Skidmore Web Developers blog


Social Media Corner: The Next Frontier in Higher Ed Recruitment?

To say that the web and social media are the next frontier in recruiting prospective students may sound a bit misleading.

Colleges, including Skidmore, have been using the web to communicate with prospective students and their families since the first “.edu” domain was established. However, some colleges have been slow to adapt to this new way of communicating.

Happily, Skidmore isn’t one of them. We’ve positioned ourselves as part of the social media vanguard in higher education, particularly with respect to online recruitment. In addition to having one of the best admissions staffs in the world, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into making sure we’re communicating with students on “their level.” Prospective students are inundated with e-mails from colleges and universities, a small percentage (about 20%) are actually reading what we are sending. And with the cost of print increasing, we’ve been looking for some cost-effective ways to connect with prospective students.

What better resource to use then, then our student body? The 2011 Noel-Levitz e-Expectations report emphasizes the use of current students as one of the most effective ways to connect to prospective students. Taking that to heart, Communications and Admissions have teamed up to launch Student-to-Student, a multi-media initiative that aims to put prospective students in direct contact with current students in a cost-effective way. (You may have received this e-mail in your inbox today.) A special thank you to the marketing genius mind of Mallory Wood for acting as a mentor for this program. If you don’t know Mallory Wood, you should check out her blog.

Students (and three staff members) participating in Student-to-Student blog at least weekly (free), use Twitter at least daily (also free), maintain a presence on Facebook (guess what, it’s free, too!), and answer questions on Formspring (surprise, it’s totally free). Since launching the page on Monday, October 5, it has been viewed 433 times, and visitors have spent an average of 3.43 minutes (!) on the page.

These tools are not only cost-effective; they’re everywhere. It’s important to leverage them (and social media) in new ways to connect and communicate with these prospective students, but also to create and cultivate relationships beyond Skidmore’s walls. It’s about keeping the lines of communication open and constantly flowing between our future students and us—which is never a bad thing.

 


Changes to Facebook profiles and security settings

Facebook announced some changes and improvements to “make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and other content with exactly the people you want.”

For the users who have tried out Google+, you’ll see some familiar things – different profile settings (the “Everyone” setting will now be called “Public” for example) which are available in the page, as opposed to having to navigate through complicated profile menus.

Also included is more control over being tagged in photos – which will allow a user to approve or reject all tags before they are applied to a photo for visibility on your profile.

As with most changes on Facebook, this will likely be rolled out to groups of users over the next few days or so so.  Take a look at the original articles, and keep an eye out for the changes to appear in your Facebook pages sometime soon.

Original Articles


LinkedIn Privacy Changes

The internet is abuzz with LinkedIn’s privacy changes. Take a look at the Yahoo News! story on the changes and how you can get your privacy back.


Playing with Apps

A question came up in a meeting this week about updating Skidmore blogs with mobile devices. Specifically, if it was possible. I’m happy to report that, yes it is very possible. In fact I’m posting this with my iPad!

Here’s how I did it:

1. Go to Word press’s Mobile Apps page and find the app you need.

2. Install the app on your mobile device and follow the directions in the app.

3. Get blogging!

One problem I ran into was that XML-RPC was not enabled on my blog. Make sure yours is set up by following these directions in your blog’s dashboard:

1. Click Settings in the left navigation.

2. Select writing in the options that appear under settings.

3. Turn on the XML-RPC checkbox at the bottom of the page.

4. Click Save Changes.


“Thinking beyond the ‘Like’”

Social media is a great way to get your audience more involved in the message you are communicating, by offering a chance to support that message with “real time” interactions.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare… the tools that you choose aren’t necessarily as important as making sure to use them well.

Think about how you advertise your social media presence – a link at the bottom of your emails, a line on your business cards, a URL in the credits of a video, a mention through another social media channel; we’ll use Facebook as our example.  There are many ways to bring visitors to your Facebook page, but how do you get them to click that “Like” button, and then come back for future visits?

Take a step back, and ask yourself, “Would I hit that Like button? What does this page offer? Why would someone choose to Like it?”  And then ask yourself, “What do I want to be the reason they click Like? What do I want them to perceive as my value?”  Lastly… decide how you’re going to communicate it!  Here are some tips.

