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Vidcon Recap


I just flew back from VidCon in California… (And boy are my arms tired. No? Ok, moving on.)

For those who haven’t heard of VidCon, it’s sort of the premiere YouTube-and-other-online-video conference. It’s run by Hank and John Green (the VlogBrothers), who pretty much invented modern vlogging.

There are several different tracks. The Community track is the one meant for 12-year-old girls to meet all their favorite YouTube stars. (If you ever want to hear high-pitched screaming—possibly including crying and/or wailing—just get Danisnotonfire to walk into a room full of preteens.) The Creator track is the next tier up, meant for video creators. That’s the one I signed up for. One tier up from the Creator track is the Industry track, meant for big brands and networks. (I wish I’d signed up for that one because it looked like they had some great content. Hindsight.)

I went to a whole bunch of workshops and panels and wanted to share some highlights and tips with you all.

Online Video News

There was a whole panel about news shows on YouTube, featuring panelists from The Young Turks and SourceFed. If you’re not familiar, The Young Turks is a live news show featuring way left-leaning opinionated commentary. SourceFed is a comedy news channel. The discussion centered on what works well on YouTube as opposed to in a traditional journalism setting.

The Young Turks channel in particular relies heavily on the opinions of the anchors. They made the comparison to Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show). He’s the most trusted news media figure out there, according to surveys, and the theory is that it’s because he’s relatable and you know his opinion.

Further discussion centered on making the news format digestible, and working to keep things snappy and fairly short.

SourceFed’s main goal is to walk the line between appropriate and inappropriate humor in news stories that aren’t always funny.

And here’s a tip for scripted shows that I thought was interesting: Sometimes reading off a teleprompter gives you “teleprompter face,” and you’re not as animated. The shortcut is to make sure that your eyebrows are still moving if you’re reading off a teleprompter. It keeps your face animated and engaged.

Video Formats

For news videos, lots of channels are doing round-up style videos, meaning they’ll include 3 or 4 different news stories in one video. When headlining these round-ups, though, they’re still using the catchiest news headline to get the click.

Another interesting item I heard about while I was there was the “elevation” of the daily vlog into more of a filmmaking style. I’m not sure how that would apply to Duke channels, but it’s cool anyway. In particular, check out Emily Diana Ruth’s “Letters to July” to see some examples.


There was some mention of Facebook directly uploaded video as opposed to linking to YouTube videos on Facebook. You can see our ONC test results on that here. SourceFed mentioned that they’re exploring 1-minute, 1-take videos specifically for Facebook that are “extra” content beyond their YouTube content. Some were also experimenting with preview cuts for Facebook with direction to watch the full video on YouTube. (This redirection to YouTube is more important for those people who are monetizing YouTube views, and not so much to us in the business of getting as many eyeballs as possible without worrying about monetization.)

There was an entire panel on the different platforms available for online video. Represented were YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and Tumblr. The consensus was that YouTube is great for experimenting with new formats and getting feedback on your videos, and Vimeo is great for premium content, especially with their Vimeo On Demand setup, which allows you to charge people to get your video. The Vine and Tumblr reps didn’t have too much to add to the conversation. The Tumblr guy reiterated that GIFs work great on Tumblr, and if you want people to share your stuff on Tumblr, it probably wouldn’t hurt to make some shareable GIFs of whatever video you’re promoting. And, um, the Vine guy just sort of said, “Yeah man, Vine is cool,” over and over. So do with that what you will.

Music and the Content ID System

I will preface this by saying that everyone who talked about YouTube’s Content ID system at the conference began with, “I am not a lawyer, but…” so I’ll make that same claim. I am not a lawyer, but I learned some things about YouTube’s Content ID system in a panel on music. The panel was specifically about covers, parodies and remixes, but could also apply if you have a music bed in your videos.

