Tag Archives: students

Alyssa Explains It All, or on being social and open to ideas

Our student blogs have really stepped up in content concepts this year, evolving past “this is what I did last week” and into more purposeful and useful directions. Since I believe in sharing, I’ll post more info here on the various projects, but wanted to start with how a random tweet turned into an outstanding freshman video blog.

On Sept. 1, this tweet to @sunyoswego caught our attention:

A freshman willing to make videos on the college experience? Were we dreaming? After checking Alyssa’s video channel, we realized she had talent, panache and essentially everything you’d want in a video blogger.

After a meeting, we decided on a theme, Alyssa Explains It All, often on the transition to college, an area where she is eminently qualified. Each webisode focuses on a topic, conveying it with humor and honesty, and it appeals to new students as well as those looking at colleges. She does all the work herself. The shows so far:


Episode 1: Time Management


Episode 2: Making Decisions

I’m very happy with how she’s developing the shows, and she has been asking users for topics to explore and explain. But the series also shows one more example of the importance of being in and listening to social media channels. And the importance of remaining open to new ideas and fresh talent. Because who knows … your next great content contributor could be just one tweet away!

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a man who wasn’t there: adventures in crowd-sourced live-tweeting.

If you work in social media in higher ed, you love the opportunity to live-tweet an exciting occasion like Move-In Day. But when social media is just one of your many duties — and you can’t get around on such a busy day — where do you turn?

Students, of course. In our case, we had a community of social-media-savvy incoming students moving in at SUNY Oswego on Friday — and it just so happened they were already live-tweeting. We just amplified their efforts, highlighted great content and enabled them — through things like promoting a #welcome2oswego hashtag — to build their own community and story.

While I did get out just long enough for a quick photo album of students moving in, helped by our awesome Red Carpet Crew, this Storify shows that the students themselves did most of the commentary on the day. Since Move-In Day is about them, that seems appropriate.

  1. This was our favorite tweet of the day …
  2. Jared_Lahm
    I would hate to be the guy/girl in charge of the @sunyoswego twitter lol.. Its gunna be a long day for them. #QuickShoutOut
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 05:17:36
  3. … but truth be told, Move-In Day was so much fun on Twitter! It started early and ran late. Here are just a few highlights.
  4. MommaDiBo
    On our way to drop my baby girls off at #SUNYOSWEGO #bittersweet �
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 02:48:38
  5. sunyoswego
    We’re ready for you! RT @Cmerc29: All packed and ready to be @sunyoswego bound in the AM! #letsgo #soexcited #newstart #welcome2oswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 04:40:04
  6. sunyoswego
    Great idea! RT @taylormachin: @KatieRussell8 bringing biking back to SUNY Oswego #letsgo bringing my blades too 😉 #welcome2oswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 05:07:01
  7. sunyoswego
    Beautiful morning so far! RT @MommaDiBo: On our way to drop my baby girls off at #SUNYOSWEGO #bittersweet #welcome2oswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 05:09:07
  8. sunyoswego
    We’ll have people waiting to help you move in. Seriously! RT @melissavasti: Off to @sunyoswego !!! #welcome2oswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 05:13:25
  9. DerekGoodroe
    Welcome Class of 2016 to @sunyoswego! Wish I could rewind time and be moving in today and experiencing #welcome2oswego all over again.
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 05:23:49
  10. julia_heck16
    So this is it?! #packingthecar #welcome2oswego �☺
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 06:10:39
  11. mcgnotes
    Can’t believe it’s move-in day already @sunyoswego! Dropping off my freshman… So exciting
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 06:14:19
  12. 24KathyB
    its move in day at @sunyoswego ….. I sooooo miss school, the lake and Daga living =( awesome 4 yrs in the land of Oz =)
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 07:18:18
  13. LifesLike_THIS
    You’re almost here hun! RT @fancett_rae: Everyone is moving in. I just want to be at @sunyoswego already! #notfair #twodays
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 07:20:18
  14. sunyoswego
    Check out our early photo album of new students moving in with our awesome Red Carpet Crew! http://on.fb.me/R79zoM #welcome2oswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 07:44:31
  15. sunyoswego
    Hooray for our Red Carpet Crew! RT @jessiknewso: Helping freshman move into @sunyoswego today! #welcome2oswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 08:14:32
  16. dougyorks
    All moved in up at Suny Oswego @lindacohn @espnSteveLevy #sophomoreyear #letsgo
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 08:41:09
  17. OmyMelo
    Lots of excited first year students and transfers in Scales Hall! #welcome2oswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 09:06:32
  18. AntonioCaban10
    Long day ahead. So happy for my sister who’s continuing the rest of her education @ SUNY Oswego!
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 09:23:27
  19. danielleworkit
    All moved into my dorm room! So much change in just a few hours.. but I’m ready 🙂 #sunyoswego #freshmanyear
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 10:23:12
  20. Julirex_rae_psm
    You’re going to love it here!!!! 🙂 “@sunyoswego: Woohoo! RT @yazelroque: Im at #Oswego State!!! #welcome2oswego”
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 10:39:36
  21. LeAnneStGelais
    The arena all set up for Welcoming Torchlight for new @sunyoswego students! #welcome2oswego http://instagr.am/p/OuG4NjNTO-/
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 11:38:03
  22. Maggidy_
    @sunyoswego Back from moving new students in and completely wiped, great job red carpet crew! Only three more events to attend today.
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 14:31:41
  23. mattfeeney29
    walking SUNY Oswego campus right now. hopefully a fun night to come…
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 17:48:41
  24. zbpolin
    Getting ready for @sunyoswego Torchlight Ceremony!! #welcome2oswego http://pic.twitter.com/Hc8IH53q
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 17:51:40
  25. OMAdriana
    @sunyoswego To all my residents and to all new to Oswego, welcome! #welcome2oswego http://pic.twitter.com/y14vwfKE
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 17:57:11
  26. Taylor_AB
    My resident hall’s theme is Harry Potter #awyeah #win #sunyoswego
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 18:13:41
  27. SUNYOswegoFANs
    We know how to throw a party at @sunyoswego #welcome2oswego #OswegoPride http://pic.twitter.com/ZWtMCS9p
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 19:01:32
  28. ludnut23
    I’ve only been in SUNY Oswego for 1 day and I’m already loving it
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 19:06:49
  29. r2rDSexton
    holy cow, the college life is for real at @sunyoswego. let’s see how this goes
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 19:17:07
  30. Brandatello
    #welcome2oswego all moved in and relaxing before my roommate comes tomorrow
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 19:53:24
  31. sunyoswego
    To everyone who moved in today, #welcome2oswego! And remember, the journey is just beginning …
    Fri, Aug 24 2012 20:20:15

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what can we do about #fbgate2016 … and beyond?

What started Thanksgiving Week when Lougan Bishop of Belmont University and I found messages on our official Class of 2015 groups telling members to join different groups, run by private company RoomSurf, became a whirlwind of community action among colleagues, then a media splash in the New York Times. Other stories followed (including one hilariously mistranslated piece). Several higher ed professionals teamed up in a myriad of ways, including blogging and other methods to spread the word, and by the end of Wednesday the RoomSurf groups were putting up disclaimers and their founder disappeared from Facebook.

But will #fbgate2015 mark the end of this kind of activity? I doubt it, and so does Lougan, who wrote a great guest post in Brad J. Ward’s SquaredPeg blog (which outed the original #fbgate2013 fake groups two years ago).

Many bloggers have weighed in with great advice. But even the best suggestions come with caveats. For example:

1) Make your own Class of 201x Facebook Groups/Pages. This has become self-evident. But, as Lougan and I discovered, nefarious intruders can swoop in at any time to try to steal members. We’re not in a part in the admission cycle where students are joining in large numbers yet. Those other groups had more members, research found, because apparently some were converted 2014 groups with existing students. And JD Ross of Hamilton College said, last year, company reps blocked him so he couldn’t see things they posted on a Class of 2014 page he administered. So the playing field, for the ethical, is still a minefield.

2) Make your groups/pages distinctive and better. When I realized we may be in for another battle for members — before colleges rallied together and the New York Times got involved — I decided to create an Official Class of 2015 Community page. And, unlike the 2015 group which I didn’t do nearly enough with, our social media intern and I filled the new page with photos, slideshows, videos, blog entries, news, the works. And asked current students to join and help. Of course, this all takes time — something we never have enough of. But, especially when establishing the groups, it makes them more worth joining. Think about holiday window shopping: You’re more likely to go into stores that look cool and have more to offer.

3) Promote the official group/pages to incoming students. In an often-decentralized campus landscape, not as easy as it sounds. I have no direct communication with prospective students (other than the web or social media) as student affairs offices handle these contacts. This means any success in social media involves coalition building and educating staffers to its benefits as well as the need for resources. On the bright side, something like #fbgate2015 — or anything that could divert our students from getting the help and advice they deserve — provides an example of why different areas of the college need to work together for a well-done, timely, useful social media presence.

