Monthly Archives: January 2013

No snow job: Celebrate who you are.

We get snow in Oswego. Sometimes a lot of snow. That’s just a fact. It’s also the subject of fake photos, fiction and folklore. But it defines our part of the Upstate New York experience. The story goes that the massive 2007 blizzard in Oswego County making national headlines attracted many passionate meteorology students. (Did I mention have our own lake-effect snow research center?)

But how do you handle this from an admissions standpoint? If you pretend it doesn’t exist, it would shift from a recruitment to a retention issue after a bad winter. So we’re pretty up front about it, including our winters in everything from our admissions video to a Pinterest board.

To a degree, it all involves accepting, sometimes even celebrating, who we are. As the only U.S. campus directly on the shore of Lake Ontario, we take the ups and the downs. Snow pictures can be beautiful too, so toward the end of my lunch hour on Tuesday, I trekked to take some iPhone photos of our statue of founder Edward Austin Sheldon in front of our signature building, Sheldon Hall. Since we adopt a “been there, done that” attitude with the snow I put on a caption of “A snowy day in Oswego? We get the feeling Edward Austin Sheldon has seen this before.”

Was by no means an award-winning photo, but figured it would provide some fresh Facebook and web content, maybe get a few likes or comments. I had no idea.

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 11.21.58 PMNo idea, that is, it would become our most-shared photo ever. With a Tuesday afternoon posting, at last glance it had 70 shares, plus 319 likes and 24 comments. The shares, as I’ve said before, are valuable because it shows someone likes your content enough to “buy” it in a sense and pass along to their friends, as it eclipsed the record of the sunset shot mentioned in this blog entry about content and serendipity.

Were all the comments positive? Not really, as some did talk about not missing the snow at all. But others yearned for their snowy fun with friends, and one alum provided one of the more interesting testimonials ever: “I visited Oswego in a snowstorm and knew it was where I wanted to be. Miss the snowball fights.” (Note: We don’t officially condone snowball fights. Just saying.)

Snow is part of the Oswego family fabric. Our winters build character, and surviving and thriving in them become a badge of honor. So even if we don’t enjoy all that shoveling, the cold, having to wear layer after layer, we can still embrace opportunities to show how this makes us special. Judging by the numbers of likes and shares, many many members of our extended campus family would agree.

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Pleased to meet you: The power of introductions.

Seems like I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately introducing people to each other or being introduced to people. And that’s pretty awesome.

Screen shot 2013-01-21 at 11.38.26 AMWhether via Twitterduction (introduction via Twitter), inclusive email or face-to-face, introductions are where the magic happens. It’s where you can bring together two creative people who can take projects known or unknown to greater heights than they ever could alone. It’s where you can connect a solution to a problem. It’s where you can start anything from a friendship to a relationship, a collaboration to a business partnership.

Think about the people you’ve met who helped you, mentored you or otherwise brightened your life. Everyone we know can benefit by meeting new people who share interests, problems or passions. Social media does make this easier — I’ve encountered so many people there that I’ve later met (and were impressed by) in real life — but don’t neglect opportunities to put together two or more interesting people face-to-face with a handshake, over coffee or for a meal.

So, have you introduced anyone lately? If you haven’t, introducing two people who don’t know each other but would benefit from meeting virtually or in real life this week may be a modest goal. And who knows — it could prove the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Favorited tweets, rising: On content, connection and conversation.

While not necessarily the most important Twitter metric, the favorited tweet could be the most meaningful in its own way. I tend to think of someone favoriting a tweet as putting it in their Twitter scrapbook or hanging it on their virtual fridge. So when we see a huge surge in favorited tweets for our @SUNYOswego account, we must be doing something right.

The number of favorited @SUNYOswego tweets rocketed from 9 in November to 52 in December — and with 47 faves in the first 8 days of January, a new high-water mark appears inevitable. So why this astronomical leap? Of course, this all starts with tracking, content and interaction.

You really should track what people are saying about your college or brand online. Tweetdeck is great for doing this in real-time (other instruments like Icerocket and Addictomatic are nice too). We set up tracking columns for “SUNYOswego” (where people use the @ of our account or something the #sunyoswego hashtag), “SUNY Oswego” and “Oswego State.” (1: If your college has only one name commonly used, congratulations. 2: A feed mentioning merely “Oswego” became unmanageable by all those referencing Lake Oswego, a large Portland suburb.)

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 8.58.22 AM

What a busy, albeit awesome day, looks like in Tweetdeck.

Seeing a comment under these columns can spark engagement. If it’s a question we can answer or direct them the right place, responding is a no-brainer. Moreover, if it’s a student tweeting they’ve been accepted or offering up praise of something or someone at the college, we usually want to retweet it, perhaps with comment. Sometimes it’s as simple as “congratulations,” depending on space available, although we may add more commentary or humor when possible. (Acceptance tweets in all caps have been known to earn the #ALLCAPSWORTHY hashtag, for example.) Very often, our retweet gets a retweet from the person we RTed (if that’s not too confusing), we gain a new follower (or three, as others see the second RT) and increasingly the user (or someone they know) favorites the tweet.

As author, blogger and all-around smart guy Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) would say, if someone took the time to say something nice about you in social media, how can you not take the time to show them a little love and attention? This idea of kindness helps drive why we RT and engage with these acceptance tweets. But it also makes good business sense, presuming you’re into that kind of thing. Yes, these students now have a connection with and favorable view of our college and become an audience for our content (read: awesome things happening at our college). Sure, they now have a point of contact if they have questions if they’re weighing us vs. other institutions. Absolutely, they see other incoming students tweeting and can start to form a network with them via Twitter. But in a more personal way, we show that someone here cares and shares their excitement at getting into SUNY Oswego.

Note that even as these tweets sometimes come in every minute or so, we try to space out the RT stream a bit so it won’t be too much of a firehouse. We realize some students see these RTs and post so their own acceptances can be recognized too. We did see the rare snark or whine posted digging at the excited tweets, but you don’t let the occasional lonely troll keep you from crossing the Bridge to Awesomeness. It’s even nice to get positive feedback from others in social media enjoying the parade of good feelings:

Yes, we replied back and even favorited this lovely tweet, if that doesn't seem too meta.

Yes, we replied back and even favorited this lovely tweet, if that doesn’t seem too meta.

Buzzfeed recently published a minor buzzkill on this trend, saying favorites are likely up everywhere because of a change in way the option is featured and its use as a “Twitter fist bump.” The article actually traces this increase starting with a December 2011 redesign that made the option more prominent and may have fostered a culture and conditioning toward greater favoriting. Which in and of itself is good if their assumption that perhaps “it’s a sign that Twitter is getting a little bit friendlier” is correct. But note that change occurred a while ago, and the huge jump in favoriting @SUNYOswego tweets by far outpaces increases in other metrics.

And however you slice or analyze it, seeing a huge surge in the number of people favoriting, RTing and engaging positively with your content is a wonderful thing. Where and how this converts into those admitted students enrolling at Oswego remains to be seen, but at least we have some nice benchmarks (and feelings) to start.

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