Fairly recently, YouTube brokered some deals with the biggest labels in the music industry. Here’s how it works: YouTube’s Content ID system will pick up that you are using someone else’s song in your video and will give you a notice that says it’s someone else’s song. That’s not a bad thing because when you click to acknowledge that, yes, you are using someone else’s song, YouTube automatically begins to skim a percentage off of the ad revenue from that video and funnel it to the record label. The record label wins because they get money, and you win because YouTube lets you leave your video up and no one sues you. Yay.

The caveat here for us as Duke channels is that we’re most likely not monetizing in the first place, so this doesn’t really help us. I would still strongly recommend that everyone use music beds that you have licensed. (You can find lists of sites where you can get licensed tracks in the StyleGuide.) Still, if you’re conferring with students, this information could be helpful.

I went to some other panels, too, about storytelling and camera equipment and filmmaking and YouTube in general and got to meet with a a bunch of Internet-famous people, so if you want to hear more dirt or just chat about YouTube (or Disneyland), drop me a note or give me a call.

Q&A on Duke University’s Google + Presence

This interview originally appeared as a CASE blog post by Janna Crabb.

As part of a series of blog posts around Google +, I talked with Cara Rousseau, manager, digital and social media strategy at Duke University, about the school’s use of the platform.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the Google + presence your department manages and related goals. Does your institution have other accounts not managed by your department?
A: Duke University has a very active Google + presence with more than 280,000 followers and more than 2.5 million views. The main Google+ page is managed by our social media team in Duke’s Office of News & Communications. Duke Athletics and Duke Men’s Basketball also manage a very strong presence on Google+, with combined followers exceeding 500,000 and almost 2 million views, respectively. Our goals for Google+ are to reach niche communities (research, science, medical, health, etc.), to optimize search results and to leverage the Hangouts On Air video streaming platform to connect our audiences.

Q: Why is your institution on Google + and how do you find it valuable? Who is your audience?
A: Duke uses Google+ primarily as a place to optimize search results and for the Hangouts On Air feature. We first started using Google + in August of 2011 when pages launched, but we were really not sure what to do with it. Then, in April 2012, Hangouts on Air launched in beta, and we decided to explore the application, holding eight video chats for prospective and admitted students in the month of April. We used venues across campus, selected based on the theme of the chat. For example, we held our chat on “Duke spirit and pride” in the Cameron Indoor Stadium, which also houses our Hall of Fame. We held our “Duke research in the world” chat at the Duke Lemur Center to show how hands-on research happens for students. By connecting admitted students to current students in spots across campus, we were able to open a window to campus culture and student life.

Because Google+ is a social layer, it spreads across other Google applications like Google search, YouTube and Google Maps. Because these platforms all talk to each other, things that are posted on Google+ (and have good engagement and reach!) also perform better across other Google products like search. This is important if you are trying to boost the visibility of a small department or if you are promoting a faculty member who doesn’t otherwise have a public presence.

We also use Google+ to reach certain communities that are more active there than in spaces like Facebook or Twitter.

We’ve found that Google + is strong in niche areas of research and science health; it’s a cerebral place so we focus less on pride and sports and more on geekier content. Because Duke is a leading research university, we have a lot of stuff to share that is interesting to those users.

Q: What are some of your Google + successes? What have you learned? Any tips for other institutions?
 Hangouts On Air have been my favorite thing that we’ve done on Google+. In addition to our student web chats, we’ve also done office hours with alumni and faculty for events such as the Oscars. Christoph Guttentag, our dean of admissions, moderated a debate between two high schools in California via Hangouts On Air. Duke’s Class of 1984 held aseries of Hangouts On Air with its class for months leading up to the 30th reunion. We have even held Hangouts via mobile devices live fromBlue Devil Days, our main student recruitment events. We are really excited to keep pushing the envelope by trying new things on this platform.

Tips for using Google+:

  1. Browse the “discover” tab and find interesting things Google+ is featuring.
  2. Search communities to see if there is a community already existing for your school (hint: it probably already exists, so it’s a good idea to find out who is active there).
  3. Figure out what’s trending on Google+ and use the hashtags to share your content (as it makes sense).
  4. Try a Hangout instead of a phone call the next time you have a virtual meeting. Using the tool will help you get much more comfortable with it.
  5. Keep it visual! Google+ has more visual space in posts and cover art than Facebook does. Make sure you are posting beautiful things with captions that sizzle.

Q: How does Google + compare with Facebook at your institution?
A: Google + isn’t a replacement for Facebook; it is a very different space. We find that our audience on Facebook (and Twitter) is more interested in school pride and sports. Our engagement on Google+ tends to be lower than on Facebook, even though we have more followers on Google+ than on Facebook. However, engagement is growing, and we get an especially good response to posts when we use keywords that are “trending” and apply that trend to our content. Google+ also has a “communities” feature that is more searchable than Facebook groups.

Q: What Google + projects would you like to focus on in the future?
A: I’d like to leverage it for more departments and uses on campus. For example, we’ve started thinking about how our career center and global education departments can use Hangouts On Air for advising and information sessions. We’re also excited about continuing to explore how we can use mobile devices to host video and connect with audiences across the world.

The State of Social Media at Duke, Spring 2014

Correct Cover SM Report Spring 2014
The social media universe has seen many changes this semester. WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion. Snapchat usage blew up. Google+ lost its founder. Facebook changed their algorithm again and again and again …

Here at Duke, we’ve been busy over the past few months. Our social media team created a Duke-styled 2048 game. We hosted a #DukeSpring photo walk in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, resulting in hundreds of crowd-sourced seasonal images of campus. The Office of News & Communications produced a fast-paced video guide on using social media effectively in higher education. Current students held a number of online chats using Google+ Hangouts for admitted students.

We also did some data crunching. Amanda Peralta, David Jarmul and I prepared a short report/infographic showing the state of social media here at Duke this spring. Below is a snapshot of the data our team compiled.


A quick glance at some of the aggregate numbers for all of Duke’s institutional accounts reveals a vast presence on social media.


A look at growth and engagement on the main Duke social media accounts. One of the things we are watching very closely is the explosion of engagement on Duke’s Instagram presence.

metrics_graph1From the data, it’s clear to see social media continues to grow in importance as part of Duke’s news, communications and marketing efforts. We’ll be updating this report every semester here on Duke’s social media blog to keep you informed of our social media activity and trends.

Want more? Here is a link to the full PDF.

Using Social Media Effectively in Higher Education

Do you work with social media in higher education and wonder whether you should focus on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram … or something else? Which investment will give you the biggest benefit? Which matches best with the content you typically produce?


A new video from Duke’s Office of News & Communications, “Using Social Media Effectively in Higher Education,” helps you think through your options.

I originally delivered this presentation at Duke’s 2014 social media mash-up a few months ago. This spring, I worked with Cara Rousseau, Carson Mataxis, James Todd, Sonja Foust and others to capture it in video format. We’ve also prepared a helpful PDF checklist that you can use as a reference.

We hope you find the video helpful. Share your thoughts on using these different social networks in the comments below!

Video: 2014 Social Media Toolkits

In celebration of Social Media Month, Amanda Peralta and I joined a roundtable web chat with HigherEdLive. The focus of the discussion was the “secret weapons” in our 2014 marketing toolkits.

The program was hosted by Stephanie St. Martin, Social Media Manager for Boston College Alumni, and the other panelists were Erin Supinka with RIT and Sean Casey, video producer with Boston College.



The Evolution from Old-School to Digital Recruiter

This blog post by Jeremy Fern originally appeared on the Seventh Point: Media Street Smarts Digital Recruiter blog

Do your prospective students really care what you have to say? Or how you say it?

In the early 2000s, I started my higher ed career as a rookie admissions counselor at a small North Carolina university. Those were the days of big monitors and Internet speed so fast you could literally watch your screen load like a PowerPoint swipe effect. I still remember the massive paper-cuts I’d get preparing colorful manila folders for each of my students, keeping handwritten notes of every minor detail down to their favorite candy bar and the name of their dog.

Back then social media wasn’t the hotbed it is today. Sure, most of us had a MySpace page and toyed around with AOL Instant Messenger, but we were focused on letters, postcards, phone calls, and emails. Let me be clear that there’s great and lasting value in these traditional ways of cultivating relationships with students. In fact, today direct mail print publications are still ranked as one of the most influential means of connecting with prospective students.

But let me challenge your thinking too. Do your prospective students really care what you have to say or is it about how you say it? AOL Instant Messenger was popular back then, and I used it to recruit students quite successfully. As long as I could match a real name with a username, I was good. Let’s face it, I have a good memory, but I couldn’t remember if “fuzzybunny25″ was Ashley or Courtney. I kept using phone calls, emails, and personal notes for a more personal touch. But by using the technology of the day, I cultivated relationships with these prospects by speaking their language. It wasn’t about what I said as much as it was how I said it, or what I used to say it. My students didn’t want the commitment of talking to me on the phone yet; they wanted to keep me at arm’s length. And using the newest way of doing that at the time, AOL IM, was just the fix.

Today, AOL IM might not be a powerhouse of recruiting students, and it was never really designed to be that. But that doesn’t stop us from using social media, texting, email, and other mediums as ways to connect. Yesterday’s traditional admissions counselor is today’s digital recruiter.

Duke University’s manager of social and digital media strategy, Cara Rousseau, can vouch for that. Her unique role at Duke finds her splitting time up between the media relations office and the undergraduate recruiting office. Here’s what Cara had to share about embracing new technology to help in recruiting and engaging prospective students at Duke:

Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) has been a huge success for us as it helps us connect prospects with our current students. The focus of using social media in admissions at Duke is to engage prospective and admitted students by connecting them with the piece of campus they care about (i.e., faculty, clubs, academics, athletics, etc.). We use Google+ as more of a social layer on top of other social media platforms. When we host a Google+ HOA event, we use different themes like “spirit” and “pride,” and we’ve chosen epicenter locations on campus such as Cameron Indoor Stadium, a residence hall lobby, and the Hall of Fame. To promote these events, we’ve really taken a cross-platform approach by promoting hangouts on Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and e-blasts. Also, creating #hashtags specific to our HOA event and encouraging students to get on Twitter during HOA events can help drive awareness for Duke. In a given hour-long hangout, we might have 50-60 questions asked, and based on who is submitting those questions we see a higher conversion percentage of students matriculating to Duke.

A Big Week of Hangouts for Duke

Click on Video to Watch


The point is, Duke University is using social media as a means of community building – to help students get engaged, locked in, and committed. Social media sites such as Google+ are tools that can bring your campus to the bedroom of prospective students. Rousseau’s final thought was, “Prospects get to see what Duke students are like, our diversity. It’s really less about marketing Duke and more about providing a window into Duke’s culture.”

This is just one example of how Duke’s admissions recruiters have used today’s technology to become digital recruiters. The power and reach of social media give you instant access to an audience that just years ago was impossible to reach. Let’s see…where was I…oh yes, I was in the middle of a tweet, a Facebook post, revining, a text, and Yik Yaking. Hope my Klout score goes up!

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of the “Digital Recruiter” blog, in which I’ll share five tips for evolving into a digital recruiter.

Duke’s 2014 Social Media Mash-up

The Duke Communicator’s group gathered on Friday, Jan. 24 for our first meeting of 2014 to hold a “Social Media Mash-up.” This was our second meeting held in this format – see this earlier post for information on the inaugural event.

Our speakers were a number of colleagues who shared their own experiences and “lessons learned” working in social media, following a format similar to an Ignite session. The program included:

  • Tom Dominick and Audra Ang from university development on how Duke Forward has used social media on the road at fundraising events
  • Wendy Hower and J. Caldwell with the Nasher Museum will share how they use digital media for exhibits and events
  • Michael Palko, a Health System colleague, on self-teaching himself to become an Instagram sensation
  • Amanda Peralta from ONC discussed different approaches to social networks
  • Brett Walters from Alumni Affairs on the new LinkedIn University Pages
  • Aaron Welborn from Duke Libraries highlighted their extensive use of blogs

I know I walked away with great new ideas to try, as well as with renewed inspiration from our innovative colleagues.

