The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

How to Manage Your University’s Brand

Branding for higher education institutions is quite unique, and Deborah Maue, a senior strategist at mStoner, recently covered this challenging topic in a webinar for Digital Campus members. Along with an introduction to branding for higher education, she gave us some pointers on how to tackle a rebranding.

Long Neglected, But Important

Higher education institutions didn’t always pay a lot of attention to their brand. It was only about ten years ago that brand strategy became a hot topic at universities, even though most of them have had a brand for a long time. So what exactly is a brand? Deb Maue from mStoner defines a brand like this:

Branding definition

You are trying to influence what your audience thinks about your brand, but you also need to make them do something based on that perception. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of time. Continue Reading →

Do You Know Your Users?

Starbucks knows exactly what you are going through when you order coffee

Starbucks knows exactly what you are going through when you order coffee

Imagine the following situation: a prospective student, let’s call her Eva Excitement, is in the midst of deciding which university to go to.

Your university is one of her top choices and she is browsing through your website to find the information she needs: Will she be able to study a semester abroad? Are you offering any advice on housing? When is the admission deadline? What does she need to hand in along with her application?

In an ideal world, your website would perfectly suit Eva’s needs, she would find all the information, and get even more excited about her studies. Of course, in the end she would decide to pick your university because her experience on your website strengthened her beliefs that you are the perfect fit.

But what if not? Well you are in luck, user experience mapping might be just what you need to make Eva choose your school. Continue Reading →

5 Key Factors to a Successful Social Media Campaign

fordham 4 me tumblrWe all dream of hitting the jackpot with a social media campaign that goes viral. While it’s good to dream and aim for the sky, the reality is that any campaign can be successful just by following some simple guidelines.

During our most recent webinar, Patrick Powers of MStoner Inc., shared the fundamentals of a campaign undertaken by Fordham University in New York City, called #Fordham4Me.

Launched during the Spring of 2014, the campaign will run until the first day of school this coming Fall. So although the complete results are yet to be seen, there’s much to learn from how Fordham University planned and set up their campaign. Continue Reading →


In today’s world of abundant information and short attention spans, we all face the same challenge: ensure that our messages reach our intended audience. The ability to tell stories is one key to success, but the ability to build immersive story worlds is a skill that matters even more. This is the purpose of transmedia—or multiplatform storytelling—and that’s why this new genre, which is at the interface of storytelling and technology, is rapidly becoming a powerful communication tool. Continue Reading →

7 Ways to Bring Your Community into the Content Creation Process

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.

Content is a critical interface between ourselves and our community. It helps us achieve organizational objectives, reinforce our brand, and communicate key messages.

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 Liveyou 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 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 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, 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?

Image Credit: Marcin Wichary (flickr creative commons)

Social Media Program News

NewsWe have been busy putting together plans for the second year of our program and have a few announcements to make.

Top news of the week posts

Learn what’s happening in social media, new tools, and practical tips from the best sources out there. Look out for our weekly posts or subscribe to receive our blog posts via email.

Upcoming events

SAVE THE DATE! May 16, 2012 – 2nd Social Media Program Meeting in Zurich.

Nearly a year after we first met in Bern, we will hold our second program wide meeting at facilities generously offered by Swiss International Air Lines in Kloten, by the Zurich Airport. We will share the overall social media status of Swiss Academia in social media, keynote presentations from social media leaders from Swiss International Air Lines and others (to be confirmed!), and workshops. Per your feedback received in 2011, we will hold parallel sessions according to knowledge levels and interest, and case studies from Swiss institutions.


Radian6 reports for January 2012 have been posted. Please visit your landing page to find out who has been talking about your institution.

Presence reports. We have been working compiling the status of social media for our participants for Q4 2011, and we are near completion. Expect notification in the next 7 days! Read more about these reports.

Spring 2012 Study Tour

We are less than 30 days away from our Spring Study Tour. We are excited to receive a diverse group of participants. As in our Fall 2011 Study Tour, expect a lot of news, stories, and reflections from the group during their stay in the Bay Area. You can follow the group on Twitter using the hashtag #springstudytour or by following the study tour Twitter list.  In addition, expect daily blog posts, photos, and more.


February 29, 2012 – LinkedIn 101 via webex
I will lead this webinar and it will be recorded for future reference. We need your feedback regarding the time of this webinar. Have a say below. Please respond by Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

[polldaddy poll=5950989]

Wikipedia Matters

On Tuesday, October 18, Pete Forsyth will lead a webinar on the importance of wikipedia for your institution. Through examples, recommendations, and practical ideas, participants will learn how to improve their wikipedia presence.

In preparation for the webinar, Pete has designed a short exercise.

Preparation for wikipedia presentation

The assignment below will help you understand the range of quality in Wikipedia coverage of universities, and how articles grow on Wikipedia. Please email me your responses by the end of the day Monday, October 17.

  1. Name of your university
  2. Name of university whose Featured Article you chose
  3. Identify 3-5 areas in which your university’s article could use improvement.
  4. Write 1-3 sentences about the Featured Article discussion. Do you believe the concepts discussed were important components of an article on a university?
  5. Create a user account. This video will guide you through the process:
Read the detailed instructions here

Access the presentation and webinar recording

About Pete

Pete ForsythPete Forsyth is a longtime leader in the volunteer Wikipedia editorial community. As a consultant, he designs and implements partnerships that bring academics and professionals together with Wikipedians to build encyclopedia content together and learn from one another.

Pete began writing Wikipedia articles in 2006, focusing on the history of his home state of Oregon; his work covers topics like the Columbia River, political elections, and historical figures. He founded WikiProject Oregon, a dynamic group of Wikipedians which coordinates collaborative projects and engages with local institutions.

As the Wikimedia Foundation’s first Public Outreach Officer from 2009–2011, Pete was a key architect of the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative. This broadly acclaimed project introduces the academic world to the Wikipedia production process; increasingly driven by volunteers, this model is now being replicated around the world. Smaller projects include helping small businesses effectively and ethically improve their coverage on Wikipedia.

To learn more about his practice visit or contact him directly.