SOC11: Listening to the Conversation Online

Holly Maust, Interactive Marketing Manager, BarkleyREI

The audio for this podcast can be downloaded at

[Intro Music]

Announcer: You’re listening to one in a series of podcasts from the 2009 HighEdWeb Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Holly Maust: For the folks that were on Twitter today, it was just a total nightmare, right? I mean people were going nuts with the keynote speaker so for this guy and for brands like him, maybe schools, ouch. You know what? Honestly, I tell him the same thing. He needs to listen to the conversation. He needs to be engaged and listen to the conversation. So no bashing, no bashing there.

My agenda with catchy words, trust me, top 10 list: tool belt, number crunching and pumpkin pie. I always like to end with food.

Okay. So right now, someone is talking about in your institution online, probably not like right now but in the next 10 minutes or half an hour depending on how big you are. And so there could be somebody saying your school sucks, right? That would be the worst. They would never say that, oh god, never. Parking is horrible. I hate my teacher. And then there are the students, alumni, I love my school, I love what I'm doing, everything is groovy. And you're like, what do I care, right? What do I care what these folks say?

We care because people trust what these folks are saying. This is an interesting statistic from Nielsen from April of 2009: 70% of consumers trust opinions online, 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know. So all of the TV advertising that you're doing, 62% of consumers trust TV advertising. And then we go to search PPC, a lot of colleges do this; 41% of consumers trust search engine results, so 70% of consumers trust what they are reading, opinions on forums, Facebook, what have you.

And so that's why we're here, the top 10 list, and I'm going to go into detail on why these things are important. Poor David Letterman, that's the background. He's taking a back-lashing too. 10 reasons why you should listen. Here are the first five: Understanding perception and reputation. So today is a perfect example. What is the perception of me out there? The hashtag we were listening to the keynote speaker, not very positive. Schools might find that they are doing great things. Maybe their programs they think are stellar but then when they start to listen to the conversation, they're finding out maybe we need to have a little bit of improvement there.

Identify engagement strategies. So a lot of times clients come to me and they say, I want to be on Flickr and I want to be on YouTube and Facebook and Viewstream. And I ask them, are your students there? Do you have any photos? With Flickr, that's the best. I don’t have any photos or I have no videos. Well, you should be definitely be on YouTube or Flickr then. Identify based on where people are engaged, what space that you should be playing in.

Gather competitive intelligence. I'm going to show you tools to do this.  So the really cool thing is you could use these tools and see what people are saying about your competitors and then act on that. Be spies.

Website enhancements - I'm going to go into that further.

Tweak advertising initiatives. So you're seeing that a lot of people are talking about your community and your sense of community but you might be advertising something completely different. Think about if there's a volume with that conversation, maybe we should tweak our advertising to speak to the audience.

The tools that I'm going to show you, you're able to look at the key influencers. I call them your soldiers, your brand ambassadors. You're able to see who's talking about you the most, where are they talking, what does their audience look like. You never know, you might need to use these brand ambassadors when you're having the conversation out there, when you have a new program that you want to let other people know about.

Crisis management. So a school that we work with is doing serious parking things, parking issues and so they're trying to assess the backlash by using social media and engage with their students to try to give them the appropriate information.

Free focus group. Focus groups are expensive so why not use social media to harness that.

Influence the conversation. I'll go into that in more detail.

Build loyalty and presence.

So the tool belt. These are tools that I'm going to over today. Some of you might have used them. There are so many more out there, I know that, but these are tools that I use very often.

So first one is Yahoo Pipes. Has anybody heard of Yahoo Pipes? Cool, okay, a couple of folks. So basically, it aggregates different feeds into one big feed so you could look at images, video, blogs, Twitter. If there are different communities, college confidential and other communities that you want to track, you would be able to pull it into this feed.

I'm going to show you an example perhaps. So it's basically modules that have been set up and I could put in any keyword, the number of images I want to get back and I can run the pipe. Yes, ma'am?

Audience: We wondered if you had Google Reader up on your list.

Holly Maust: Yes, Google Reader. This goes into Google Reader. I'm sorry. It goes into Google Reader, so I can basically pull this keyword and number of images and I can pull it into if you see the little icon, it pulls it into my Google Reader. So then I create a folder within my Google Reader for the conversation and so this does do a search within Yahoo Pipes. It's

People have created all different types of pipes. You could search LinkedIn questions. So if somebody is asking a lot of times like, where should I get my MBA, that's kind of a broad question but people ask different things on there. You would be able to pull a feed from Yahoo Pipes and see those questions. So you might have a brand ambassador or soldier who should say be part of your army, you should check out our school, we have great offerings. You should check out my school. So a great little nugget, free source and fun to play around with.

TweetDeck. How many people use TweetDeck? So most folks. This is my TweetDeck. For the folks who don't use it, it's a desktop application and you are able to listen to the conversation based on keywords so you can set up crazy columns, you could follow people from this, you could re-tweet, you can email tweets, direct message tweets.

Carnegie Mellon who is a client of ours, they use this, and they basically any time somebody says I applied at Carnegie Mellon or I just got in to CMU, they will respond. So they'll say, hey, we were looking forward to seeing you this semester.

So different ways to engage. Not only just putting information out there about your events, news, what have you. Yes, ma'am?

Audience: Have you hatched it out of ways that's accepted?

Holly Maust: No, no. Yes, they respond in all different ways. CMU responds in all different ways. I don’t see a lot of schools doing what they do in terms of like congratulations for getting it and really taking the extra step in terms of the engagement. So they're kind of scouring their keywords. Carnegie Mellon does. Carnegie Mellon has about at this point I think four Twitter accounts because they have admissions, news, alumni. I feel like I'm missing more but they have quite a few. Pardon?

Audience: I did that in our high school.

Holly Maust: So I mean in terms of listening to conversation for Twitter, TweetDeck is a great tool, so listen and engage. And with TweetDeck you can also do multiple accounts. So it sounds like you have multiple accounts that you manage or you have your own. Watch out.

Audience: I have to give them some...

Holly Maust: Okay. So with TweetDeck, you could tweet using this one interface. It is a little scary.


Audience: The event suggested, I look for fiction and get to be the hero. If I see someone talk about a problem, I will often respond, "Can I be of help?" The opposite is also happening. If I can't solve something, we go back to that member. But you get to be the hero.

Holly Maust: Yes, sir?

Audience: Have you ever used...?

Holly Maust: Yes.

Audience: Curious that you're braving down searches.

Holly Maust: No. It's a good - it is.

Audience: Or just using iTunes...

Holly Maust: Yes, definitely. That's another tool to use, yes. There are all kinds of tweet grid. It seems like there's an app for everything.

Social Mention. Has anybody ever heard of this? My favorite. So everybody kind of mm-hmm. Do you guys use it? Social Mention is listening to the conversation. I put conversation because it's images, blogs, photos, message boards, comments, events and it aggregates it for you in real-time. Social Mention, it's a free tool. The cool thing with this, I went to Nazareth College so that's why I use this as an example.

You are able to see sentiment with this.  I caution the sentiment here because a lot of the times the negative is not negative. You can download this in Excel and kind of scour it. The negative is based on keywords so if I said I had a bad day today at school, at Nazareth, it would consider it negative where it might not be. It's just me personally having a bad day and nothing against the school. So you just have to be careful with the negative sentiment.

It also will show you top users so people that are talking about your school or competitor schools, so you could use that for your key influencers.

Keywords, so when you start to think about paperclip campaigns, SEO, different strategies, start to take a look at what people are having conversations about.

To the right of the presentation, you're able to, like I said, pull it down as an Excel format. You're also able to email it to yourself or pull it into an RSS feed.

So in terms of the value of this and what I found schools really get jazzed over is when you start to see message boards or comments. So for this example, there are students that are posting on message boards saying, I'm conflicted between two schools. I'm thinking about Nazareth and another school. Or what should I do about the application process? All kinds of questions, and they're so to speak right for the taking, and so you can either engage or if you have student ambassadors, have them engage.

Here's one. Help with college. I'm thinking about going to both RIT and Nazareth College. I didn't get the best ACT, SAT scores so I'm nervous about RIT. I'm thinking about going to Mississippi College for master in psych. Resolved question: does Nazareth College in Rochester, New York offer nursing courses? So I mean these are all these questions that are out there that people are asking that you can answer or have somebody, your student ambassadors answer.

Radian6. Anybody use Radian6? So Radian6 is a paid tool. It's a very cool interface. I'm just going to go into it real quick perhaps. So Radian6, you pay $500 per 10,000 mentions. So here's the dashboard that you got. I've already set it up, Nazareth to be a demo. I saw a tweet about live demos' don’t do and now I'm falling into that category and there'll probably be a tweet about it too. All right. But I'm listening. That's okay because I come prepared.

Okay. So Radian6, you put in keywords similar to Social Mention but it slices and dices it for you in a pretty fashion. So I again use Nazareth as an example. Going there, I know that there are some key programs so I wanted to see in terms of conversation which programs are getting the most. So I put nursing, music therapy, teaching, speech pathology and I was able to see that nursing is having the most conversation. But maybe my goal is if I'm Nazareth that I really want to promote speech pathology, I really need to move enrolment in speech pathology. Well now, I'm able to track using something like this to see okay, am I making the movement? Am I making the percentage go up with speech pathology?

I'm also able to see with nursing where people are engaged in. So on the right hand side, we see that it's forums and blogs, and I could click on the interface if my live demo was working and I could see what the exact conversation is, the live conversation. Through Radian6, I would be able to engage in that space. I'm able to see how many people commented if it's a blog. If it's a blog post, how many people commented, more information about the blogger. It's really cool little espionage kind of information.

So this isn't too exciting right here. This is one of the tools that they have. It's a cloud. But what you could use this for again is for search initiatives. If you're trying to find buzzwords about your school for advertising, you could use something like this. Basically, it's color-coded so Nazareth in College, big shocker, is the most keywords somebody is talking about then it's Cayuca and then it's Genisio, volleyball and then it's team schools, suni, set, storm. Then, the green one. A cloud is kind of like blah but you could use it to your advantage with your initiatives.

One of the other tools that it does is influencers. So it's going to give you your key influencers. It's going to show you how many comments they had on their blog post about you, how many people have linked to that post. So you're able to see, again, who are the people that are talking about me? Maybe it's in a bad light, right? Maybe it's somebody that's bashing you that you need to engage with.

Another cool tool that it has is media type trend. So say you have your social media plan and you are dabbling in Facebook, you have some photos on Flickr, you're on YouTube. You're able to see the conversation happening in that space. So this is a 30-minute a month capture of the conversation so you're able to see the most of the conversation is happening on micro media which is Twitter and then blogs and so on and so forth. So you're able to see what we're doing in terms of engagement, is it working?

Yes, sir?

Audience: How much is the most modest priced package?

Holly Maust: Yes, that is the most positive package. It is the most. Yes, it's $500.

Audience: So you work with...?

Holly Maust: Anytime you're like on a photo, if it's tagged with your school, that's a mention. YouTube tag, that's a mention. Anytime within the internet your name is on there, it's a mention, yes.

It could happen pretty quick, yes, per month. Yes. But then you could also let's just say there is a blog or that's a newspaper blog that you know is probably just giving you press, you would be able to negate that one so that wouldn't be part of your stream. So you can filter it if you don't want certain posts. Say, you have a blog, you could take that out of the mentions so that it wouldn't count that as your conversations. Yes, sir?

Audience: Does this differ in search tagging?

Holly Maust: Yes. So, this one is a little more engaging. There's actually like a work space behind it so I could assign and make comments within each conversation so I could assign it let's just say admissions. So you know what? You need to really follow up with this tweet or with this blog post and you could put comments behind it. Then, the graphics are a little jazzier than Social Mention. You're on your own, and then with this, you can add competitors so you could look at this is not a school, this is an example that Social Mention has. So you could see to the left is back pain so the conversation that's happening on back pain and then you're able to see on the right is motrin, Tylenol, Bayer. So you're able to track who's having the most conversations.

So let's just say the keyword is MBA and you put in your competitors. You're able to see who's having the most conversation about MBA. So it's kind of cool when you start to look at what are our competitors, how do we stack up so to speak against our competitors?

So all of these in terms of Radian6 they are downloadable as a JPG with our fancy pies and graphics. You could also download it as a CSV if you wanted to manipulate the data yourself or you could email it. Another thing is you could have the reports emailed to you everyday and emailed to other people if you wanted to.

The one thing I want to mention is I actually saw today that there are rumblings that Microsoft might buy Radian6 so I don't know what that means for Radian6. It's an awesome tool and it looks like Microsoft thinks it's awesome too. So we'll see what happens in the future weeks.

Number crunching measurement. I kind of divide it into three things and it's reputation, participation and visibility. This could mean something completely different for everybody. Your marketing goals maybe in terms of you want to be looked at as the number one school for nursing. So in terms of your efforts and what you're tracking, you're going to want to focus on that because it's going to get overwhelming. I mean social media is already overwhelming.  You have to kind of have to put focus on it in what you want to track.

The same thing with your social media goals. What are you trying to get at out of your social media? So we look at these three things.

So we look at in terms of reporting, and this is usually in some big Excel multi-tabbed spreadsheet influence. So who are the influencers? What are they saying? How big is their audience? How are they changing the perception? The sentiment, is it positive, is it negative? What's the trend behind that? Are we seeing that every month that you're getting more positive and hopefully you have like little to know negative contribution. So are people really excited about your school and they're posting on Flickr groups and they're putting or they're just posting on Flickr and YouTube, adding posts to your blog?

Special Twitter tracking, so re-tweets. There's a really cool tool called Twitter Analyzer and that actually will show you where your friends are coming or your followers, where they are geographically, what their makeup is by occupation. That is based on your profile. So if I say I'm a dreamer on my profile, that's what you're getting at. So it is based on the profile information and it gives you a breakout so there are 50% business professionals, 10% students, and what have you.

Content consumption, so how many people are looking at your YouTube, how many people are making comments on your Facebook page?

Site traffic metrics. That goes back to Google Analytics and really taking a look at setting up funnels for your social media and seeing how people are engaged when they're coming through from those social media channels. Link backs, RSS subscriptions, impressions, conversion rate. So if you are doing social media campaigns that you're able to look at your ROI. How well did I perform? I'm tweeting and I have a on requests to guide or looking for apply now information. So tracking those kinds of call to action.

Share the conversation. So similar to the graph that I was showing with Bayer. How do I stack up with the competition? Then conversation volume, so seeing how much volume is talking about my institution and pumpkin pie.

So listening is just part of the pie. It's just an important part and a lot of times people forget about it but it's important that you listen, you monitor and you discover what's happening out there and then you go back and engage which is what everybody does. It's the engagement part of all that.

That's it. Do you guys have any questions? Yes, ma'am?

Audience: Question about influence. When somebody says something negative about the school, the question is would you recommend going directly to the influencer. You would say, "Would you go answer that?" Or how directly do you suppose you influence this aspect of that.

