Tag Archive for social media

Humor + Content Strategy on Facebook Posts

Why did the social media manager cross the road? To engage followers with compelling content that drives conversions and creates brand awareness among key influencers.

OK, not funny.

But since late August, I’ve been trying an experiment on the University of Rochester Facebook page that hopefully does bring the funny. The Geek Joke of the Week is an attempt to share a bit of re-shareable humor, while also reinforcing one of the key aspects of our school’s reputation — its brand, if you will.

Facebook post reads Geek Joke of the Week for computer science majors: a foo walks into a bar and says Hello World

We are a geek school. There is no denying it, there is no hiding it, there is no shame in it. We have a Quidditch team. Our top three majors are biology, biomedical engineering, and brain and cognitive sciences. More than a quarter of our students graduate with double majors and even triple majors. Meeting a double major in microbiology and Russian who’s also an all-star on the field hockey and lacrosse teams is not usual. Her name is Amanda.

Facebook post reads Your Geek Joke of the Week for music and math double majors. I'm starting a new band called the Exponents but we still need a base.

The Geek Joke of the Week is an attempt to do a few things: (1) use the emotional immediacy of humor to (2) introduce or reinforce something real and meaningful about us while (3) having fun on a fun platform. Tim Nekritz recently wrote about the importance of thinking through what it is your school represents and thinking about how to represent THAT in even simple posts about the weather. Couldn’t agree more. It’s why we celebrate May the Fourth Be With You on our page but not, say, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Conversely, I’m betting the folks at Chips Ahoy celebrate the heck out of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day but Star Wars Day, not so much.

Facebook post with a photo of bananas and text that reads Your Geek Joke of the Week for biology majors. Wanna hear a potassium joke? K.So how have these posts fared so far? So far, so good. The Geek Joke of the Week posts have tended to reach around half of our fans, and have garnered better-than-average likes, comments, and shares (with the caveat that I am getting increasingly frustrated by and skeptical of the analytics Facebook provides). Interestingly, the one post I posted as a photo — the bananas over there on the left — saw far less reach than the other text posts: 6,800 compared to 10,000-12,000 for the others. Why? Who the heck knows. <shakes fist at Facebook!>

The most liked, commented on, and shared of these jokes has been the one at the end of this post devoted to English majors, proving that not all geeks are science geeks. We have geeks of many stripes here, and crucially the jokes are about celebrating that geekiness. They come from a place of love, of insider knowledge and community, not a place of meanness or cruelty.

So I think I’m gonna keep this up, but the next step needs to be asking people to send in their own jokes. I’m having a heck of a time coming up with jokes about political science or economics.

Facebook post reads: Geek Joke of the Week for English majors. Past, PResent, and Future walked into a bar. It was tense.


A Meeting of the Mindsets: Real Students vs. The Beloit Mindset List

Inspired by a 2009 blog post from SUNY Oswego’s Tim Nekritz and the hilarious #fakebeloitmindlist Twitter hashtag initiated by same.

Just in time for back-to-school, the annual Beloit College Mindset List was published on Tuesday, providing quick-and-dirty insights into the minds of today’s college-bound 18-year-olds. For instance, did you know that the Class of 2016 is younger than you? Shocking, I know.

To me this list has always been a weird combination of sure-it’s-true-but-what-the-heck-does-it-have-to-do-with-anything facts (“There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.”) and whose-ass-did-they-pull-that-out-of overgeneralizations (“They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of ‘electronic narcotics.’”) As a fun, informal glimpse into the world of people born in 1994, the list is mostly harmless I suppose. However, if you do a Google News search for Beloit Mindset List, you’ll find more than 600 media references to the list as an arbiter of freshman knowledge and tastes, with everyone from the Christian Science Monitor to eCampus.com getting in on the act. (The infographic from eCampus.com is particularly … infographical. In that it contains both information and graphics.)

This year, the authors of the Mindset List even offered a webinar to help struggling old fogeys “understand the mindset of today’s modern student.” Well as luck would have it, on the same day the list was published, I had another opportunity to understand today’s students: I attended a meet-and-greet reception for our new EcoReps students at the University of Rochester. These are the incoming freshman who work with their fellow classmates on issues of environmental sustainability in the dorms. And I discovered something fascinating: these students are people. We can talk to them. And if you work on a college campus, they are everywhere. I’m telling you, this place is lousy with them.

So what did I learn from my conversation with about 10 actual students? Here are a few insights, provided in a convenient and popular list format:

  1. They all say they hate Facebook, but that they still use it. Primarily for groups. (Hey, look! Something I have in common with the youth of today!)
  2. Most of them admitted to lurking rather than actively participating in their “Class of” Facebook group because occasionally someone will ask a good question. But “it’s always the same people posting all the time,” was an agreed-upon complaint.
  3. Only one of them was on Twitter. She was also on Instagram, and said these two have basically replaced Facebook for her as the way she communicates with her social circle. The students who weren’t on Twitter seemed to agree that the reason they weren’t was because they didn’t really have any idea what they would say on Twitter.
  4. They all agreed that they wished they got more information about their fall courses online earlier. “I wish the syllabus was available already; I just want to get started!” got enthusiastic nods.
What does any of this say about the mindset of a generation? Nothing. I just love the opportunities I get to talk to our students. I have to seek those opportunities out more proactively in my job as a Web developer and editor in a central communications office, but I am always impressed and happy when I do. And you won’t get that from no list.

8 Sources of Inspiration for the New Facebook Timeline

The new Facebook “Timeline” layout for Pages rolls out for everyone — like it or not– on March 30, eight days from now. Are you ready to go? Here are eight ideas and sources of inspiration to get you thinking.

1.) Choose a cool cover image. The most visually striking feature of Timeline is the new cover image at the top of the page. This image is an opportunity to show visitors to the page something unique and gorgeous about you. When choosing this image I think it is especially important to think of new visitors who have not yet liked your page and do not yet potentially get your updates through their News Feeds. Karine Joly at collegewebeditor.com compiled a list of some example cover images from early adopters in higher ed.

For inspiration outside higher ed, I look no further than Cupcakes by Heather & Lori. Of course, the subject matter works in their favor. You can’t go too far wrong with cupcakes! But I love the idea of seasonality here, with their Easter cupcakes on display. Shows the potential fan what is interesting now.

screenshot of cupcakes Facebook page

This idea could definitely work in higher ed, around the academic calendar, around sports seasons, etc. Even the standard quad building beauty shot could benefit from a sense of season.

2.) Let your students provide your cool cover image. As much as I love our professional photographers, I think the cover image provides a new opportunity to showcase user-generated content.

screenshot of University of Rochester Facebook cover image with libraryAt the University of Rochester, we’ve been running a homepage feature for about three-and-a-half years called Photo Friday. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni (even the occasional parent) submit photos and we choose the best to run as the large homepage photos every Friday. Visitors to the site vote on their favorites over the weekend, and on Monday we announce the favorite. We always post both the homepage gallery and each week’s winner to the FB page, so why not make the winner the cover image for the remainder of the week?

3.) Provide your fans with their own school-themed cover images. I love this idea from Arizona State. They provided ASU-themed cover images for their Sun Devil-crazed alumni and students, all sized up and ready to be used by their fans on their own profile pages. Such a great way to allow your fans to show off their school pride to their Facebook friends.

BTW — the cover image dimensions are 851px by 315px. You can upload a larger photo than that and Facebook will allow you to slide it around to position it as you like.

4.) Use custom cover images for your apps. Facebook tabs are a thing of the past in the new Timeline. They’ve kinda been a thing of the past for awhile though, relegated as they were to links along the left side as opposed to the true tab interface.

I never used a default landing tab other than the Wall, so I’m not very familiar with how those used to work. But in the new Timeline, tabs have a new life as apps. And each app has its own thumbnail image. There are default images (and labels) provided by Facebook, but you can change these images to align with your graphic identity or to just stand out more. This video describes how to manage and edit apps custom settings. 

screenshot showing CBS news logo in place of Fast Facts icon on FacebookBe warned: there seems to be some kind of bug in apps/tabs made with FBML. On the UofR page, for example, it keeps replacing the custom image I added to our Fast Facts page with the logo from CBS News. Also, at their developer’s conference in 2011, Facebook announced that FBML would no longer be supported starting on Jan. 1, 2012, and that FBML tabs and applications would cease to function on June 1, 2012. So something else to worry about, then.

5.) Link to your livestreamed events from your Facebook page. Cornell’s Alumni page includes a link to the Livestream.com Facebook app in its line of Facebook apps, which I think is awesome. It allows users to watch a livestreamed event while logged into Facebook — right on the school’s Facebook page — and invite their Facebook friends to join the livestream. This feels like a great way to allow for word-of-mouth communication about your live online events.

6.) Use milestones to stitch together a narrative. The new milestones feature allows you to go back in time and create Facebook posts from your school’s past. Honestly, I don’t know how much time someone who is already a fan of your page would spend clicking back through decades of milestone posts. But if you stay focused on a particular narrative and get a little creative, you can have some fun with these. For example, LSU uses milestones to track the history of their many tiger mascots, going back to “Mike I” in 1936. A fan page for a specific sports team could post a milestone with the records/stats from every season, creating a kind of almanac within Facebook and making their page a real informational resource for fans.

7.) Highlight posts to showcase great art or fans’ posts. The left-right/back-and-forth layout of the Facebook Timeline takes a little getting used to, but the Highlight feature I think makes it worthwhile. When you highlight a post, it breaks free of its left or right side of the page and spans the whole page, giving a really great photo a chance to shine.

One thing I have not gotten the hang of yet though is the fact that fans’ posts to the Wall are relegated to this “Post by Others” ghetto off to the right. I’ve already missed two questions posted there by parents of admitted students, finally replying days later. Not cool. You can highlight Posts by Others, but they are still stuck over their in their box. In the past when people would post questions to the Wall, I would sometimes re-post them so that fans would potentially see them in their News Feeds and weigh in. It will take some getting used to, but the new layout right now makes it harder for this admin to keep on top of these.

8.) Pin a post to the top of your page during important points in the academic year. Timeline allows you to “pin” a post to the top, so it doesn’t get pushed down when new items are posted. I think this concept works particularly well with higher ed’s academic calendar. Sending out your early decision letters and expecting a potential flood of new fans or visits to your page? Why not pin a “Welcome, admitted students!” post to the top of your page that week, with a link to the “Class of” group. Moving-in day coming up? Pin a post linking to a check-off list of last-minute things students should bring, accompanied by a fun video of current students showing how to pack.

Well, that’s all I got! Have you run into any other inspiring Timeline ideas, or are you working on any yourself? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments.



Does Facebook = Knowledge Creation?

If libraries provide computer stations for their members, and all that most members use them for is to check Facebook, are we really “facilitating knowledge creation?”

What if what our community wants is a place where they can participate in social media? What if they want to update their Facebook status and friend their childhood sweethearts and play Farmville just like everyone else? If the library creates this space for them, is this knowledge creation? Or has the library just become a free computer lab? Or is the latter the beginning of the former?

It can be if you insert the one thing that makes a library a library, and that’s a librarian. If that librarian creates guides about the different social networking sites out there; or teaches workshops on how to present and protect your social identity, or how to use social networking to look for a job; or hosts a social networking “petting zoo,” to demonstrate the latest social tool on the block, then he or she is facilitating knowledge creation in their community.


Three Haisku: Cooks Source

So apparently the editor of Cooks Source, a New England regional — and until yesterday obscure — cooking magazine, thinks that “the Internet is public domain” and that writers should be thrilled to have their work lifted wholesale and without permission or compensation. This led to a very entertaining day on the Twitters yesterday, as writers and bloggers pounced and the social channels exploded — if only briefly.

Read the backstory and some analysis from Robin2go.

Anger a writer?
If a writer’s in the right,
A writer will write.

What was that you said?
“The Web is public domain?”
Oh, hell to the no.

Cooks Source to #crooksource
All in less than twelve hours?
Respect the hashtag.


An Experiment in Being Human: Logo Tweets Must Die!

BeforeTo paraphrase Jon Stewart, “be an eff-ing person!”

He said it in relation to the GM executives who were closing decades-old car dealerships via form letter. But it really stuck with me and has become a kind of life mantra. If you’re unsure of what to say or how to react in a situation, just be an eff-ing person! Happily, this mantra also applies nicely to the world of social media, Twitter specifically. It is — after all — PEOPLE who are social, and it is — after all — PEOPLE who are writing and responding to all these tweets.

I’ve always understood what it meant for ME to be on Twitter, but after nearly two years of tweeting as the University of Rochester, I’ve never really had a firm grip on what it meant for the UNIVERSITY as an institution to tweet.

At first, I kinda liked the sense of anonymity. I mean, who am I to speak for the University anyway? And yet, here I was, speaking for the University in this admittedly limited way. Why should I pretend otherwise?

Twitter After
So I’m trying a bit of an experiment starting today: I’m pulling back the curtain behind the institutional Twitter account and being open about the fact that, yes — this is me. I’m just a woman who works in Wallis Hall and I am your “head twit.” As such, I’ll do my best to pass along interesting stories and useful information about the university, and to help you out whenever I can.

So no more logo! Starting today, the face of the @UofR twitter account will be this old mug (or my glasses at least. They loom large in my legend.) I’m thinking that over time — as new folks take on Twitter duties during events like our reunion weekend, for example — we’ll update the profile pic accordingly.

Ya know, just like a person would.


Thumbs Down to Facebook Dislike Button

On Tuesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted an open letter describing some upcoming changes to Facebook.

The changes involve updated privacy settings and the discontinuation of regional networks (read the open letter here). But judging by the comments, it’s not privacy settings that most users care about.

What the users really want is a dislike button.

This past February Facebook unveiled its “Like” button, which allows friends to give each others’ status updates, Wall comments, photos, etc. a big thumbs up. There is no corresponding thumbs down button. And it seems Facebook users don’t like that one bit.

Here are some typical comments:

please dude make a “dislike” button! everyone wants it!

BUTTTT………Dislike button pleasssee mark!!!

a fail button!

dislike button- hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dislike button!!! thatd definitelyyyyy be awesomeeeeeee!!!

(By the way, the second most commonly requested feature based on these comments? Customizable background graphics/wallpaper and music. MySpace, in other words.)

I vote thumbs down on the dislike button. Its proponents say they need the ability to say that something sucks. And I know we can all learn positive lessons from negative feedback. But I feel like there are already many, many venues to express our dislike of something. Facebook is supposed to be about sharing and connecting, or asking questions.

We’ve certainly had legitimate criticism and negative comments posted to our university’s Facebook page — and that’s totally fine and appropriate. But imagining how a dislike button would affect higher education pages is a bit depressing. What would happen if I posted, say, the upcoming Glee Club concert (sorry, Glee is on) and it’s met with a fistful of downward facing thumbs? Total bummer, man. A dislike button would make it that much easier to toss off a thoughtless, hurtful diss and could turn a community of “fans” into a much sadder place to be.

So no dislike button for me. And no wallpaper while you’re at it, please. I dislike wallpaper.


Blogs in the Age of Twitter

What happens to a blog when its creator moves on down the road to Twitter?

In a time of such interesting and important issues — energy policy, overseas reform movements, Project Runway leaving Bravo for Lifetime — this is hardly the most earth-shattering of questions. But as the increasingly scattershot nature of my blog updates suggests, it’s a question I’m still trying to figure out.

When I started Goddess of Clarity five years ago, it was the only manifestation of my “online presence” (and I couldn’t even tell ya what the hell an “online presence” was). Now, in addition to the blog, I have a Twitter account and a Facebook profile. I’m on Flickr, LinkedIn, and Ning. Even “old school” sites like Amazon, eBay, and Netflix have personal or “social” layers that encourage some form of community or communication among their users.

So where does the blog fit it?

If there is a continuum of the purely personal to the purely professional, I have always thought of Goddess of Clarity as purely personal. I made a decision when I started the blog to not write about work-related topics. I think that’s gotta change, and it’s been my use of Twitter that has led me to change my mind.

If we used to say that “the personal is political,” I think we can now say that “the personal is professional” (I first read that on Twitter, of course, but I can’t remember who said it.) In my professional life as the Web editor for the University of Rochester, it’s a good thing to inject a healthy dose of my personality into what I do every day and how I think and talk about what I do with others. That’s what Twitter has taught me, and it’s led me to re-think what I write about here on Goddess of Clarity.

So taking the social media “big three” — Twitter, Facebook, and blogs — here is my new breakdown of the role each plays in my “online presence”:

Twitter (@LoriPA) — mostly professional, with a healthy dose of the personal

Facebook (www.facebook.com/lori.packer) – mostly personal; goofy stuff that would never clutter up my Twitter stream

Goddess of Clarity — the sweet spot in between; my take on events in my personal life, popular culture, and politics; but also professional issues in higher education, Web development, etc.

Of course, the number of people who care about this can be counted on the fingers of one clumsy shop teacher’s hand. But as I wrote in my first-ever blog post:

I’ve created this blog for myself really, as a way of making some sense of the jumble of thoughts that passes as my brain. I may already be overreaching.

By adding some of the professional into what has been purely personal, I hope maybe that Goddess of Clarity can be a little less of a purely navel-gazing exercise and little more of a contribution — however small — to an ongoing conversation.

And don’t worry: I’ll still watch the Oscars so you don’t have to.