New book on #highered social media: Social Works

'Social Works' goes live Feb. 25.
‘Social Works’ goes live Feb. 25.

Months in the making, a new book about social media in higher education marketing — perhaps the book on the subject — is about to hit the marketplace.

Social Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students, and Get Results will officially be available in print and ebook formats next Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. (There’s also a launch party scheduled for the following day in Boston. I won’t say much about that, though, because I’m jealous that I won’t be there.)

Social Works is a collection of 25 case studies from colleges and universities large and small, public and private, all of which have embraced social media to help them accomplish a wide array of goals, from fundraising to student recruitment to alumni engagement and crisis management.

Edited by Michael Stoner (@mstonerblog), the president and co-founder of mStoner Inc.Social Works demonstrates, he writes, “that social media has the maturity and reach to be an integral component of campaigns focused on building awareness, recruiting students, engaging alumni and other key audiences, raising money, and accomplishing important goals that matter to a college or university.”

I was thrilled when Michael approached me about being a part of this project. He asked me to write a chapter on using social media for crisis communication, based on our staff’s response to a gunman on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus in May 2011. (I blogged about that experience immediately afterward. The case study goes much more in depth.) I was happy to oblige. It’s been a great experience and a truly collaborative effort with Michael, his team at mStoner and Eduniverse, and many of my colleagues in higher education.

To give you a taste of what’s in store, download a sample chapter from Social Works. This chapter, by Justin Ware (@justinjware), describes how Florida State University leveraged social media to raise more than $186,000 in an online-only campaign.

Friday Five: #Sizzler10 snippets

I had a great time attending part of iModules‘ annual users’ conference, Summer Sizzler 2010, held earlier this week in Kansas City.


I was only there for one day and only sat in on a couple of sessions. But I met some great people, made some new Twitter connections and, during my short stay for a few sessions, picked up some good tidbits to pass along.

1. Tuesday Trivia. One of the morning sessions of opening day was a lightning round of sorts called “5 Ideas for Doing More with Less.” In that session, five iModules clients each had roughly five minutes to talk about something they’re doing to build engagement with their alumni. One of my favorites from that session was the “Tuesday Trivia” concept. Dana Howard (@DanaMSUAlum) of the Murray State University Alumni Association discussed how the association’s Tuesday Trivia game leverages social media to engage alumni and gather their contact information. Here’s now it works: Every Tuesday during the academic year, the alumni association posts a trivia question about Murray State on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (here’s a sample question), directing followers to submit their answers to an online form where the association also captures email addresses for their database. It’s a fun and simple, but not trivial, way to connect with alumni while collecting contact information.

2. Repurposing social media content. Also during that “More with Less” session, Doug Smith (@idougsmith) of the East Carolina Alumni Association presented a quick rundown of how that association integrates social media content on the website. One tool they use for publishing photos on their site is PictoBrowser, a free web application that displays Flickr or Picasa photos on websites. I’ve made a note to check out PictoBrowser to see if we might be able to apply it somehow with our photos.

3. Archiving email newsletters to maximize readership seems like a no-brainer, but I bet a lot of alumni associations aren’t doing that. During another “More with Less” session, Tracy Stolz of Gannon University’s alumni association talked about how her office uses the archives to not only expand readership, but also to preserve history and make the content more accessible.

4. Split testing for email marketing. Sue Henry of Adelaide University in Australia presented an informative session cleverly titled “Email Marketing: From Woe to Go.” This past spring, Adelaide tested two versions of an email to determine what impact subject line length, design and number of links might have on encouraging college seniors to join the alumni association. What she ultimately discovered through this test, however, was an unexpected outcome: that the timing of both emails was off. Compared to a previous email campaign (in October 2009, closer to graduation time for that class of seniors), both test emails from May 2010 had significantly lower open rates (13 percent and 11 percent, compared to 28 percent in October 2009). The reason? Henry and her colleagues determined that the message timing was not close enough to graduation, which was seven months away at the time of the May 2010 email.

5. Post-conference goodness. If you want to catch up on the conversations from the event, check out the #Sizzler10 hashtag on Twitter or visit iModules’ YouTube channel.

Friday Five bonus link. More a shameless plug than a takeaway, but here’s the link to my presentation at the end of day 1.

Have a good weekend.

A close encounter with Twitter greatness

Until yesterday, I thought Jack Dorsey (one of the triumvirate of Twitter founders, better known as @jack in tweetdom) was just another new-media success story.

