All posts by Morgan Noonan

What Colleges and Universities Can Learn from the Subscription Model

It’s no secret that the fashion industry reigns supreme when it comes to digital innovation and the customer service experience. From the beautiful simplicity of online shopping to the extensive multi-sensory retail experience curated by some of the biggest brands in the industry, the impact of technology on retail is truly amazing. The evolving digital landscape has morphed the traditional shopping experience into something personal, flexible and on-demand to meet the needs of modern users.

One of the most recent (and successful) retail trends is the subscription box. I recently became a StitchFix subscriber, and the process was really easy. You fill out basic information about age, size and your profession, and StitchFix curates a monthly wardrobe tailored to you. You follow simple steps in the form of a quiz that gets to know your preferences like:

  • “Comfortable”, “professional” or “night out” clothes.
  • Types of outfits and pieces like jeans, dresses and skirts.
  • Must-have’s, never’s and maybe’s.
  • How often you’d like to receive new items.

What does this have to do with Higher Ed?

Getting StitchFix in the mail feels like Christmas morning. Five pieces tailored to your personal style picked by a stylist who took the time to look through your Pinterest and Instagram to find you the exact pair of jeans you never even knew you wanted. I’ve experienced the delight of the StitchFix customer experience first-hand. I’ve also been a prospective student and this got me wondering–why didn’t my education experience feel more like this?

When I think back on my enrollment experience, I remember spending a lot of time searching online and sifting through mail sent to my parents’ house. Besides the excitement of receiving mail, the whole process felt relatively one-sided. I researched schools with specialties in the major I wanted and the area I wanted to live, I reported my grades, courses, class rankings and test scores. About a week later I received an acceptance packet in the mail as well as a congratulatory email. My inquiry and application were followed up with more information about the school without any other questions for me. Why don’t colleges and universities ask more about student preferences, goals and personality?

The Future of Higher Education Consumption

Modern learners are used to a world like StitchFix where everything is personalized. Take Columbia College Chicago Online, for instance. They’ve created a new digital campus experience where the creators and doers of the world can gain professional guidance and experience while still following their passions. In his book “The End of Average,” Todd Rose, the director of the Mind, Brain and Education program at Harvard University speaks of curriculum that is “based on everyone and relevant to no one.”

What if educators, education marketers and everyone involved in the student experience began asking more student-centric questions? Imagine if your inquiry or application was followed by a quiz or online survey that asked questions like:

“Do you prefer working hands-on with a professor or having a more independent study experience?”

“Would you find your time more enjoyable in a traditional college-town setting or do you want to be able to explore a big city while getting your education?”

Simple questions like this could help prospective students determine which school and program are perfect for them. On the flip side, colleges and universities would be able to find right-fit students who want to grow in a setting that’s tailored to them.

What conversations are happening on your campus to personalize the student experience? Tweet us @convergeorg. We would love to hear your ideas and continue the conversation.

 

Campus Influencers: Social Media Champions for Colleges and Universities

Social media influencers can teach us a lot about creating content to engage our audiences and reaching more people to grow our following. In today’s social media crazed world, schools are even offering courses on how to become social media famous. So what can higher ed learn from the influencer marketing buzz?

 

Influencers can spark ideas because they know what your audience finds most interestingand why they find it interesting. In layman’s terms, an influencer is someone who is able to influence a large amount of people. What generally used to come to mind was celebrity endorsement, but just about anyone can go viral with the right content and promotion. People like Kristina Bazan, who started as a fashion blogger was able to create the right content to get people invested in her ideas. She now has over 2.4 million followers on Instagram alone.

 

Influencers are people that display their life in a way that is relatable and inspirational for your followers. College campuses are full of influential people. The distinguished MBA professor who led his company to Fortune 500 status. The star tennis player paving the way for the next generation of female athletes. The alum who developed an app that propelled her startup to fame. You know the stories better than we do. How are your influencers engaging in your brand story?

 

Student Athletes

Chances are high that many athletes that attend your school have a strong following on social media. Know who these students are and find a way to engage them in promoting your brand on social. Get your followers excited about the athlete’s upcoming match and ask the student to promote an upcoming fundraiser. Consider hosting regular “takeovers” on institutional accounts where student athletes can recount game highlights or describe a day in the life. Highlight team accomplishments and encourage school spirit.

 

Student Life

Students involved in Greek life or other organizations on campus are great connections for social media influence. Not only do these students promote what’s happening on campus to their designated chapters and organizations, but they typically have a direct line to the heartbeat of your campus community. Ask them to promote an upcoming MBA Open House Event and then promote their philanthropy event. UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School recently shared a tweet from their Business Tech Club.

 

 

Alumni

Stories from graduated members of your community help motivate current students and connect your brand to another area of influencers. Connect with alumni who are active in the campus community or who have an interesting post-grad story to tell. This will show students the potential of their degree and share the benefit of staying involved with other alumni. The University of San Francisco began a Changemakers series where they feature members of the community making a difference. They recently shared the story of an alumni who uses technology for good and educates the next generation of students.