Know what you’re going to be posting about, and when. Make a calendar and plan ahead, so that your content comes to your fans in a steady stream.  Nothing loses participation more quickly than silence.

Interact with your fans. Post period welcomes to new members. Ask questions, and then use that “Like” button to show that you’ve read and appreciate the responses.  Use the Facebook Questions feature to get a conversation started, and make sure that you participate!

Do not allow yourself to become a brand robot. This ties in very neatly with the above point – you have to interact with your fans in order to seem more personable and “likeable”.  Don’t just spend all of your time reposting your news stories and ad campaigns – post some historical pictures to start discussion, post about the community service day, show the more personal side of your group.

Promote participation. Ask your fans to share their own pictures and stories. Allow them to add to your photo albums. This goes a long way toward promoting engagement and involvement, particularly with the Facebook page associated with a once-a-year event.  A month later, solicit people to upload and comment on their memory photos.  Two months later, show off historical photos and ask others to post theirs.  Sharing promotes involvement, which keeps your fans returning to the page.

Show them what you offer. When you’ve got a sale, promotion, or special event, let your fans know about it. If you can, offer a “fan exclusive” – a discount, a sneak peek, a “fans only” event – something to add value to being a Facebook fan of your group.

Don’t go overboard. You see, your fans are human too, and if you fill up their feed with 20 posts a day about your event, they will eventually reach overload and either “unlike” or hide your posts.  Twice a day is adequate for anything that you’re not live-covering, but always gauge your audience, and remember that responding to questions/comments is never a part of that “overboard” quota!

With the plug ins that the Web Team has to import your social media feeds into your site, you have a great set of tools to engage your visitors, if the content is interesting, relevant, and timely.

 

These tips are remarkably similar to the Twitter Tips that are posted on the Social Media Handbook site – good advice on one platform often translates to other social media tools.

Original ClickZ article can be found here.

Skidmore’s social media handbook can be found here.


https article

Webmonkey posted an interesting article on https vs. http.  The premise of the article is based around why https isn’t being used more broadly across the web. Sites pretty much run https for purchases and high-level information, but not so much for login pages. Those that do, like facebook, don’t force the https address–you have to make sure you type it in manually.

You may wonder why you should care. As long as you can log in, isn’t that the most important thing? You should care, because when you log in to any site and the address doesn’t start with https://, then it’s much easier for people to snag your user name and password.

Read the article: HTTPS Is More Secure, So Why Isn’t the Web Using It?


Contact Information plugin available!

Following the CMS updates on 10/27/10, the Contact Information plugin is available for all CMS  sites.  The following is the FAQ section of the post from 10/27:

*********************

What is the Contact plugin?
The Contact plugin is a user interface that allows you to enter the contact information for your site once, and have it appear on all of the pages of the site.  It includes areas for email, phone, fax, and two customizable information areas.  In addition, you can show links to your social media areas at the bottom, as icons.

What are the features of the Contact plugin?
With the Contact plugin, you will only be putting in the contact information once, and will have it displayed on every page of your site.  This saves a great deal of time when information needs to be changed!  From user feedback, a few features due to be added are a Preview button, and the ability to re-sort the order of the information blocks.   The plugin includes standard icons for the social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) so that users don’t have to create their own.  You can also have a different address display for different folders in your website, if you have folders for different individual programs/offerings.

The contact information will appear on every page of your site (or subsite).  Updates are not instant – it will take a few hours for your changes to process through the server, due to resource caching.  You may only show one link per social media type (1 Facebook profile, etc.)

I like this!  How do I get the Contact plugin?
You will need to contact fill out the web contact form (https://cms.skidmore.edu/help/contact.cfm) to ask for a place in the schedule for having the script installed. Once it is installed, you will be able to edit the information in your Contact area yourself.

What if I don’t like the way the Contact plugin looks?
No one is required to use the Contact plugin, it’s a tool provided for your convenience.  You can choose to continue editing your Contact Information blocks manually.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Web team.

Jenn Crewell
Web Development Coordinator
x8117


CMS template updates on 10/27/10

Dear CMS Editors:

On Wednesday, October 27, the Web Team will be applying some updates to all CMS templates.  These updates will pave the way for a new Contact plugin, which you can see in use on the OCSE and Career Services websites.