Save the date for our next Duke Communicators event in Perkins Library 217 on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 3p.m., featuring Duke alumnus and founder of Ignite Social Media, Jim Tobin.

New #1 For Duke Social Media

This story was originally posted in Duke Today by David Jarmul.  

The nearly 210,000 people who follow Duke on Facebook comprise the university’s biggest community on social media. At least they did in 2013.

As 2014 began, however, Duke’s Google+page claimed the top spot, climbing above 217,000 followers.

The statistics are only for Duke’s main presence on the two sites and do not include other Duke social media sites whose “likes” and “followers” total more than 1 million people.

Duke remains an active user of Facebook but expanded its presence on Google+ during the past year because of the social network’s large impact on Google search results, according to Cara Rousseau, the university’s social media manager. “We focused on Google+ initially to boost the university’s presence in search results, but we’ve found a lot of other good uses for it.”

Rousseau and others in the Office of News and Communications (ONC) organized Duke “Hangouts on Air” during the year to enable viewers to interact with campus faculty and students.  In one Hangout, professors discussed why they participated in “Moral Monday” protests in Raleigh. In another, Duke’s Steven Churchill and a colleague at Boston University described their findings about recently discovered African fossils. Duke’s undergraduate admissions office held a series of video chats where applicants asked questions of current students.

Duke also tracked the “What’s Hot” and trending features on Google+ and highlighted faculty active on the network, such as Robby Bowles, a Duke medical researcher and photographer who posts regularly to #ScienceSunday. ONC also posted its own stream of colorful content to Google+, as it does on Facebook and, increasingly, on Instagram. Duke is also active onTwitterPinterest and LinkedIn.

“Social media keeps growing in importance but it changes so fast that we need to constantly experiment and adjust to where our audiences are going,” Rousseau said. “We’re like most universities in devoting a lot of attention to Facebook and Twitter, which remain central to our strategy, but we’re a bit unusual in seeing our numbers skyrocket with Google+. Google has regional offices in Durham and Chapel Hill and we’ve made the most of their proximity, collaborating closely with the Google higher education team.”

Rousseau and Amanda Peralta, ONC’s social media fellow, maintain the content on all of the university’s main social media sites. Their blog on Duke’s central social media site highlights recent developments and topics such as which hashtags to use and how to create viral videos for YouTube.


Top 100 Social Media Colleges

Last week, announced the top 100 colleges and universities that are best leveraging social media. “These innovative schools use social media to give students insight into their culture, personality and DNA,” said Dean Tsouvalas Editor-in-Chief of StudentAdvisor, “This is so beneficial for students to determine the right fit beyond college rankings and marketing speak.”

Duke is happy to join some elite company in the top 10. Congratulations to the Duke social media community!

1. Harvard University (No Change)
2. Stanford University (Up 3)
3. Johns Hopkins (down 1)
4. Yale University (Up 11)
5. Duke University (Up 39)
6. Princeton University (Up 10)
7. Full Sail University (Up 12)
8. University of Oregon (Up 3)
9. Ohio State (down 3)
10. LSU (down 2)

Here is a Google+ Hangout revealing the ranking I was invited to participate in to discuss how Duke has upped our social media game over the past 18 months. Enjoy!


Google+ for Admissions

Ashley (Hennigan) Budd hosts Admissions Live with guest Cara Rousseau, Manager of Digital and Social Media Strategy for Duke University. Tune in as they discuss the Google+ platform and its uses in college admissions.


Taken from the live broadcast, October 15, 2013.

Topics discussed during the LIVE broadcast include:

  • Google+ Features
  • Content Strategy
  • Teens online
  • College information online
  • Tips for growing followers
  • Duke projects
  • #AskAdmissions on Google+
  • Strategy recommedations

… and more


Connecting Students and Colleges through Google+ – NACAC Presentation Slides

Google in Education –

Learn more about Google+ –