Measurement: Why do we fear it?

Does your direct mail piece result in annual gifts from alumni? Do prospective students use the hashtag that you include in a social media campaign? Does your website content for admissions lead to increased inquiries?

Marketing and communication plans are easy to create when you don’t have to pay attention to the facts. If you don’t measure results, all marketing tactics are equally reliable and successful. Measurement makes us uncomfortable so we claim that measuring results is too difficult, not an exact science, and not possible given our limited tool set. Frankly, measurement of marketing and communications tactics is anxiety-producing in part because it might lead to evidence that what we thought would work doesn’t work as well as we’d hoped.

In a time of shrinking resources and increasing expectations, marketing and communications professionals must rely on measurement to determine strategic priorities and make the case for pursuing particular tactics and opportunities.

First, we need to get SMART. We need to avoid creating metrics akin to New Year’s resolutions. A goal of “becoming a millionaire in 2015” is not as realistic as adding $10,000 to your savings account. Secondly, what we can measure easily may not tell us what we need to know. The truth is not everything that can be measured is worth measuring.

Start thinking pragmatically and concretely about measurement. Three ideas for getting started:

  1. Include links to custom landing pages in digital advertising to monitor the effectiveness (for example, clickthroughs and conversions) of your calls to action.
  2. Use event tracking in Google Analytics to record activity with particular website elements.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of print by reviewing accompanying website metrics (for example, this postcard will result in 500 visits to a companion landing page on the website).

As a real world example, let’s consider measurements within a recent social media campaign at Fordham University.

The goal of #Fordham4Me was to influence the yield of admitted undergraduate students planning to enroll in fall 2014. We knew that a measurement tied to an increase in the number of students enrolling at Fordham wasn’t realistic. Instead, we evaluated the success of the #Fordham4Me campaign using these metrics:

  • Reach 90 percent of all admitted students.
  • Prompt 100 admitted students to generate content.
  • Attract 150 new followers on Tumblr and Instagram.

The results for #Fordham4Me were strong. On Tumblr, we had 3,200+ page views, 900+ visitors, and 63 new followers. On Instagram, there were 6,238 public likes, 511 public comments, and 99 unique participants.

Measurement of marketing and communications activities over a period of time can offer insights for senior leadership as they plan for additional staffing and resources. Metrics can:

  • Demonstrate success in a particular initiative and make the case for funding a new position.
  • Prove that particular activities don’t have value. Data helps not only to establish priorities , but also to determine what a team can stop doing.

More on measurement from the mStoner blog:

Digital Magazines in Higher Ed: We expect a lot, maybe too much.

I was a judge for the digital magazine category of the 2014 CASE Circle of Excellence Awards. As always, the CASE judging activities were fascinating, inspiring, and a wonderful professional development experience. If you ever get the chance, say yes. I was blown away by many of the 2014 entries and, in case you haven’t seen them, here are the CASE Circle of Excellence Award winners in the digital magazine category:

Because I had the chance to judge print magazine categories in 2012 and 2013, reviewing the digital entries this year felt a bit like closing the loop. Still a wonderfully complex hybrid of the print and digital mediums, college and university magazines typically appear in print at least a couple of times a year. (Alumni have come to love and cherish the mailbox version.) In my consulting work, the teams responsible for magazines regularly talk about ways to use the digital space for magazine content. Magazine editors and writers I meet have both a gleam in their eye and a knot in their stomach. They fully understand the opportunity that a digital magazine presents and the challenge for meeting the ever-increasing expectations of sophisticated alumni readers. They can all tell the story of the well-intentioned senior administrator on their campus who made this casual aside, “I’ve been meaning to send you a link to the _____ College’s online magazine. It’s really awesome and I think we should do something like that for our magazine, don’t you?”

