2014 Conference

Your Website is the Next Social Medium

Personalization is becoming pervasive in our society. It’s time for higher ed to start thinking about their websites that way too, says Bob Jones University’s Peter Anglea.

Anglea told his audience during his presentation “Your Website is the Next Social Medium,” Tuesday at HighEdWeb 14 that, quoting author Gary Vaynerchuck that every platform now needs to be a social platform.

“Even Siri can be trained to call you Master,” he said.

The way to start making higher ed websites more personal is through social media APIs, Anglea said.

“Personalization is the next big hurdle for traditional web marketing,” he said.

APIs, such as Facebook’s, open the door to all sorts of customized, personalized content that can be tailored to demographics, Anglea said.

However, any such development must have a few rules.

  • Any personalization needs to provide value to the end user. “If it doesn’t…it’s not worth doing. You just end up being a data scalper,” he said.
  • Only ask for what you need, when you need it.
  • Don’t get creepy.


But the sky is the limit on what kinds of experiences you can provide a user, Anglea said. Users are willingly giving social sites such as Facebook a ton of data about themselves. And APIs connect that data to your school’s site.

You could create a customized social profile for users on your site. You could help them build a customized academic plan based on their expressed interests on Facebook. You could show them alumni in their area who graduated from your school, in order to connect them to talk about what your school experience is all about. You could show a user how many of their Facebook friends attend your school or have visited your site.

“You think you could go along way toward convincing someone to check out your school if they knew that 5 or 10 or 15 of their friends are checking it out?” he said.

You could even send a visitor a $10 discount on school clothing on their birthday. That coupon could appear on both their Facebook page and your website when they visit.

If this seems like next-level kind of thinking, well, it is. Anglea admitted he’s been thinking about the topic for two years. But he’s convinced its where the industry needs to head and its hard to argue.

And if you’re wondering just how you could possibly accomplish all this, Anglea had some heartening advice as well.

These things can be implemented by working with your teammates at work.

Web developers, creative professionals, social media types all need to pitch in to make the personalization experience work effectively.

“The best way to improve upon yourself is to collaborate with other people,” Anglea said.

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