Will President Obama Offer College GRADS a Job?

Written by on September 2nd, 2011

Is the student loan portfolio – too BIG to fail?  Default rate increases from 6.7 to 13.8 in 4 years!

The facts!

  • The student loan portfolio is now approaching one trillion dollars, a point someone is going to suggest that is “too big to fail”.
  • 80 percent of grads since 2008 did not have a job the day their President or Dean handed their diploma to them

While everyone is anxious to hear what solutions the President has in mind to solve our unemployment situation, college educated Gen X ers’, Millennials and even Boomers are hoping that President Obama will include employment solutions for them in his speech to Congress and the nation next week.

After all, there is a lot on the line.

The default rate on student loans has doubled in just four years, putting hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans ALREADY in default.  And, the problem is not going to go away. This year, like previous years, colleges and universities produced over 1,700,000 graduates (85% in May and June),  yet the economy is producing under 75,000 new jobs each month.

College Presidents, President Obama, and our nation’s leaders need to understand there is a lot of pain in those numbers for students and families who trusted these institutions and literally mortgaged their lives to get a degree.

  • Grads’ careers are being delayed with their income potential likely stunted for life
  • Parents and grads are burdened with huge loan payments reducing their ability to make purchases
  • Damaged credit ratings will prevent grads from getting a job!
  • Marriages are delayed or never consummated due to huge student loans
  • Grads are working in totally unrelated careers than their degrees prepared them for

We have an enormous amount of talented – educated grads from the finest institutions in the world that are living in their parents’ basement and pouring coffee or tending bar to pick up spare change.

I would suggest Congress, Colleges, and Organizations work together to find a way to give meaningful internship employment to every student while they are in college and even after they graduate.  I’d love to see a national PAID Internship program that marshals the support of businesses, non profits, religious organizations, state/local governments, and alumni.

A nationwide solution would utilize the Internet to connect organizations to students willing to work.

Students could be employed by these organizations to:

  1. Develop and manage social media programs for small business like Betty’s Beauty Parlor to mid size and Fortune 500 companies
  2. Handle overflow customer service chats, emails, or phone calls
  3. Conduct polls, research, write blog articles
  4. Take inbound sales calls or make outbound sales calls

College Presidents could start in their own back yard by implementing strategies to make this happen. For instance, they could:

  • Assign alumni mentors to incoming freshman – BEFORE they arrive on campus
  • Require students to take a career exploration course and learn networking and job search techniques during their four years on campus
  • In addition to asking for contributions, challenge alumni to get their organizations to hire an Intern.

Legislatures need to develop programs that will:

  1. Provide tax breaks to companies providing PAID student internships
  2. Offer tax breaks on income earned by Interns
  3. Offer  “Student Loan Credits” to students who work at reduced rates
  4. Build excitement and encourage participation in a national program

Students can’t solve this problem!

Our colleges, government, and lending institutions created this problem.  It will require the leadership of our college presidents, business, and congressional leaders to implement cost effective solutions to not only rescue troubled lives, shore up a shaky loan program but, perhaps save the higher education industry itself.

There is a WIN-WIN situation out there if leadership is willing to put aside differences and think creatively.

This is a “Too Big To Fail” situation!

The cost is too high to ignore it, the pain is only going to get worse.  Do we have the leadership to step up to this challenge?

Would Charlie Sheen Consider GRADS WINNING!? NOT!

Written by on March 9th, 2011

Class of 2008, 2008, 2009, 20010 and 2011 gets screwed! Charlie will not speak at commencement!

Charlie Sheen’s now very public lifestyle and philosophy is making a lot of people think about their lives. Its obvious Charlie has a very positive attitude about him and has put himself in a category above most mortal men. Charlie is now a self-professed WINNER!

If he were living back in the days of the Greeks, I’m certain he would have convinced them that he was, if not Zeus, at least the son of Zeus!

At any rate, this got me thinking about how college graduates feel about themselves.

Do the members of the Class of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 feel like they are WINNING?

I still remember the pride I felt about graduating 30 plus years ago. I was a first generation college graduate, had no debt, paid my way through college by working night and odd jobs, started a photography business that I continued to run after graduation and had a couple of professors that I admire to this day. It was a fulfilling and life changing opportunity for me. For me and many in my generation life was good, and the opportunities were many!

