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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

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEQ7NqpLDFY

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.

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.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywZsWGulLEE

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

LINKS

Connecting Students and Colleges through Google+ – NACAC Presentation Slides

Google in Education – http://www.google.com/edu/

Learn more about Google+ – http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/

How to Go Viral on YouTube: Two Duke students share the secrets of their success

This article originally appeared in Duke Today. Story by David Jarmul. 

Move quickly. Be entertaining. Pay attention to what actually works online.

Those were some of the suggestions Thursday morning from two Duke students whose videos have “gone viral” on YouTube. They shared their experiences with campus communicators who manage some of the university’s busiest social media sites.

Rachael Nedrow, a first-year student from Oregon, has produced videos viewed more than 24 million times on YouTube showing her stacking cups at record speed. Jacob Tobia, a senior from North Carolina, has produced several popular videos on political and social issues, most recently in support of Nina Davuluri, the Indian-American woman whose victory in the Miss America pageant elicited racist comments online.

“People find me more intriguing when I’m really hyper and excited,” said Nedrow, who tries to keep her public identity as “speedstackinggirl” separate from her personal life. Her videos have been featured on numerous websites and TV shows, including Tosh.0 and America’s Got Talent. She has her own channel on YouTube.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j54yGxuk0yo

Students, faculty and others who want to succeed online need to meet the medium on its own terms, she said, arguing that “it’s just a matter of getting comfortable with a camera.” Nedrow views herself as an old-timer in the world of sport stacking, saying “most of the really good stackers are 11 years old and I’m 18, so …”

Tobia said he produced and uploaded his video in support of Miss America with several other Duke students in just a few hours. It has now been viewed thousands of times online and sparked a Twitter campaign called #standwithnina. Davuluri welcomed the campaign and thanked the Duke students when she appeared on CNN, Bloomberg and other news outlets.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auC1iN1pZDE

In 2012, Tobia produced a video describing how he planned to run across the Brooklyn Bridge in stiletto heels to raise money for a homeless shelter for LGBT youth. More than 10,000 people watched “Run for Shelter 2012,” which led to both donations and news coverage. In an earlier video, Tobia and fellow student Dominique Beaudry urged opposition to Amendment One, the subsequently passed North Carolina law that bans same-sex marriages.

“One thing I’ve learned as an activist is how you get people’s attention and get them invested in what you’re doing,” Tobia told the Duke communicators, who oversee the university’s main Facebook and Twitter sites and social media activities in Admissions, Athletics and other campus offices. “I’m really interested in taking social justice issues and blowing them up online.”

Tobia said speed is critical when responding to breaking stories such as the controversy involving Miss America. “I knew she would only be in the news cycle for one more day, or two if we were lucky. You have to get things out really, really, really quickly.”

Tobia said he has drawn on his theater background in the videos and has learned video editing fairly easily. He hopes more Duke students will produce and upload their own videos, whether on social issues or other interests, and urged them to share their best work with campus communicators who can help them reach wider audiences.

Cara Rousseau, Duke’s social media manager, led the discussion. Duke’s social media siteprovides additional information about the university’s online activities.

Higher Education and Google+

Have you tried this? Bring up Google+ in a room of marketers and communicators. Just mention the social network and see what happens.

You will hear mixed reactions. Some will sing the praises of search engine optimization  and network influence, while others will look at you like you’re a cat speaking Latin on TV.

Our social media team at Duke University is among the Google+ believers.

Duke’s main Google+ Page has grown to over 65,000 followers (as of Aprili 2013) and we’re continuing to see value in our presence on Google+. For one, the more people who follow Duke on Google+, the more we positively influence search results for people in the Duke community. Secondly, we see Hangouts On Air as a huge benefit for student-to-student connectivity and a great tool in our media relations toolkit. Finally, it’s a quirky and fun place where we can share content that is attached to Google trends and a niche science community that is super active on the network.

I’m working on a full blog post on all of the benefits and joys Duke sees in Google+. For now, check out this Hangout On Air I did last week with the Higher Education Google team discussing the power of highered on Google+. Enjoy!

httpv://youtu.be/gprIKAXqz8w

Upcoming Google+ Hangout with Steven Churchill

Duke is doing a science-themed Google+ Hangout!

Churchill & MH1_72

 

At 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 11, Duke University is offering a live Google+ Hangout with paleo-anthropologist Steven Churchill, who led the analysis of the remarkably complete arm of MH1 and participated in most of the other papers as well. Churchill will have casts of several pieces of MH1 and MH2 and can discuss their features.

Please RSVP to the event here. We hope to see you then!

[UPDATE] One Day At Duke: All Day, All Duke, All You

OneDayAtDuke Rain Date New Text Assets_Facebook Event

[UPDATE] This event was originally scheduled for April 5th, but has been rescheduled to Friday, April 19th due to weather.

APRIL 19th, 2013: Be A Part of Duke’s Next TV Spot!