My participation in this year’s digital magazine judging was eye-opening for an unexpected reason. I began to think and worry about the pressure digital magazines create for small communications teams. As a former director of a campus creative services unit, I have enormous respect for those who publish a magazine. Mostly because I know firsthand what it takes to manage the design and production process and, as a former colleague of mine once said, “In the print world, the word publish really means something.” Print ain’t easy, people. (The web ain’t easy either but I maintain you have control for a longer period of time and more flexibility when something goes wrong.)

So how does a small college or a leanly staffed university get the time and money needed to even think about launching a digital version of their magazine? Especially now, when the easy solutions of the past are viewed as way below the bar. People want what they want. And they want the New York Times experience.

My advice? Keep in mind readers are expecting you to:

  • Provide a rich content experience.
    The best digital magazines make a commitment to producing lots of regular content within a rich experience that is interactive and sensory. They let go of a traditional magazine publishing model, instead using a different pattern that doesn’t mimic print and typically means publishing every day. Rich media has to be a part of the content mix and requires a commitment to high-impact photography and well-produced video. The magazine experience should also include sharable content, predictive content, and dynamic, taxonomy-based options. In other words, allow me to comment and let others know what I’m reading, show me what you know I like, let me filter, and tell me what’s popular.
  • Make it available everywhere.
    I understand more resources are needed when trying to meet device-agnostic expectations but magazine readers want your content everywhere — on any kind of phone, and on any kind of tablet. And although apps allow you to control the user experience, lengthy downloads for an app require a commitment some just aren’t willing to make.

What’s a small team to do?
If you don’t have the staff needed for a Bostonia experience, consider using WordPress for your digital magazine. A few examples:

Financial Aid Websites: What’s the challenge?

I’ve been thinking about financial aid websites lately. It’s June, and with most of the deciding done by May 1, many prospective students and families are in the midst of a relationship with a financial aid office.

What are the challenges? How is the content for financial aid different and how is it best presented on the web?

It’s complicated. Communication about financial aid is difficult because so many scenarios exist and so many federal standards and policies must be part of the content mix. Although admissions sites can target an audience of prospective students and influencers, the financial aid office must serve those who are applying, those who are admitted, current students, and al of their parents. I took a quick spin through eight financial aid websites and here’s what I noted:

  • There is increased use of video for explaining the process.
  • Infographics make financial aid information more digestible and understandable.
  • Financial aid content typical begins on the admissions site with links to detail on the financial aid office website.
  • The net price calculator is often highlighted and just as often hidden.
  • More highly-designed sites with profiles of students as a way to personalize the financial aid process.
  • Friendly, clear, concise, and helpful content that speaks to parents as primary consumers of the information.

Certainly, there is an incentive for colleges and universities to work hard on their financial aid content since the “Can I afford it?” question remains one of the top asked by prospectives and families. A summary of just a little of what’s out there follows:

University of Missouri-St. Louis – http://umsl.edu/future/
This Future Students site won a Silver Award from CASE District VI in 2014. The Financial Aid landing page (you land there after you click on “Check Out Tuition & Expenses”) presents a few key pieces of information using infographics. I like the early messaging around aid and this site highlights UMSL’s net price calculator.

Davidson College – http://www.davidson.edu/admission-and-financial-aid/financial-aid
The Davidson site won a CASE Bronze Circle of Excellence Award in 2014. On the financial aid section of the site, you immediately see an effective video about their net price calculator and the “Davidson Trusted Me” quote from a student personalizes the content.

Duke University – http://admissions.duke.edu/application/aid
This site won a Best Prospective Student or Admission Site award in 2013 from eduStyle. The financial aid section is fairly unique among typical university financial aid sites and more like marketing-critical, top-level landing pages on most university sites.

Bob Jones University – http://www.bju.edu/admission/tuition-aid/
This site won an eduStyle Award in 2013 for Best Prospective Student or Admission Site. A video (found in the bottom, left corner of the site) explains the financial aid process.

University of Pennsylvania – http://www.admissions.upenn.edu/
This site was nominated for an eduStyle Award in 2013. The presentation of financial aid content begins by clicking on “Afford an Ivy League Education.” The “Costs & Financial Aid” section is visually interesting and a welcoming way to make the case. Also, the “How Aid is Determined” page presents information well.

