long as I could match a real name with a username, I was good. Let’s face it, I have a good memory, but I couldn’t remember if “fuzzybunny25″ was Ashley or Courtney. I kept using phone calls, emails, and personal notes for a more personal touch. But by using the technology of the day, I cultivated relationships with these prospects by speaking their language. It wasn’t about what I said as much as it was how I said it, or what I used to say it. My students didn’t want the commitment of talking to me on the phone yet; they wanted to keep me at arm’s length. And using the newest way of doing that at the time, AOL IM, was just the fix.
Today, AOL IM might not be a powerhouse of recruiting students, and it was never really designed to be that. But that doesn’t stop us from using social media, texting, email, and other mediums as ways to connect. Yesterday’s traditional admissions counselor is today’s digital recruiter.
Duke University’s manager of social and digital media strategy, Cara Rousseau, can vouch for that. Her unique role at Duke finds her splitting time up between the media relations office and the undergraduate recruiting office. Here’s what Cara had to share about embracing new technology to help in recruiting and engaging prospective students at Duke:
Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) has been a huge success for us as it helps us connect prospects with our current students. The focus of using social media in admissions at Duke is to engage prospective and admitted students by connecting them with the piece of campus they care about (i.e., faculty, clubs, academics, athletics, etc.). We use Google+ as more of a social layer on top of other social media platforms. When we host a Google+ HOA event, we use different themes like “spirit” and “pride,” and we’ve chosen epicenter locations on campus such as Cameron Indoor Stadium, a residence hall lobby, and the Hall of Fame. To promote these events, we’ve really taken a cross-platform approach by promoting hangouts on Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and e-blasts. Also, creating #hashtags specific to our HOA event and encouraging students to get on Twitter during HOA events can help drive awareness for Duke. In a given hour-long hangout, we might have 50-60 questions asked, and based on who is submitting those questions we see a higher conversion percentage of students matriculating to Duke.
A Big Week of Hangouts for Duke
Click on Video to Watch
The point is, Duke University is using social media as a means of community building – to help students get engaged, locked in, and committed. Social media sites such as Google+ are tools that can bring your campus to the bedroom of prospective students. Rousseau’s final thought was, “Prospects get to see what Duke students are like, our diversity. It’s really less about marketing Duke and more about providing a window into Duke’s culture.”
This is just one example of how Duke’s admissions recruiters have used today’s technology to become digital recruiters. The power and reach of social media give you instant access to an audience that just years ago was impossible to reach. Let’s see…where was I…oh yes, I was in the middle of a tweet, a Facebook post, revining, a text, and Yik Yaking. Hope my Klout score goes up!
Stay tuned for the 2nd part of the “Digital Recruiter” blog, in which I’ll share five tips for evolving into a digital recruiter.
The Duke Communicator’s group gathered on Friday, Jan. 24 for our first meeting of 2014 to hold a “Social Media Mash-up.” This was our second meeting held in this format – see this earlier post for information on the inaugural event.
Our speakers were a number of colleagues who shared their own experiences and “lessons learned” working in social media, following a format similar to an Ignite session. The program included:
Tom Dominick and Audra Ang from university development on how Duke Forward has used social media on the road at fundraising events
I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Duke Communicators at one of their monthly meetings. That group is comprised of staff who are, in some capacity, responsible for getting news about Duke University and the Health System out to the masses. Their work spaces were wide-ranging: from Duke Libraries, where the event was held, to the Office of Alumni Affairs to the Nasher Art Museum to Duke Medicine to the Lemur Center.
Mine was one of 6 presentations made, and each used the Ingite format: 5 minutes and 20 slides, which auto-advance every 15 seconds. The format is a bit of a challenge, and in preparing I think I now better understand what Olympic athletes go through: years of preparation for 10 second dash. Ok, I didn’t really prepare for 4 years, only a month, but you get the picture.
I talked about stumbling across an online course on mobile photography while searching for a work-related tutorial on lynda.com and how, as a Duke employee, I had access to that resource, free of charge. I mentioned the influence Richard Koci Hernandez had one me and how photography changed me and my path in life.
At the end of the meeting I received many compliments. One person called it“inspiring.” Another told me he liked the way I “framed the story.” Coming from a professional “communicator” that was high praise. But the one comment that stick out the most came from the event’s organizer. She said, “I just love your story.”
I’d never really considered myself as “having a story.” I’d always thought that I, like everyone else, was just going through life, experiencing the highs and lows and the mundane, going to work, coming home and trying my best to fulfill the responsibilities of a husband, father, friend and citizen and along the way trying to learn more about myself and the world. But those words really resonated with me, and I realized on my way home that we ALL have “a story.” Not one of us has traveled the same path. We all have a distinct set of experiences that make up a history that no one else has. The events of life, no matter where they have led you, are what make up your unique story.
