Tag Archives: video

Social media and college sports rivalries: Managing #OzWhiteout Weekend

greenwhite

If you attend one of the schools or know DIII men’s hockey, you know that Oswego vs. Plattsburgh is a college sports rivalry of legendary proportions. The two teams always vie for the SUNYAC title, an NCAA bid (often both get in) and bragging rights. When it comes to school spirit, social media is an amazing outlet. But if you’re a social media manager, how do you harness that enthusiasm?

You plan, you prepare, you tap talented students and you all manage the plan early and often.

We started using #ozwhiteout as the official tag a couple years ago but were more aggressive with it this year. I’m happy we didn’t pare it down to #whiteout because Arizona used that tag this weekend for a big basketball game and our tweets would have been lost in the flood of a huge Division I program. An unofficial (funny but somewhat offensive) #puckflattsburgh tag stays around every year, and #whiteoutweekend was a player.

ozwhiteoutbanner

While we didn’t have broad promotional support this season (goal for next year: get hashtag on the official T-shirt) I worked with our sports information director, Mike Bielak, to solidify early, and he made the above scoreboard graphic (also shared on social media) promoting the tag, which announcers read during games. White the Whiteout term originally just applied to the hockey matchup, the athletic department has broadened it to Whiteout Weekend, which featured eight home games total — two each for men’s and women’s hockey plus men’s and women’s basketball — even though the Oswego-Plattsburgh ice showdown is unquestionably the main event. We promoted the tag and the weekend fairly heavily on Facebook and Twitter the week leading in, with much of the Twitter promotion coming via retweets of other fans using the official tag.

Using topsy.com, I looked at the three main related hashtags, as of Monday morning:
– 643 mentions for #ozwhiteout
– 220 for #whiteoutweekend
– 97 for #puckflattsburgh

The #ozwhiteout figure was by far the biggest tag use I’ve ever seen for one of our campus events (maybe twice the previous record). In addition, 84 photos posted to Instagram sported the #ozwhiteout tag. I just imagine the figures if we could get everyone on one tag and not watering down the figures, but social media is a democratic, not top-down, communication device, so you just do your best and ultimately appreciate anybody who is (positively) active around your events.

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Our social media team — interns Kristen Burke, Alyssa Levenberg and Lavon Shim-Johnson plus video grad assistant Phillip Moore — deserve a lot of credit. Kristen and Alyssa alternated running our Twitter account (one would do game tracking, the other crowd/superfan shots) and Instagram for hockey-related activities. Lavon took care of basketball, which had its own exciting weekend. Phil filmed and posted a video showing the line of students camped out in the Campus Center waiting for Oswego-Plattsburgh doors to open, which we used as a post-event thank you to our students for their dedication … and can use to promote future #ozwhiteout games and student life in general.

On the ice and the hardwood, our teams went 5-2-1 for #ozwhiteout weekend. In the marquee game, our young Laker men’s team held Plattsburgh (ranked #1 in the nation) to a 3-3 tie, a huge growing and learning opportunity for our freshmen-laden squad. But overall when so many of our fans are active, proud, positive, enthusiastic and connected via social media, it’s a win for school spirit.

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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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our quest: a day for research tuned into social media.

When doing social media for any college or community, you have plenty of easier, shinier events to tackle … but how do you take something like student research and creativity and give it a big treatment via social media? With a little (or a lot) of help from your friends.

At SUNY Oswego, Quest is our annual celebration of research and creative activity, where classes are canceled for the day and hundreds of sessions (mostly student-run) showcase the academic core of our college. For some, it means a day off to party (and/or to do so the night before), but for our serious student scholars, it’s a day they work very hard toward. It’s not as easy to cover as, say, a hockey game, but it represents the lifeblood of learning. So giving it big social media coverage — even if some would say it’s not “sexy” — is worth doing.

For this, our first major Quest social media campaign, we had a lot of help from Gary Ritzenthaler’s journalism students. Some live-tweeted events they attended; others blogged summaries of sessions. They submitted blog entries via Posterous and many showed up on our well-trafficked Oswego Student Blogs with a special Quest section. The extra-credit work of these students complemented the always awesome live coverage from my student social media team. I also shot and assembled photo galleries for our human-computer interaction (mostly gaming-related) session, our artistic demonstrations and poster sessions for the Quest blog. The #quest12 tag far, far exceeded any of my expectations, and anyone following it saw a nice sampling of everything the day presents and represents.

Preparing for Quest, student social media team members shot and edited multiple videos previewing student presentations. A few of us took video from sessions which one of my students edited into a Scenes from Quest project.