But what does a student who is about to graduate feel today? If I were a graduating today, I’m sure my mood and expectations would be affected by the fact that:

  • 80% of the last two graduating classes didn’t have jobs by graduation day
  • Eighty percent moved home after graduation
  • The average grad had over $20,000 in student loans and nearly $5,000 on their credit cards to pay off.
  • 17 million grads (the equivalent of 5 graduation classes) do jobs that only require a high school diploma or less!

So I can hear Charlie ask, “Who is WINNING here? “

Duh, it’s not the graduates!

This generation of graduates will be paying more per month on student loans than many couples paid for rent 30 years ago. They will be buying less after graduation because they will be struggling to pay down their credit card bills and according to research 60% of them will be working in jobs that did not require a college degree.

And it’s worse if they marry. Two graduates with the average student loan and credit card debt, enter a marriage “for better or worse, richer or poorer” with $50,000 in debt!

But wait, it gets worse!

Most colleges have done an excellent job giving the graduate the curriculum to satisfy the requirements of their degree. But what have they done to help them prepare for their career?

Does the typical graduate:

  • Have a good handle on which industries they should be looking to for a job?
  • Know what type of position would best suit their skills and knowledge?
  • Know how to search for a job, how to interview, follow up on a job or even build a career network?

My guess is a lot of graduates will be receiving their diplomas in the next two months filled with angst, anxiety and asking the question, “Now What?”

I have a personal stake in this. My son Ben graduates from Miami University with a degree in businessand marketing. Ben’s done all the right things to get a job. He got involved and became President of the Miami Association of Film Makers, became the photo editor of The Miami Q, did a semester abroad to gain international experience and exposure and will graduate with A’s and B’s in all subjects. But even with those credentials, will Ben walk out of school WINNING or struggling!

What can you do?

We need to do more for this generation.

For a variety of reasons, our generation has implemented numerous policies and rules that are putting them at a disadvantage the day they receive their diploma. They are facing issues that the leaders and administrators of colleges, business, government and other organizations did not face when they graduated from college.

So what can you do to help this generation?

In what way can you help give them hope, provide them an anchor or help them get from under the hurdles they now face, before they even start their career?

There has to be something! Standing by is not acceptable. Our generation has been given a lot. We’ve given to this generation a lot to overcome.

One way we’ve found we can help is by providing 9 Webinars that feature career experts. Our Fall Webinar series had 400 Career Centers sign up.  We are also assembling a GRAD Career Toolkit that will provide graduates, advice from career experts, tools to organize their job search and assessment tests.

Your organization can help by hiring a grad, providing internships or on a personal level, mentor a student.

Share with us other ways we can help this generation of graduates!

When Will Parents and College Students Revolt?

Written by on February 7th, 2011

High cost of college, unemployment, loans, credit card debt – ENOUGH!

Revolutions happen faster than anyone can predict!

Recently, the Obama administration was questioning why the CIA had not provided advance warning on what was boiling in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan and other Middle Eastern countries.

I have to believe there were warning signs, and that the administration was informed, but nobody have could have predicted what event, what one thing, would drive a collective group of people to step out of their day to day struggle to survive to do like Howard Beal did in the movie, “Network” – scream, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” (click to see this incredible clip & get mad!)

So that got me thinking about the situation parents and college students face today!

Consider some of these facts:

  1. 80 percent of students move home they graduate
  2. Nearly 80% of 2,774,008 of the 2009-2010 grads were officially unemployed on graduation day.
  3. 51% of student loan recipients say it will take them more than 10 years to pay off their student loans
  4. According to federal statistics, only 57% of full-time college students graduate within SIX years
  5. 1/3 of college grads hold jobs that do NOT require a college degree

Then ask yourself:

  • Do you think parents and graduates are getting a return on their investment?
  • Do you think other businesses could survive if their product didn’t do what they said it would do and it ended up costing customers more than they anticipated!

Who’s got their head in the sand?

In Egypt right now, anyone who has been close to Mubarak and his family are running for cover as worldwide news organizations are starting to publish and make available through Social Media channels, how a 30 year dictator and those close to him have been stuffing their bank accounts and maintaining a lifestyle that supports homes around the world.  Egyptians are gaining access to statistics and information long suppressed that are making them, “Mad as hell!”

On the other hand, the above statistics have been readily available to college administrators, students and parents.   Students and parents seem to be resigned to the fact that they can’t do anything about the issues they faced.

College administrators seem to be focused on revenue and as long as they do not have to be accountable for these miserable stats, they seem comfortable ignoring them. What if college students and their parents knew that the private college they were attending was spending $3,000 to recruit a student and only $85 to prepare them for their career?   (according to NACE the average Career Center budget is just under $34,000)  also (State colleges spend approximately $1,000 to recruit a student)

Shouldn’t college students and their parents expect their college to do something to improve this situation?

