April 15, 2010
Every internet pundit and his brother remind us daily that Twitter and Facebook can be good for business. At first glance, this statement can be puzzling. The tweets that seem to get the most attention are the ones getting pro athletes in trouble with their teams, or regurgitating celebrities' breakfast menus for their fans. Yet it’s nonetheless true that social media postings can help your organization’s marketing – including school and higher education marketing. Social media is a key player in today’s education marketing; along with tools such as an engaging web site, your postings can help build and strengthen networks and relationships.
When incorporated with web design into your total online strategy, social media optimization presents undeniable opportunities and value for any organization. Here’s a list of social media tips: hard and fast reasons to begin incorporating these – and other – online social networks into your higher education marketing.
1. It's the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to get the word out about your programs and campus life. Facebook and Twitter help the people looking for you find you; they also help those people and your organization connect with contacts in related fields. For promoting events, your school’s blog, website, and social media are a natural extension of your marketing communication efforts. When using social media, try to couch your information in terms of newsworthiness, rather than as an advertisement. Share and educate, versus sell.
2. Ask any great sales and marketing professional and he or she will tell you success is achieved by building relationships. Social media is all about that. It’s easy to begin the proverbial 'conversation' with prospects and influencers through the interactive simplicity and immediacy afforded by Facebook, Twitter and other networks. You may even spawn your own networks that, with utilization of Web 2.0 technology and an up-to-date content management system like Campusuite, are becoming increasingly simple to start and maintain.
3. Social media is a great way to test ideas and get feedback on a wide variety of topics. Ask for opinions; conduct surveys; get a discussion thread going; ask and answer questions: all helpful ways to begin a dialog with prospects, faculty, staff and associates. You may not be an expert on a topic, but if you can answer someone's question or point them to a solution, you are positioning yourself nicely as an authority. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Some great synergy can be spawned when people help each other.
4. Don't forget the social graces of online social networking. With the shorthand, abbreviated, 140-character pace at which much online communication moves, it's wise not to lose track of plain ol' common sense and business etiquette. Yes, the line separating our personal and business lives is getting blurrier by the moment, but don't get sloppy and forget to follow up or extend courtesies when they need to be extended – which is more often than not.
5. Last tip: Keep it up. Like any content on the web, if it's not fresh and consistent, it's likely not going to be helpful or held in high regard.
Factor these fundamentals into your online higher education marketing efforts and, along with appealing web design, you'll start creating greater value with a 'social media optimized' web strategy.
March 24, 2009
With all the networks and tools emerging in the web 2.0 cloud and competing for your attention, do you find yourself challenged by sorting out the options, making the most of, or simply keeping up with them all? There sure are a lot of social networks popping up these days, and for every social network, there are a dozen more free tools just waiting to be utilized. How you choose to use these networks and tools should be considered your blank canvas... your picture waiting to be drawn.
Even novice web users are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but you name the theme, and there's a list of social networks to support it. Some networks are more professional than others. Some more playful.
I recently found Plinky, where you answer a weekly prompt to spark digital discussion in your own creative way. All these tools are just other ways to express yourself. From Google docs and webmaster tools that support business on the web, to sites like Aviary that bring you Photoshop and Illustrator-esque functionality for next to nothing or totally free, these cloud tools are coming out of the woodwork or falling from the sky. Now the question is, "which ones should I use" and "how can I leverage these?" The answer is simple: use the ones that work best for you. Only trial and time will tell you for sure.
Here's how I manage my own time when it comes to qualifying, utilizing and not being ovewhelmed by these tools, which if you're not careful, can become a full-time job in just keeping up with them all. The first hour of my morning consists of the following:
1. Hit Google Reader where I have all my subscriptions to my favorite feeds. These feeds consist of tech news, design trends, individuals blogs... the list goes on. I have over 100 subscriptions that consolidate massive information into the reader for my quick scanning.
2. I will 'favorite' or 'share' the best entries in Google reader, and it will automatically update my Facebook account. I also add links to Delicious so I and my team members can see what I'm pushing to the front. In fact, we use a common company account for Delicious so that all of the people on our team can collaboratively add relevant links ranging from hot design trends to the latest jQuery snippets.
3. If I'm really excited about an entry in Google Reader, I'll Twitter the link, which shows that I'm sharing knowledge and could create some followers. This in turn, also updates my Facebook account. Do you see where this is going?
4. In turn, for that brief moment on Twitter, I might respond to a few @replies or contribute to some conversations I see going on. After a while, you will notice your name showing up in the #followfriday lists (where fellow Twitterers suggest to all their followers the recommended people to follow)
5. I also have Flickr, YouTube, Last.fm and a couple other sites that I frequent and that add activity updates to my Facebook stream. So, in reality, I don't actually spend a lot of time in my Facebook account other than to upload the occasional photo album. However, it sure looks like I do!
6. I set up Google alerts to scan for my name, my company name, or any of my product names on the Internet. If something is being said, I want to know. I also have these alerts set up in my reader. So, while I'm purusing my morning news, I can see any of these alerts as well.
7. Next up, Twitter search. Arguably one of the most valuable tools on the net. I type in my name, company and products here as well. This lets me see who's talking about me NOW. While I'm there, I might see what's being said about my friends... or maybe my favorite wines. At this time, I might share another link on Twitter, that again, updates my Facebook account.
8. I manage my own personal blog and I contribute to my company blog. These RSS feeds can be set up to syndicate into a variety of places. I have a combination of my personal and company blogs being syndicated into my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. This goes a long way. While I'm keeping my company site up to date, this valuable information is being recycled as it heads to my various other accounts. Other team members on my team do this as well so that our reach is increased even further.
9. Do you use a CMS to manage your website? We do, and our CMS is considered a Web 2.0 CMS that allows us to syndicate pages, blogs, RSS feeds and more. When we write a blog, we do it in our CMS. Of course, whatever blog tool you are use should have an RSS feed that can be syndicated. This is important. It allows you to move your ideas further from your site, which draws people back to your site.
This is only a smattering of what I'm doing now. When I dicover a new social site, I see it as my obligation as a web developer to take a test drive and understand how it works, and how it could integrate into my morning regimen. I tend to change it up here and there. Some networks, I let fizzle out so I can spend more of my time on the networks that work for me. Remember, I try to keep this consolidated to the first hour of the day and some of these tasks might be relevant to do on a weekly or monthly basis.
Take some time yourself to leverage the new media and turn it into a systematic approach that broadens your reach, sharpens your mind and strengthens your brand.
March 12, 2009
Seven simple tips can better position you in the LinkedIn community.
LinkedIn uses digital word of mouth to create sales opportunities
If you are not realizing the power of the LinkedIn social network to uncover marketing opportunities, we strongly suggest you take some time to get linked up using LinkedIn. We have landed some work lately through the power of LinkedIn, so we thought we'd post some ways you can make the most out of LinkedIn to help your own sales networking opportunities.
I was in the middle of writing this very blog post when a prospect called with an exciting LinkedIn story. I had previously mentioned to him that he may want to create a LinkedIn profile to start building some online connections of his own. Well, he did just that and he was happy to tell me soon after he made his LinkedIn profile, a customer of his from 25 years ago found him and sent him an e-mail. He was amazed and excited to tell me about it.
Here are some tips on making the most of your LinkedIn strategy:
1. Add a blog
What better way to establish you as a thought leader in your industry than to share information with others. LinkedIn allows you to drop in the "Blog Link" application which allows you to add your RSS feed from your blog. Not only does this appear on your page when someone is checking you out, but it is also shared within your network of connections. A blog is a good way to engage your audiences and position yourself as an authority, and it gives you just another avenue to push your content, your story, your brand.
2. Put a face behind the name
Just because the channel we're dealing with here is online doesn't mean it has to be impersonal, and you can't do some things to personalize the networking experience for your contacts. Posting a picture of yourself on your profile helps people identify you and can be a big step to building relationships. People like to see who they're dealing with. Pick a good picture, crop in tight, and don't worry if the pic's not fashion magazine quality. Even if your picture is shot from a webcam or cell phone, it brings you one step closer to the virtual world and makes you more approachable.
3. Join a group
There are group discussions out there to which you could contribute valuable information. Provide answers whenever you can. Ask a question to stimulate some interest in your own product or service offering. One thing I've learned about leveraging social media is you have to give a little to get a little. There are probably all kinds of groups you can join and gain valuable insight, but offer up some of your own valuable insight in the process. Join some groups and answer some questions. LinkedIn has very easy to use-easy to participate groups that allow you to offer up your unbridled knowledge, further positioning you as an authority, or at least someone to go to for answers
4. Dig around for connections
Being charged with drumming up new business for my company, I've learned that the next new client could come from anywhere. Qualified leads and referrals from existing clients are no doubt golden, but for stirring up new biz, you might be surprised at what a little digging around via LinkedIn might bring. What other place do you have such easy access to this virtual 'who's who' in business and industry? Chances are if you take the time to do some searches and shake some bushes, you can make a connection. Just yesterday, I found a web director via LinkedIn, and have already begun an online dialog with someone who could prove to be our next client – or point us toward the next one.
5. He said, she said
Nothing like a referral or recommendation to vouch for your own experience. Experience is not only the best teacher, it can be an endorsement for your product or service. Having a recommendation on LinkedIn can only help you when someone doesn't know much about you and is checking you out. He or she will quickly learn about you and find out you are a credible professional.
6. Get your own people linked
Make sure you always have current bio information of your key team members and use the strength of their credentials to invite people to your LinkedIn page. All you have to do is put in a link. (And if you had a nice web content management system, that would take mere seconds -- shameless plug.) You will be surprised how many people will make connections from your site just based on your employees being part of it.
7. Pay attention to the Network Update
On the main home page of LinkedIn, you will see all of the network updates. By keeping an eye on this, it will help you discover connections by seeing the new connections being made and the activity in groups you are part of. Routinely take a peek at this and you can learn who has been sniffing around your site.
February 16, 2009
Lets face it, a bad economy is all about moving forward and spending less. In a good economy, the conditions are much more forgiving when you are gambling your investments. So where does cloud computing come in? It is the answer to many organizations trying to keep up with latest technology and not have a big up-front investment. The beauty of cloud computing is not just the savings but how fast the technology advances. Take a look at Facebook, it rocks, even the most unpopular dude in you high school class has 100 friends. Cloud computing is finding its way into organizations because it is cheap in comparison to installed software solutions and it evolves much faster. According to CNN.com "4 tech predictions for 2009," one of the four predictions is the advancement of cloud computing.
Organizations are now recognizing that the price of buying and maintaining software/hardware is just not cost-effective if there is a good alternative. The web is moving rapidly and our culture is changing. I just heard the slang term, "computer potato" and before long it will probably beat out couch potato in usage. Employees are now living their personal lives through social "freemiums" and organizations are looking for ways to tap into Web 2.0 technology to leverage that power.
Cloud computing represents an estimated $36 billion in the business market and 13% of global sales, and it is moving up, not down. This shift in thinking is a really big deal. We are facing extraordinary times and we may require a culture change on how we do business. Here at Innersync, we have been running a cloud for about 1 1/2 years and it is paying off. Our goal is to provide powerful, positive experiences to our customers, so we need to evolve our technology as easy and as quickly as possible. The cloud concept is the way we achieve this. One update, many users, one time.
As an example of this trend, recently San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. embraced Google Apps and is spending an estimated $800,000 annually (based on $50 per user) with Google compared to $70 million for a data center. And that did not include the rent-a-cops to watch the green protesters or the people to manage it. What does this mean? Technology is coming of age and people are weighing the options. I would think this is great concept even if I didn't make a living with this stuff. I am simple, give me a choice of affordable, evolving technology or a costly software/hardware implementation and I am going to base my decision on the end result with the best value.
