The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

The Tweeting Professor

Professors on TwitterYou can probably divide your faculty into two groups: Those who believe in the potential of social media, and those who consider it more of a waste of their time. Do you have one or more social media believers in your faculty? Congrats if you do, since we think they can offer you some highly valuable perks.

We have identified those Swiss faculty members who use social media and included it in our quarterly research about the official social media presence of Swiss universities. Program members can find a chart with that data in their official reports due to be published this week. Read on to find the top professors on Twitter in Switzerland, but also how to utilize these social media advocates in your faculty. Continue Reading →

Swiss Universities on Social Media [infographic]

Swiss higher ed infgraphicIt’s time Swiss higher education got it’s own infographic! We created one with some of the data that we compiled about the use of use of social media by Swiss higher education institutions for the second quarter in 2013.

The Federal institutes ETH and EPFL are still dominating on Twitter while on Facebook the picture looks slightly different with HSG and EHL close on EPFL’s heels.

All program participants can now login to their dedicated landing page and download their official presence reports.

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Meet Roger Stupf, Head of Web & Information Management at the University of Zurich

This blog post is part of a series of posts highlighting social media champions in Switzerland. We’ve previously portrayed Katja Wenk, Web and Social Media Officer at the University of St. Gallen and Yan Luong, Social Media Manager at Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS). This time we have the pleasure to introduce you to Roger Stupf and his team at the University of Zurich (UZH), who manages the university’s social media presence during a one-year pilot project.

Roger Stupf, Head of Web & Information Management, in front of the University of Zurich

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Meet HSG’s Social Media Officer Katja Wenk

With more and more universities hiring a full-time social media expert, we think it is time to put the spotlight on these faces and give you a glimpse into their daily work. During the course of the next months, we will interview various social media officers in Switzerland in a new series of blog posts. Today we meet Katja Wenk, Web and Social Media Officer at the University of St. Gallen. 

Katja Wenk, Web and Social Media Officer at the University of St. Gallen

Still impressed with the professional launch of HSG’s official social media channels at the beginning of this year, I make my way up the hill to campus to meet one of the main players in that launch: Web and Social Media Officer Katja Wenk, who started in this newly-created position at the end of last year.

It has been a few years since I last set foot on the campus when I was still a student waiting to get my master’s degree in communications. Social media was definitively not the main topic of our studies back then. We touched on the subject and our professor pointed out that this would be the next big thing in communications, but that was five years ago and social media was basically nowhere. At least in Switzerland. I hadn’t heard of Twitter and official company or university Facebook pages were extremely rare to non-existant. Needless to say, at that time, my alma mater had no intentions to join Facebook or start tweeting. Today, 27 percent of Swiss universities and universities of applied sciences have a social media manager and 42 percent intend to hire one in 2012.

So here I am, approaching the campus and getting ready to meet HSG’s first full time social media officer. I am eager to ask questions about her daily routine, barriers she is facing, or which Facebook posts get the most comments.

My knock on her office door is answered by her co-worker Markus Zinsmaier, whom I met last fall during the first social media study tour. Katja is sitting behind her desk, concentrating on her screen and my first guess would be that she probably has Hootsuite open to quickly monitor or send tweets before we sit down for coffee and a chat. A few minutes later, Katja and I make our way towards one of the coffee spots in Building A, surrounded by students who grab a quick coffee before their next class begins at 10:15am.

Increasing awareness and knowledge

“I usually start with screening all social media channels to see what has been going on,” says Katja when asked about what she does first thing in the morning. But she quickly points out that her usual position is not in front of her computer screen, ready to tweet or answer comments on Facebook.” I have a lot of meetings to explain to my colleagues what my job entails and how we intend to develop the social media strategy.” Her calendar is filling up quickly with these meetings. Most of them are initiated by her colleagues from other departments, ranging from university professors to administration officers, which is clearly an indicator of the interest in social media on the campus and the high demand for more information about the tools.

Besides making others on campus aware of the new communication tools, she also spends a fair amount of time helping them get familiar with Twitter, for example. Many are eager to start using the channel and willing to learn, but some are afraid. For that purpose, the communications team also provides a handbook for everyone working at the university about how to use social media and how to set up a presence at the university.

Integration of existing presence by departments

HSG launched their official social media presence with a Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel that give information about the university in general, but they also introduced four hubs: HSG START, HSG CAMPUS, HSG PROFESSIONAL, and HSG RESEARCH. These hubs focus on different topics, target a specific audience, and are very much organized like a portal, retweeting and reposting content created by other official pages, such as the library or a faculty. The Facebook page of HSG CAMPUS, for example, frequently shares status updates by the official Facebook page of the university’s library.

