While we keep a close eye on what Swiss universities and institutes of research are up to in social media, it is much harder to keep track of what’s going on in general in social media in Switzerland.
Putting myths aside (Swiss users don’t engage, they don’t comment, they don’t share), we will attempt to answer the above question with the help of various individuals who have their fingers on the pulse of the Swiss market. Through their work and experience they will showcase what Swiss users are responding to in social media, the challenges and lessons learned from social media campaigns, and more.
News, blog posts, and articles that caught our eye this week:
- How to use YouTube’s new face blurring tool. YouTube added this feature recently and it may come in handy if you want to use video footage but need to blur out some faces.
- LinkedIn’s pilot program for universities. LinkedIn is revamping their offerings to students and alumni and has partnered up with a group of academic institutions to improve their services. By the way, have you heard about their alumni product?
- University of Geneva on iTunes U. The university of Geneva is joining a handful of other Swiss academic institutions on iTunes U and has already uploaded a number of podcasts . Congratulations!
- Seven deadly sins of Facebook brand pages. Are you using the right picture format? Have you set up a vanity URL? And are you already using the Facebook timeline to mark important milestones in your university’s history?
News, blog posts, and articles that caught our eye this week:
- University of Fribourg on Social Media. University of Fribourg shares guidelines, naming convention, best practices, and more with its community (in French & German). Congrats!
- LinkedIn unlinked from Twitter. Twitter begins to enforce stricter guidelines for use of its API and deprives LinkedIn of user tweets to enrich its newsfeed. The SF Chronicle reports that your tweets will still be visible in your Facebook timeline.
- Facebook Finally Lets Page Administrators Schedule Posts, Have Different Roles. A much needed functionality that allows page administrators to let others contribute content. Another welcomed addition, is the ability to schedule content on Facebook, previously only available through 3rd party applications (Crowdbooster, Hootsuite).
- @Sweden welcomes @Netherlanders to Twitter. You might have read about Sweden’s initiative, through which regular citizens handle Sweden’s official Twitter account for a week. The latest country to join the trend is The Netherlands.
- Here’s What Facebook’s Want Button Will Probably Look Like. Facebook seems to be working hard to keep big advertisers on board by developing a “want” button to encourage purchases on its platform.
- Facebook Changed your Email Address: Here’s How to Change it Back. If this is the first time you read about this change, visit your Facebook profile and ensure your primary email is your own.
- Useful Social Media Resources for Higher Education Professionals. A super comprehensive list of useful links to check out this summer.
This interview is part of a series of posts highlighting social media trailblazers in Switzerland. Our last post in this series, featured Katja Wenk, Web and Social Media Officer at the University of St. Gallen. Today, we meet Yan Luong, Social Media Manager at Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS).
As often social media friendship stories go, I met Yan through Twitter in early 2012. Shortly after his name started popping up everywhere. We followed the same people on Twitter, had some LinkedIn connections in common, and seemed to share a bad habit of tweeting at odd hours.
Many tweets later, Yan and I met in Lausanne in May 2012. Having a coffee with somebody you’ve met on social media for the first time might sound like an awkward situation. In my experience, it is the absolute opposite. After all, you know what this person cares about (Twitter), laughs at (Facebook & Instagram), and what he/she does for a living (LinkedIn). Over a few coffees, Yan and I compared notes about our jobs, new tools we are intrigued by, who’s who in the world of social media in Switzerland, and what makes social media users in Switzerland tick.
Owner of a good sense of humor and easy disposition, Yan agreed to an improptu video interview in which he talks about his work at RTS, how he manages 55 Facebook pages, and the Swiss’ obsession with the iPhone.
More about Yan Luong.
This post was authored by GEORGY COHEN and originally published in January 2012 by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI.) It serves as a good follow up to our Dec 2011 webinar. We recently rerecorded the webinar.
We, as community managers and content marketers, are well-positioned to create relevant, useful, and interesting content that serves both our audience’s needs and our goals. We live and breathe those goals, and we know our brand identity almost as well as we know ourselves.
But just because we can do it all on our own, does that mean we should? The truth is, our brand belongs to our community as much as it belongs to us, if not more so. That identity is not a decree that gets passed down; it is shared and, more to the point, it is co-created. While we shape and communicate it, they are out there living it.
