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Nearly three years ago I went to the Web Directions conference in Sydney. It’s a great conference by the way. My main take out from it was that mobile was where it was at and where it was going. It’s taken me nearly three years to really see this and one of the great uses of a web-based mobile device is location-based services with applications like Foursquare.

Foursquare is, ‘… all about helping you find new ways to explore the city. We’ll help you meet up with your friends and let you earn points and unlock badges for discovering new places, doing new things and meeting new people.’

Now, how can a University use FourSquare? I haven’t heard of any Australian universities using it yet but we seem to be a bit slower on the uptake of these things than our counterparts in the US. UNC Charlotte has been  using it to promote its campus. The main motivation is for them to connect with students and be there with them in new media anbd Foursquare is an ideal platform to interact with students. College students are pertty much known to not particip0ate in social media outside of Facebook but UNC Charlotte is hoping that Foursquare will be a natural extension for students from using Facebook on their mobile phone as it’s an ideal way to find out where their friends are. Read more about it from Jason Keath here.

Harvard University also started using Foursquare earlier in the year to help students explore their campus and surrounding places of interest.

I’m still to experiment more with Foursquare, but in the meantime, UniSA is on Foursquare.


Hootsuite tout de suite

I’m always eager to explore new tools (ie shortcuts) that will help me in my job. I wouldn’t be able to count the number of things I’ve signed up for on the web that I don’t use any more. However, Hootsuite is not one of those. I use it every day in my job to keep track of Twitter and Facebook for UniSA. Prior to using Hootsuite I was checking both platforms separately but now I don’t have to, and this is just one of the many useful features that Hootsuite provides.

Of course you can send status updates now or queue them to send later. It also allows you to crunch up those long URLs so you can fit more text in. A bit more about that shortly.

The other great thing is being able to see all things related to your Twitter feed in one place. There are four columns (you can add more) I’m using for our Twitter account. They are:

  1. Home feed (what we and our followers are tweeting)
  2. Mentions (where our @universitysa is used in replies, retweets etc)
  3. Tweets with search term ‘UniSA’ (this brings back a lot of unrelated stuff from University of South Africa and a shoe brand but is useful nonetheless. I’d previously subscribed to this via an RSS feed)
  4. Sent tweets (lets me instantly see what tweets/retweets we’ve sent )

Click on the image to view a larger one.

If you viewed the larger image above you’ll see there’s a tab called ‘Facebook Pages’. This is where I can see what’s happening on  our Facebook page and can post to it too.

I don’t know that this feature is as useful for Facebook as it is for Twitter only because many of the updates I post to our Facebook page are links to our website where we pull in a thumbnail from the website. For plain text, it would be absolutely fine though.

The other trouble I had was commenting on someone’s post as it encountered a problem, so I still have to visit Facebook itself.

Remember above I mentioned that Hootsuite allows you to shorten URLs to add to Tweets? This is useful for reducing the amount of characters but also useful if you want to use Hootsuite’s stats. If you use the normal URL stats are not collected. Of course you can check your website’s analytics to see number of referrals from Twitter but this breaks it down more so you can view overall stats or stats from particular tweets.

I’m currently only using Hootsuite for Twitter and Facebook but there are other social networks you can add also, ie LinkedIn, Ping.Fm, WordPress, MySpace and Foursquare (the latter three are in Beta).

One more thing I’ll mention is that you can invite team members to update your social networks. I haven’t done this at the moment as I’m the main person updating these accounts, especially Twitter, but if that ever changes I think it would be a very useful thing to use.

I’m sure I have only scraped the bottom of the barrel when it comes to Hootsuite functionality but as I use it more there could be room for another post.

Facebook Community page

UniSA Facebook Community Page

Facebook keeps on changing how and what it does, and no this is not about privacy. It recently launched Facebook Community pages. The Web Strategist says it’s, ‘… a feature that aggregates content from wikipedia and Facebook wall posts.  Think of it as a cross between Wikipedia with user comments –sometimes unwittingly.  These changes cause confusion for users, diminishing control for brands, and strains on the already torrid relationship between Facebook and brands.’

The article goes on to suggest some things for brands to do about their Facebook Community page because there is one whether you you create it or someone else does. Apparently Facebook created 6.5 million of them upon its launch. Here’s UniSA’s.

There’s an option to let Facebook know what your brand’s official Facebook page is and to offer help (for content?) when they open that option up. Currently these pages are not editable.

We share our shortened name (UniSA) with the University of South Africa so we’ll potentially get comments about them on our community page and vice versa. If they’re not complimentary then people might think that it’s us they’re talking about, and it might be, or it might be the other UniSA.

For now, we’ll continue to monitor our community page and community pages in general.