What does this change involve?
The left column of the templates will be standardized across all sites using that template (Academic – yellow, Administration – green), in order to allow for consistent placement of the Contact plugin.

What does this mean?
If your template was not set up in a way that easily accommodates the change, any site-specific information in your left column may be lost.  This is particularly likely in the Administration (green) templates.

What should I do?
If you are concerned that information in your left column area may be lost in the transition, you should take a screen shot of your page, or print it out, and label it with appropriate links and so forth.  This way, the information will be available after the update, in order to rebuild the page properly.

What if my information is lost in the transition?
Please send fill out the web contact form (https://cms.skidmore.edu/help/contact.cfm).  Include the URL of the pages on which information was lost, and a copy of the relevant information.  We will assist you in rebuilding the information.

*********************

What is the Contact plugin?
The Contact plugin is a user interface that allows you to enter the contact information for your site once, and have it appear on all of the pages of the site.  It includes areas for email, phone, fax, and two customizable information areas.  In addition, you can show links to your social media areas at the bottom, as icons.

http://cms.skidmore.edu/career/ — Career Services example

What are the features of the Contact plugin?
With the Contact plugin, you will only be putting in the contact information once, and will have it displayed on every page of your site.  This saves a great deal of time when information needs to be changed!  From user feedback, a few features due to be added are a Preview button, and the ability to re-sort the order of the information blocks.   The plugin includes standard icons for the social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) so that users don’t have to create their own.  You can also have a different address display for different folders in your website, if you have folders for special programs.

The contact information will appear on every page of your site (or subsite).  Updates are not instant – it will take a few hours for your changes to process through the server, due to resource caching.  You may only show one link per social media type (1 Facebook profile, etc.)

I like this!  How do I get the Contact plugin?
You will need to contact fill out the web contact form (https://cms.skidmore.edu/help/contact.cfm) to ask for a place in the schedule for having the script installed. Once it is installed, you will be able to edit the information in your Contact area yourself.

What if I don’t like the way the Contact plugin looks?
You can opt out of the Contact plugin, but you will have to edit your pages manually in order to put in contact information, and you will have to edit each one manually every time change is necessary.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Web team.

Jenn Crewell
Web Development Coordinator
x8117


Facebook Places

Introduced yesterday, and rolling out gradually to users, Facebook Places allows you to tag yourself with a location in your Facebook posts.  It’s similar to FourSquare and other Twitter-location applications, which are highly popular.  However, there’s a twist — others can tag you as being at a location too, whether you’re there or not!

To adjust your Places privacy settings, click on the Account tab at the top right of your Facebook screen, and click Privacy Settings. Select the little blue “customize settings” link towards the bottom of the screen that appears.

  • You’ll see a list of privacy options. Under the Things Others Share category, disable “Friends can check me in to Places.” Now, only you can broadcast your location.
  • You can also choose who can see your check-ins. Click the “Places I check in” pulldown under the Things I Share category. The default is “friends only.” Selecting “Customize” brings up a pop-up where you can exclude entire networks, individual people, or everyone.
  • Finally, you may want to disable the “People Here Now” feature under the Things I Share category . “People Here Now” allows any user checked in at a location to see who else is checked in there—even if they’re not friends. Make sure the box is unchecked next to “Include me in ‘People Here Now’ after I check in.”

(Original news story and directions from Gawker.com.)


No Dislike Buttons!

Facebook does not have a dislike button at this time. There is, however, a  dislike button out there that is a scam. Do not install a dislike button.

Don’t believe me? Check out some links on the topic:

According to Graham Cluley in a post in the Sophos blog,

“If you do give the app permission to run, it silently updates your Facebook status to promote the link that tricked you in the first place, thus spreading the message virally to your Facebook friends and online contacts.”

He goes on to say,

“But you still haven’t at this point been given a “Dislike” Facebook button, and the rogue application requires you to complete an online survey (which makes money for the scammers) before ultimately pointing you to a Firefox browser add-on for a Facebook dislike button developed by FaceMod.”

Be careful what you click in Facebook, it has scams just like the rest of the web.


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