4) Be vigilant. Sad but true, we can’t take for granted that all 500 million members of Facebook are ethical, logical beings. You have to constantly see if someone is portraying themselves as your college or brand … which is complicated by all the community pages (mostly ghost ships) Facebook decided to clutter the waters. And if you’re a group administrator, have many sets of eyes watching the page, knowing spammers can block you.

Because Facebook fraud will continue to appear, despite our best efforts, all we can do is keep our eyes open, have a plan and provide the best Facebook experiences possible.

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canada’s 1st highered web conference a success: a foreigner’s perspective.

I’m a big fan of surprise successes. And conferences. And Canada. So I was thrilled that all these meshed when I had the opportunity to speak at the first-ever Canadian Post-Secondary Web Conference at Brock University last week.

Steered by the terrific and tireless Melissa Cheater of the Richard Ivey School of Business, #pseweb started as a modest attempt at a #heweb regional, expecting perhaps a few dozen people. It grew into a very well-received conference with some 150 attendees from British Columbia to the coast of Nova Scotia and many points in between. They received some 40 program proposals and I’m pleased my presentation, Students: Your Secret Weapons for Social Media Success, survived the attendee-voted cuts.

I’m happy the conference focused on institutional websites as well as social media. In the end, social media should drive to your website and, as I found from interviewing incoming students, they consider our properties the best place for information. Thus emphasis on how to improve our own sites proved very helpful. Since we’re in the middle of a redesign — presenter Stuart Foss of eduStyle would say we all are in some way — that three sessions addressed this topic proved most welcome.

Doing my first international conference presentation, I culled additional intriguing observations about our marvelous neighbors to the north:

1. Emphasis on privacy issues. I generally see one or two audience questions about privacy, tops, at a whole U.S. conference, while most individual sessions at #pseweb had queries about privacy and the web. Landmark court cases in Canada famously emphasize privacy over right to publish, as the concern seems to transcend even the current Facebook-related issues. The conference even featured a (great) session by JP Rains of Laurentian University on Risk Management for Facebook that put many social media concerns into context.

2. The difference between colleges and universities. The USian lexicon uses the terms synonymously (if not 100% correctly). Perceptions of prestige notwithstanding, the bachelor’s and master’s degrees SUNY Oswego confers are every bit as accredited and credible as those of Harvard, Yale or any other university. But in Canada, universities generally refer to a higher eschelon of education where one can receive degrees, while colleges tend confer diplomas and certificates (there are exceptions, but how long do you want this blog to be?). So it helps to know, when talking to Canadians, that my institution would be considered a university, even if that’s not what we call it.

3. Canadians are awesome! OK, this wasn’t news to me. As expected, I met so many wonderful attendees with a marvelous span of talents, personalities and insights from across the Home and Native Land. But most telling was how a Brock student named Mackenzie (iirc) saw me peering cluelessly at a map as I navigated the occasionally confusing (aren’t they all?) campus and volunteered assistance. Beyond just telling me how to find my destination, she walked me through a few buildings to the residential quad. She wasn’t a tour guide or any such official thing, but is clearly a great ambassador.

I’ll have to save my favorite moment of the conference, which demonstrated the connective power of social media, for another post. But on every level, #pseweb proved a great experience!

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before the rise of silos: jimmy moreland and 1950 education.

I was reading the other day about the death of Jimmy Moreland. It came as no surprise, as he passed away nearly 60 years ago, but it showed me how much different higher education was in the bygone era. And perhaps, in some ways, better.

Moreland died young in 1950 after 15 years teaching, recruiting and advising at Oswego. Er, sorry, make that Jimmy. He asked everyone to call him Jimmy. He was a revered English professor, a chief recruiter, advisor for 300 to 400 freshmen, and even director of public relations. In his spare time, he advised the fledgling Hillel club and volunteered in the Oswego community.

Jimmy “taught his classes, not from a textbook, but rather from his great wealth of knowledge,” the student body president recalled. The president of the alumni association valued how Jimmy’s “informal talks in the co-op, in the halls, on the front steps or anywhere that a group of students would gather helped to mould the thinking and philosophy of students and teachers alike.” Jimmy “imparted a great love of learning, he imparted some of his own goodness, he imparted his own unbounded curiosity and optimism to his students as they learned with him in his classes,” said then-president Harvey Rice. “As freshman advisor through the years he, more than anyone else, helped youngsters to find their bearings away from home. His friendship won them, his understanding comforted them, his love sustained them.”

