Friday Five: Top #highered news of 2011

There’s still almost a month left of 2011, but before we all get caught up in our end-of-semester and pre-holiday activities, I wanted to share my thoughts about the big events and happenings of the year from a higher ed marketing perspective. (Hey, if Hollywood can release a movie called New Year’s Eve on Dec. 9, then I see nothing wrong with posting my end-of-year lists a little early.)

The higher ed marketing community is a pretty small one, so the items I highlight here may seem less than momentous in comparison to some of the bigger higher ed news of the year. You won’t see any mention of big-time athletics scandals or Occupy protests — just topics that pertain to the subject matter of this blog and our little community of higher ed communicators.

Here are the top #highered news and trends of 2011, as I see them.

5. Higher Ed Live. Even though Seth Odell’s live video show made its debut in September 2010, Higher Ed Live grew legs in 2011 and became a weekly ritual for many in the higher ed community. Even if we weren’t all watching it live, many of us were talking about the show in the #higheredlive Twitter stream, and we were watching archived episodes asynchronously. Thanks, Seth, for bringing some of the top higher ed marketing/PR/web folks to our screens, and for committing cash out of your own pocket to keep the stream ad-free.

4. WTF, Oberlin? The creation of two Oberlin College alumni, the website Why the f*** should I choose Oberlin? caught the attention of many in the world of higher ed. Since the edgy single-serving site since it launched earlier this fall, visitors have posted thousands of reasons why Oberlin is their effing college of choice. As this InsideHigherEd article points out, the point is not to merely drop f-bombs. Its two creators, Ma’ayan Plaut and Harris Lapiroff, devised the site “to showcase the love and shared experiences of those who attended Oberlin.” In Georgy Cohen’s blog entry discussing the merits of this site, she says the site works because “its creators … are not too far removed from their target demographic. Also, the site is not official, and it likely didn’t languish for months between conception and launch. WTFSICO is a natural extension of their love and enthusiasm for Oberlin and a natural expression of what, to them, is an effective web presence.” Fortunately, no one else has tried to duplicate the gosh darn thing.

3. Content’s king and queen. With the launch of MeetContent last March, co-creators Georgy Cohen (@radiofreegeorgy) and Rick Allen (@epublishmedia) have given the higher ed community a blog focused on a very important component of web, print and any other form of communication: content. This site is a terrific resource for higher ed’s content creators.

2. A broader, better BlogHighEd. When the higher ed blog aggregator BlogHighEd launched back in February 2008, it had a pretty easy job to do. There were only a handful of higher ed blogs out there. But as the higher ed marketing community grew, and more new bloggers cropped up, BlogHighEd unfortunately remained a closed system, focused on the few bloggers it started with. That all changed last May, when the site, created by Matt Herzberger and Brad J. Ward, opened up to include dozens more blogs. As I wrote back then, “Bigger isn’t always better, but with the higher ed blogosphere expanding (relatively) dramatically in recent years, I think it’s good for an aggregator site like this to incorporate more perspectives. The addition of new voices adds more value to BlogHighEd, keeping it fresher and giving blog readers more reason to visit that site on a regular basis.”

1. #MBTeamS FTW. You have to go way back to January for the top higher ed marketing story of the year. That is when the team of Todd Sanders and John Petersen, two higher ed guys and Packers fans from Green Bay, won Mercedes-Benz’s big “tweet race” to the Super Bowl. Right before the event, I posted a Friday Five offering five reasons why the higher ed community should help Todd and John in their quest to win the race. Not that they really needed my help, as Todd and John had amassed a groundswell of support long before the race began. After the race, fellow higher ed bloggers Karine Joly, Michael Stoner and Patrick Powers discussed why this event was such a winner, not only for Todd and John, but for all of higher ed. The event galvanized the online higher ed community as we all rallied around a great cause (not just winning for winning’s sake; as part of the effort, Todd and John raised a lot of money for charity, and many of you helped). Patrick put it best: “Social media, at its best, is fun.” Thanks to this event, all of us who participated were winners.

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So those are my picks for 2011. What are yours?

P.S. Speaking of lists, I’ll soon be joining the other members of the Higher Ed Music Critics collective for our annual countdown of the year’s best albums. I hope you’ll follow along.

Friday Five: Go #MBTeamS Go!

