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It actually isn’t actually that amazing

April 28, 2018

This is going around LinkedIn, the amazing proclamation that we can read words that are spelled horribly wrong.

Only, it isn’t that amazing. We don’t read letters, we read word patterns. We don’t read t-h-e with the word the, we read a pattern. We see the pattern of the, not the letters.

So what does that mean?

Two things, really.

First, when you TYPE IN ALL CAPS, you make it harder for people to read. The more words in all caps, the less people will read it. THE isn’t recognizable in ALL CAPS, so we actually have to read the letters. Often, we don’t. Thus, if you intend to communicate something, doesn’t use all caps.

Reverse type is hard to read because of this phenomenon. Reverse type, white text on black isn’t actually the thing, instead, it is the absence of color. So we don’t pick up the patterns in reverse type because what we’re mostly seeing is the lack of color.

So, when someone says let’s do all caps reverse headlines on the poster, point out this post, and the simple fact that you made your communication less of a communication.


13 reasons why a University should have one Facebook page

April 21, 2018

In 2013 (2013!)  I did a session at a conference called “Can I talk you out of a Facebook page“. My point then and now isn’t to suggest Facebook is a bad marketing tool. My point is that for a University, many Facebook pages make Facebook a bad marketing tool for the school.

On Tuesday, I am doing a CASE chat about Facebook strategy.

Seems a good time to revisit this list.

#1: A prospective student = a student = an alum. 

Why on earth would a school need an admissions page, a school page and an alumni page if, and this is important, they are the same people? When you attract people to your page, they become students and then alums. Schools with separate pages need to waste marketing energy attracting people – again – to a page.

#2: Confusion.

If the school has a Facebook page, an athletics page, a department page, a Chapel page, a page for the mascot…it confuses people. If people don’t know what to follow, you’re doing it wrong. At many schools, a first-year student has 18 million things they could follow.

#3: Algorithms.

The page I manage has 28K likes. So 28K people like this page, are friends with about 250 people, and like, on average, another 8 brand pages. Our content needs to compete with all those things. WHY on earth make it compete with content from your own school?

#4: Bad copy.

With so many pages to manage, a school ends up with the desire to feed the beast. “I need to post on Facebook.” The need to post on Facebook is not a strategic reason to post on Facebook and ends up with a bad post. Don’t end up with bad posts, consolidate.

#5: The best pictures.

I used to think that anyone could take a good picture. I used to think that the iPhone allowed us all to snap the moment, and post it. Then I moved to one of the most stunningly beautiful campuses in the world, and I realized I was wrong. Fewer posts means less desire to snap a photo with an iPhone. You have opportunities to capture moments that rock the socks off your current students and alums. These are the pictures they’ll share – not the crappy iPhone shots. The good pictures make the brand stronger.

#6: Reach.

Your English department Facebook page has 607 likes. The main Page is on the first page of a Google Search for the school and has 27K likes. I’m not awesome at math, but I think 27K > 607. .

#7: Location. 

People are checking in like mad. At this point, there isn’t anything we can effectively do with checkins. But the day will come. One page means less confusion on where to check in, especially tours. Be ready.

#8: Marketing. 

It takes marketing effort to get  like. If people click like, you’re done. You can go back to telling stories and quite marketing. for every page your school has, that is more marketing resources that get expended.

#9: The good times are over. 

I remember a day when I managed a fast-food Facebook page. I recall the day I sat there hitting refresh and watching the number of fans (they were called fans then) go up by 10’s every refresh. 30 seconds was a few hundred. It was incredible, and it will never happen again. It takes work now. If you have two pages, it takes twice the work, and you get half the returns.

#10: There are already too many pages.

The Facebook Pages app helpfully says: “Pages Manager lets you manage up to 50 Pages from your smartphone or tablet.”

Oh. My. God.


It is amazing. It offers detailed analytics of your .edu, of your one Page, it connects your one Instagram. It closes the loop in a way that will only get better. Trust. Me.

#12: Ads. 

Facebook ads from one page. I’m utterly convinced that your last organic post impacts your next ad. I’m convinced that your ad impacts your next post. But all that said, here’s why one page is critical. Facebook is an auction. If I buy 18-12 year old college students, and the English department page buys it too, we artificially increase the cost to reach and the cost to click.


Sorry for yelling. But we are. One page, one focus, ad potential.

#13: Facebook is becoming a better content management system.

This month, I shared videos that had already beed posted on Facebook, back on Facebook. The posts launched with the already banked views. So a new video post launched with 2K views. In April. For yield. And alumni liked the videos because they created a nostalgic memory.

The reasons to attend your school are the same things that generate nostalgia from your alumni.