In short, Jimmy wore a lot of hats well, and he never looked at his watch and declared his day done, knowing any time he saw a student provided an opportunity to connect. He recruited students, advised them, taught them, excelling in all areas. There were no silos, cubicles or boundaries to what we would, and could, do to serve students.

In contrast, recent trends in higher education bend toward staffing many specialists, while spurning the benefits of being a generalist. When we develop a mentality we can only help students with x but not y, we see them less as humans than checkmarks on a report. Anyone who knows me would attest I’m one of the busier folks around, but I never mind helping one of my students with something that falls outside my so-called job description. Why? The Golden Rule. I appreciate all the people who helped me as a student, treated me as a person and not a category.

I can’t see Jimmy poring through the pages upon pages of policies, procedures and precedents we’ve foisted upon higher education governance. If he had a mission statement, it would likely simply read: Do the right thing. Maybe we’ve made this business a lot more difficult than it should be. You see how one man, one incredible man like Jimmy Moreland could follow his head and his heart and serve as educator, inspiration and friend to thousands of students, and you wonder.

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super bowl™ ads, through the eyes of students.

The Super Bowl™ presents an excellent opportunity for people, like me, who teach advertising to tie it to key lessons. And, as often happens in classes, I learned almost as much from what students thought were effective ads.

For Broadcasting 328: Media Advertising, I’ve asked all my students to sign up for Twitter (the subject of a future blog post) and each session includes a less-than-140-character homework assignment. This one: Tweet about an ad you thought was effective and mark it with a #brc328 tag.

So while USA Today had its ever-popular AdMeter ratings, the Web was all a-twitter over various commercials and every pundit had their take, the students provided a different view (in a much-sought-after demographic, no less). I learned the three most important things to them were 1) humor, 2) great visuals, 3) a memorable idea. Most popular campaigns with them were:

1. Bud Light/Budweiser. Biggest buzz surrounded the Bud Light House. Clearly, it represents fantasy fulfillment, but it made people laugh, provided a concrete visual and was a clever execution. Moreover, the product was not only the hero, but dominated the screen. They also liked the Lost parody and the T-Pain/autotune spot — both using humor and playing on popular culture. What all ads had in common: They equated Bud Light with partying and fun. The Budweiser bridge spot also proved popular because of its visual impact. I continue to maintain that it’s unclear whether Budweiser gains market share for the outlay, but if college students are impressed and remember the product, that says something.

2. Doritos. One student explained the simple brilliance of the Playing Nice ad: When the child tells his mother’s suitor: Keep your hands off my momma. Keep your hands off my Doritos, it pretty clearly sets the priorities in his world. Hyperbole? Sure. But it makes its point succinctly. The snappy execution of Dog Collar and the (weird, imho) Tim’s Locker/Samurai spots also scored.

3. Denny’s. When’s the last time anyone even talked about Denny’s? Yet the screaming chicken ads, while potentially annoying, sure captured attention. One student shrewdly noted it highlighted special offers for Free Grand Slam Day and free Grand Slam on your birthday. Simple idea — everyone will want Denny’s breakfasts, so chickens have to work harder — that came across loud and clear.

Other thoughts:

Surprising revelation: Many pundits wrote off the Boost Mobile ad because they assumed using the 1985 Chicago Bears couldn’t sell to young adults. Big disconnect, right? Wrong. Every student in my class claims to know the Super Bowl™ Shuffle, perhaps because of how we recycle pop culture. Thus we know what happens when we assume …

Betty White scores: The Snickers ad earned the most positive buzz among people I follow on Twitter (and topped AdMeter ratings), plus the students loved it too. They may not have known who Abe Vigoda was, but they all knew Betty White from Golden Girls. And once you got past the shock of White being creamed in a backyard football game, you got the concept: Snickers picks you up.

Where’s the outrage?: The young women weren’t terribly offended by the Dodge Charger ad, even though it seemed the most excoriated spot on Twitter. Some saw the overstatement and shrugged it off; others didn’t find it any more offensive than the other messages that regularly bombard us.

My personal favorite?: The Google ad. Why Google would need to advertise (imho: to counter Bing) is a fair question, but in terms of simple storytelling and demonstrating the product’s effectiveness, I loved it. A tale of boy meets girl, with some cool music, the brand as hero and a bit of humor. It won’t affect my use of Google, but as standalone branding, I found it just about pitch-perfect.

So you have the opinions of a couple dozen college students and an older dude who works in communication. What did you think? And will you think of any of these observations next time you try to market to students?

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