Brown University – http://brown.edu/about/administration/financial-aid
This site uses video to effectively profile students who benefit from aid and the net price calculator is also prominent. The site also offers an A to Z index approach that makes sense for the detailed and dense financial aid content.

Boston University – http://www.bu.edu/finaid/
This site includes splashy, rotating feature content and I like their presentation of “Frequently Asked Questions.”

Who’s doing this well? Do you have a favorite financial aid website? I’d love to see it and feature it on the mStoner blog. Let me know.

Putting Paul Smith’s Website to the Test

Shortly after the relaunch of the Paul Smith’s College website, we did some usability testing. Usability testing can occur on a live or beta site and the intention is to evaluate levels of success or frustration as users try to accomplish tasks on a new site. As part of a usability testing script, we might ask:

  • “How would you find a list of majors and minors?”
  • “What would you click on to learn about alumni events?”
  • “Where would you go to register for classes?”

For more on usability testing in the context of a website relaunch project, I recommend a three-part series about testing written by mStoner’s Quality Assurance Manager, Kylie Stanley Larson.

What did we uncover during usability testing for paulsmiths.edu?

Testers referenced the bold typography, the large imagery, and the plentiful white space as welcome design elements. They also described the new paulsmiths.edu as easier to use due to more intuitive navigation. These testing results made our hearts sing. But there’s more — the testing also provided a path for future site enhancements.

Imagery and Graphics

Research, anecdotal evidence, and testing sessions for many clients tell us that website visitors are influenced by high-quality imagery and graphics. Our Paul Smith’s usability sessions confirmed that knowledge and helped us understand the extent of their impact. All individuals participating in the usability testing commented on the visual assets on paulsmiths.edu — all noted the homepage slider, the Instagram feed, the video feed, or the infographic as compelling. When asked how the visual experience might be improved, users:

  • Repeatedly noted a preference for images that are directly related to the page content or site section.
  • Requested more photography throughout the site.
  • Expressed hope for higher quality imagery, both in terms of resolution and composition.

Website work is never done and a focus on visual content will pay off.

Website Tools for the Internal Community

The Paul Smith’s usability testing also confirmed that the on-campus community uses the website as a tool. Convenient ways to get info related to living and working on a campus are paramount.sugar_shack

  • Testers missed quick access to… <waitforit> Weather! One student said, “I go to the site to see how cold it is outside…I haven’t been able to find the weather on the new site. I don’t want to have to dig through the site to figure out how I should dress that day.” Paul Smith’s unique location in the Adirondack Park of way Upstate New York makes this a legitimate request.

psc_in_the_kitchen

  • Other testers pointed out that menus for one dining location were missing. A student said, “I always look at the Lakeside menus. It’s one of my big links.” Food on any campus is important but Paul Smith’s corners the market on education for hospitality with programs in culinary arts and baking. I can personally vouch for the quality of food on the Paul Smith’s campus.

An .edu website should take into account the transactional needs of the on-campus community.

Our best advice?

Remain committed to a cycle of planning, measuring, and auditing. The quantifiable data you can receive daily from analytics, and periodically as you conduct usability testing, is invaluable and will help you know when it’s time to make corrections and changes. And, decisions about the prioritization of enhancements can be grounded in data about user preferences. Your website is not a project, it is your most important communication asset.

Every day, a team of people needs to come to work thinking about what’s next for the website.

Moving to the other side of town.

jack

Last time with Jack at 103 Buford Rd.

I’m on vacation this week and next because Larry and I are moving out of our home of 20 years and relocating all of our worldly possessions to the other side of town. We move on Monday (June 2) and packing and unpacking is my focus.

    • I’ve gone into field marshall mode. Boxes are labeled and color coded. Rooms in the new house will be labeled so all mostly ends up in the right place. Larry thinks I’m crazy. Movers will fall in love with me on the spot.

 

    • When you tire of filling boxes, you get to switch to the yucky stuff: purging 10-year-old spices, bottles with one tablespoon of oil left, and half-empty boxes of lemon jello.

 

    • builtins

      Sad about leaving the built-ins.

      If you come by my house in the next three days, you can have one of my three Trivial Pursuit games.

 

    • Apparently, all of our money is in books. Saddest moment, emptying the books from the built-ins we added to our living room four years ago.

 

    • To survive, go to the liquor store, not due to the stress of moving but for the perfect boxes. (We got about 50% more liquor store boxes than we needed.) Books aren’t breakable, making them so easy to pack.

 

    • bookboxes

      Liquor store!

      As you pack, and while you’re waiting for moving day to arrive, create a themed end table.

 

    • Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t take my s**t with me when I graduated from college. You wanted me to, I didn’t, and they didn’t either.

 

    • Ultimate revenge: our kids will have to deal with the 150 – 200 boxes of books we’ll have by the time we age in place and die in the new house. Wait, any chance Jack and Rebecca’s future wealth will be in those books? A non-ebook version of Little Women or Light in August might be worth even more by then.

 

    • endtable

      I made this end table.

      VHS movies, do they stay or do they go? #WizardofOz among them. Larry weighed in on that question. We are moving all media even if we don’t have a device to play it on.

 

    • Don’t sit down. If you do, you won’t feel the same for about an hour.

 

    • This guy. Took me to my last move to buy one of these tape dispenser thingys. Worth the $24.00 I spent.

 

    • thisguy

      My constant companion this week.

      Seriously. No one in this house now (or ever) really fished. Another trip to Goodwill.

 

    • Friends like Mary and John are making me deny my Southern roots and show up at their house tonight for dinner with nothing in hand. They are simplifying my life today! So grateful for them today and always.

 

    • There’s a museum of your life in drawers: a butterfly sticker, bits of green paint, notes, baseball bats, and tinsel from Christmas trees.

 

    • museum

      A personal museum uncovered.

      You can draw blood with a Bungee cord. I proved it this week.

Lights, camera, action. (We’re ready for Act Two.)

Concretely, content! (Part 2: Planning for it.)

Content is king — on the web, in print, on social, and in video. In Part 1, I offered advice for creating content immediately, when you’re in a rush and have to produce. With a little more time though, how should you plan for content? What do you need to include in a content strategy?

First, understand that content connects your college or university’s brand to the hearts and minds of the audiences you are trying to reach, influence, and move to take action. It can, and should, demonstrate the truth of your brand promises. Here’s what you do:

  • Follow your brand standards.
    A brand standards guide should direct the content development. Providing detail about positioning statement(s), goals, audiences, messages, adjectives, and proof points to campus writers will ensure consistency across your channels and platforms. They can’t stay on message if the don’t know what the messages are.
  • Develop a well-articulated editorial style.
    Editorial style is made up of voice and tone. “Voice is the distinct personality, style, or point of view…” Tone is considered the subset of voice; it is the mood. (I adore Grammar Girl’s “Understanding Voice and Tone in Writing.”) The central marketing and communications team should write a summary of the voice and tone to be used for all communications and share it with anyone on campus who develops content. They can’t model what they can’t see.
  • Provide editorial direction.

    Regular and specific editorial direction is needed for high-quality, integrated, on-message communications. It doesn’t happen organically and should include:

    • Management (really, I mean control) of the photography and messaging on the homepage and top-level landing pages of your website.
    • Use of editorial calendars for keeping track of who’s saying what when. All the professional communicators should communicate. The best editorial calendars are cross-channel and cross-audience. Editorial calendars can set the stage for repurposing content.
    • A commitment to consistency. Getting your message out takes reinforcement and a regular, integrated approach across platforms means your audiences will get it above the noise of the other messages they’re receiving. Perhaps, consistency is the application of an agreed upon information architecture after the relaunch of a site. Or, consistency might be use of the official event calendar to promote events. (Yes, the events that you host, promote, and highlight are expressions of your brand.)
  • Use audience personas. 

    Audience personas can illustrate the creation of brand-based content for specific audience segments. Using data from audience interviews, a persona is a representative personal story from a particular audience segment. Personas humanize the target audiences for writers; at the very least, personas remind us that we’re generating content for people with different needs and expectations than our own. At their best, personas help to clarify choices in language, navigation, and the prioritization of content. For more, Wikipedia provides a fine summary about the use of audience personas for marketing.

Content planning also means repurposing and thinking broadly about what content is:

Do I need a Part 3? Tell me in the comments what else you’d like me to cover in future posts.

Concretely, content! (Part 1: Creating it.)

Yes, you should have a plan for developing content for your [blank]. Yes, it would be ideal if your budget allowed for a writer on your team or a freelancer in your stable of extra hands. And, yes, the funds you don’t allocate to writing could get directed to creating visual content like photography, infographics, and video.

Maybe you acknowledge this advice, but you have immediate, not-to-be-ignored content needs. Concretely, what can you do to rustle up some content? Try this advice about creating content:

  • Take the time for pre-writing.
    Creating content ultimately (eventually?) means, “I have to write some words for a [blank].” How do you get started? First, step away from your computer and think about purpose and organization. Yes, I want you to answer a few questions before you start:
    • What is the goal of this communication?
    • Which audience segment or persona is the target?
    • What are the three benefits (pieces of information) to communicate?
    • If for the web, what keywords and phrases are best for search engine optimization?
    • What is the one thing the reader should understand after reading the first paragraph?
      (Capture this one thing in the first two sentences followed by a summary of benefits in the rest of the content. The first paragraph should also include a call-to-action.)
  • Follow the basics.
    Tie your content strategy to the tried and true basics. You don’t have time to mess around. Instead:

    • Use an active voice. Simple, direct language makes your copy better and easier to read. Consider this: “We launched our new site today,” versus this: “Our new site was launched today.”
    • Remember your audience. If your audience can’t relate to your content, they won’t read it. Period. Let your readers’ needs drive your every word. Find a hook. Whether you’re writing an article, blog post, or a tweet, the language has to grab the reader’s attention. Use snappy action words, such as join, watch, hear, or go.
    • Tell good stories. A compelling human interest story will always draw a reader’s attention. Whatever the context, readers thirst for good stories, and it’s a writer’s job to supply them.
    • Less is so much more. Short bits of copy that pack a punch are the way to go. New content patterns on the web call for less and less (and less) words. Don’t spend too many words on generic statements and messages. If your college or university already “owns it,” leave it out. Focus on copy that explains what makes your brand distinctive and engaging.

About now, you may be thinking, “Come on. That’s such basic advice.” In response, I say, go take a look at a few websites, watch a few videos, read a few email messages. Enough proof we still need to work on the basics?

In Part 2, I’ll cover planning and editorial for content.

Launched! Please look under the hood.

On launch day for any mStoner client, the big reveal is the new look and feel of a redesigned .edu website. Capturing the essence of the institutional brand, the new design “feels like us.” But visual design is just one aspect of our work with clients. I’ll use mStoner’s recent work with SUNY as evidence for the equally important — but under the hood — aspects of a relaunch.

My earlier post about the new SUNY website described the process and decision-making through the lens of the SUNY project lead, David Belsky. There’s more! Our partnership with this complex and fascinating educational system also included:

Governance for mitigating risk.
There are always challenges and risks within a website relaunch project of this magnitude and complexity. Early on, we worked with SUNY to identify ways to mitigate risks and to plan for a new governance model.

How content is managed and published was a consideration and, of course, the right content management system was key. Choosing and deploying a content management system is never for the faint of heart. The work is filled with choices about features and requirements and cost and technical architecture. With more than 175 CMS implementations under our belt, mStoner helped SUNY identify best-fit systems based on their needs. (The SUNY project team chose TERMINALFOUR for the new site.)

It also was important for the SUNY team to understand that relaunching the website within a new content management system was just the beginning. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes in web strategy is continuing to think about your website as a project. In fact, the day you launch the new website isn’t the end of a project, it’s the start of an ongoing process of assessment, adjustment, content creation, and enhancement.

Building a strong core team always belongs in the governance model. We helped the SUNY team think about roles, responsibilities, and oversight. Proper staffing for your website is needed and here’s where we all have something to learn from the newspaper industry: the web needs content, every day. All .edu websites need a “managing editor” who will implement the strategic vision and provide the editorial approach for developing content, integrating social media, and keeping it all on message.

Creative thinking about a range of content needs.
From the start, content was at the core of the SUNY project. A two homepage solution was a blended and effective response to SUNY’s unique communication challenges and opportunities; but it was also a response to the range of content types within the site. Because marketing and transactional content can be at odds, we wanted to balance the storytelling that appeals to larger audience groups with the transactional needs of 100,000+ faculty and staff stakeholders on SUNY’s 64 campuses.

We used the SUNY wireframes as a launchpoint for conversation about content! With a content-first focus, the wires showed not only the types of content but the relative importance and prioritization of that content. Early content discussions helped the SUNY team scope the writing effort that would follow and also put us on the right track for brand building.

A few content elements that demonstrate the impact and reputation of SUNY:

  • The Now at SUNY drawer on the SUNY homepage introduces off-screen, sidebar content.

SUNY Content Drawer

  • The social icons in the footer include the number of followers on SUNY channels (11,000 on Twitter!).
 SUNY Social Icons
  • The map-based campus directory in the footer uses tagging and geolocation for easy access to 64 campuses.

Campus Directory

An iterative process for developing the information architecture (IA).
The IA we proposed for SUNY.edu needed to do two things: 1) quickly make the case for SUNY and 2) quickly engage the primary audiences visiting the site. We wanted the topic-based navigation to appeal to the broadest possible set of audiences. We tested our early assumptions about labeling and navigational paths using an online tool called Treejack from Optimal Workshop. Armed with real user behavior from 594 testing participants, we adjusted, relabeled, and confirmed.

We ended up with a slim topic navigation that appeals to, and encourages action from, visitors of all kinds. Just three simple options — “Attend SUNY,” “What is SUNY?” and “Why does SUNY matter?” — allow visitors (of all sophistication levels) a limited set of choices to explore different ways of engaging the site. This mobile-first approach to the IA (read: telegraphic, clear hierarchy) gives the site app-like simplicity and makes it highly usable.

SUNY Topic Nav

OH in Higher Ed Circles: 6 things that drive us mad (and a new webinar!)

Picture this: Six people working on six different campuses are seated around a round table having lunch at a higher ed conference. Before the salad course ends, they’ve figured out how much they have in common. All are facing similar challenges — and more relevant to this blog post — all regularly experience the same frustrations.

Next imagine this: 600 people working on 600 different campuses are members of a circle in Google+. These folks are sometimes even more direct as they selectively share their frustrations and the barriers to high-quality marketing and communications programs on their campuses. It’s been know to happen.

Regardless of their institutional affiliation, when marketing and communications professionals gather they bond over similar concerns. And, when I consult with community colleges, multi-campus publics, music conservatories, or small liberal arts colleges, I observe a similar chorus. Six themes overheard in higher ed are:

  1. Committees
    Often viewed as the bane of the higher ed administrator’s existence, committees are unwieldy, slow to act, and sometimes set up to avoid a decision. Even when called by another name (task force), they present challenges; you must find ways to use them well.
  2. Feedback
    It’s exhausting when you are caught in a seemingly unending feedback loop while staring down a deadline. Worse, you find yourself responding to the personal preferences of internal stakeholders at the expense of the target audience. You need to control the fire hose.
  3. Resources
    Another week, another new task or set of expectations. Our teams regularly take on new initiatives and responsibilities but rarely stop doing the less valuable work we’ve always done. You need to make it stop.
  4. Change
    We’re pretty good at digging in within the academy. But some amount of change is needed for almost any great idea. Take off your blinders, stop pushing past the resistance, and instead use personal benefits to influence stakeholders.
  5. Turf
    Using softer language, we refer to silos when we’re really talking about turf. Regardless, we’re not farmers and we need to turn things toward a focus on business needs and the greater institutional good.
  6. Relationships
    Perhaps a surprising addition to this list, relationship building should always be a factor. Regular reflection about the approach and style you use with peers, members of your team, senior leaders, and your boss is never a waste of time.

Perhaps this post is spot on with its summary of concerns you have. Next up, let’s address those concerns. I’ll try to do just that on Thursday, March 27, at 2:00 PM ET, when I host a free webinar entitled, “OH in Higher Ed Circles: 6 things that drive us mad.” Talking through each of the six things that probably bug you every week, I’ll share tips, ideas, and advice for making your way around the barriers to excellent marketing and communications work on your campus. I hope you’ll join me for this free mStoner webinar as we discuss ways to cope and succeed!

Need research on social media?

Every day, on college and university campuses everywhere, dedicated people like you are making the case for effective communication with key audiences. On a good day, you get a brilliant idea about a new way to connect with the people you want to reach. Sometimes the idea is so gloriously brilliant you need to secure buy-in and approval. Remember, when you pitch new ideas outside the comfort zones of your leadership team, it’s good to go in with evidence.

Maybe 2014 is the year for stepping up your social media strategy. If so, consider data from the Social Media in Advancement Survey conducted by Huron Education and mStoner in partnership with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Annually, I’ve observed Michael Stoner committing time and talent to this important project and I know he’s grateful to the many of you who participated in the most recent survey.

In late March, highlights from the fifth annual survey will be released at the CASE Social Media and Community Conference. Until then, the 2013 research comes in handy. I reacquainted myself with the top-line findings from 2013 and they are the subject of this post. For fun, I decided to highlight a few of the questions asked and make some predictions about what we might see in the 2014 results. We’ll call these Susan’s Hunches.

My hunches about the 2014 results for a few of the survey questions:

Question 9. Which types of social media do you use (for any audiences you want to reach)?

  • In 2013, 27% of survey respondents used Instagram. I predict this number will be up by at least 15% in 2014.
  • Tumblr was used by only 9% of respondents. I predict the use of Tumblr will increase by about 10%.
  • Not even on the list in 2013, I think we’ll see Snapchat responses in the 2014 results.

Question 16. In what types of campaigns have you used social media?

  • In 2013, 41% of respondents used social media for admissions campaigns. I predict an increase of 5% for 2014.

Question 30. For which types of development and fundraising activities does your institution use social media?

  • Of respondents, 14% used social media for capital campaign solicitations. I think we will be see a 15% increase to this percentage in the next survey. (I know, it’s a big jump. This is the hunch I’m least confident about.)

Question 44. How many full‐time people does your institution have working on social media that are 100 percent dedicated to it (all of their job responsibilities relate to social media)?

  • In 2013, 67% of those surveyed had no one who was 100% dedicated to social media work. My hunch is that this number will come down by 8% in the 2014 results.

Here’s a convenient summary table of Susan’s Hunches:

  • Use of Instagram: +15%
  • Use of Tumblr: +10%
  • Use of Snapchat: on the list!
  • For admissions campaigns: +5%
  • For capital campaign solicitation: +15%
  • No person 100% dedicated to social media: -8%

Check back in late March if you want to see how I did. If I’m close on a lot of these predictions, you’ll probably see another blog post. If I’m way off, I’ll quickly move on to other topics. The point is, use research for pitching your ideas. It’s out there!

More on the annual Social Media in Advancement Survey: