Archive for ‘Education’

January 17, 2012

Give me wi-fi or I ain’t coming: 60% of college students demand free wi-fi from their schools [Infographic]

With a freshly-minted semester just underway at thousands of post-secondary institutions around the world, www.onlinecolleges.net takes a look at technology usage and the expectations of students walking the hallways of higher-learning this year.  There’s a lot of information in the infographic below, so grab a coffee and settle in for a few minutes. Here are a few things that caught my eye:

Wi-fi internet access is critically important. And so it should be…Here are the numbers:

  • 90% of students feel that wi-fi is as essential to an education as a classroom or a computer
  • 75% of college students say that wi-fi access on college campus helps them get better grades
  • 60% of students would NOT attend an institution unless it had free wi-fi.

The availability of free wi-fi is more often becoming the expectation, not the exception.  I’m always on the prowl for free wi-fi, whether it’s college or university campuses, private businesses who offer a free guest connection, coffee shops, pubs, etc. I consider if a restaurant has free wi-fi when I’m contemplating places to dine. I’ve even emailed to ask about wi-fi so I can blog, watch the game, and perhaps enjoy some hot wings.

In the not-so-distant future, we will see more emphasis on college campus wi-fi performance speeds and up-time. Nothing frustrates me more than when I get an email advising of an “unplanned outage on campus”. Unplanned outages are major inconveniences for college students and faculty, and these outages are a cost of billions of dollars in lost revenue in the private sector, so it should be taken seriously.

Google and Wikipedia are essential sites. 47% of students named Google or Wikipedia as their “one site they can’t do without.” That makes sense. What I find more interesting is that only 8% of students listed Blackboard as their top site. Blackboard is a learning management system that allows professors and students to connect online.  The challenge with Blackboard is that it is only as good as the professor can make it. Sure, a few can really make the tool shine, but I would wager that most students would describe their blackboard experience as a place to view grades and look at old PowerPoints posted by the professor.

Most students don’t want to connect with their professors on social media, but it’s a close split three ways. 39% of students felt that it was not appropriate to friend their instructor, 31% thought it was OK, and 30% didn’t seem to care either way. I imagine that students are choosing to mitigate the risk of sharing their online image with their professor rather than displaying a genuine disinterest in their professor’s content. Perhaps a subscription would work better  in this case.  In the next study, I would be  interested to know how many professors want to connect with their students via social media. That figure may be even more telling.

Technology Use on the College campus
Via: Online Colleges Guide

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November 16, 2011

6 Tricks for providing great customer service through social media

SocialMediaCustomerServiceSocial media networks are rapidly becoming the go-to place for customer service complaints to be aired and resolved.  People turn to social media because it often provides a more direct connection with an employee from the offending company, not just a conversation with a telephone-answering robot.

Recently, I received some bad customer service. Instead of calling the company and arguing with the sales representative who was rude to me, I turned to social media to see what the company’s reaction would be.

As a community manager, I know what it’s like to receive complaints from dissatisfied customers through social media. It’s important to approach each complaint with a level head and respect for the dissatisfied customer. It is the community manager’s job to have the issue resolved with a win-win outcome. Here’s my list of tips to consider when delivering customer service through social media.

1. Find the complaints and problems

You don’t know what you don’t know. Step one to solving any problem is identifying it. To do this, start by setting up Google Alerts for your organization and it’s products. Each time your organization is mentioned online, Google Alerts will send you an email with a link to the sites containing your keywords so you don’t have to be out there looking for every mention. Next, set-up your social media management tool (TweetDeck, Seesmic, Hootsuite, Sysomos, Radian6, etc.) to alert you (through push-alerts) of every tweet, facebook post, youtube video, blog post, etc. Now you can see the questions, comments, and complaints shared using social media as they happen and you are poised to react.

2. Response time is key

Be fast to acknowledge the complaint and assure the customer you are looking into it. This will often help extinguish the fire before it begins. Continue to converse with the customer by being open, accountable, and focusing on the solution. The last thing an angry customer wants is excuses.

3. Keep a friendly tone

The internet is often a sarcastic place, but when providing customer service remain friendly and sincere. Customers want to be taken seriously and have their concerns addressed. If they don’t get the validation they want from the company, they’ll continue to spread their negative message online. If you are looking for tips on responding to negative comments, check out these tips from the US Air Force.

4. Find the learning moment

Start by focusing on the facts. Reach out to the customer and find out as much as you can about the situation, why they are upset, and what you can do to resolve the matter. Constructive criticism is often masked by angry complaints from customers who truly love your business. These complaints are actually a great opportunity to learn from what they have to say. I have been in this exact situation as a community manager for Algonquin College. In one instance, a student who held the college in such high regard was shocked when he was treated disrespectfully by an employee. He expressed his displeasure on Twitter. I saw his tweet, reached out to him, and we eventually sat down for a coffee to chat it out. Fast-forward to today, and he continues to be one of the College’s biggest supporters (on and offline).

5. Solve the problem and give a reason for the customer to stay with your company

After you have resolved the initial problem, now it’s time to turn that customer into a brand advocate. By giving the formerly angry customer an incentive, you may be able to earn their return business and recommendation. The reward could be a discount, free service or product, behind the scenes access to your company, a meeting with a company leader, etc. Getting free stuff always works for me. On the flip-side, if customer service is a large part of your brand promise, you may want to consider an internal rewards program for employees who deliver the best customer service.

6. Amplify the praise

Most customers are appreciative of the work done by the social media community manager to resolve the situation. These satisfied customers often share their thanks online as well. Now you have a great opportunity to further amplify their endorsement; don’t just say “you’re welcome” be sure to retweet (or reshare) the message of praise with your own audience/community.

I expect to receive adequate customer service when I am doing business with a company. When the customer service is bad, I complain using social media; if the service is great, I share using social media as well- it goes both ways.

October 26, 2011

MOvember social media strategy from CKDJ 107.9 [Video + Interview]

The idea for this post first struck me when I saw this YouTube video:

Pretty great, right? As you can see, CKDJ 107.9 Ottawa’s New Music (a station run by Algonquin College’s Radio Broadcasting students) is once again joining the Movember campaign to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues. Their hook? Get Canada’s Prime Minister to grow a mustache and be a “MoBro”.

After watching CKDJ’s campaign unfold over a few days, I noticed that it relied heavily on social media to get the word out. Given that this is a student group whose primary focus is NOT marketing or communications, I thought the campaign was being handled quite well.

I wanted to talk strategy, so I tracked down the man in the video (@RyanPaulGibson) for a quick discussion. We had a great conversation, and I was rather impressed by the thought and effort that went into this campaign. Here are a few of the highlights from our conversation.

Q1. Before we talk about your strategy, what are your goals?

First of all it’s about raising awareness for a good cause. My family has been impacted by prostate cancer, and it’s something that is not talked about enough. If we can raise a little money along the way, all the better.

Q2. What metrics determine your success?

We want:

Even if we don’t get the Prime Minister to grow a mo, we would have still raised awareness by creating content that engages our audience.

Q3. Did you really create a social media strategy, or is this stuff just common sense for CKDJ?

Absolutely we created a social media strategy. If I just posted the video on YouTube, I don’t think it would have done much. It would have gotten lost within the thousands of hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every second. If we didn’t use social media to promote it, it would not have been picked up by mainstream media, and the dominoes wouldn’t have fallen into place. If you want to get your message heard, you need to find a way to get it out there to the people who will get it on another channel.  Sometimes you just have to light the fire a little bit.

Q4. Boil down your strategy and tactical approach for me

Well, step one was make the video, and then promote it on Twitter. I tweeted (and emailed) 40-50 news organizations and around 100 journalists that I follow or knew existed. I also tweeted key cultural figures, such as George Stroumboulopoulos (@Strombo), Alan Cross (@AlanCross), or Algonquin College graduate Tom Green (@TomGreenLive), in hopes that they would retweet the message and share the video. I even sent our news release to some press secretaries on Parliament Hill.

Within our Twitter strategy, we created a hashtag (#MoHarper), and added the hashtag for #Movember. Then we made sure that every single tweet was sent with our station’s handle (@CKDJ1079) and the @MovemberCanada handle so that everything we did was noticed by Movember Canada. Next thing I knew, the phone rang and it was one of the head organizers of Movember Canada calling me from Toronto. He thanked me for being involved and gave us the heads-up on some things that they were doing this week to help build momentum. But if I didn’t use social media to reach out in the first place, the video would have just sat on YouTube with a couple dozen views.

Ryan Gibson and his 2010 "Mo"

Ryan Gibson and his 2010 "Mo"

We’ve also created a Facebook page where we share our events, media coverage, and news about the campaign. It’s turning out to be a great place to connect with our audience.

Once I had the social media structure and protocols established to manage our brand, I then looked to other students in the program to leverage their social networks and share our message about Movember beyond just the social media properties owned by CKDJ.

Q5. Did you look at social media and traditional media as separate, or complementary?

This is the first time I’ve tried anything like this; I’ve never even run a campaign before. At first I saw them as separate, but as I started to implement the plan, I saw for the first time how those properties overlap.

Q6. Tell me about the YouTube video

It stemmed from the professors here at Algonquin College telling us that the skill-sets needed to succeed in a career in media require expertise in a variety of sectors including video, audio, writing, social, and web. With that in mind, this was done very quickly, very guerrilla, and very unsophisticated. It was shot in one take with big signs and fake mustaches. We wanted to keep it simple and include a call to action to sign our petition and visit our Facebook page. Ninety seconds is all the time you have to deliver your message online; a video any longer than that often drags.

Q7. How can people can get involved?

It’s easy:

There you have it, a quick behind-the-scenes look at how some Canadian students are leveraging social media to raise money and awareness on men’s health.  During our conversation, Ryan and I touched on a number of best practices, but his understanding of where social media fits in an organization was spot on. Social media strategies are not something you create for campaigns; they should be created and integrated into your everyday business operations.  Using social media needs to be baked into everything your business does.

Are you a “MoBro” or “MoSista”? Let us know if/how you are getting involved in Movember this year.

September 6, 2011

Social media can be your key to better grades this year [Infographic]

Today is the unofficial end of summer in Canada, and many places around the world, as students from kindergarden to post-secondary return to school for another year of study. Social media is often demonized as a classroom (and workplace) distraction that negatively affects students. Early research from the Whittmore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire shows that this isn’t the case at all. It turns out that social media doesn’t mean lower grades; it actually helps create the environment that encourages discussion and knowledge transfer, ultimately resulting in higher grades for students who engage in social media the most.

This research has been captured in the infographic below, thanks to mastersineducation.org, and a few things really jumped out at me when I first saw it:

1. Better grades: It is interesting to note that this research suggests that better grades aren’t simply tied to whether you use social media or not, but it found that the more hours a student spends using social media the more likely it would be that they had higher grades.

2. Increase of peer-to-peer learning: When teachers integrate social media in the classroom, this research shows learning through discussion increases and students achieve higher grades. Often, this can be as simple as a Facebook page where students can discuss course content and assignments, Twitter accounts to send students reminders, or even YouTube videos of past lectures.

3. Use for education: After social media’s social and entertainment value, this research indicates that the third most common thing students use social media for is education.

Have your grades changed since you began using social media?

July 25, 2011

The Awesomeness and Oddities at the Social Capital Conference

With great anticipation, the first annual Social Capital Conference was held in Ottawa last weekend. The sold-out event gathered 150+ of the region’s top thinkers, social networking professionals, and most enthusiastic social media beginners to discuss issues divided into three streams: fundamental, advanced, and business. I spent all day in the business stream, but I also heard great things from each of the other sessions.

Now onto some of the awesomeness. It truly was a successful event. A great crowd, great conversations, some interesting speakers. The part of the day I enjoyed the most was the 90-minute session of organized-chaos where attendees were encouraged to roam freely between about a dozen facilitated conversations about podcasting, SEO, social coupons, risk management, WordPress, Twitter, community management, and so on.

Best takeaways. First, my conversation with Vivian Cheng, Owner of Blend Creations. She was discussing how she uses social media for her business, and her experience with community buying services (or social coupons). The plan is to interview her for a later post on community buying from a (small) business perspective.

Second was a conversation with @Kmarketing, facilitated by @benkmyers, about SEO. It was less of a conversation, and more of me asking a few questions and trying to absorb all the details and knowledge spilling out. If you want to chat about SEO and analytics, talk to these guys.

Now the Oddities. Before I get into this, I want to be clear that I’m pointing out the challenges in the interest of improving an already great event for next year, not to be insulting. A few logistical snags were the only thing holding this back from being the one of the best conferences I have been to: long lunch lines, running out of food, not enough conference “gift bags.” For some people lunch consisted of a half of an egg salad sandwich and a diet coke; not the best value for a $75 ticket.

This was all minor stuff that the content of the conference helped you forget about, but the one thing that was really a pain point was the lack of WiFi service. Yup, that’s right, it was a social media conference, in the Nation’s Capital, and there was no Wifi. It was so important to the function and optics of the event. I even asked about WiFi service the week before the event, and I was assured it would be there…and it wasn’t – #fail. Also, no tweet wall was used to help people keep track of the conversations: that’s another easy one to fix for next year too –visible tweets is a good option.

Overall, it was a solid conference, and I hope they do it again in 2012, if not sooner. It’s always great to designate at least one day a year to meet some of your “online friends” IRL.

June 21, 2011

The Social Media Yearbook – If social media was a school, how would each social network fit in?

I came across this fun little infographic from FlowTown a few months ago, and I decided to hold on to it until we were in the full-swing of convocation season at colleges, universities, and high-schools around the country. Since today marks the first of five graduation ceremonies at Algonquin College (my alma mater and current employer), I thought it would be the perfect time to share.

So, if social media was a school, how would each social network fit in? Who’s the AV nerd? Who’s the hip art kid? Who’s the over-achieving class president?  Who’s the dumb jock? Take a look below and see what the Class of 2011 has in store…

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