Holly Maust: So somebody has tweeted a negative thing. Yes, I mean I would use your influencers wisely. Again, I would be very careful with negative feedback too. I know that a lot of schools are even looking at rules of engagement policies, social media policies to figure out if a student bashes somebody else, what should I do? If a student bashes a professor, what should I do? I think that would be the first thing. It's to kind of get your arms around what should we do in terms of rules of engagement.

Audience: How do you deal with misstatements?

Holly Maust: If it's a statement, I would just say, hey, just wanted to let you know that. I would say as an institution, hey, just wanted to let you know that this is the right information and send them to the landing page perhaps that the information is at.

Audience: Would you go and revert?

Holly Maust: No, not at all. If it was the wrong information, like say there's a stat for instance that is way off, you're ranked number five and they said you're ranked number 15 or something, you could say hey, I just want to let you know we're actually ranked number five and here's the information. Here's the landing page to the stats.

Audience: Is this how you approach the influencer?

Holly Maust: So how do you approach? Well, how you approach the influencer is you kind of scope them out with the listening and then you would ask them. Same as you have ambassadors for admissions, hey, we see that you're really passionate about our school. Would you mind kind of helping us champion, be the voice online? So the same as with admissions when you have the ambassadors that way. Yes, ma'am?

Audience: We have a couple of sponsors on the social media pages. And we organize the pages.

Holly Maust: Yes, it is.

Audience: Is there a tool to accomodate that?

Holly Maust: Yes. So that is intimidating, all those different things. Again, I'd go back to those are things like kind of throwing them up on the table or on the wall. But then go back to the slide before and it's like what's important to me? Because, those things like RSS, that might not be important to you. Figure out what are my goals and then kind of take that piece but no, it's an ugly, it's an Excel spreadsheet and it's not pretty and sometimes it takes awhile to do. Yes, ma'am?

Audience: If you want to head for those, do you get on your own by yourself and not directly for them.

Holly Maust: So administrator, I would show them, I'd almost make yourself a little dashboard. Make a dashboard that is almost like in a PowerPoint because we're talking about administrative.  You need pictures and blocks. So yes, I mean I would just put it in a dashboard and then I would do a couple of conversations like I was showing you where you're like, I'm deciding between this school and that school. When they start to see that the conversation that's out there that they're kind of missing, then all of a sudden they're like, hey, where do I sign up? But I would put it in some kind of dashboard where you're kind of looking at qualitative and quantitative information. Yes, ma'am?

Audience: Can you tell me if as many as 10,000 people get to see your college, watching your stuff and uploading online?

Holly Maust:I would tell you. I mean to go back to Carnegie Mellon and Tepper School of Business, they have their little army that is listening to the conversation and then they have another little army, little like one or two, that is engaging in the conversation.

Audience: Well, more and more universities are developing offices for recommendations, seemingly dedicated to one person. Like the White House, even.

Holly Maust: Yes. I mean we have clients that just ask us to do the monitoring and we send them a weekly dashboard and then they do the engagement. We give them the takeaways, the highlights. Yes, sir?

Audience: If you were to engage someone, would you use your terms in online or digital...?

Holly Maust: That's awesome. Anybody else? Yes, ma'am?

Audience: I do a lot for the school itself. And all I got from the college is more of the Ph.Ds How long does it, I doubt it's 30 minutes a week? How much time do you take in a month?

Holly Maust: So there's a client that's a higher ed client that I actually spend four hours a week devoted to them with listening. They're listening to competitors, to certain keywords and so it takes a little bit more time but I think a couple of minutes. Maybe really with Twitter, you should have your TweetDeck up all the time. But it seems kind of like half an hour a week to be honest with you. It seems kind of light. It seems like give me a little more time to devote to it. Yes. Yes, true.

Audience: Maybe after a while they'll notice that.

Holly Maust: Or you do a big dump. Yes, almost like you do a big dump and you actually filter what they need. You give them the information that they need, each department. No problem. I think we're wrapping up but you guys, if you have any more questions, please feel free to email me or tweet me. I thank you. Thank you for the conversation.