Archive | February, 2011

Monitoring Social Media Activity Provides Valuable Insights

27 Feb

One of the biggest advantages I see with social media is that it is a way for organizations, including colleges and universities, to gain insights.

There is a wealth of information that can be gleaned from social media.  From a college’s viewpoint, social media can be monitored to find out such things as:

  •  How people feel about your institution and what they are saying
  •  How people feel about your competitors
  •  How people perceive college in general
  •  What successes and challenges people are facing in regard to higher education
  •  What trends are taking place in the higher education industry
  •  How your competitors are using social media

 The feedback received from monitoring social media can be used by institutions to improve and enhance customer service, marketing, academics and overall operations while also providing new ideas and opportunities to build stronger relationships with students and the public.

There are a variety of tools that colleges and universities can use to monitor the social media activity of students and others in correlation to their institution.  Services range from free all the way to thousands of dollars, depending what information institutions want to receive and how in-depth their social media strategy is.  If you are looking for more information on the various monitoring tools, click here for an extensive list by Pam Dyer from Panorama. 

I want to point out that there are many free tools out there, so if your institution is new to social media, these tools may be a good option to try out before opting for the pay services.  One in particular is SocialMention.com.  Social Mention is like Google Alerts, but for social media.  How it works is you select what key words you want to monitor and the site will send you an email every time these keywords are mentioned on social media sites along with a link to the site.  I recently created an alert for the college I work for and will receive an alert every time it is mentioned on a social site, including blogs.  Social Mention is an excellent and cost-effective way to monitor your institution’s social reputation as well as find out what is being said about institution by the public.  I am eager to see what I find out!

Does your institution conduct social media monitoring?  If so, how does your institution use this information?

Thanks for reading!

Allison

Social Media Management Systems

11 Feb

I have been doing research on various forms of social technologies, trying to determine which ones are the most effective within a college environment.  I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube are all important mediums and can be used in many ways to connect and engage with students.  Facebook started out as a way for college students to socialize online, as shown in the recent film, The Social Network; it has since grown tremendously, and it is now practically a “faux pas” to not have a Facebook page.  In higher education, Facebook can be used by colleges and universities to share information and content as well as receive student feedback.

Twitter is another form of technology that institutions can use to provide quick updates to its community.  When I first heard of Twitter, I honestly didn’t think it would catch on – I thought, “who has the time to constantly post status updates, and who is going to care about this?”  I now believe that Twitter is an important means of communication, a way for colleges to quickly and efficiently share important announcements and updates with students.  Students can sign up to receive “tweets” from the college, and in a matter of minutes, reach hundreds or thousands of students to tell them about an upcoming event, provide an important announcement or simply send a reminder to sign up for classes. 

Blogs and YouTube are both other important social technologies that can be used by institutions to engage with students – videos, photos, stories and the like can all be showcased through these sites.  The opportunities are endless – these technologies present colleges with a real opportunity to be innovative, creative and engaging. 

Although social media is an important component of a college communication strategy, it can also be time consuming.  For social media campaigns to be effective, there needs to be dedicated resources “in-house” – employees within the college who have the ability to provide engaging content and connect with audiences via social media.  I know this is a question that many colleges and universities ponder – how do we manage all of this? 

Four words – Social Media Management Systems (SMMS)

According to Jeremiah Owyang, author of List of Social Media Management Systems, (2010) SMMS is defined as:

A collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a disparate social media environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based and enable the manager to listen, aggregate, publish, and manage multiple social media channels from one tool.

In a nutshell, SMMS enables social media strategists to efficiently manage and publish content across multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to connect with audiences on a deeper level.

In his blog, Owyang identifies multiple SMMS.  There are MANY of them and they all can do various things.

 I was presently surprised to find out that one of the systems listed is Constant Contact.  I am in love with Constant Contact.  I have used it in for several years in a variety of capacities.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, Constant Contact is an efficient, user-friendly, cost-effective email marketing, online survey and event marketing service.  If you have not heard of Constant Contact , I encourage to you to check it out.  It’s well worth it!

Nutshell Mail, Constant Contact’s social media tool, will track your institution’s social media activity and send the results directly to your email inbox.  Have a college or University Facebook page?  Instead of having to check Facebook throughout the day, Nutshell Mail will send you email updates every time someone posts to your page, sends you a message or requests to be your friend/fan.  Have Twitter and/or LinkedIn accounts?  Nutshell Mail will do the same thing for these sites, too. 

There is nothing to download or install because the service sends summaries directly to your email inbox, which you can customize by selecting the content you want to receive. 

What you can gain from Nutshell Mail:

  • It frees up time – no more having to continually check multiple social media sites throughout the day to monitor activity and respond to comments.
  • It enables you to stay on top of content and what is being said by followers/fans/friends.
  • It allows you to track and monitor activity and information that can be used to adjust strategy, improve communication, enhance marketing efforts and find out how audiences feel about your institution.
  • It will strengthen your relationship with students.

The best part about it, it’s FREE!

Click here to watch a video that breaks it all down.

What other Social Media Management Systems have you heard of and/or used within your institution to manage your social media campaigns?

-Allison