We’re crowd-sourcing Duke’s next 30-second TV commercial and we need your help.

On Friday, April 19 we’re inviting students, faculty, staff, alumni—you name it—to capture photos, videos, tweets and status updates using the hashtag #OneDayAtDuke to depict one day as a member of the Duke community.

Your visions will become part of a special One Day at Duke website and will have a shot at being included in the 30-second TV spot we show at football and basketball games.

Learn more on OneDayAtDuke.com, and join the Facebook event. See you all April 19th!

Join us for One Day At Duke!

Capturing an Image of the Class of 2016

The first Duke tradition most first-year students participate in is the university’s annual class photo shoot on East Campus. Each year, the Duke Photography department pours a ton of time and resources into capturing the perfect shot of the incoming class at sunset at their new home for the next four years.

Since this is such a high-energy event, we decided to start a new tradition: Live streaming video of the event, including student interviews, social media interactions and a skycam view of the photo shoot.

Photo credit: Jim Rosenfield. Showing Jonathan Lee, James Todd and Cara Rousseau, from left to right.

This ended up being a pretty slick project, with over 4,000 total viewers and a ton of social media praise. Here’s how we pulled off the project and some things our team learned.

Video Production

We used the Duke UStream channel as the platform for the live stream of the class photo shoot. Because the photo shoot is taken by photographers up in 60-foot lifts, we also wanted to incorporate some “skycam” aerial footage to show the students filling in the class numbers. In order to do a picture-in-picture type video, we used live streaming software Wirecast, which allows live feeds from multiple cameras to be streamed in a broadcast.

iPhone capturing aerial footage

Because we didn’t have resources to man a video camera in the lifts, (the Duke photographers were busy!), we duct-taped my iPhone to the lift and used Skype to send live video of the aerial view to our equipment on the ground. The result: A skycam!

To be safe, we were plugged in to the Internet with an ethernet cable, and had a staff of three manning the cameras, running production and overseeing the student interviews and social media interactions.

Graphic design and music added a nice layer to the production this year. For music, we used “Time Has Come” by Tauri Wind, a student band featured on the Small Town Records 2010 Compilation. We incorporated graphics showing the make-up of the incoming class and Duke’s student body at key times during the event. We also used visual reminders to prompt viewers to use social media channels to connect and participate throughout the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the webcast, the video was archived on our UStream channel and the video is now available on the Duke YouTube channel and Duke on Demand, Duke’s video website.

Student Interaction and Social Media 

To keep the event authentic and fun, two upperclassmen hosted the live stream and interviewed first-year students on the ground as they filled in the numbers for the photo shoot. Senior Ashley Alman and Junior Vinesh Kapil did an amazing job and provided entertaining commentary throughout the event. We practiced a run-through with them for about 20 minutes before we went live, but they were mainly unscripted, which we hope made Mom and Dad feel like they were on the field with us Wednesday evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Twitter hashtag #Duke2016 is being used for all Orientation Week activities, and was especially used by parents during the photo shoot event. UStream is great because it has a social stream function where viewers can connect their Facebook and Twitter accounts to join the conversation. We had many parents participating through social media as they looked for sons and daughters in the 2016 on East Campus.

 

Promotion

We live-streamed the event last year, but chose to treat it as a beta test and not do promotion around the production. This year, feeling more confident in ourselves, we used social media and traditional channels to promote the event to incoming students and their parents. We utilized the Class of 2016 private Facebook group and the #Duke2016 hashtag to spread news about the event. Also, our Student Affairs friends kindly sent an email to first-year parents a week ahead of the event, letting them know to tune in on Wednesday night to watch their students participate in their first big Duke tradition. Finally, UStream featured the event on their homepage, which definitely helped with traffic flow. We ended up having over 4,000 total viewers during the live-stream and are interested to watch the viewer numbers on the archived video.

I’m interested to hear how you would improve this project next year. Please leave feedback and questions in the comments section below!

Watch the entire video here: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLHHNtkA830

 

Join a Hangout with Duke

April is here, and as this is a very important month for undergraduate admissions, Duke is trying out new ways to connect prospective and current students using social media.

One of the new ways our admissions office is connecting students is through a new Google technology, Google+ Hangouts On Air. We are using Hangouts On Air to host eight student video chats during the month of April about different themes that prospective students are interested in learning more about. These themes include academics, spirit and the first-year experience on East Campus – all important considerations for students making the difficult decision about where to attend college.

We’re excited to try out this new platform and partner with Google on beta testing this new technology. So far, we’ve had two very successful chats with dozens of questions asked by prospective students. We feel like it’s really important to utilize new technologies to let Duke students talk about their real-life stories and build relationships with incoming students.

In addition to streaming all of the video chats live on our Duke Undergraduate Admissions Google+ Page, we’ll be archiving the videos on our YouTube channel and Duke’s video site, Duke On Demand.

How else could we be using this technology for events and conversations across campus?