@jack, aka Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey
@jack, aka Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey
But that was before I learned, via St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Deb Peterson’s blog post, that he once attended the university where I work, Missouri S&T. He attended here in the ’90s, back when we were the University of Missouri-Rolla. He studied computer engineering here, and chances are great that we crossed paths on campus.

I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know about this connection previously. I’m doubly embarrassed that another university (Webster University, based in his hometown of St. Louis) will present him with a major award next week, instead of us.

The PR guy in me hates missed opportunities.

But maybe, now that I know Jack was a student here, I can work to reconnect our campus with him. According to at least two higher ed colleagues on Twitter, Jack is technically an alumnus of our university. One said so publicly, the other privately, via direct message.

Anyway, I am now one of @jack’s kabillion followers on Twitter. I hope to one day meet the man personally.

Congratulations, Mr. Dorsey, on your award from Webster University. I only wish we’d connected with you sooner.

P.S. – I’m glad to read that you’re still a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Update: Jack Dorsey just gave a shout out to Missouri S&T, exposing our Twitter site to more potential views than most of our media relations efforts ever would.

Furman’s ‘no-call’ fundraising campaign: will it ring up more donations?

Furman University has launched a new alumni fundraising campaign that takes a new approach to the typical phone solicitation. With, Furman promises alumni that if they make a donation before May 15, “we promise not to call during dinner, or any other time for that matter, for the rest of the academic year.” It’s a clever approach.

Furman engaged Greenville, S.C., marketing firm HillMullikan to come up with the approach. According to the firm’s website, “The campaign was designed to create alumni awareness and increase participation with Furman University while raising funds through online donations. Like most universities, Furman has a Spring Call-a-Thon that yields results but is perceived as an annoyance to many donors.”

The site‘s centerpiece is a Mac vs. PC parody video — not the most creative approach (it’s been done before, again and again), but not overly annoying. More impressive, from an alumni pride standpoint, are the testimonials of donors who answer the question, “Why do you give back to Furman University?”

How well will this campaign work? I guess we’ll have to wait until after May 15 to find out.

#CASECMT: social networking for alumni groups

The original post contained some incorrect information about Caltech’s alumni base. This updated post reflects the correct numbers. The offending blogger has been duly reprimanded.

Once again I’ve fallen behind on my plans to summarize last week’s CASE Conference on Communications, Marketing and Technology. But you know how it is, once you get back to the office and get sucked in. So it goes.


Elizabeth Allen of the Caltech Alumni Association (and recent guest blogger in this space) put together a nice presentation on how alumni groups can use social networks to connect with alumni. She focused on three social networks Caltech Alumni Association is using– LinkedIn, Facebook and the photo- and video-sharing network Flickr. I was most interested in the LinkedIn angle, since that’s the network many people tap for connecting professionally.

Caltech Alumni started the LinkedIn group in 2005 without a lot of fanfare. According to Liz, Caltech sent two email newsletters to some 20,000 13,000 alumni with known email addresses, and also worked with LinkedIn to send a note to LinkedIn members who indicated they were Caltech alumni. (There’s also a link to and description of the LinkedIn group from the alumni association website.) From those low-cost efforts, Caltech Alumni has a LinkedIn group of 2,017, or 10 15.5 percent of the emailable alumni. (Update: Caltech has about 20,000 alumni in total, not 20,000 emailable, as I originally stated in this post. Caltech has email for about 13,000 of those alumni. Thanks, Liz, for setting the record straight.)

Why does this work for Caltech? In one sense, it makes the association more relevant, because through LinkedIn the association is facilitating global connections. Alumni from across the globe are part of the Caltech organization even if they live in regions where no alumni chapter exist. Also, using LinkedIn leverages that site’s mission of helping people build business and employment networks — something that’s important for a technological university like Caltech. (This is a model that could work for our campus, since many of our graduates also are in the science and engineering fields.)

Caltech also uses Facebook (with an alumni group and an alumni page, where Liz can send RSS feeds of events) and Flickr for sharing photos of events, etc. Caltech made a conscious decision to use third-party social networks instead of creating a separate, exclusive network hosted by the alumni association. The reasons: third-party validation (especially from LinkedIn, I would assume), and most alumni who are into social networks are already online in those venues, so why make them create yet another password and log in yet another time?

If anyone has questions about Caltech’s use of social networking, I’m sure Liz would be happy to respond. You may email her at elizabeth AT