The issue is this: it is easy to turn on a Facebook page. That doesn’t mean it should happen. Because guess what, it is just as easy to delete them. It is just as easy to consolidate.

So if you talk someone out of a Facebook Page, or delete one, let me know. I keep track.

How LinkedIn could be even better for Higher education

April 14, 2018

LinkedIn Company pages are awesome. so far this fiscal year, we’ve earned about 3.5 million impressions on content. Since LinkedIn automatically subscribes alumni to the school page for which they attended, the vast majority of those impressions are alumni impressions.

On a Company Page, we are able to tag people in a post. This post was for a panel event for Colgate’s Professional Networks.

As you can see, I was able to tag all of the alumni in the post. LinkedIn notifies them that Colgate tagged them (I want to be tagged by UofT.)

Now, before you get all excited, I have bad news. The tagging ability is limited to 1st and 2nd connections of the admin doing the posting.

Yes, you read that right.

I’ve had to connect to an alum, just so I could tag that person. (Note: I continue to ask LinkedIn about this. Why can’t the Company Page of a college or university tag people who went to the school? The short answer is that LinkedIn cares about helping Microsoft get more employees. They don’t care about my content.


I also told them I thought it was mean to make me be first or second connections to alumni in order to tag them on the page. If an admin can’t tag people, it looks like Colgate can’t tag people. It just weird for our brand and Linkedin’s brand.

Which is insane!

Why do I troll LinkedIn?

I troll LinkedIn because as a University, I feel like this platform can tell a story that other parts of the web can’t tell.

The LinkedIn profile is the roadmap to being a CEO for a first-year student. LinkedIn is the largest data set of outcomes ever assembled, and since it is crowd-sourced, it is basically correct. It is a better database of outcomes than your database.

As a data company, LinkedIn offers students the ability to swipe through alumni outcomes that best fit the major and clubs a student is doing.

LinkedIn can literally match a student’s dreams to the career of an alum. It is both an idea generating tool, and an awareness generating tool. Really, one can become that with a Religion degree?

I just wish they would get out of their own way and let us tell the stories of alumni. The non-intuitive way they do things drives me bat-shot crazy. Like, here you go, you can tag alumni, I’m sorry, only alumni you’re connected to.

Agree, disagree? Feel free to yell at me in comments, share this with someone at LinkedIn, or heckle me on Twitter.

What makes highered marketing different

April 11, 2018

Image result for graduation

Image via Mark

The decision to attend the school is a high consideration, high involvement purchase decision. It is a huge and important decision. Study after study suggest that the upside of the purchase decision far exceeds the downside of not making it.

Still, it is a purchase decision. It is very much much like buying vacation home or a piece of art. It is an investment.

The difference is, for the undergraduate version, the schools knows the date of purchase. The school also has a decent idea of the age of the majority of the purchasers.

For the undergraduate version, we know a 17 year old will make the purchase. We know the date of the purchase. After that date, there is a period where the seller determines whether the buyer can buy. The seller agrees and admits the buyer. After which, the buyer has another period wherein they determine to complete the purchase.

The buyer agrees to buy the service for four years, and will never buy this version of the service again.

Ever. Higher Ed doesn’t have a repeat customer for the same product. Ever.

This service has no repeat buyers, but it has donors. these are people who give to the service in order to lower the rising costs of the service to future buyers.

So what does that mean for marketing? 

It means two things:

  1. We obviously know the date of purchase. So we can time our marketing to fit that date. Social media marketing designed to nudge admissions should build from August to January. Then rebuild again from mid-March to early May.
  2. Getting alumni engaged in December and June is critical. Getting alumni engaged in other parts of the year should lead up to December and June.

Knowing the date of purchase is part of the plan. Irregardless of what you do at the school, all staff and even faculty should know the dates.

  • Early decision deadline.
  • Regular decision deadline.
  • Admittance day.
  • Deposit day.

Those are the key days on the calendar for marketing the incredible service we offer. All versions aren’t the same. Some schools have graduate programs, distance learning, etc. But all work on academic years. So the dates are known. And they should be factored into the marketing decisions.

In the game of life, college often, though not always, leads to better outcomes – both of $$ and health.

What do you think? Do you you know the dates at your school?

How to win on social media as an individual

April 9, 2018

Your personal brand. It almost sounds like a cliché these days that social media can enhance your personal brand.

There is this old saying that a photo is worth a thousand words. For a young person, a photo can cost a thousand jobs. Indeed, the social platform algorithms reward the outrageous images – they go viral. So that photo of you passed out with a chalk line made of empty beer bottles could go viral.

Your personal brand

So what to do? Because social platforms can enhance your brand. And since every single major life decision from now on will probably involve a google search for you, then how can you use the platforms for good?

Three words.

Here’s the secret: wrote down three words that you want to define you.

Smart, athletic, inquisitive.

Those are three good words.

Now, only post on social platforms when your post reflects at least one of those words. If the post reflects two of them, then add a photo, and post it again and again. If the most involves all three, write a blog post about, or make a major motion picture about it. In other words, go hard.

But remember, when you pull out your phone to capture that moment: will it enhance your brand by accentuating one of the three words?

If the answer is no, put the phone away and carry on.

Some thoughts on feedback

April 9, 2018

If you’re giving feedback, be generous first.

That was really good. This was on point. I like what you did here.

Now, if you want to make changes, make sure your changes make it better. Not different. Take some time when giving to weigh whether your ideas and suggestions made it better.

Take this sentence.

A man took his dog for a walk.

You should not suggest – A man went for a walk with his dog.

The second sentence is not better, just different.   You might think it is better, but fractionally.


Ask questions: did you consider adding more depth via a setting or TOD?

They might respond with how so?

It was a gorgeous summer day so the man took his dog for a walk.

That could lead you to interesting places.

It was so nice out that the dog was able to convince the man to go for a walk.

Your goal should be to get to a better place, not a different place. It means being honest about your feedback.

Sometimes the best feedback is none.

It doesn’t mean you didn’t do your job, it means you let the people who have the job to create things do their job.


The problem with Facebook is the actual model

April 9, 2018

The hubbub around Facebook is the power. It has eaten the lunch of major content creators and build a business model wherein consumers create content, and then their information, gleamed from that content, is sold to marketers. It is like the NY Times, in that it sell eyeballs, but unlike the New York Times, it doesn’t pay for content, or vet content. It uses an algorithm to spread content that his highly engaging.

It spreads click bait.

Unlike the New York Times, where the ads are clearly different from the text, the ads on Facebook aren’t different. Colgate has a Facebook page that is used to promote the school. It is basically an ad for the school, organically filling people’s news feeds.

Before the second wave of the Internet, the so-called Web 2.0, we also understand a contract.

Mass media places like the NY Times and NBC created content that was under written by ads.

As in the middle of a magazine feature would be a full page ad on running shoes, or an airline, or some other thing. After the opening of Thursday night TV, a flight of 30-second ads would interrupt the program.

The ads were targeted to the kind of reader, or watcher.

Advertising was, and still is an underwriter for content. The bigger the crowd the content amassed, the more brands paid to pitch the assembled mass. We called that ratings or readership. When it a show gets big ratings, it charges more for an ad. Think Super Bowl. The model that worked for ages was content subsidized by the ads.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat – they are blurring the lines of the contract. Advertising still is an underwriter for the content – Facebook is free. The difference is we’re the content creators, and we work for free. We create the content that is then used to sell us ads. We’re both content creator and ad consumer.

The contract with the consumer. 

It used to be simple. You got over the air TV and Radio for free, and the cost was ads. Newspapers sold an issue for pennies, but they were full of ads. A magazine subscription was $20 a year, and the magazine was full of ads.

But things have shifted. Weirdly. Consider this blog. We have no contract: I give this out for free, and expect nothing. Readers get content at no cost. This blog is wrecking paid models where sites charge for ideas. So this blog might actually be part of the problem we’re experiencing with digital.

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook pages, these all lack that content contract.

What is the contract on a social platform?

We don’t know. We sort of understand that Facebook will sell us a toaster or a new pair of shoes, but we’re pretty sure we don’t want it to sell us an ideology or a candidate. Even though we never really balked at a 30-second spot for  candidate own TV or radio.

The difference, and there is a difference, is we don’t understand the ads on Facebook as well. There isn’t a moment where the show stops and the ad clearly starts. Ads on Facebook are like the content.

Consider the Facebook page as exhibit A for the so-called new marketing. A post from a brand is, essentially, an ad. A post from a politician, is an ad. The Twitter feed of POTUS is an ad for his brand. Brands (and universities, and politicians) aren’t paying to be on the platform, but they are getting something out of it..

Like the website before it, which also had no contract with the consumer, social media needs to ask: what’s in it for the consumer in a way that wasn’t required of traditional advertising?

The answer for Facebook is utility. I get to stay in contact with family and friends that would otherwise have left my  orbit. The question is this: is the utility of a platform worth the contract?

Unlike the NY Times, which only informs, Facebook actually unites. It sounds trite, but at its best, Facebook can contact people to their communities.

So ask, what’s in it for me? Because the answer isn’t that clear. The backlash from the public, and questions by congress to Zuckerberg show that we don’t understand the contract we made with social platforms.