I was fortunate to be presented with an opportunity to reflect on the events and people who have influenced me in the past year and a half, but I’m now going to look back further on my timeline and examine the larger story. I want to encourage you to do the same thing and challenge you to be prepared to tell YOUR story. Where did you start? Who did you meet along the way? What did you learn? What did you see? How did you get here?
Prepare to tell it, then tell it. Tell it to yourself, your significant other, your kids, strangers. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised by what a compelling tale it is and know that you will find people who say “I just love your story.”
And don’t forget, you write your story every day. The exciting part of that is that while you are the author, you don’t know how the story will end. There are plot twists and surprises ahead and that’s what make the story compelling.
So, what’s YOUR story?
This is a guest blog post by Michael Palko, an instructional designer with the Duke University Health System and a digital storyteller.
This story was originally posted in Duke Today by David Jarmul.
The nearly 210,000 people who follow Duke on Facebook comprise the university’s biggest community on social media. At least they did in 2013.
As 2014 began, however, Duke’s Google+page claimed the top spot, climbing above 217,000 followers.
The statistics are only for Duke’s main presence on the two sites and do not include other Duke social media sites whose “likes” and “followers” total more than 1 million people.
Duke remains an active user of Facebook but expanded its presence on Google+ during the past year because of the social network’s large impact on Google search results, according to Cara Rousseau, the university’s social media manager. “We focused on Google+ initially to boost the university’s presence in search results, but we’ve found a lot of other good uses for it.”
Rousseau and others in the Office of News and Communications (ONC) organized Duke “Hangouts on Air” during the year to enable viewers to interact with campus faculty and students. In one Hangout, professors discussed why they participated in “Moral Monday” protests in Raleigh. In another, Duke’s Steven Churchill and a colleague at Boston University described their findings about recently discovered African fossils. Duke’s undergraduate admissions office held a series of video chats where applicants asked questions of current students.
Duke also tracked the “What’s Hot” and trending features on Google+ and highlighted faculty active on the network, such as Robby Bowles, a Duke medical researcher and photographer who posts regularly to #ScienceSunday. ONC also posted its own stream of colorful content to Google+, as it does on Facebook and, increasingly, on Instagram. Duke is also active onTwitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
“Social media keeps growing in importance but it changes so fast that we need to constantly experiment and adjust to where our audiences are going,” Rousseau said. “We’re like most universities in devoting a lot of attention to Facebook and Twitter, which remain central to our strategy, but we’re a bit unusual in seeing our numbers skyrocket with Google+. Google has regional offices in Durham and Chapel Hill and we’ve made the most of their proximity, collaborating closely with the Google higher education team.”
Rousseau and Amanda Peralta, ONC’s social media fellow, maintain the content on all of the university’s main social media sites. Their blog on Duke’s central social media site highlights recent developments and topics such as which hashtags to use and how to create viral videos for YouTube.
This week, Amanda Peralta and I led a training workshop for Duke faculty interested in using social media to build a public presence.
The Office of News and Communications organized this session. We opened by introducing three Duke faculty members — Laurent Dubois, Robin Kirk and Peter Ubel — who are regular users of social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They described their experiences with social media, including what has and hasn’t worked for them and how they’ve incorporated social media into their classes.
In the second half of the program, Amanda and I led a discussion about how to be strategic in your use of social media, review accepted best practices and related topics.
Here are some resources for Duke faculty following the discussion:
Last week, StudentAdvisor.com announced the top 100 colleges and universities that are best leveraging social media. “These innovative schools use social media to give students insight into their culture, personality and DNA,” said Dean Tsouvalas Editor-in-Chief of StudentAdvisor, “This is so beneficial for students to determine the right fit beyond college rankings and marketing speak.”
Duke is happy to join some elite company in the top 10. Congratulations to the Duke social media community!
1. Harvard University (No Change)
2. Stanford University (Up 3)
3. Johns Hopkins (down 1)
4. Yale University (Up 11)
5. Duke University (Up 39)
6. Princeton University (Up 10)
7. Full Sail University (Up 12)
8. University of Oregon (Up 3)
9. Ohio State (down 3)
10. LSU (down 2)
Here is a Google+ Hangout revealing the ranking I was invited to participate in to discuss how Duke has upped our social media game over the past 18 months. Enjoy!
Ashley (Hennigan) Budd hosts Admissions Live with guest Cara Rousseau, Manager of Digital and Social Media Strategy for Duke University. Tune in as they discuss the Google+ platform and its uses in college admissions.
Taken from the live broadcast, October 15, 2013.
Topics discussed during the LIVE broadcast include: