Category Archives: Social Media & Technology

What’s Your Story? Using Text-Based Video Marketing (guest post by Amanda Greenhoe of Calvin College)

Recently, my team set out to tailor a marketing piece to a primary audience (donors), while still engaging other facets of our school’s constituents. To do this, we told a story that touches them all.

Great things are happening where I work, at Calvin College. It’s a 4,000-student, Christian liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And whether or not you have heard of it, students here are being prepared to serve around the corner and across the globe. Our grads are humble, not timid. They’re principled, not closed-minded. They’re deep thinkers, not surface skimmers.

That’s why our donors give. So, in order to tell them the story of Calvin’s 2011–12 academic and fiscal year, we needed to tell the story of our students. But while our recently-released year-in-review video is first and foremost a gift of gratitude to our supporters, it reaches beyond its primary audience.

After watching the video, students feel privileged to be here. Prospective students want to check this place out. Emeriti, faculty and staff are reminded of their impact. Parents are reminded of the school’s value. The public takes notice. And it’s all because we told a story.

Now, not all storytelling is a home run. This video was effectively distributed to donors via a thank-you email and mail piece that directed them to view the video online. It also gave a voice to many areas of the college, which fostered institutional buy-in.

Let’s not forget that this video is also successful because of its format. It combines engaging text and well done typography with fun, high-quality animation, which makes it watchable and shareable (and re-watchable and re-shareable!) While text-based videos do not offer the immediate visual connection that a photo of a student can bring, these types of videos will not be rendered outdated due to graduated students or updated buildings. Text-based videos bring a visual variety in a marketing field filled with videos of talking heads and those that rely too heavily on voice-overs.

The freelancer we worked with used Adobe After Effects to animate our script. If you are considering using a text-based video, I recommend writing your script in-house and relying on the animator for graphics and music. By writing the script in-house, we saved valuable resources. In terms of writing style, the script is short and to the point, which is key for this type of video.

For these reasons, members of the Calvin community are sharing this video via social media, and thereby spreading the word about the ways Calvin is inspiring students to live fully and faithfully.

Is it time for your school to do some storytelling? Know your story, know your audiences, and tell your narrative well.

How are you sharing your institution’s story and encouraging your students to contribute? Please share your comments below. All who comment will be entered into a raffle to win a Calvin College t-shirt and a copy of the book Okay for Now by Calvin professor Gary D. Schmidt.

Amanda Greenhoe serves as Coordinator for Development Communications and Marketing at Calvin College and as a freelance copywriter. She worked for a magazine, a newspaper, and a publishing house before finding her home in higher ed. She loves talking all things marketing and communications. Contact her via email, Twitter, LinkedIn, or her blog, Reach and Rally.

Using Social Media for Student Learning

Being able to maximize college students’ use of social media toward learning is going to be a skill higher education professionals will need to master in order to effectively engage our students. Unfortunately, many university faculty and administrators see social media as a mere waste of time and antithetical to the goals and mission of higher education. On Friday, April 20, 2012 at 2:00pm (EST), I presented a webinar titled Using Social Media to Enhance Student Learning Outcomes as hosted by StudentAffairs.com.

The webinar covered strategies for using social media to develop student learning outcomes as well as how to formulate a plan to assess learning outcomes using such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. Here is a small sample of social media learning strategies that was covered during the webinar:

Blogging Learning Strategies:

  • Use WordPress as a platform to publish educational information
  • Mine blog comments as qualitative and quantitative data

Twitter Learning Strategies:

  • Utilize unique hashtags for specific classes and programs
  • Employ the “One Minute Paper”: Students will tweet the most important item learned and one remaining question they have
  • Teach “Back Channel” discussion so students can summarize lessons learned from the class or program

Facebook Learning Strategies:

  • “Piggyback” efforts using blogging, YouTube, and Twitter to post educational links and videos on your Facebook page
  • Use “Surveys” and “Likes” as a means to acquire data

This webinar, using CAS standards to develop learning outcomes, demonstrates how college and university student affairs administrators can harness the power of social media as a vehicle for developing, enhancing, and assessing student learning outcomes.

I encourage you and your department colleagues to attend this affordable webinar. Please click HERE to see more details and to register for the replay of this webinar. 

How Student Life Can Leverage Fiverr.com

 

Recently I was introduced to Fiverr.com by my assistant director who gave me a quick demonstration of this awesome little service. In a nutshell, Fiverr.com allows individuals from around the world to sell products and services for $5.00. In return, Fiverr.com keeps $1.00 for the transaction. For all intents and purposes, it’s kind of like a mini-version of Craigslist, but with an actual shopping cart and feedback interface.

Products and services can vary from singing telegrams and flyer designs to resume proof-reading and homemade crafts. We went ahead and made our own services available, which include providing team development activities and program lesson plans for only $5.00 (*see below*).

Sellers also offer “extras” on top of the initial $5.00 for extended services or enhancements to the product or service you are buying. For example, I ordered a professional flyer design for a program I am sponsoring. For an additional $10.00, the graphic artist created it in less than two days. It was well worth the extra money for me!

I thought that Fiverr.com would be a perfect platform that both students and student life administrators could mine for valuable services and to sell services themselves. Student organizations could easily use it as a means to fundraise. Administrators can purchase awesome yet inexpensive commercials and designs for department advertising, messages for staff recognition, and even small gifts that could be used as prizes for departmental initiatives and programs. The possibilities are truly endless!

Take a look at Fiverr.com, and leave us a comment as to how you have used the service or intend on using it in the future.