It’s tempting to approach community management like we are conducting an orchestra. We want to lead a performance of everyone playing the same song in tune. But I think of it more like the scene from “Big,” where Tom Hanks’ character is playing “Heart and Soul” on the giant keyboard with the CEO of MacMillan Toys. In truth, we are writing and playing the song together.
Simply put, if our brand is a story, our community members are the co-authors. Their investment in our brand is a potent commodity to tap into. Finding ways to leverage that investment is powerful — the authenticity of their external perspective can bring tremendous value to our content marketing efforts. To that end, here are a few ways to integrate our community members into the content creation process.
1. Let their expertise take center stage
Whether it’s through the contact form on our website, an old fashioned phone call, or a query via Twitter or Facebook, we may spend a good part of our day answering questions from customers, prospects, and other interested parties. While we are perfectly able to answer their questions, there are likely experts within our community who are just as qualified to address issues and share their experiences. Queries present a great opportunity to highlight their expertise.
Use your social media channels to solicit responses to a query you feel others may be able to answer. Be sure to share those responses (just the accurate ones, of course) with the original requestor; you can also collect them into a knowledge base of questions and answers powered by your community.
Highlight their responses on your website, give credit where credit is due, and make this type of crowd-sourcing a regularly scheduled item in your editorial calendar in order to keep the knowledge base growing and up-to-date. After all, customer service is often the best marketing.
2. Activate your community in real time
The value of real-time content can be short-term, but high-yield. When a window of opportunity presents itself — say, due to a breaking news item or a special event —relevant content has tremendous potential to be viewed (and appreciated) by a large audience. Once that window closes, however, the content’s value and potential drops sharply. It’s a tricky proposition that requires being in the right place at the right time, ready to turn around and execute on short notice.
The same goes for soliciting content from your community. Activating your community members in real-time will help you see their true colors. Here are some options you can explore:
- If there are current events with relevance to your organization, ask people to weigh in while they’re still hot topics of conversation.
- Repost customer questions, and let others respond with their answers.
- Share reporter queries with your audience and encourage them to post their take.
- Use both online and offline channels to encourage event attendees to post pictures of themselves (preferably holding something with the company logo with a big smile) or share feedback on the day’s activities.
- Got a deadline you want people to hit? Get your community to spread the word for you.
Also, pay attention to what is happening in the world at large. Anything from a particularly striking sunset in your city to Thanksgiving dinner to an awards telecast can spark a conversation and content creation around your brand. Tools such as Storify — which allows you to curate bits of content from various online sources and stitch them together into a narrative — can help tie all of the responses together.
3. Leverage the power of the hashtag
Whether it’s on Twitter or emerging channels like Instagram, hashtags are the topical threads that bind people and conversations on the web. By spurring conversation around a popular hashtag — whether it’s related to an event, a product launch, or just a brand theme — you can not only get your community talking about you, but you can trace and organize that conversation.
Using social conversation tools like Storify or Cover it Live, you can capture tweets from a selected hashtag and embed the collection on a webpage, blog post, or online article. A Twitter widget can simply scroll a raw feed of all tweets with the chosen hashtag (though be aware of the attendant risks of publicizing a feed you can’t edit). Alternately, you can simply mine the hashtag thread for interesting tweets that you can retweet, highlight as testimonials on your website, or use to inspire blog posts.
4. Curate and celebrate
Psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.” Listening to our community members is integral to communicating in a way that will resonate with them. By listening, we can monitor our brand and find our fans (and foes); but, more to the point, it also helps us discover a trove of content and conversation. Turns out, the community is already talking and creating content about us, so why not use it to your advantage?
Tracking terms or hashtags on Twitter, finding blogs that mention certain keywords via Google, and subscribing to tags on Flickr and YouTube are just a few of the ways you can listen to the community chatter. Then, you can curate the resultant tweets, blog posts, photos, and videos to create a community-authored reflection of your brand. Don’t be afraid to celebrate content that isn’t your own. In the end, it doesn’t matter who created it; it just matters how well it tells your story.
5. Reach out and ask them to contribute
Along the same lines as the earlier point about letting your community members be the experts,sometimes getting your community involved in content creation is as simple as asking the right questions. Use your social platforms, newsletters, and other touch points to solicit responses to queries. You want your audience members to be interested in you, so it’s only fair to show some interest in them.
The questions you ask could be about your product or organization, for example, “What should we do better in the new year?” or, “What’s the most interesting way in which you’ve used our product?” Butyou can also use this as an opportunity to get to know your community members, and let them get to know each other, by asking questions that will be interesting to them, such as, “What are your new year’s resolutions?” or “How do you beat the winter blues?” or “What’s your favorite vacation getaway?” These are easy, straightforward topics people like to talk about and for which pretty much everyone has an answer.
6. Get a little chatty
In an e-commerce context, live chat functionality has been shown to lead to increased conversions and time on-site. In a content marketing context, live chat can help make our websites more dynamic, draw visitors who may not regularly go to our sites, and give our audiences the opportunity to shape our content with their questions and to feel heard. A live chat is great content both during the chat and as an archive after the fact. Also, topics that come up during a live chat may inform future content.
Rather than just publishing a Q&A interview or a two-minute video with a subject matter expert or notable individual, schedule and promote a live chat with them. One of my favorite services that deserves more ink than it gets is Cover it Live. As mentioned before, it not only can help you curate social conversation, but also allows you to host and moderate live web chats that you can embed on your website.
7. Add the sound of music
Music is the soundtrack to our lives, so make it the soundtrack for your content, as well. Social music services such as Spotify, Grooveshark, and Turntable.fm have become popular spaces for audiophiles to build networks around musical tastes. Spotify and Grooveshark are centered on the creation and sharing of playlists, while Turntable.fm combines a chatroom with collaborative DJ function.
Find relevant themes — they could be related to travel, holidays, exercise, geography, current events, you name it — and use your social platforms to ask people to suggest songs they think would fit. Create those playlists via Spotify or Grooveshark then share the links. On Turntable.fm, you can create your own room and encourage your community members to join and play songs around a chosen theme.
What other ideas do you have for integrating your community into your content creation efforts?
Just when you thought that you were getting a handle on social media, something else starts creeping in: the rising use of mobile. There is more than enough data out there to support the fact that mobile is on the up and it will not stop anytime soon. As Michael Stoner emphasized during our two study tours, “everything is connected to everything.” A mobile site is just another aspect of a good overall web presence and an important gateway to a university’s content (including social media.)
- Mobile devices count for 8.9% of global web visits
- The U.S. alone has 98 million mobile subscribers and is 3rd behind China and India
- 40% of those 98M own smartphones
- And 54% of smartphone users are 18-24 yrs old
Mobile in Higher Ed
Note: Even though the data that follows is U.S. based, I think it’s still relevant.
The 2012 State of the Mobile Wed in #highered Survey Report shows that while many universities offer a mobile option, many still don’t have a budget for it. Dave Molsen in his Higher Ed Mobile Website Survey paints a bleaker picture, with only 9% of universities out of a total surveyed of 178 offering a mobile site.
For the most part, universities are building these mobile solutions with students (and prospective students) in mind first, and then faculty & staff. In addition, these solutions are oriented towards supporting campus life, calendar of events, bus schedules, maps, etc.
As far as devices supported, Dave Molsen’s exhaustive research shows that only 31% of schools surveyed supported more than one device. And perhaps it’s not very surprising that 71% of schools created their mobile solution in-house without the help of consultants of specialized developers.
But what do students want to see?
Noel-Levitz released an E-Expectations Trend Report on the Mobile Browsing Behaviors and Expectations of College-Bound High School Students. Produced with research partners OmniUpdate,CollegeWeek Live and NRCUA, the study surveyed nearly 2,300 college-bound students and found a whopping 52% have viewed a school’s website on a mobile device before.
List of wants by those surveyed:
- Academic program listing
- Cost/scholarship calculators
- A calendar of important dates and deadlines
- Specific details about academic programs
- An application process summary
- Online application forms
There are some great examples and cases to draw and learn from. Beware that very few address the six points above.
- West Virginia University’s Dave Molsen has written and researched extensively about his experience building a mobile site. Check out the mobile site for West Virginia University: http://m.wvu.edu/about/
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s (MIT) mobile site uses open code allowing others to take it and adapt it.
- And here’s a glossary of a higher ed mobile sites: http://www.edustyle.net/gallery_mobile.php
Google offers a pretty good set of resources to make the move to mobile in GOMO. You can test your site and see how it is viewed by mobile users and even build your mobile site if you wish to take the plunge.
Finally, Seth Odell also shares some great insights in this video: