As the Founder of several educational startups myself, I am especially curious when I see innovative approaches in higher education. Recently, I came across an interesting case speaking with Sandy Lin, a MIT Sloan alum friend of mine, and learned that Saint Anselm is using her company’s Glossi software to showcase their social media content. I connected with Jack Morris to ask him more about Saint Anselm’s digital media strategy.
Jack is the Director of Digital Communications for Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH where he is responsible for developing the online branding and strategy as well as creating new and unique online products to help increase enrollment and alumni engagement. Jack was previously a senior editor at City Search and Managing Editor of AOL Local. He has been a producer for FOX and MIT.
TC: Jack, tell about your role at Saint Anselm, and how it’s evolved with social media the last few years.
Jack:My role has been focused on working with our staff to develop engaging online strategies that often require our content to be pushed out thorough social media channels first.
TC: What are some of the benefits of social media for university PR?
Jack: Social media has quickly become one of the most effective methods for engaging our audience directly. It allows us to get our core messaging as well as videos, photos, and blogs out to high school students, their parents, current students, and our alumni community quickly and effectively – and recently we've been seeing a increase in the response rate on Twitter and Facebook, especially when we post photos showing off our campus and our monks.
Recently, we posted an old marketing photo we took back in 2004 of five of our monks wearing dark shades, standing tall with straight faces. The title of the photo was "Men in Black." Classic shot. That photo generated 861 likes, 43 comments, and 70 shares. For a small liberal arts college in New Hampshire with only 4,700 Facebook fans, this was a huge win for us. We've seen similar success with original videos and blogs. And recently we've been shooting and editing a ton of video using GoPro cameras and handheld digital cameras. Our online content efforts are on the rise.
TC: How has social media impacted college recruiting / alumni relations at Saint Anselm and other colleges you've worked?
Jack: Social media has really helped to enhance our recruiting process and our alumni relations. It's ingrained in everything we do from a digital media perspective. It's where we talk to our audience on a daily basis. It's where we get feedback on new ideas and campus happenings. It's where we showcase our campus, our culture, and our people to perspective students and their families. It's where we stay in touch with our alumni and help them stay in touch with each other.
TC: You ended up working with a new startup called Glossi that is pretty interesting. How did you find out about them?
Jack: We were looking for a way to showcase all of our social media content on one platform in a way that didn't involve in-house coding or design time. Also, the layout and the functionality of the site had to be clean and intuitive. I wanted a wow factor when our audience hit the page for the first time.
Over the past year, we have actively devoted more time to engaging our audience online though our official website, multiple blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. That's a lot of content and it's not so easy to direct eyeballs to all of those platforms on a daily basis. It became obvious to us that we needed one place where it could all live but developing such a page in-house wasn't an option.
I began looking for a lifestreaming solution that would provide for us a mashup of these platforms with a clean design and an intuitive interface. After test driving a few products, many of which either didn't allow a website embedding option or any design customization, I found Glossi and reached out to them. They helped us launch social.anselm.edu on their platform.
TC: How has the reaction been to social.anselm.edu since its launch?
Jack: The reaction we've seen so far has been better than I had hoped for. We see traffic spikes when we promote it on Facebook and Twitter but we're encouraging people to bookmark it and check back frequently.
With social.anselm.edu, Glossi is allowing us to showcase these efforts seamlessly all on one platform. That brings tremendous value to perspective students and their parents, as well as alumni, all of whom make up a large percentage of our online audience.
TC: How has social media changed the way you recruit students?
Jack: We have been exploring the use of social media in our recruiting process for many years now but recently those efforts have been on the rise. Our incoming class of 2016 is very active on their Facebook group page which our admission office manages – this has been a big success for us this year. Also, we've been producing original videos that we promote in many of our print materials geared towards high school students, and our admissions staff all use iPads when visiting students to showcase our latest efforts online – something that will be made much easier now with our Glossi page launched.
Also, we make an effort to reach out to everyone who mentions us on Twitter by retweeting their posts or including them in original tweets – it's a modern way of carrying on the Benedictine tradition of hospitality on which Saint Anselm College is founded.
And it's proven to be a big success. We recently got a DM from a very popular New England college telling us that we run an excellent Twitter account. That made our day.
Ted Chan is Founder and CEO of Upward Moblity, Practice Quiz, and Noyo, three companies in the mobile education market, and a management consultant in telecom, media, and technology at Boston-based CSMG. Twitter: @upwardmobility
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