Topsy tracked 168 hashtag mentions, 120 on Quest day itself, which doesn’t make it a trending topic … but it’s probably about 160 more tweets than we’ve had about Quest in past years. The four videos may not have gone viral (I do hate that phrase) but garnered more than 550 plays and counting. I saw them widely shared around Facebook and Twitter as well. So while not everyone would consider these knockout social media statistics, they do represent a nice starting point for an event that hasn’t had much of a social profile previously. Moreoever, it shows it is indeed possible to build a social audience for an academic event, a nice finding in itself.

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social media for a very special birthday.

[Charles Wainwright photo]

We celebrated a very special birthday last week to mark the Oct. 4 birthday of our institution’s founder, Edward Austin Sheldon, in the middle of our sesquicentennial celebration.

How does one celebrate such a momentous milestone? With a large group picture where hundreds of people detail the year of our founding, 1861. With free food. And cupcakes. And, of course, social media.

I posted several photos live via our official accounts through Instagram onto Twitter. We have many, many more followers on Twitter than Instagram at this point, but each photo filtered onto Twitter makes more of our connections aware of this service and our presence on it, as we picked up some new Instagram followers. Our posts drew a lot of retweets as well, which garnered an appreciable amount of new Twitter followers.

In addition, viewing our Twitpics gives a quick look at major components of the celebration …

You could say the reaction was pretty good on Facebook when we posted up the main 1861 photo. At least that seems a reasonable assumption with 121 Likes, 26 comments and 31 shares. That people started tagging themselves and their friends greatly extended the image’s shelf life. This is what I mean by quality content with high sharability.

I also borrowed our office’s small video camera and took snippets as the event came together. I then went into iMovie and spliced together a quick take video. [View video]

Last and not least, we had the opportunity to deliver some happiness to one of our students who missed out on getting a free T-shirt. This thread, which also is my first attempt to use Storify, shows how that took place.

Thanks for all the free food! @sunyoswego http://t.co/XLJJZ3MF
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii Bon appetit!
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
@sunyoswego any way to still get a t-shirt?! I didn’t get one 😦
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii Uh oh. We saw some boxes headed in the direction of the alumni office, but don’t know if they had shirts in them. : /
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
This was actually an incorrect assumption on my part. I later learned Auxiliary Services, which runs our bookstores and other entities, had them. So I put a quick request into the person in charge of Auxiliary Services, who came through. (Thank you, Mike!)
@sunyoswego Mail me one!
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii We’ll check and get back to you! : )
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii We have something for you! What do you want us to do with it? http://t.co/k53HvL0X
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
@sunyoswego name the place and time!
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
I sent him a DM of the time and place, lest others descend upon our office to claim the shirt. And, after the hectic day, failed to realize our @sunyoswego account wasn’t following him back yet, i.e. couldn’t receive his DM. D’oh! We worked it out.
@yuhhboiii This is waiting for you! http://t.co/Tn7tECji
sunyoswego
October 5, 2011
RT @sunyoswego: Here is how our giant 1861 photo came out. Thanks to all who made it happen! http://t.co/jQB6PUmj
yuhhboiii
October 5, 2011

Was it all a bit more work? Sure. But hey, you only get once chance to celebrate your founder’s birthday during your 150th anniversary … so we may as well find as many ways to tell the story as possible!

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admissions page makeover: less talk, more action.

A few weeks ago, our admission folks asked me to design a new landing page for a marketing push they were working on. Apparently the direction went so well, they asked if I could adapt it into the new admissions home page. Or they were trying to soften me up to get to the bigger project. In any event, the new page went live on Monday and shows the continuing evolution in how we handle web content.

As a writer, it’s hard for me to let go of graceful, compelling sentences full of descriptive adjectives, active verbs and strong nouns. Yet in high-level pages, it seems users have been more likely to click buttons, play videos, follow left-navigation links than click on inline links. And as Mary Beth Kurilko, one of the brighter minds in web writing, likes to say: If the opposite is ridiculous, why write it? Do any of our competitor schools NOT have outstanding professors, a range of academic programs and a desire to help students succeed? So perhaps this writing has always been cliche.

Here was our previous admissions page; I never thought of it as that bad, but always had room for improvement:

Even though it was less than a year old, you can see the incrementalism in it, as we kept adding one thing, then another, then another. The buttons were a nice addition at the time, but they ended up looking kind of strewn around the page. The virtual tour promotion came later. See all those contextual links? Our analytics found they weren’t terribly effective. Say, is that a July event still in our upcoming events list in September? Oh dear.