 

Faculty

Engaging those working for your institution who are already passionate about your brand is an effortless way to expand your reach. Faculty members are already doing cool things for the school, it’s up to EDU marketers to make sure it’s known. Mississippi College recently named English Professor Steve Price Humanities College Professor of the Year and did a feature article highlighting his success at the school, including what makes him such a great addition to the community.

 

 

INFLUENCER MARKETING FOR HIGHER ED

Stories at the heart of your institution can be found all around campus. It’s important to take the time to seek these stories out and highlight the personalities and accomplishments of your community. Thinking about using influencers in your video features? Check out our recent blog on YouTube influencers. Have influencer marketing success stories? We would love to hear them. Tweet us your examples @convergeorg.

What Higher Ed Can Learn from Olive Garden

As I returned home from a five-month study abroad experience in Italy, I had to readjust to many things about America that I had either forgotten about or missed while gone. Fidget spinners, new music and Selena Gomez and The Weeknd’s budding romance are all a little perplexing to me, but I do have a newfound appreciation for one of the latest fads…the return of Olive Garden.

It’s no secret that millennials prefer to shop, dine and support small businesses. But just when chain restaurants seem to be on the decline in popularity, the Olive Garden logo makes a reappearance on my Twitter timeline.

While reworking through executive board changes and menu updates, the Darden restaurant seems to have found a witty brand voice that really resonates with younger demographics. Olive Garden’s messaging on Twitter plays into key concepts that digital natives are drawn tolike humor and pop culture. Here are three ways Olive Garden is getting millennials and Gen Zers to hit the retweet button:

 

1. Highlighting the latest pop culture like songs and memes.

The typical millennial Twitter feed is packed full of memes because they’ve become a culture for younger generations. They’re messaged back and forth, commented on and shared as a reflection of one’s personality. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a meme is worth a million. Olive Garden carries out the meme culture perfectly, not only getting a laugh out of millennials, but also calling attention to their food and culture.

[Tweet “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a meme is worth a million.“]

 

Idea for EDU: Find ways to incorporate images of your school or campus culture into popular memes. When a piece of content is relatable for them, they’re quick to share with their friends.

 

2. Using polls to interact with their followers.

Polls are a really great way to get your audience involved, as well as gauge what people want. Olive Garden runs polls quite frequently on Twitter that not only get engagement from followers as far as retweets and likes, but that also start a conversation among friends about preferences at the restaurant. Some are done in humor which make them shareable.

 

 

While others are done as a strategic way to find preferences among their Twitter audience. When they run these polls, they’re pulling new information about what followers want to see and hear about and what this specific audience appreciates most about the Italian establishment.

 

 

Idea for EDU: Run a poll asking students/alumni about their favorite parts of campus or university culture. This is a great way to gather information about your target audience and curate content based on their feedback.

 

3. Tuning into current events pertinent to their followers.

Olive Garden is aware of what’s going on in their younger followers’ lives and what they find important. When prom rolled around, the restaurant had a series of tweets displaying their expertise in the art of asking someone to the dance.

 

Idea for EDU: The new semester is just around the corner, which means another move-in day for the books. Start a series of fun Tweets around move-in week with a hashtag to thread the conversation. Offer advice on must-see places on campus or how-to’s on laundry and eating for one.

 

Colleges and Universities on Social

By refining their brand voice, Olive Garden has found and engaged with a whole new audience. Their sharp listening and social monitoring skills has helped them create content that younger generations find shareable and humorous. Colleges and universities who listen to their followers and have a little fun with their content will find it much easier to connect with digital natives.

 

How is your institution adapting its brand voice to connect with new generations? Leave ideas in the comments below.

Higher Ed Technology: Inside the New Houseparty App

house-party_twitter_feature-image

Houseparty is a new app that allows users to join video calls with up to eight of their friends. Similar to the AIM chat rooms of the late 90s, Houseparty is growing rapidly in popularity with Generation Z. According to a recent Forbes article, the app currently has one million daily active users, 60 percent under the age of 24.

app-in-hand-1200x800The app is easy to use and straight-forward in functionality. Once you set up an account with a username and password, you are asked to add a phone number. This is how you add contacts.

Once you’re in the chat mode of Houseparty, you can invite friends to join your ‘party.’ Users already set up as your contacts will be notified that you are ‘in the house’ any time you open the app, making it easy to join in on conversations.

After you are ‘in the house’ with friends, the app works as a video chat room. Any friends or friends of friends can join the chat unless the room is set to ‘locked’ and only the people currently in the room can be in the chat.

How can higher ed use this popular app?

Houseparty is a personal app that requires an effective strategy for those in higher education wanting to utilize it.

[Tweet “Houseparty is a personal app that requires an effective strategy for #HigherEd.”]

The app could be useful for schools engaging with prospective undergraduate students. With such a young demographic, universities could stand out from their competitors by meeting prospects where they already hang out. Schools could also use the app to create personal interactions between students and staff who can answer their questions.

Admissions counselors or program directors can schedule times for up to eight students to join them on the app, giving students a chance to engage in face-to-face, small group conversation. This creates a space for casual conversation and opportunities for live Q&As, campus tours, how-tos and other helpful engagement sessions with prospective students.

Schools should cautiously leverage the app due to its level of privacy. However, for schools looking to try something new and engage students, Houseparty is an app worth considering.

[Tweet “Looking to try something new and engage students? Consider Houseparty.”]

Watch the Houseparty demo on their site for a quick run-through of how to use the app.

Get your daily dose of strategy, one post at a time. Join the Converge mailing list to stay up to date on what’s new and next in higher education marketing.

Subscribe

What Higher Ed Can Learn from Taco Bell: Social Listening

According to Sprout Social, social listening is “the process of tracking conversations around specific phrases, words or brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.” Companies and brands listen to conversations on social platforms and use what they find to engage fans.

Taco Bell established their brand personality on social media and has an audience that’s quick to interact. Through social listening on Twitter, Taco Bell is showing us all how it’s done.

Image1TBContent Engagement

One of the main ways Taco Bell uses social listening is with followers’ content. Whether simply retweeting a follower or quoting the tweet and including a message, a lot of Taco Bell’s content on Twitter is follower-generated. Not only does this make the Taco Bell brand more personable, but it also gives other followers a reason to engage and interact with the company – so their content might be featured.

 

 

Support on DemandImage2TB

Another useful facet of social listening is the opportunity to maintain almost immediate customer support. Have a question about the latest deal on Doritos Locos Tacos? Social Listening allows Taco Bell to see who’s talking about their brand and directly answer user questions. Businesses able to quickly answer questions via users’ favorite social media channels appear helpful and connected.

Setting up alerts in Google or using a tool like If This Then That allows you to receive notifications when someone mentions your brand. Customer service is crucial in retention, and paying attention to what people are saying about you will set you apart.

 

Image3TBA Case for Higher Ed

Though higher education brands might not be tweeting about Baja Blasts, following Taco Bell’s lead in social media interaction with users could greatly improve brand personality and community retention.

One school with a good social listening strategy is Belmont University. Belmont responds quickly to questions students tweet and replies calmly to issues they might be having. Quick responses on social media allow Belmont to diffuse potential problems almost immediately before they become larger issues.

Image4TBBelmont is even able to do this without the user directly tweeting at them. They use social listening tools that send an alert when someone posts about Belmont on the web or on social channels.

Don’t want to clog your generic school account with mentions answering followers’ questions? Taco Bell retweets a few exceptional users on their main account, but answers the majority of questions they receive on their @TacoBellTeam account. This way followers’ timelines aren’t bombarded with Taco Bell mentions, and people’s questions still get answered. It’s the best of both worlds.

Ready to create a social media strategy that gives your brand a relatable personality? Get in touch with us about our Content Strategy services.

3 Interactive Features of Facebook Live

Interactive content is becoming more prevalent in higher education advertising. It’s no secret that digital content is crucial in generating and converting leads. Staying up to date on platforms that allow you to interact with prospective students can help you engage on a more conversational level and get students to relate to your school’s brand.

[Tweet “Get the conversation started with prospective students on Facebook Live. #HigherEd”]

Facebook Live was launched last summer to public figures and has since become available to mobile users all over the world. In April, Facebook released multiple new features that make Facebook Live even more interactive during live broadcast. These features all contribute to the quick and bilateral style of social that Facebook has implemented with their video-focused feed.

I recently gave Facebook Live a try and quickly realized how useful the tool could be for recruiters looking to engage with prospective students in a new, practical way that’s mutually beneficial to students and brands.

Here are the three features I found most useful for recruiters using Facebook Live:

FB Live Comment

 

Real-Time Reactions

During a live broadcast, viewers can communicate directly with the video host. Viewers can also post an emoticon action (the new “wow”, “sad”, “love”, etc.) that acts as audience feedback like laughter or applause. They can comment directly during a live broadcast, which allows the host to have a real-time conversation with viewers.

 

 

 

FB Live Group

 

Ability to Post in Groups or Events

Before going live, you’re asked to set a framework for your video: who you want viewing your video and a video description. You can choose to make the video public (the next feature on our list) or private. You can also post directly in an event or group and the video will be shared only with users who are members.

Side note: an event set to public will establish your video as available to the public.

 

 

FB Live Map

 

Ability to Share on the Facebook Live Map

If you choose to set your video to public, your video will appear on the Facebook Live Map. This allows anyone from all over the world to see and interact with your live video.

 

[Tweet “Millennials are hungry for video content as the most active video users and consumers.”]

Millennials are hungry for video content as the most active video users and consumers. Facebook’s updated tool allows a more colloquial and interactive way to reach prospective students, which could be incredibly useful for institutions looking for more engagement.

Ready to revamp your recruitment strategy? Learn more about our digital advertising services.