Category Archives: Facebook

I Can Haz Photo Contest? Boost Your Facebook Engagement with Crowd-Sourced Photos

People love seeing photos of themselves online. “Selfie” was word of the year for a reason, after all.

But if there’s one thing the Internet has taught us, it’s that as much as people love seeing themselves, they love adorable pictures of animals even more. And if you turn that into their adorable animals, well, that’s a perfect storm.

After several years of running a successful Halloween photo contest that solicited snapshots of dressed up coworkers and decorated offices, Duke’s Office of Communication Services decided to see what kind of response we’d get from organizing a pet-themed photo contest on our Facebook page in February.

Instead of finding the most creative costumes, we wanted to find “Duke’s cutest pet.”

How we did it

We promoted the contest through our Working@Duke social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) and on Duke Today, having entries submitted to us through a Qualtrics form in order to easily capture participant contact information and photo submission.

In all, we received 39 photos and tallied nearly 1,200 votes over the course of a week. Winners were determined by public vote, but we also had “judge’s choice” selections to spread the wealth of pet-themed prizes.

We asked that entries try to focus on a Duke-related connection when possible, which included shots of a turtle in “Cameron Indoor Aquarium,” a hamster sitting in a Duke hat and even a dog wearing a Blue Devil cape.

Why we did it

While the goal was to offer a fun way to engage our community, it also benefited our presence on Facebook. All voting was held on our page in the form of likes and people were allowed to share their pictures however they saw fit to drum up support.

With so many people coming to our page to vote, here are some of the stats where we saw increases from January to February:

  • 204 percent increase in monthly likes
  • 270 percent increase of views of our Facebook page
  • 306 percent increase in the number of people clicking on our content

All this was boosted because people were voting in our contest, but even after we announced our winners on Feb. 18, we saw sustained engagement with all our posts through the end of the month, whether it was related to the contest or not.

Should you consider a contest?

Since Facebook changed its terms of service to allow for these types of contests, it seems like a goldmine for potential engagement, if only because you’re creating the opportunity to show off something your fans are passionate about. In our case, their furry (or slimy) loved ones.

Once people submit photos, the heavy lifting is uploading them and their information. Since voting is done through likes on your Facebook page, the platform does the work for you.

Most important, you’re likely to see an uptick in your monthly stats and grow your Facebook fan base. In the months since the February contest, we’ve seen increased engagement to go along with our growing number of page likes.

This is a guest blog post by Bryan Roth, senior writer/producer with Duke’s Office of Communication Services.

The State of Social Media at Duke, Spring 2014

Correct Cover SM Report Spring 2014
The social media universe has seen many changes this semester. WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion. Snapchat usage blew up. Google+ lost its founder. Facebook changed their algorithm again and again and again …

Here at Duke, we’ve been busy over the past few months. Our social media team created a Duke-styled 2048 game. We hosted a #DukeSpring photo walk in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, resulting in hundreds of crowd-sourced seasonal images of campus. The Office of News & Communications produced a fast-paced video guide on using social media effectively in higher education. Current students held a number of online chats using Google+ Hangouts for admitted students.

We also did some data crunching. Amanda Peralta, David Jarmul and I prepared a short report/infographic showing the state of social media here at Duke this spring. Below is a snapshot of the data our team compiled.


A quick glance at some of the aggregate numbers for all of Duke’s institutional accounts reveals a vast presence on social media.


A look at growth and engagement on the main Duke social media accounts. One of the things we are watching very closely is the explosion of engagement on Duke’s Instagram presence.

metrics_graph1From the data, it’s clear to see social media continues to grow in importance as part of Duke’s news, communications and marketing efforts. We’ll be updating this report every semester here on Duke’s social media blog to keep you informed of our social media activity and trends.

Want more? Here is a link to the full PDF.

Using Social Media Effectively in Higher Education

Do you work with social media in higher education and wonder whether you should focus on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram … or something else? Which investment will give you the biggest benefit? Which matches best with the content you typically produce?

A new video from Duke’s Office of News & Communications, “Using Social Media Effectively in Higher Education,” helps you think through your options.

I originally delivered this presentation at Duke’s 2014 social media mash-up a few months ago. This spring, I worked with Cara Rousseau, Carson Mataxis, James Todd, Sonja Foust and others to capture it in video format. We’ve also prepared a helpful PDF checklist that you can use as a reference.

We hope you find the video helpful. Share your thoughts on using these different social networks in the comments below!

Duke’s 2014 Social Media Mash-up

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
  • Wendy Hower and J. Caldwell with the Nasher Museum will share how they use digital media for exhibits and events
  • Michael Palko, a Health System colleague, on self-teaching himself to become an Instagram sensation
  • Amanda Peralta from ONC discussed different approaches to social networks
  • Brett Walters from Alumni Affairs on the new LinkedIn University Pages
  • Aaron Welborn from Duke Libraries highlighted their extensive use of blogs

I know I walked away with great new ideas to try, as well as with renewed inspiration from our innovative colleagues.

