I often find that clients must explain the importance of social media to their internal partners. In particular, they must show why they need resources for monitoring and maintaining conversations. Based off my interactions with several clients, I developed what I call The Rule of Nine.
This is a grid that shows social media interaction, measures online and offline conversations, and builds a feedback loop into the search process.
Ultimately your goal is to demonstrate whether or not increased communication with students will improve the likelihood of them attending your institution. Developing a feedback loop creates valuable numbers you can use to improve the overall enrollment experience students have at each phase of the cycle.
Imagine a tic-tac-toe board, a 3 x 3 square. Each vertical column represents a phase of the enrollment process.
The first column represents awareness. This is either the time before a student knows you, or the student knows something about you but is unsure about everything you have to offer.
The second column represents inquiry through application phases. This includes every step from the moment a student recognizes what you have to offer and makes some inquiry until submitting an application package.
The third column represents acceptance through the first day of class. This is the highly important yield phase.
The first horizontal row represents traditional channels. This is what we are used to with e-mail, direct mail, advertising and online media buys. It also includes outbound and inbound phone conversations.
The second row represents social channels. At the awareness phase these outreach projects work with online influencers to become a part of the lateral communication that occurs between students and other influencers.
The third row represents monitoring and metrics that occur while we engage in traditional and social campaigns. This includes mentions, engagement between advisers and students, and among students themselves as they enter the yield phase and move into their first day of class.
Each column is associated with some goal. In the first phase the goal is to increase awareness and share-of-voice in the marketplace. We can also monitor sentiment.
As we move into the inquiry through application phase you want to see the number and quality of conversations students are have with counselors and advisers. Obviously the goal is to increase and improve the quality of communication at this phase.
During the final phase of the process you want to measure conversations that students are having with each other. It’s pretty well known that intrusion by faculty staff or some authority figure tends to disrupt the natural flow of communication students have at this phase. Our goal is not to interfere, but measure the number and quality of conversations in order to predict an increase in number of students that make it to the first dayof class.
By drawing this grid out to potential skeptics you can explain the importance of social media and how it interacts with traditional search processes. I look forward to hearing about your successes.