It has been awesome seeing all the submissions from our community for Wayne State’s Photo of the Day. You all have done a tremendous job of capturing the beauty of our campus and the excitement of Midtown/rebirth of Detroit. The WSU Social Media team compiled a list of our personal favorites as well as top viewed images for 2016.
It’s April Fool’s Day, 2014, the one day of the year where you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet.
The Wayne State Web team hasn’t done anything fun for April Fool’s Day in the last few years and we have a new homepage, so we *had* to do something.
One day while we were out walking on campus, taking a quick break from sitting in front of our computers all day, we started talking about an internet phenomenon re: hiding bacon.
That’s when the idea hit: we could hide Kevin Bacon on our website! After all, there are six degrees of Kevin Bacon, right? If he *is* everywhere he should also be at Wayne State.
One of our graphic designers, Dan Greco, found some stock images of the famous actor and worked them into two of the main photos we have on the homepage. We loved the results and had him work up a few more for April Fool’s Day.
The goal was to be subtle but funny. We think it worked.
Recently Wayne State was featured on College Recruiter’s list of top 10 colleges on Instagram. It got me thinking about the importance of micro communities. A lot of schools follow every new shiny thing that comes their way. That approach gets people to think they are “leading edge” but six to twelve months later, when the community or the internal resources dry up, the school is left with wasted resources that could have been used to build a more solid and engaged community.
I initially posted about our first 48 hours on Instagram as a litmus test. Since then we have been keeping up a continuous growth of followers and interactions. More importantly for us is the ability to connect with students, alumni and the community on a personal level. Looking back at the last six months on Instagram has allowed us to validate its ability to accomplish that very goal.
We started the journey by “looking into the pond” during the first 48 hours which turned in to “getting our feet wet” during the first six months. Over the past six months we’ve kept Instagram isolated from our other social networks. This is by design and because we didn’t want to set up false expectations. The photos we posted were meant to grow the Instagram community and nothing else. If the community could stand on its own, we knew promoting it other places would only accelerate its growth.
Growth of followers vs engagement per photo
The graph above shows our growth in followers (blue) over the past six months from 0 to 1,000. The lines in green are photos we posted and their “interactions”. We consider an interaction a “like” or a comment on a photo.
Looking at the graph we were able to develop some insights about our reach. Instagram is an interaction based media, if you don’t post people don’t notice you. So keeping a constant stream of photos is important to the growth of the community (duh). The second is that we suffered from the same “shiny thing” syndrome that we were trying to avoid: lots of photos, interaction and growth initially then after three months we dropped off. Although we never dropped in followers, we didn’t grow at the rate we should have been.
The real secret to gaining Instagram followers
Since we were not promoting our account beyond the network itself, the only way to “advertise” that we were part of the community was to actually be a part of the community. This may seem like a novel concept to some but it is by far the first thing overlooked when resources are tight. “Let’s just push out content” is heard too often around meeting room tables. Our secret isn’t a secret at all, the largest factor to our follower growth didn’t come from our photos, it came from us liking, commenting and following others.
Listening and engaging when appropriate by far had the largest impact in our follower growth. We consider the photos we post as a secondary benefit to being on Instagram. Students are tagging us or geo-locating photos around campus at a rate of one every fifteen minutes. That is far more content than we could ever, or would ever, want to post.
Where we go from here
From here is the long road of supporting and interacting. That includes:
- Integrating Instagram into our social dashboard (Socialy)
- Promoting the community photos on Digital Signage
- Driving more traffic to our newly launched profile page
- Involving the campus community in our posts
- Continuing to find those things that connect students and alumni back to campus
As a university we send hundreds of messages via social media over multiple platforms every day. Just a few weeks ago I mentioned that 55 percent of all our Tweets are replies. This number is larger than our other mediums, but only because that is the nature of Twitter.
I’ve been in a few meetings recently about social media and consulting with a growing number of departments on campus who are interested in using social media to accomplish their goals. It’s unfortunate that initially most think of social media as just another medium to broadcast a message. While that is true, the real meat of social media is interacting with the community and building supporters. There is no “easy button” for that, and more importantly there are no hard and fast rules to accomplish it.
Most of the discussions come down to when and how to appropriately engage with people who mention the institution or their department. I want to prefix this list by mentioning that I always advocate a person use the social media platforms personally before ever trying to represent the university. Every community has their own dynamics and it’s better to use training wheels with your own account before starting to ride a two wheeler with a university account.
I’ve never documented my own “rules of engagement,” but the other day I was following up with a lot of people on Twitter and decided to write down why and how I was going about it. I did this with the hope of sharing and refining on the list so others could use it as a resource. The list below was created while interacting on Twitter, but can be adapted to any social medium.
Social media rules of engagement
- Don’t be creepy.
- No need to reply to everyone.
- Take a step back and read the person’s history. Do your homework.
- Verify. Is the person talking about Wayne State in Detroit? (Or where ever your dept is.)
- If someone is having a conversation, don’t interject, ever.
- 18 hours is too long to reply, move on.
- Do as much leg work as possible before replying.
- Don’t send the same “congratulations” message to multiple people in a row.
- Don’t sell.
- Humor goes a loooooong way.
- Don’t stress the small stuff.
- Spelling can be overlooked, grammar can’t.
- Follow back if and only if you can confirm they are connected to the institution.
- No need to “thank” anyone for following you, ever.
- If you pause before posting a message, delete it. Move on.
- Message bombing (multiple rapid posts) are the easiest way to get your messages ignored.
Do you think I left anything important out? I’d love to hear about it.
Recently I posted a look back at five years of @waynestate on Twitter. After that post something important happened, Twitter verified our account. Verified accounts are denoted by a blue checkbox which is displayed after our account name. This is exciting for us because it shows a stamp of approval by the Twitter community.
What is Twitter Verified?
Verification is currently used to establish authenticity of identities on Twitter. The verified badge helps users discover high-quality sources of information and trust that a legitimate source is authoring the account’s Tweets.
~ Twitter Verified Accounts
Why is verification important to Wayne State?
Verification is important to us for a few reasons.
- Numerous imposter accounts have crept up in the past and these accounts threaten the reputation of the university.
- It shows that the university has a commitment and resources behind our account.
- If an outsider interacts with our account they can rest assure they are getting an answer that is official.
- It puts in the ranks with a select few (currently under 37,000 verified accounts out of ~140,000,000 total Twitter users).
We now have “two timelines”
Twitter recognizes that a lot of the accounts reply to a lot of people. We happen to fit in to that category with over 55% of our tweets being replies. Someone coming to our account for the first time is going to see a lot of replies without a lot of context, that isn’t helpful. To fix this we now have a “No replies” timeline that shows only our public tweets that reach all our followers. If a user wants to see all our tweets, they can simply click the “All” link.
But what about all of our other accounts that are not verified?
Since most accounts across Twitter are not verified the status is not a stamp of approval, but instead an extra stamp to ensure authenticity. The 100+ accounts (that we know of around campus) will still continue to grow in followers at the same rate as they do now. Because verification is limited to certain situations, you can be assured non-verified accounts are not looked down upon.
As a department we follow all of the accounts across campus and retweet, reply and promote them as we see positive social activity. Hopefully the verified status on our account will increase the following of the accounts we interact with, especially the university accounts.
If you’re a department who is interested in using social media, Twitter, or beyond, to represent and speak on behalf of the university, please fill out our Social Media Questionnaire. We will follow up with the next steps for training and what is required to successfully represent the university online.
This last week @waynestate celebrated its fifth anniversary on Twitter. Although we initially signed up in September 2007, we didn’t start using the account till January 2008. Twitter was the first social media existence for the university and it has treated us well. It doesn’t seem like five years is a long period of time but in those years Twitter has grown tremendously.
Six degrees of separation
The http://twbirthday.com/ website allows anyone to enter a Twitter username and see when they signed up. It also shows who that account’s “godfather” is. Above is the chain of godfathers for the @waynestate account starting from the bottom right and going backward to the founders. It is interesting to see that the university is only six degrees separated from the founders of Twitter.
Some interesting stats since then
We are a huge fan of numbers and we try to track everything possible. For Twitter we wish we had more but we are at the mercy of external websites to track everything. The above graph is from TwitterCounter.com. This site tracks followers, friends, retweets, clicks, and much more. It exposes some of that data for free but you have to pay for a deeper analysis. We decided that the value being derived from the data isn’t worth the monthly fee.
As you can see, we’ve consistently gained followers over the last six months. This is great because it shows we are continuously adding value to the community and are not just “one trick pony’s” to gain a massive amount of followers that unfollow us as soon as a campaign is over. It also gives us the ability to add resources to social media over a projected path, being stuck with a massive amount of followers overnight can put us at a disadvantage as we try to provide customer service with existing staff. Social trust is very important to us.