Save the date for our next Duke Communicators event in Perkins Library 217 on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 3p.m., featuring Duke alumnus and founder of Ignite Social Media, Jim Tobin.

Social Media Workshop for Faculty

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:

  • The slidedeck from the session.
  • A handout on tips and tricks for using blogs, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Visit and review the “Twitter Essential Training” webinar.



Social Media Usage Among Teens

A big research study on social media usage among teens was just released by the Pew Research Center. For those of us working to target this demographic using social media, the findings are especially interesting.

The key nuggets I took away? Facebook usage is waning, parents are watching what they do online and teens DO think about their privacy when using social media.

The full report is available here.

For those of you who don’t want to read through the whole white paper, key findings include:

Teens are sharing more information about themselves on their social media profiles than they did when we last surveyed in 2006:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
  • 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
  • 53% post their email address, up from 29%.
  • 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

60% of teen Facebook users set their Facebook profiles to private (friends only), and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings.

  • 56% of teen Facebook users say it’s “not difficult at all” to manage the privacy controls on their Facebook profile.
  • 33% Facebook-using teens say it’s “not too difficult.”
  • 8% of teen Facebook users say that managing their privacy controls is “somewhat difficult,” while less than 1% describe the process as “very difficult.”

Also interesting is what teens share and how they protect (or don’t protect) their private information on social media channels. This infographic demonstrates what they are sharing:


[UPDATE] Facebook’s Cover Image Area

Facebook recently changed their cover photo rules. Facebook now allows brands to list contact information, calls to action, and product details in their cover photos. Read more about it here.


Starting on January 15, 2013, Facebook will regulate the amount of text included in your Page’s cover image and news feed ads to no more than 20 percent of the graphic’s area. The new year and the new policy is a good time for Duke University Facebook Page owners to check if our cover images are compliant with Facebook’s policies.

Facebook’s new policy on cover images reads:

Pages Terms Section III.B

Covers may not include:

i.    images with more than 20% text;
ii.    price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on”;
iii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iv.    references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
v.    calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

Note that a logo with text in the cover image contributes to the 20 percent limit of text in a cover image. Facebook will provide a grid tool for Page managers to use to determine if they are within Facebook’s text restrictions for cover images and news feed ads. Also note that you can still post images with more than 20 percent text if they aren’t promoted posts in the News Feed. And, you can use these post images for ads as long as they are displayed in the marketplace area.

It seems like Facebook is trying to increase the quality of images in profiles and the News Feed. Images remain an important strategy for posting to Facebook and creating custom profiles, but our Duke pages need to use compelling graphics and photography instead of marketing jargon to communicate our messages.

The current cover image for the main Duke University Facebook Page is compliant with the new policies and can be downloaded by right-clicking the image below and selecting “save image as” from the dropdown menu. Please contact us on this blog or at if you any comments or questions about these new policies.

Minolta DSC

Here are some resources to read more about the recent changes:

New Facebook Rules Limit Use of Text in ImagesEntrepreneur

Facebook updates cover photo and News Feed ad policy, limits text to 20% of imageInside Facebook

Social Media 2013: Internet users who use social networking tools

The folks over at Pew Research Centre recently compiled their annual research on the demographics behind social media users on different platforms.

The infographic below (courtesy of Adweek) takes Pew’s data and displays it in a nice visual, including these key takeaways:

  • Women are five times more than men to use Pinterest
  • City dwellers are significantly more likely to use Twitter than rural residents
  • Black people and hispanics are more likely to use Instagram than white people
  • The 18-29 year-old demographic is more likely to use Instagram than Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr


Duke’s 2013 Social Media Roundup

For our most recent Duke Communicators event, I organized a fun tour of what’s happening across our community in social media.

At our 2013 Social Media Roundup, my colleagues described how they are using social media to promote bloggers, share photos, reach new international audiences and much more. Each person spoke for five minutes, in a format similar to an Ignite session. Hopefully the Duke Communicators group walked away with lots of new ideas to try, as well as with information about colleagues to call for inspiration and advice.

Our presenters were:

Laura Brinn, Global Communications

Debbe Geiger, Duke University Medical Center

Wendy Livingston and J. Caldwell, Nasher Museum of Art

Orla Swift, Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Aaron Welborn, Duke Libraries

Ashley Wolf, Duke Athletics

(Tawnee Milko with the Nicholas School of the Environment was unable to make the presentation and her slides are at the end of the slide deck.)

You can view our entire slide deck from the event here.

What would you like to see at our next Social Media Roundup?