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  • signaltonoise 5:53 pm on February 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: facebook   

    The world is still obsessed with Facebook 

    It’s safe to say that this social networking stuff is here to stay.  And its impact on higher education has never been greater.  This story about Jackson Community College is representative of the larger trend in higher education towards engaging students and prospects via social media.  In just a couple of years, they’ve gone from having virtually no presence in social media to now having well over 1,600 people that “like” the institution on Facebook.  Not bad, and certainly in line with what other institutions are seeing. 

    A recent survey conducted by Kaplan found that 82 percent of admissions officers reported that their school is using Facebook to recruit students.  And, according to a study contducted last May by UMASS Darmouth’s Center for Media Research found that:

    Familiarity with social networking has jumped from 55% reporting they were very familiar with it in 2007, to 63% in 2008 and now to 83%. Admissions officers have clearly embraced Facebook and other social networking sites as viable forms of communication with their constituency. Familiarity with social networking has jumped from 55% reporting they were very familiar with it in 2007, to 63% in 2008 and now to 83%. Admissions officers have clearly embraced Facebook and other social networking sites as viable forms of communication with their constituency.

     

    So why the continued interest in social networking and Facebook in particular? This clip by Alex Trimpe sums things up pretty well. The world is (still) obsessed with Facebook.  

    The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo.

     

     
  • signaltonoise 1:15 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: facebook,   

    A funnel by any other name 

    Few people know the ins and outs of Facebook better than Nick O’Neill. In fact, his blog AllFacebook now attracts hundreds of thousands of readers each month looking for resources and news regarding the world’s most popular social network.

    Recently, O’Neill wrote a wonderful post offering advice to readers on how they can leverage Facebook to increase their reach and generate sales. The end result was this funnel you see on the left that he dubs “The Facebook Sales Funnel.”

    Look familiar? It should.

    Look closely at each segment of the funnel and you’ll notice that each of these phases can be applied to just about any marketing scenario whether it’s inside Facebook or not.

    Unless you’re selling widgets, where his alternative 3-step sales process of click, learn and purchase can be applied, you’re probably going to be looking at similar funnel as the one O’Neill created.

    As he highlights in phase 5 of his article, Facebook marketing (much like the marketing of higher education) is all about relationship marketing.  It’s not so much the initial purchase that matters, but the long-term value of retaining that customer and earning their loyalty. As defined in Wikipedia, “Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value to the firm of keeping customers, as opposed to direct or “Intrusion” marketing, which focuses upon acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics based upon prospective client lists.”

    Across all of your relationship building and recruitment efforts, you’ll have periods of discovery (students find you or you find them); education (students seek out more information about your offerings or you offer them resources for to learn more); engagement (there’s now a mutual interest between student and institution so you find ways to connect on a deeper level); action (application, admission and enrollment); analysis (see what works and what doesn’t).

    O’Neill takes this methodology and applies it specifically to Facebook, but you could and should give thought to how each of your marketing channels can help you navigate through each phase of the relationship.

    In a previous blog post that included another funnel created by Brad J. Ward that touches on this notion, we spoke about social media as a channel.  O’Neill’s marketing funnel not only serves as great advice for leveraging Facebook, but as a reminder that social media may just be a new way (that works in concert with other media) to tackle an old problem…moving constituents from the discovery phase to the action phase.  

     
  • signaltonoise 1:13 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: facebook, social marketing, ,   

    How are you measuring social marketing tactics? 

    It’s no surprise that in uncertain times higher education marketers look to more cost-effective tactics to help them fulfill their strategic marketing objectives.  One of the reasons why social media has seen such widespread adoption by colleges and universities is that it’s perceived to be cheap, if not free.  As you probably know, this is one of the major myths associated with social media marketing…a point highlighted recently by our own Kate Malone.

    There is a cost associated with marketing to constituents on social media.  And while that cost may not always be monetary, there’s almost always a resource/labor cost associated with your initiatives.  This is why measurement matters even in social media.  However, one of the pitfalls of social media marketing is the difficulty in measuring your impact on the social web.

    As MarketingSherpa points out this week, “Marketers are under constant pressure to measure everything they do. The result is often a default to tactics that are more easily and accurately measureable, regardless of their effectiveness. This is especially true in social media marketing which often requires qualitative measurement rather than quantitative metrics that are more familiar to online marketers.”

    While advertising on social networks and blogs ranks high in terms of measurability, social networking profiles rank low on the list.  As the MarketingSherpa article points out, this is because “The value is derived not from the quantity…but from the quality of the…”  Still, as more institutions begin to invest time and resources into building out their presence on the social web, some measurement of these quality interactions will be required to justify the effort.

    This is precisely why goal setting is so important prior to launching any social networking initiative. Internet marketing blog Dosh Dosh suggests the following goals, that could be applicable on both an institutional use as well as a personal/professional networking:

    1. Increased brand awareness. You’re interacting with others on the social media channel in order to build awareness for your personal and business brand. You’re increasing your visibility in the right areas and trying to stick in the minds of others through active interaction on many different levels. From this perspective, networking also works to drive traffic back to your website.
    2.  

    3. Improved reputation. You want to improve how others think about your website so you hang out in forums or networking sites, in order to respond to feedback. You want to keep the communication channels open on all social media fronts. You may also want to improve your reputation as an expert by being consistently involved in discussions on topics that are relevant to your business or website.
    4.  

    5. Personal Development. Networking with the right people will keep you in the loop on industry happenings and will also improve your knowledge levels. A big part of networking is observation. Seeing how others reflect or participate in conversations is a great way to improve your own experience in the field. (**NOTE: This is one of the great benefits of Twitter)
    6.  

    7. Relationships with benefits. One can network with others with the aim of extracting future benefits such as testimonials, links or recommendations. Others are more likely to provide you with a benefit when you’ve taken the effort to interact with them. Networking is a way to build relationships that can be mutually beneficial.

    What are your goals for developing your presence on the social web?  How are you measuring against those goals? 

     
    • 40deuce 3:42 pm on September 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      All four of these goals should be what every brand (professional or personal) should be striving for through the use of social media.

  • signaltonoise 1:12 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: facebook, ,   

    Tuning in to social media as a channel 

    During an email exchange about social media the other day, a client asked me a seemingly simple question, “I now have the Facebook Fan page, we have a Twitter account, we have the old Facebook Group, we have two Linked In Groups (one grad, one undergrad), we have RSS and we have the electronic newsletter campaigns, SO HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO SEND WHERE?”

    My general thinking here is that content trumps channel. In other words, regardless of the social network, you want to make sure the content you’re sending out is relevant to your specific audience. Some content may be more relevant to alumni, other content may be more relevant to current students and prospects.

    Social networking tools let you get very segmented populations since members can self-select when, where and how they want to interact with your institution. However, with content that’s relevant to all of your constituents…why not broadcast that across all of your web properties? 

    This question also prompted us to further explore the notion of social media as a channel. It’s no doubt that a ton of attention is being given to social media these days as a marketing channel (we obviously believe it its power to help develop relationships with constituents). But does this mean that you should abandon your traditional channels as this Mashable article suggests some brands are doing? Not yet.

    The reality is that we’re still living in a multi-channel world. Many consumers now view social media simply as additional channels of communication, and they opt-in (or out) of receiving information on their preferred channels much like they do with email.

    The key is finding the right balance to make sure your social media presence complements your other marketing channels without cannibalizing them.

    The first key is to build a solid foundation: Ron Bronson examined this topic a few months ago where he wrote, “The institutional web site has fully arrived as a ‘marketing tool/ on many campuses and the uneasy balance between trying to reach the students of the future, while connecting to their parents, alumni and pretty much anyone else with a rooting interest in the school can be a difficult task at times, especially for smaller schools and community colleges.” According to Bronson, the institution’s website should serve as the hub for the online brand while social media tools serve to extend that brand.

    The second key is figuring out goals for each of your channels: Brad J. Ward took this concept a step further by suggesting a social media recruitment funnel.

    He cautions that his funnel is not meant to be all inclusive (and others have commented that some of these social media tools can be used outside of the categories Brad assigned), but the general concept is pretty straight forward: Seek. Engage. Retain.

    It’s a great illustration that really helps to make sense of the social media landscape. But at its core, the message that Brad is trying convey is not all that different than what you’d expect from ANY marketing initiative. Here I’ve broken it down into 3 stages. You begin with lead generation and qualification (stage 1), continue with lead nurturing (stage 2) and move to analysis (stage 3) to hopefully improve stage 1 and 2 the next time around.

    Now, what matters here is not necessarily the channel but the action. Can you figure out ways to leverage social media to help you at each of these stages? If so, great. If you’re looking for inspiratoin on how to use social media to supplement your other marketing efforts, here are six tips published recently by DMNews.

    If not, you better make sure your other channels are working for you.

    Ultimately, you want to focus on finding the right channels to address these stages and help students move through another funnel that we’re all familiar with already.

     
  • signaltonoise 4:37 pm on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: facebook, , ,   

    Don’t worry, kids are still using Facebook…and growing up 

    Much ado was made this week when a study by iStrategy Labs found that 35-54 year olds are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook with 276% growth over the last 6 months.

    No big news to us here, we’ve reported on this demographic shift here, here, and here.  But this week’s study prompted some to claim that the “aging of Facebook” would result in a mass exodus of students.

    So, does this mean it’s time to sound the alarm and abandon your public social networking initiatives and stop all recruitment efforts on Facebook?  Only if you’re willing to dismiss what is (by far) still the largest demographic on Facebook  (teens and young adults)…a demographic that continues to grow at a rate of 15% according the iStrategy Labs report.  

    Now this isn’t to say that Facebook will forever remain the dominant place where kids come to play (that honor’s been held in this decade by at least two other social networks), but its appeal to younger generations is still very strong, even if mom and dad are there too. 

    According to recent Quantcast figures (see below) nearly 1/3 of the Facebook audience is between the ages of 12 and 17. So why avoid a venue where millions of pre-college and college students visit every single day?

    Ultimately, what attracts young people to one social network or another is not whether old people are on there or not, but whether their friends are there or not.  For the most part, from what I’ve seen, their friends are still on Facebook.

    Don’t worry, if you’re looking to recruit students on social networks like Facebook, the water’s still warm and the younger audience is still there.  And, on the upside, you may have a growing pool of prospective adult learners to market to on Facebook as well.  Enjoy!

     

     
  • signaltonoise 4:29 pm on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , facebook   

    The Facebook Demographic 

    Wyatt from our very own PRODUCT  MUSINGS shared a couple of great articles with me today that take a look at some of the changing demographics at Facebook.  Both posts find that Facebook’s original demographic of college-aged users is growing at a slower pace than other demographics (no big surprise there since the system was originally JUST for college-aged users).  However, what’s worth noting is the growth Facebook is seeing in other areas…and that the college-aged population is STILL growing, just not as fast as before.

    Ben Lorica writes at O’Reilly Radar, “Among the major Facebook age segments, the fastest
    growing are teens (13-17) and young (26-34) to middle-age (35-44)
    professionals, with the growth in teens driven by non-U.S. markets.”

    Meanwhile, the Inside Facebook blog also points out the networks growing presence in non-U.S. markets.

     
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