Five questions to answer before setting up a social media profile

We are now getting a steady number of requests to help UniSA staff setup social media profile, usually a Facebook page. Before we just jump in and provide them with information on how to do this we ask five questions:

  1. What is the purpose or the objective of the site?
  2. Who is the target audience and does the audience exist already or will you be starting from scratch?
  3. If you will be starting from scratch for an audience how to you plan to market the site?
  4. What type of content (copy, links, video, audio) will be added to the site and how often? 
  5. Have you got a maintenance plan, ie who will maintain the site by regularly adding content and responding to users?

This gives a good starting point for the requestors to think about what is required to maintain a social media profile because it’s easy to set one up, but requires a lot more effort to maintain.

We then offer for their content to be included on our central social media profiles, ie usually Facebook and Twitter. More often than not this is the option that people go for because they haven’t got the resources and the content to maintain their own Facebook page and get the fans.

Imagine that if all our divisions/schools/research centres setup their own Facebook profile, then the UniSA brand would be spread very thin across this platform. As it is our main Facebook page recently reached 5000 fans and is getting as many, if not more, posts from fans as it does from us. I’ll write more about what this means from a resourcing point of view another time.

Is social media a fad?

If you’re not convinced that social media is here to stay, watch this video and you may just change your mind.

Around the blogosphere

Below is a summary of a couple of articles you might find useful when thinking about social media in the higher education workplace.

Help Me Help You: Social Media Education. This post talks about some things to think about if you want to create a social networking presence for your school for example, and whether that’s the right path to go down. It’s not just a matter of setting up a Facebook page and waiting for things to happen. Firstly you need to listen to what’s being said about your school or event, then think about the content, integration with other marketing efforts and measurement as to whether it’s successful or not.

10 Ways Universities Share Information Using Social Media. A showcase of ten examples of universities using social media for PR, for example; showcasing student and faculty work, emergency notification, creating a dialogue and communicating to students etc.

Happy reading.

Lastly, the EduWeb conference is happening as I type in Chicago. There should be some interesting things coming out of it which I will endeavour to summarise here once the conference is over. Meanwhile you can follow it on Twitter.

Twitter – an opportunity

Steve Berlin Johnson presented a keynote at the recent MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum talking about how Twitter is a great tool for finding out what our/your customers are thinking and reading about, and leveraging that for your business. He also recently featured the cover story on Time magazine.

You can also see a short video on what his keynote was about.

If you’re not on Twitter already and want to find out for yourself what it’s all about I suggest you get yourself an account and start following people and/or organisations. If it all seems a bit overwhelming here’s a great article on where to start to find people on Twitter.

Facebook username for UniSA

On early Saturday afternoon (our time in South Australia) I got online and registered UniSA as a Facebook username. You may, or may not have, noticed that the Facebook URLs aren’t that friendly or easy to remember but Facebook changed that for pages/profiles over the weekend. Read more about it on Inside Facebook.

Now you can easily find the University of South Australia (UniSA for short) by typing into your web browser.

We were able to do this as we have over 1000 fans but for pages without this many fans, you can claim your username in two weeks time. Individuals, however, can also claim a pretty URL right now.

UniSA a YouTube Education Partner

As part of our exploration into the social media channels we came across YouTube Partners. UniSA already has a presence on YouTube but being a partner offers a bit more. The main thing that being a YouTube partner would give us was extra branding options for our UniSA channel and allow us to upload longer videos.

We went through the application process and were informed that we probably weren’t eligible but we applied anyway. A few days later we received an email informing us that we’d been accepted as a YouTube Education Partner, something we’d not heard of before. The reason we hadn’t heard of it was because it is only very new and they must have been building the list of Edu Partners before the whole thing was announced.

Now people interested in university and college content can visit the YouTube Edu website to see what’s been the most viewed, most subscribed, and also view a directory list of Education Partners. At the time of writing UniSA is not on this directory. I’m not sure why a university can’t be added when they’re accepted into the program as surely it doesn’t take that long to do. We were informed that the list only comprises universities and colleges within USA, but we have noticed others outside of this.

As an institution we can only apply once to be an Education Partner but if other areas within the University feel they need their own channel we can link to it from ours. View the University of New South Wales’s channel (they’re also a YouTube Education Partner) and note the links from their main channel to the Community and E-Learning channels.

The twouble with Twitter

Don’t worry, this isn’t turning into a Twitter blog but a colleague passed this clip onto me earlier and I thought I’d share. It’s a comic representation about what Twitter is.

As it’s easier to watch a video and understand concepts sometimes I’ve included a couple of other clips about Twitter also.

This one shows why people love it and why they use it.

Lastly, this one explains what it is and how it can be used for business. It’s an hour long video though.