The goal in the coming months is to integrate all official university social media channels for a cohesive experience. The HSG campus store’s Facebook page, for example, which has existed since 2010, was integrated into the HSG CAMPUS hub.  It now appears in the same orange color scheme and style settings as the hub it belongs to, but it is still administrated separately.

HSG’s official Facebook page highlights the four hubs

Each hub is managed by a different individual or group of people, while Katja manages the official presence by the university and oversees the integration. She is mindful of each department’s independence, and emphasizes the fact that the integration is voluntary and that she is certainly not giving instructions to these departments. “I am more of a contact point or help desk if questions come up. But branding is obviously important and we support departments with guidelines,” she adds.

Facebook community taken by storm

Of course empowering colleagues throughout the university is a high priority for Katja Wenk, but just as important is building up a strong community around the institution on social media: “You have to get to a point where the social media community knows the university and its channels.” And the university has definitely gotten there quickly. The growth of the community around HSG since the launch of the official presence in December 2011 is almost unbelievable. In only six months, the official Facebook page has climbed to nearly 7,500 likes. Compared to some universities in the US, this number is not earth-shattering, but compared to the social media landscape in Switzerland, it is very impressive. The two Swiss institutions leading with regard to Facebook likes so far were EPFL, who launched their page in June 2010 (3,976 likes as of June 6, 2012) and EHL, who launched their presence in February 2011 (4,718 likes).

Secrets to success

When meeting the person responsible for such community growth, one has to ask for the secrets behind the success. “So what works best?” I ask Katja. She thinks for a second, but quickly names a few examples that have proven to create a lot of engagement. Just as Christina Sponselli, UC Berkeley’s director for social media pointed out a few weeks ago during our last study tour, “pretty pictures go a long way,” says Katja. Polls also get people motivated to interact, she adds. Another post that was liked by many community members was a news story about the “Best Teaching Award”, given out by the students to the most popular teacher at the university. They also ran a few Facebook campaigns to increase their reach and grow their community.

Facebook statistics for HSG’s official page

Growing the community with the right objectives in mind

But just increasing the number of Twitter followers or likes on Facebook is not Katja’s primary goal: “If that was my goal, it would be achieved rather quickly since you can acquire new followers and likes easily. It’s about building a meaningful community around the brand and we have yet to see if this new community is also our target audience.” This doesn’t mean that she is not measuring the impact of her efforts. She knows well what posts generate the most interactions and likes and uses tools such as Social Bro to analyze her Twitter community.

It’s 11am and the building is flooded with students again. Two actually interrupt our conversation to ask us if we would be willing to sign a petition. We decline and I realize it’s time to let Katja go back to her desk to tend to her community, internally and externally. I quickly take a picture of her in front of one the signs outside the building, with the tents from the recent St. Gallen Symposium in the background. The university campus has not changed much since I last visited, but the face of the university online has definitely changed from a collection of websites to a whole array of platforms on the social web.


The University of St. Gallen on Social Media

Official Facebook page
Official Twitter account
Official YouTube channel

Follow Katja on Twitter.

Building our Community: One Meeting at a Time

As we all know, communicating online is a fantastic way to keep in touch but no technology will ever replace meeting face to face. On May 16, we met in Zurich to exchange information, challenges, and ideas with other program participants. It was an intense but very productive day, and the perfect opportunity to say hi to familiar faces but also many new ones.

We thank everyone who made the trek out to Zurich and to SWISS for hosting us. In the interest of all program participants, we wanted to share some of the highlights of the meeting as well as the presentations shared that day.


Panel discussion with Berner Fachhochschule, EPFL, and University of St.Gallen. I envisioned this panel as a simple discussion, if not a conversation amongst friends, about what works and does not work at each of these schools. I purposely selected three schools that were different in size, budgets, focus, and location to show examples that participants could relate to. The three panelists shared their impressions and even personal experience about managing social media at their institutions. The resulting conclusion: there is not ONE way to implement and run social media. As Andrea Schweizer from BFH advised: “Just do it”.

Upon reflection, I realized that holding such a panel would have been impossible 12 months ago when we first met in Bern, Switzerland. This shows that our community has evolved and matured, seeing each other more as collaborators rather than competitors. Thanks to Andrea Schweizer (BFH), Markus Zinsmaier (HSG), and Michael Mitchell (EPFL) for being so open and generous with their experience.

A video of the panel below. The recording starts 5minutes into the discussion but still captures most of the exchange.

Social Media @ SWISS Air Lines. Christian Lüdi, Chief Learning Officer for SWISS Air Lines, shared his experience managing social media for the airline. What mostly resonated with us was how intense the listening component is. There’s a phrase that still echoes in my head: “Respond to your true fans not slobs.” So often we hear that we need to respond and acknowledge every single comment. However, Christian showed through SWISS’s experience handling the transition to a new logo, that as in the offline world, a lot of people just complain for the sake of it and given the known constraints of time it is imperative that the true fans are not neglected. Responses to difficult people often take a long time to be crafted. Make sure they count. For more, see his presentation below:

XING for Universities. We were really pleased to have Robert Beer, XING’s Country Manager for Switzerland and Austria, present the network and all of its possibilities. We learned a couple of new things. For example, XING is the primary business network for 4 out of 5 Swiss professionals. Check out Slide 17 for an interesting infographic on how XING can generate value for students and how universities can benefit from it.

Concurrent sessions. We held three concurrent sessions in the morning and repeated two of them in the afternoon. The idea was to allow participants to benefit from as many sessions as possible. The sessions focused on the core issues of making the case for social media, monitoring and reporting, as well as content strategy. Find below the presentations for the three sessions. We thank our speakers Kelly Hungerford from Paperli, Ferdinand Kobelt and David Schaefer from SOMEXCLOUD, and Mike Schwede for sharing their knowledge and expertise with us.
1. Making the case for social media in your institution

2. Monitoring and Reporting

3. Content Strategy with

Google Switzerland. Last but not least, Michel Benard from Google CH told us briefly how Google works with universities in Switzerland. Did you know that Google Switzerland is the largest engineering office that Google has outside of the U.S.? It has more than 700 employees from over 70 countries. As most tech companies today, Google is keen on finding the best talents and is very active in Switzerland finding and recruiting graduates from top technical universities. Details about research and scholarships opportunities in the presentation below.

In the next few weeks, look out for posts with more information about the meeting, including your feedback, and what’s next with the program.

The future of Social Networks and other Top News

This week we share top news and a short write-up on SFAMA‘s event with Charlene Li that took place at ING Direct Cafe in SF.

News that caught our eye this week:

And the top headline this week:

  • HSG Embraces Social Media. We are so proud of HSG for such professional and successful launch. Can’t wait to see HSG make strides in social media!
In addition, we attended the SFAMA event with Charlene Li on the Future of Social Networks. Throughout this program, we have referenced Charlene’s work and thoughts related to the importance of social media for organizations. If you have not yet read her books Groundswell and Open Leadership, make sure to put them on your reading list.
Charlene first delved into the past to take stock of the speed of the developments that have taken place in the social media sphere. Some milestones to remember:
  • January 2007: The iPhone debuted
  • May 2007: Facebook opened its platform to outside developers
  • January 2010, Android phones appear in the market
  • April 2010: the Ipad is released
Now to the Future of Social Networks. Three main points:
  1. Social media wil be like air: It’s everywhere and hard to avoid. It will permeate all of our activities.
  2. People want to be known: Consumers will expect a better consumer experience when they shop. After all information from social media accounts provide merchants with the interests and likes. One interesting factoid caught my attention: check-ins constitute 40% of social media conversations for big retailers such as Safeway (grocery store)
  3. Connected employees will create a culture of sharing: Employees speak about your brand/organization so empower then via training but also provide them with social media guidelines.
  4. It’s time to get serious about social media: All of the above points to the importance of having a coherent plan, a triage, and response plan for social media. A quick show of hands at the event, still showed that very of us present have all of these in place.
I have been lucky to hear Charlene present three times so a lot of what she mentioned resonated with me and reminded me of the recommendations she made in her previous publications. After listening to her, my main conclusion is that there are some fundamentals that we all need to tackle: plan, plan, and prioritize!
NOTE: Of course, I wanted to find what’s HOT  so I asked her about Pinterest and what makes it so special. “It shows a very emotional side of people that other networks can’t really show.” The real question is how can brands and organizations leverage it. I have seen some great examples (Oberlin College) that have inspired me to create an account for swissnex San Francisco. Check us out. on:
Find below Charlene’s deck for more details: