2012 Conference

Fording the Social Media Channel

Fording the Social Media Channel
Ma’ayan Plaut, Social Media Coordinator, Oberlin College, and Mallory Wood, Marketing Manager, mStoner

Ma’ayan Plaut of Oberlin College and Mallory Wood of mStoner took attendees on a trip down the Oregon Trail of social media, giving users a strategy to arrive safely at the other side, and providing lots of examples and case studies demonstrating how to successfully ford the social media channel.

Step 1: Set goals, But make them SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.What are you trying to achieve: Increase followers? time on site? visits to blog? donations? applications? content sharing by prospective students? Etc. Can you calculate the cost of each new follower on Facebook. In Mallory’s example, it cost her $3.48/follower.

A great case study of a social media plan with a SMART goal is the Great Give – Florida State University. Th goal: raise $160,000 in 36 hours to celebrate 160th anniversary. Actually raised $180,000, added 300 new donors to FSU

Both online and offline, as a social media manager you need to be apparent, transparent, and accessible. Ma’ayan ‘s name is on all the social media she manages. Offline, she goes out to departmental meetings meetings, holds social media office hours.

When do you post things? Ma’ayan dismisses studies about when is the best time to post. Buy Mallory says that data suggests it’s best to post in the afternoon for both Facebook and Twitter. That’s the most trafficked time on those networks. BuddyMedia data also shows that tweets during “busy hours” receive 30% higher engagement. On Facebook: 80 characters or less get 23% more engagement, photos 39% more, and posts that ask people to comment are 3.3 times more likely to receive a comment.

Some popular content types for social media: nostalgia — favorite professors, old photos. Big things. Vital things. Things that open and things that close. Things that are useful. Weather, campus beauty shots.

Another case study from Webster University – to increase engagement over the slow summer months, the university raffled off tickets to local summer concerts. They gave them away to prospective and current students on Foursquare, YouTube, and Twitter, and saw a 200% increase in new followers and clickthroughs to the website over the same period the previous year.

Can you manage your institution’s social media presence in 60 minutes or less a day? Mallory says yes, and she shows four examples of higher ed social media managers who do just that.

Finally, regarding Facebook, Ma’ayan concluded: “People are more powerful than brands.”

The presentation slides are available at

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