Web 2.0 has taken on such a life of its own and it is so amazing how it has brought people together. When I think of the evolution of web technology, it is not the Microsoft model of installing software updates on a million computers. It is concepts like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the others goodies we all love to use. I was talking to our friend Brock Brown who manages several technology companies, and he said "I do all my work in the cloud, so I can get by with less expensive software and hardware options. This cost savings is then passed on to my client base." So why would you think of any other way for your organization? When we think of schools that are struggling with budget cuts, we think they have cloud computing written all over them. Put a $200 laptop in every kids' hand and set them up with collaborative web publishing. Call your work done.
The moral of the story is that if you like great technology that brings people together, keeps CPU's running cool and lets you focus on the results vs. your investment, then maybe cloud computing is the answer for you.
January 27, 2009
The KIPP blogs were a buzz with comments from students, friends, parents and even grandparents!
Just recently, we were put to the task of helping our good friends at KIPP: LA with an exciting new idea. Twelve lucky kids had a rare opportunity to be part of history in the making by attending the 56th Presidential Inauguration ceremonies. KIPP: LA wanted to empower these students to stay connected with their teachers, friends and families by letting them blog their experience. So, they gave us a call and asked how it could be done. We're glad they did... because, as fate would have it, Innersync had just completed the new blog modules and was ready to put them through testing. With the click of a button, we set up 12 blogs on the KIPP: LA site, one for each student. The blogs were set up before the students left.
From parents and siblings to friends and teachers, the students quickly saw the role the blogs would play during their trip. It was amazing how the students embraced the technology. Clearly the blogs were easy to use and understand as evidenced by that fact there were entries from most kids by the time the plane landed in Washington D.C. Many students attached pictures they took from that day. Comments rolled in from friends, parents... and even grandparents! The quality of the posts we're inspiring, many from parents and grandparents suggesting they "take it all in" and "think about what this means for America," and even "you are a part of history in the making!"
Sure a post to the blog is faster and cheaper than a post card... and it's embracing the 2009 theme of "going green," but there's something more. Little did they realize, they were doing much more than just sending messages home. They were bringing people together by using the technology of the day in lieu of traditional methods to document and articulate their experiences at the inauguration. And the really cool part is how everyone used it, including grandma. The result... lot of smiles, tears of joy and *all* powerful connections like no other media. At Innersync, we call them "Simply powerful web experiences."
Students research on the internet just like they use a library and web 2.0 methodologies are being used for class assignments just like traditional book-work. Seeing this play out in front of our own eyes is really a beautiful thing. "I was talking to a client today about developing a site for farmers and she mentioned they use the heck out of the smart phones." I told her, "if there's a better way of doing something using technology, people will use it, and quickly embrace it.. even while out in the corn fields of the Midwest." The kids today are no different and expect the world to be at their finger tips via instant connections. What better way to help share ideas and collaborate than in a web 2.0 environment? We expect to see this in our higher education web sites... we love to see it in K-12 education.
We're Innersync Studio and we like to build web sites that are alive. More specifically, we like to empower you to breathe life into your web site. We want your site to be loved by many and make connections that have never been possible. We put our ideas here, to help stay in touch with our clients and help spread the good word.
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- Using Social Media for School and Higher Education Marketing
- How a 'cloudy' economy — or at least web site — may not be a bad thing in 2010 and beyond
- Social media offers value for organizations
- Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that work PART 1
- Starting your day in the expanding social network
A R C H I V E
B L O G S B Y T A Gblog, campusuite, cloud computing, content management tools, digital image management, Facebook, Innersync, jason, k-12, linkedin, Marketing, online social network, search engine optimization, seo, Social media, social media optimization, social networking, Twitter, web 2.0, web content management