On Facebook, ‘touchy-feely’ is out of touch

The findings or a recent study on how brands use Facebook should cause all of us in higher ed to rethink how we use the social media giant for our marketing efforts.

The study, conducted by Facebook itself and recently reported in Ad Age, suggests that the “touchy-feely” approaches many brands (including higher ed brands) take on Facebook aren’t all that effective. (Thanks to Inigral’s Brandon Croke for sharing that Ad Age article via Twitter.) Analyzing 1,200 posts from 23 different brands, Facebook’s researchers found that for those brands, getting a lot of “likes” or comments on posts may be less effective than Facebook “shares,” which redistribute a brand’s post into users’ timelines and is viewable by all of their Facebook pals.

“Compared with likes, shares represent a bigger investment from the consumer and occur less frequently,” writes Ad Age’s Matt Creamer. “Thus, shares are often going to be more meaningful from a marketing perspective. After all, they suggest the brand is tapping into that friend-of-fan network that’s central to Facebook’s viral proposition.”

Good point. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting a thumbs up on your Facebook post, but that like is little more than a simple nod of approval from someone who is already connected to your brand. Wouldn’t you rather have members of your Facebook community avidly share your posts with their own networks. This moves people into more of a brand ambassador role, sharing information from your organization with others who may then choose to get on board with you.

But whether you’re talking about likes, comments or shares, the best brands share information that is relative to the brand as well as to their Facebook community, Sean Bruich, head of measurement platforms and standards at Facebook, told Ad Age.

“By far, the biggest predictor of engagement was that the post was on a topic relevant to the brand,” said Bruich. “It impacts everything, from lightweight likes to more invested shares. It’s actually one of the most important things a brand can do. People are seeing the content because they liked the brand, and it makes sense that content about the brand will get them engaged.”

On a related topic, Brandon Croke’s recent blog post, What Prospective Students Think About Your Facebook Page, is worth a read.

Image via birgirking on Flickr/Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birgerking/5600215736/

#CASECMT conference preview (liveblogging from DIA)

Updated Wednesday morning, April 9, with a continuation of Tuesday’s posts with more complete agenda info. (If you like, you can go straight to the update.)

Killing time at Denver International Airport, awaiting my connecting flight to San Diego and the CASE conference on Communications, Marketing and Technology — or #CASECMT for short. That’s the hashtag I’ll be using to identify Twitter comments from the conference as well as in the blogpost title and categories. I plan to update both here and on Twitter (go to twitter.com/andrewcareaga to follow along).

So while I’m waiting to board, here’s some background on the meeting, what my role is, and some thoughts on what to expect in the coming days.

The crowd. We should have a pretty decent crowd for this conference — 140-something at last count. A quick glance at the attendees list shows a nice mix of public and private institutions from across the country, as well as some independent schools and some representation from Canada. (I just took a quick scan of the list; there may be participants from other countries.) I’m hoping the group is participative and involved. I’ll do what I can to keep the program interactive, and I know all the other presenters will too.

My role. I’m taking part in three sessions on two closely related topics. The first has to do with benchmarking and assessing web strategies. I’m co-presenting with Paul Redfern, director of web communications and electronic media at Gettysburg College, and we’re doing the session twice — once tomorrow afternoon and again on Friday morning. Paul and I have had a few conversations about the subject, and I think we’ll tag-team pretty well on it. (Paul’s going to approach the topic more from an institutionwide perspective, using analytics and other techno-tools, and I’m going to talk more about the reputational and strategy aspects.)

My other session is titled “Monitoring Your Online Reputation,” and I’m flying solo on that one. It’s the first session of the day on Friday. I’m looking forward to talking about this subject, as it’s one I hold dear to my heart. There are many, many resources online that can help us monitor (if not manage) our online reputations and impressions. We just need to know where to find them, how to use them, and be aware of the limitations of these resources.

I kind of feel like a fish out of water here. I think I’m the only presenter with a PR background. Most of the other folks presenting are from web/electronic marketing. But that’s cool. I always like mixing it up with people who may bring a different slant to the subjects.

The rest of the conference:

Day 1 – Wednesday, April 9

The conference begins at noon with a keynote address by Fritz McDonald, creative director at Stamats, called “What You Need to Know About College-Bound Teens.” Description:

Explore the fascinating world of today’s college-bound teens. Learn how they spend their time; choose their media; and who influences them. Session includes a careful review of how they choose a college; what factors they weigh in that decision; and an analysis of the college-choice characteristics most important to them.

Following the keynote, Tom O’Keeffe, director of web content at Colgate University (and the guy who roped me into this gig), will present a session on building online communities. I’m looking forward to this one. Tim and the folks at Colgate are doing some good stuff with new media, including putting their news site completely into a blog format (Movable Type) to foster more interaction, and just to make it easier to manage (I suspect). Next up is a session on the uses — and misuses — of flash, presented by Casey Paquet, web manager at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. Yet another subject I’m looking forward to delving into. Then at 4:15 comes our breakout session, along with two others I wish I could attend: “Planning, and Implementing, a Successful Redesign” and “You’ve Bought a CMS, now how do you make it work?”

Ack. Boarding call. No time to talk about the other two days. Check the CASE website referenced above for more info. Let me just add that I’m really looking forward to the presentation from the guy from Six Apart (creators of Movable Type and Typepad) on Thursday. There’s also a panel session with some real live students that I’m looking forward to.

OK. I’m off. See you in San Diego, or on the innerweb.

April 9 update:

Interlude: While I was waiting for my connection in Denver, I got an email from Paul Redfern that he was grounded in Dallas due to the American Airlines inspection snafu. So we weren’t able to meet over dinner last night. I hope he made it in OK. All of the presenters are scheduled to meet later this morning.

Day 2 – Thursday, April 10

This is my “sponge” day. I have no presentations, no obligations (until the faculty panel at the end of the day). I can sit in on the presentations without distraction, absorb the discussions, and maybe even learn something. And it looks like a great day to do that.

Here’s what the day looks like:

Paul Redfern of Gettysburg kicks it off with a session called “Personalizing the Web: How do Portals and Web Sites Connect?”
Judging from the description and my conversations with Paul earlier, I think he’s going to be talking about options for those who don’t use portals — how colleges and universities can have some sort of website/portal hybrid. “How do schools create an integrated approach to the Web and utilize both Web 2.0 and Customer Relationship Management functionality to create a Google-and Amazon-like experience? Find out at this session.”

Next up is “Connecting with Alumni Using Online Communities,” a session I’ll absorb and bring back to our alumni director. The presenter is Elizabeth Allen, assistant director for communications for the Cal Tech Alumni Association. Cal Tech is one of the few elite technological universities we at Missouri S&T look to for ideas and inspiration. I’m looking forward to this presentation for many reasons.

After lunch, a moderated panel with college students is scheduled. It’s always good to hear from the students. It reminds us why we do what we do. Or it should, anyway.

The final session of the day is the one by Michael Sippey of Six Apart: “Always On, Connected, and Available: Social Media and Emerging Trends.” I’m expecting great things from this session, which promises that we will “tour tomorrow’s social media landscape and discuss how state-of-the-art tools are being used today. Learn how the ideas of connectedness, pervasiveness, and speed will drive how we create content, consume content, and connect with others online.”

Day 3 – Friday, April 11

The day begins with my presentation on monitoring online reputations, followed by a re-do of the three breakout sessions. And then it’s over. That sounds so final. Kind of sad, actually. And the meeting hasn’t even started yet. But it will soon, and I need to get my act together quickly for today’s event.

BlogHighEd: new higher ed blog aggregator

A couple of my favorite higher ed bloggers — Brad Ward and Matt Herzberger — have been working feverishly these past few weeks on a new aggregator of higher ed blogs. Today, they unveiled the beta version of their site, BlogHighEd.org.

bloghighed.gifBlogHighEd pulls feeds from higher ed blogs and presents them in a nice, clean webpage format. Currently the site is drawing from 19 feeds, with more certain to be added in the coming days. Many of my favorites are included, but some are not — yet. If you’re a higher ed blogger and are interested in joining the BlogHighEd site, go ahead and submit an application.

PR Changes examines social media and PR

Three journalism and communications faculty members at Auburn University (academic home of social media guy Robert French) have launched PR Changes, a blog designed to explore how social media is affecting the PR business. In their inaugural post, the profs pose two questions for PR practitioners:

Do social media relationships really have an impact on an organization’s image and reputation?

Do these relationship impact the bottom line?

Why not drop by PR Changes and share your thoughts? I’m sure they’d appreciate hearing from you.

Thanks to Robert for the Tweet.

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