MBTeamS-imgBREAKING: At 3 p.m. CST Saturday, Feb. 5, Mercedes-Benz announced that our beloved underdogs, #MBTeamS, won the MB Tweet Race.

Congratulations to Todd and John for their accomplishments: They won a race, raised $50,000 for St. Jude and brought turned a rag-tag group of tweeters into a formidable pit crew. For an analysis on how they did it, check out these posts by Karine Joly and Michael Stoner.

As for me, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say THANK YOU to all readers of this blog who helped. Every tweet with the #MBTeamS tag helped.

If you follow corporate social media marketing campaigns, you probably know about Mercedes-Benz’s big MB Tweet Race campaign, in which four teams will drive four different Mercedes models to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. They’ll be coming from four different destinations: Chicago, L.A., New York and Tampa.

Some 2,000 people vied for a chance to be in the race, but only four teams made the cut.

One of those teams — the one they call #MBTeamS — represents the hopes and dreams of social-media-savvy higher ed professionals everywhere.

And the hopes and dreams of Green Bay Packers fans.

But most importantly, the hopes and dreams of kids with cancer, their parents and anyone who wants to see this disease wiped from the face of the earth.

The objective of this race is for each team to get as much Twitter activity from its followers as possible. That means followers of #MBTeamS — which consists of higher ed guys Todd Sanders (@tsand on Twitter) and John Pederson (@ijohnpederson), and their coach, rock’n’roller Pete Wentz (@petewentz) — will need to “fuel” the team’s drive from L.A. to Dallas with lots and lots of tweets starting this Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Todd and John will be going up against some tough competition, so they need all the support of the higher ed community they can muster. That’s why I’m joining others in higher ed, including fellow blogger Karine Joly, to call for readers to join #MBTeamS and help fuel Todd and John to victory.

For this week’s Friday Five, here are five reasons why you should — nay, you MUST — through your weight and tweets behind #MBTeamS.

1. They are the underdogs. Todd and John are competing against a pair of lovable moms (coached by tennis star Serena Williams), tech whizzes Len Kendall and John Morrison (coached by Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher), and two TV personalities I’ve never heard of, but who must be famous (and their coach, RevRun of Run DMC, who is famous). As of Jan. 17, #MBTeamS had the fewest Twitter followers of this group. Which means that those of us who do follow will have to up the tweet frequency. Plus, all the other teams are better looking than these guys (see below). But who doesn’t love an underdog? Let’s get behind Todd and John and help them win it all.


2. They are from Green Bay. Which of course means that they’re Packers fans. Their team is in the Super Bowl. ‘Nuff said. #gopackgo.

3. They’re going green. And I’m not just talking about their Packers jerseys. #MBTeamS is the only team of the four driving a hybrid. They’ll be driving from L.A. in style in a 2011 Mercedes-Benz S400 HYBRID Sedan. I drive a hybrid (though not a Mercedes), so how could I not root for #MBTeamS? They’re team green.

4. They’re raising money for a worthy cause. “At the core of this contest,” Todd and John write on their team website, “behind all the football, fancy cars, and social media silliness, is a $25,000 donation that Mercedes-Benz is making to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on behalf of our coach, Pete Wentz, and #MBteamS. Even better, if we do end up ‘winning’ this thing, Mercedes-Benz kicks in an additional $20,000, totaling $45,000, to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.” St. Jude’s is one of the world’s leading pediatric cancer research centers. By joining Todd and John, you’ll be helping a very worthy cause.

5. They’re awesome. I’ve followed Todd Sanders on Twitter for quite some time and I’ve got to say that he’s one of the most entertaining, intelligent, zany, fun-loving people I’ve ever met virtually. (I still haven’t met Todd face-to-face but hope to someday soon so he can buy me a beer.) Todd brings an unparalleled joie de vivre to Twitter, YouTube and his all-too-infrequent blog posts. I’ve only recently started following John but figured if he’s buds with Todd he must be OK. And he is. Together, and with their rock-and-roll coach, they’re going to rock this MBTweetRace like no one else can. It’s going to be awesome. Don’t miss out.

I could list more reasons, but do you really need more convincing? Just join the cause already. You won’t be sorry. And while you’re at it, why not purchase a bit of #MBTeamS swag so you can cherish the memories forever? Ten percent of the purchase goes to St. Jude’s.

Go #MBTeamS Go!