The new page is much simpler and more streamlined:


The incremental redesign’s new central emphasis is a two-minute admissions video. Below sit links for related videos, including an extended (~12 minute) version and introductions to our four colleges and schools. The buttons on the side emphasize actions that enrollment management would want to drive — take a virtual tour, schedule a campus visit, apply — and I also recommended a link to majors/minors since statistics show this is a popular link on any page it appears and since one of a student’s first questions is whether we have their program.

We generate the buttons via this site, which eases some crunch of not having a dedicated designer for our office. I’m on the fence as to whether six buttons is a lot; streamlining options is generally a good thing but if Admissions wants to start with six buttons and they all serve valid functions, I can’t argue. What we can do is look at the analytics after the initial push and see where people click and don’t click — and adjust accordingly.

I’m still trying to adjust to less writing, but short directive phrases (Update Status, Add Photo, Write Post) seem to work for Facebook, right? In any event, we’ll see how a new direction of less talk, more action works for us.

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1 page speaks volumes on how web has evolved.

Last week I finished working on a new landing page for our Admissions Video, and it made me realize how far we have come — which I mean globally as well as locally.

Here was the old site in our old design, hosted by vendor, created several years ago:

And here’s the new one, presented (via YouTube embed) on our site:

First and most obvious, the new one represents our cleaner, sparser redesign which makes content more user-friendly. Did you notice anything else? Like that visitors no longer have to download/use RealPlayer or QuickTime to view the video?

I really think this transition reflects larger web trends over the past few years.

  • Better sharability. YouTube was not the commonly trafficked site back then, and its cloud-based platform that can be easily embedded is (overused phrase ahead) a real game-changer. Paying for outside hosting of static web video is less necessary also because of …
  • Improved metrics availability. One of the reasons I’m told we went with this vendor was the ability to track number of visitors, plays, etc. Which we easily can now do on our own site via Google Analytics as well as YouTube’s own metrics. We could also set up funnel reports to see how many people go from this video to fulfill other tasks … which, since this video is currently a conversion tool, will be increasingly interesting come next admission cycle.
  • Increased in-house web knowledge. I had only minor involvement in (and less knowledge of) the web when Admissions set up the previous system. We had limited awareness of what other options may have existed and certainly did not have access to the awesome collective resource of Twitter #highered folks. I love that Admissions will come to us now for web solutions that we can provide at no or marginal cost with greater functionality. I think (or hope) colleagues at other colleges have similar experiences.

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2011 goal: become a better five-tool player

In baseball parlance, a five-tool player is one who does many things well (batting average, power, speed, fielding, throwing). In today’s workplace, where we need to perform many, many different tasks  — how many folks get to specialize any more? — flexibility and improving several skills is at a premium.

In that way, I’m studying my major skillsets, or desired skillsets, to examine where I want to grow and improve:

1. Writing. This has been my bread and butter. I started writing poetry when I was 4 (didn’t say “good poetry”) and have been paid to write since I was 20. But improvement is always possible. The character constraints of Twitter (and to a lesser extent Facebook) reinforce the most important writing tip ever, Strunk and White’s “Omit needless words.” I think sometimes, with my general writing, I’m too satisfied with a first or second draft when I really need to keep trying to make it better.

2. Web communication. This could represent several tools in itself, but for the sake of keeping it to five, I’ll consider this a mashup of social media, analytics and website management. This is an area I’ve had to learn on the fly, but often with the help of reading and expert advice — much of it free from colleagues. Analytics, which I just started getting into after last year’s SIMTech Conference, represents countless opportunities for improving our web presence. Not included in this list but related is …

3. Content strategy. Thanks to the awesome book Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson (a later blog post), I gained more of a handle on, and case for, better institutional content strategy. This has resembled the Wild West in our decentralized web presence, but combining analytics with rolling content audits and content strategies could work wonders. Or so I hope …

4. Video. My communication degree had a broadcast concentration, so I know the basics. And they sat dormant for many, many years until I had to start supplying more video content a few months ago. I started using iMovie — so much easier than the analog editing I learned on ginormous machines — and now look to improve my camera work, which requires better equipment as much as anything. But I know that, underlying it all, sits a basic desire for storytelling that I cherish.

5. Management. I’ve read books, had training, but what does it mean in the real world? I supervise two full-time workers (who I view as colleagues, never subordinates), a small student social-media team (interns and volunteers) and student bloggers. I’m trying to track, prioritize and document things better, but don’t want to make it a chore. As a discipline of the Tom Peters empowerment strategy, I sometimes wonder if I’m too permissive … but my hope, especially with students, is to put them in position and with the tools and opportunities to succeed.

So, what about you? What skills would you like to gain or improve?

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