Click through rates
Naturally we publish a lot of information to a lot of sources, that information typically comes from an internal application we created called the “Social Dashboard”. I haven’t posted much about it publicly but if you have had the opportunity to see me speak, I’ve talked about it as our central hub for social insight and disbursement. One of the ways we track our engagement is by simple link click-throughs. We know this is just as accurate as gauging “hits” to a website, so we don’t use it for much other than trends.
Below is a graph of the number of URLs shortened since August 2008 (when the system was created) and click-throughs on those URLs. What you’ll notice is the number of click-throughs greatly outnumber the amount of clicks. To show the impact of each URL a little more clearly I added a second graph, this one being the (number of clicks/number of URLs) per month. It shows which months had the greatest impacting links vs. which months didn’t have much activity per URL.
One of my favorite people, Susan Evans, wrote a great blog post about “Brand. It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” We’re huge believers of this therefore we record every mention of Wayne State University by a few dozen variables and rate each one on sentiment. Our dashboard allows us to flag, note and gain insights in to what the “university brand” really is by the people who are talking about and spreading it.
Below is a glimpse in to just two ends of the sentiment spectrum, positive and negative. In total we have recorded and rated almost 300,000 tweets for sentiment. A few insights in to the data behind the graph, it may look bad that there is a lot more negative comments about us than positive. How we look at it is a little different. Data shows us that the vast majority of people use social media to complain. We see every complaint as an opportunity to change a perception.
It’s about the individual
Below is an example of conversations we have every day. It shows an initial negative tweet by someone we were not initially following that went out to her 700+ followers. This obviously isn’t the impression and recommendation we want those 700+ people to hear from someone they trust. So naturally we got involved. As you can see from the conversation that although we were not able to magically change how the student thinks about the university we were able to show that we are here and care. In the grand scheme of things it’s just one conversation but for this individual it may have steered the future course of how they think about us.
Breakdown of tweet content
To give some context, below is a graph of what type of content is generated from our account. For us this is important because we have to find a balance to keep our community happy and coming back. We have found the mix below offers the best results.
Adoption across campus
Five years has brought more than a change in how central marketing communicates with the community via social media. Since early 2008 over 100 departments on campus have signed up for a Twitter account and are using it in some capacity. We have compiled a growing list of Twitter accounts from across campus.
If your department is interested in using social media on behalf of the university, we want to know. We have some resources and do one-on-one consulting to ensure your presence is successful for yourself and the university. Just let us know.
Social media is ever growing in popularity and many industries are jumping on board to spread their word in the digital realm. Companies rush to sign up to Google+, or Facebook, or Twitter, etc., but what’s the next step? Most are not really sure on how to best utilize this new technology and there is really no definite method available on how to keep people engaged.
Personally, I have been using a technique that I’ve picked up along the way called the Rule of 15. The Rule of 15 is a very formulaic approach to social media interaction. It is based on the concept that for every 15 social media mentions put out by the company, %66 percent (10) are references from outside the company, 24.44% (4) are references from the company, and 4.44% (1) is a calls-to-action reference.
A call to action is a reference that is specifically targeted to get social media followers to participate in a company event or cause. This could range from voting, to attending an event, to donations, or basically anything the company is promoting.
This method is still new, as are most social media practices, and I am personally testing it out and tracking the analytics to determine its effectiveness (i.e. tracking the amount of unique click-throughs, the amount of reposts/retweets, the amount of followers gained, and the level of participation for the call-to-action).
The concept of sending out social media mentions from outside the company is based on generating a connection with your audience. A tweet, retweet, posting, repost or mention about an event, news, ideas, etc., gets people interested on what you have to say. It could be some random reference that other people are interested in and it draws that person to you based on your common interest. The reason why a majority of the method is based on building this bond is much like getting to know a new friend. You share interests and you build a bond based on those interests.
The concept of referencing yourself lets others know more about you and your company. This is another way to build rapport. I consider this the largest leap in the method, because you are building trust with your follower. Trust is difficult to maintain and if your followers do not mesh with your thinking, you may lose them.
The final reference is the calls-to-action. Once other people feel comfortable about you, they are more likely to take part in what you are promoting. For a definitive look into Calls-to-Actions, read Corey Eridon’s article on 13 Sloppy Mistakes You’re Making With Calls-to-Action.
You have shared your interest (10), let them know who you are and what you stand for (4), and you have asked them to support your cause (1).
The trick, however, is to find the correct pacing for your audience. Bombard them with stuff and they may be turned off. Sparsely sent and you will lose their interest. The pacing will be determined by how connected your core audience is to social media. Personally, I pace myself to 15 per 5-day period. Sometimes several times a day, but no more than 15 for that time span.
I’d love to get reactions on this method and if it works for you.
Good luck and happy tweeting!
Just call me “butterfingers.”
I move fast, it’s part of my job. I wear a few different hats: Web content admin, project manager, social media person. There is never a part of my day where I am only working on just one thing… and then the phone rings. It’s a constant juggling act.
In fact, I always felt this position was perfect for my personality as I’m a bit hyperactive and usually thinking about 20 things at once anyway.
This multi-tasking thing might have to change. I screwed up. It happens. But this particular screw up was broadcast to the university’s 5,000 or so Twitter followers.
One word: ass. Yeeaaah.
How it happened
This was around 8 in the morning. I had just sat down at my desk and was going through emails and tweets. I launched TweetDeck and then continued typing an email, signed in to another program and typed some notes in another window.
Next thing I know my boss says, “Hey, Jenn, you might want to delete that tweet.”
I look over at TweetDeck and there it was staring at me, moving down the column in what seemed like slow motion: ass. Somehow my cursor unknowingly wound up in TweetDeck and picked up a portion of word but it came out as “ass.” I mean, could it have been another word at least? Geez.
Within seconds people were tweeting us asking if we got hacked or is the Twitter person had been fired. I deleted it immediately and responded with, “Sorry folks! #socialmediafail” and then shook my head the rest of the day. Who knows what people were thinking when they read that.
I make it a point to not post things from TweetDeck because there is no confirmation before anything goes out. All it takes is one strike of the return key. I use an application that was developed in house and I actually have to click “save” and select a time before it goes out to the world.
This started a conversation among my coworkers about some well-known Twitter screw ups. Someone working for Chrylser mistakenly sent out a tweet from the official account, rather than his own: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.”
So, at least I didn’t drop an F bomb.
There was a similar incident with a Red Cross employee who tweeted “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” She also thought she was tweeting from her personal account. The Red Cross responded with humor: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”
One thing I do not do is combine my personal and work Twitter accounts in any application. I figured one day I would accidentally tweet something from my work account. I just didn’t want to take this chance.
So go figure, I was trying to be careful. Lesson learned here is simply: slow down.
I gave a presentation last week to students in the Backstone LaunchPad here at Wayne State about Social Media Tools for Startups. My co-presenter was Erica VandenBerg of DHall Ventures who talked about the reasons why and how to approach social media while I talked about the day to day tools.
The audience was students who are interested in starting their own businesses. The Blackstone LaunchPad is setup to help them develop their ideas, get resources, funding and set them up for success. The talk was a primer to social media and how to use it from a complete start.
Start by listening
Setup a central reading post for all mentions of your company, industry and followers so you can keep track of what people are saying about you. It is important to stay up to date with things happening in your industry and with your followers to ensure all your messages stay in context and you can react to your advocates.
The second step should be to integrate social items into your existing properties. People are going to your site already, give them the ability to extend your content into their social networks. At the same time make sure you have the ability to track were and how your items are being shared. This will give you insight into where to be most effective with your messaging.
Lastly it is time to start sharing and interacting. As you start executing your campaigns it is important to also tag all the URL’s you share with Google campaign codes. This allows you to see what campaigns are driving the most traffic to your website. Your website should be your “home base”, it is where you should be driving all of your traffic. On your website you want to ensure you have calls to actions on every landing page.
Tie to goals
Within Google Analytics you can setup goals and even assign a dollar value to goals. Over time you will be able to see all the visitors who complete these goals and which campaigns and items drove the most amount revenue. In the end using social tools are just a gateway to solving problems and driving more traffic to do business. Not every Tweet or Facebook message needs to be tied to a campaign but make sure long term campaigns are in place so you’re not just spinning your wheels.
- Pipes: Social Media Firehose
- Tool: URL Builder – Analytics Help
Just as a side note, this presentation is meant to be a primer to social media. More detailed technical information available upon request.
Sometimes I get caught up in coding something totally inspired by another project. It not only gives me an excuse to continue to program but also be flexible and create tools that add value to the university.
Today, 37 Signals announced they would start publicly displaying their “Smile Ratings”. This got me thinking, we rate all our twitter mentions as “Happy”, “Indifferent” and “Sad” in the same way, why not display that information similarly.