In the 235 years since our nation was founded, we’ve been able to solve countless issues and seemingly impossible situations.  Something can be done.  In Japan nearly 70% of their graduating college students are getting jobs by the time they receive their diploma on graduation day.

Who is your elected officials listening to – Wall Street or YOU?

During the time our federal government used socialist tactics to bail out Wall Street, banks and corporations around the country, our Congress, Senate and state legislatures have:

  • Made sure that every college student that takes a student loan will NEVER be able to walk away from their debt.
  • Passed legislation that has made it even more difficult for aspiring college students to get their own credit cards and credit
  • Passed legislation to continue to push the cost of education on to parents and students, even when evidence of the return on investment is dropping.  (college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007 while median family income rose 147 percent)

In the past 3 years, nearly 10 million graduates and parents have felt the effects of this legislation, but, still no uprising!

Tipping point!

So the question remains. When will students and parents reach their boiling point and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?”

Will it be when:

  1. More students sue their alma mater like Trina Thomson did when she sued Monroe College for $72,000 (the full cost of her tuition)?
  2. A significant number of students default on their loans?
  3. Online education becomes a viable alternative and campus greens suddenly look like ghost towns?
  4. Congress requires both for-profit and non-profit colleges to GUARANTEE their graduates “gainful employment”?

Your guess is as good as mine.

But something is boiling, and if colleges want to be ahead of the game, they better be doing something to FIX these stats or their customers will consider their action, too little, too late.

Just like citizens in Egypt did!

Help make a different and bring about positive change.  Click here to sign a petition that suggests college administrators address this situation!

Will Social Media Change the Mating Ritual?

Written by on December 19th, 2010

Find your mate on Social Media Behavior Dating Site

I was reading an article by Jenna Wrortham today titled, “So Much for reinventing Ourselves Online”. The author was sharing an experience she had after writing an article on dating sites. Newly single she posted an anonymous profile and almost immediately a note entered her mailbox.

My digital admirer said he’d recognized me from a different site, Foursquare, the mobile social network that lets users broadcast their whereabouts to friends. It awards virtual mayorships to the most frequent patrons of bars and restaurants; I’d claimed the crown at a sushi restaurant. When my admirer checked into the joint with Foursquare, a notification declaring my status as mayor popped up, along with my photo and name.

She immediately recognized that with all of the data that we share with others, it’s impossible to be anonymous online!

So it got me thinking about how people will select mates in the future.

Everyone dating is a liar!

Dating sites are liars’ outposts.

A profile of someone on a dating site is a compilation of personalities and attitudes the persons WANTS to project to prospective dates, right?

They rarely represent the actual person. Everyone lies about their weight, height, degree, income, looks and personality. Nearly all profiles are filled with white lies, stretches of the truth and out right fabrications. So how can you vet people to find out who they really are before you get your heart broken?

So what if there was a program that analyzed what people did?

Let’s think out of the box for a minute and reinvent the dating process. Let’s create a new site, for the purpose of this discussion we’ll call it behaviormatch.com

The goal of this new site is to use Social Media, Facebook applications and other online data sites that share data to build a tool that can identify a person’s behavior and then match it with personality traits that others are looking for.

Let’s say you are looking for an ambitious, funny person who loves travel, is kind, loves their family and is considerate. A typical dating site would include check off boxes that a person would click on the relevant matches. However at this dating site, the software is going to go out and analyze the behavior of people who match the criteria and bring back people based on “what they do”, not “what they say!”

To find the right match, behaviormatch.com asks you to identify the attributes you want.

So you enter the age, sex, location and few other things (if you wanted to you could share hobbies, movies, books, interests etc.). Now you hit SEARCH, and viola, you are immediately presented with a series of people who match your criteria. The software instantly went out and analyzed a database of behaviors and profile information to find your match.

Your results

Now, neatly outlined on your screen is the first name of the person and substantiating data, comments and communication.

When you look at Juan, (the most likely match) you see comments he made on his Linkedin page that announced his promotion. You also read the testimonials others shared about him. You can see that he has added 5 apps categorized as funny and that an application where friends describe friends personalities, identified Juan as, “off the chart funny”. As you scroll down the page, you are presented with 6 Facebook comments where Juan gushes about his grandmother, his mother and his kid sister. Finally you see a list of data points that show he matches the criteria. Now Juan is sounding good, right!

So now that you‘ve identified 3 additional candidates, you elect to pay for the Social Media Behavior Analysis Dating service. Here’s where this gets fun. The software will now build a profile; much like HootSuite does of all your Social Media sites, and delivers to your desktop everything relevant the targeted candidates are posting. You see Facebook posts, Twitter posts, comments they make in Linkedin, and everything they have liked or recommended using Facebook Pluggins. The software, all the while is analyzing the behavior and data and continues to provide you an update of which candidate is matching your profile request.

After watching the candidates you select two to friend and build a relationship with. So you reach out to them to get to know them. You comment on their comments, photos and attend the same events they are attending. You join the same groups they are joining.

As you watch them over the next 4 months you vet out the data sets provided and look for anomalies and ethical missteps and issues that arise that might send you packing before you got committed and had your little heartbroken! Knowing that you are probably going to make emotional decisions, the software will point out specific behavior issues and FORCE you to acknowledge that you are aware the candidate is showing lapse in the selection criteria.

And that’s it. The future of finding a mate.

This new technique takes the bravado out of the personal profile and enables you to find the right mate based on their behavior.  It might sound creepy, but think about how you are using Social Media already to step into others lives.  

Anyone want to develop this with me!

Crowd Sourcing! Get Customers to Run Your Biz

Written by on December 10th, 2010

Starbucks is doing it, Dell is doing it, Cisco is doing it and now you can do it too!

I normally don’t review products and services but ran across IdeaScale today and had to share it with you.  IdeaScale provides any business, organization the ability to use crowd sourcing to collect the ideas thoughts and suggestions of others to improve your products, events, services and more.

Starbucks was in my opinion late to crowd sourcing game, but did a great job at implementing it and using customer feedback to increase buzz, brand exposure and customer loyalty.  Their mystarbucksidea.com collects the suggestions and thoughts of their customers in three areas; 1) Product Ideas, 2) Experience Ideas, 3) Involvement Ideas.   Within each category there are sub categories.  For example Involvement includes, Building Community, Social Responsibility, Other Involvement Ideas and Outside USA.

Collectively there are nearly 100,000 ideas that have been submitted and voted on.  An idea that gets the most votes, rises to the top and becomes an idea that Starbucks staff begins to explore.   I participated when I could no longer get “Maple Nut Oat Scones” from Starbucks anywhere in Ohio.  These scones had an incredible thick layer of icing on them and were perfect with coffee. (Even though my kids thought they tasted like dog biscuits!)

So, let’s get back to the point.  IdeaScale will enable any company or organization to create a similar environment for FREE.  That’s right free.  I can guarantee you Starbucks is paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for their software platform and IdeaScale will do the same thing for your organization.

Not sure what to do?  Consider this:

  • Hospitals could use IdeaScale to build communities of learning around diseases and health issues
  • Associations could use it learn what issues members are facing and then reassign resources to helping them
  • B to C companies could use the Starbucks model and use it to improve customer service, get customers involved in product development
  • B to B companies could use a password protected version to use as a company suggestion box
  • Religious organization could use it to increase discussion around the previous weeks sermon and challenge members to live the message in their daily lives

We created a version of this for our company in 1995 to increase the sharing of ideas within a tech company I founded.  I firmly believe the successful leaders and companies of the future will be using crowd sourcing tools like this to run their companies.

In a recent IBM study, Capitalizing on Complexity:

  • 8 out of 10 CEO’s expect their environment to get more complex
  • 49% believe their organizations are not ready to deal with this new complex world
  • 95% of top performing companies identified that getting closer to customers was their most important strategy
  • This group of CEO’s expect 20% of revenue in the next 5 years to come from new product/service lines

The same IBM study found that majority of CEOs did not believe their staff had the answers to the enormous challenges their companies face.  Crowd sourcing could provide that solution.  In my opinion, crowd sourcing will help organizations handle the enormous challenges businesses face.  So check it www.ideascale.com   Interested in learning more about Crowd Sourcing join our complimentary Webinar.  Click here for the quick GotoMeeting registration!

Your Facebook Fan Page has just been DELETED!

Written by on August 16th, 2010

The person who sets up your Fan page can delete, or hijack it!

It’s hard to imagine the impact Facebook Fan pages have had in a little over a year.  In March of 2009 Facebook, ramped up the Fan page to provide more tools and services and make it easier for businesses to create and maintain it.

Now, nearly two million organizations have created Fan pages to communicate with, listen to, engage and gain access to their fans’ networks of friends. These organizations are working hard to use Facebook as a marketing channel.

However there is one little known secret that few are aware of.  Are you ready?  That secret is…

The personal profile that sets up the organization Fan page, owns the Fan page!

That’s right.  So if you are the administrator of a department and you turned to the most Facebook savvy

person in your department or neighbor kid to create it, they own it.  You might be an administrator on the page, but you don’t own it.  They can make you the administrator, but they will always own it!  That presents some significant, security, branding and marketing issues!

Google, ‘Facebook Fan pages deleted’ and you’ll find examples like:

  • Both of my company’s Facebook FAN PAGES WERE DELETED without warning or explanation. Does anyone have experience with this kind of problem? How can we get back our pages which have accrued more than 3,000 fans?
  • Hi all, I just had my business page reinstated yesterday after an employee who left the company deleted it. Source, Facebook Help section

As your Fan page becomes a more important asset you don’t want to have to go to your boss and let him or her know you need to fire an employee, but you are concerned that employee who created the Facebook Fan page might:

  1. Delete the page
  2. Take everyone else off as an administrator and high jack the page
  3. Ask a fee to get it back!

You’d be lucky if the employee deleted the page because there is a way to get it back.  But imagine the damage someone could do if they high jacked your Fan page! They know the inside story about customers.  They could use the fan page to:

  • Tell customers what some employees have said about them (demanding, pain in the ass, idiot!)
  • Share problems the company has covered up
  • Start promoting competitors products and services

Ouch!  Sounds a bit messy doesn’t it.  But it’s already happening.  See for yourself, Google – Facebook Fan page deleted -and you’ll find your own examples of companies who’s Fan page has been deleted.

There are two ways you can solve this issue:

  1. Have the person who created the page, add you or someone in the organization, as an administrator.  (You must be friends with that person first)  Then have the creator of the page delete themselves as an administrator of your page.  You can continue this process to pass it on to the next person.
  2. Include in your employee and social media use agreement that any employee that creates a social media site for the company, will pass ownership of the site over to an administrator when requested by company officials

These are relatively painless and easy steps to take to prevent rather embarrassing and or costly situations later.

Here’s what to do if your Fan page is deleted!

But if you find your Fan page deleted, here are a few steps you can take.

  1. Visit http://www.facebook.com/developers/developer_help.php
  2. Share the following information
  • Full name of the Page(s)
  • The username of the Page(s)
  • Web address (URL) of the Page(s)
  • Full name and network of any other Page admin(s)

Also, if you’ve received weekly reports from Facebook about your website, that will also help Facebook staff identify your specific Fan page

Kelli Brown of PixelPoint Express also reminds us:

As Facebook’s Terms of Use prevent you from having multiple personal accounts or having a business registered as a personal account, there isn’t a way, within the rules, to avoid the “creator owns the page” issue. The issue becomes even more complex if the company hires a social media company to do the page building process for them. When hiring a company, ensure that the contract stipulates how the accounts will be managed, transferred and maintained, especially when the monthly retainer ends.

Summary

You are investing time, talent and treasure into your Fan page.  As it continues to become more important to your customer service, product development and marketing efforts, make sure you have a transition plan in place!

Got a story to share?  Let us know!

Updating your Fan Page – Sucks! Or does it?

Written by on August 8th, 2010

My little secret will make updating your Fan page effortless and fun

I’ve talked to hundreds of organizations and businesses who are cautiously adding a Facebook Fan page. But beyond the fear and trepidation of setting it up, there is an enormous anxiety about “ what’s next?.”

  1. What do we say in our News Feed?
  2. How do we get people to Fan us?
  3. What if someone says something we don’t approve?
  4. Worse, what if they bash us?

And most importantly they say, “How am I to find the time to do this?” And it’s not just that, most people are not sure how to organize the process of becoming an editor and publisher of their Fan page.

So I’m going to share with you a little secret.

The good news is this secret is free and it works.

In fact it’s the simplest technique I could find to create a process to organize this so you don’t have to fret about it. This process will enable you to spend 10 – 20 minutes a week updating your Fan page with content that will keep people commenting which will get the attention of their friends and increase your fan base.

You only need one piece of software to make this work. It’s your gmail or Outlook calendar. So here’s the secret.

Create a reoccurring event in your outlook and let it run for say, 90 days. I set mine up to occur at 7 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And I call the calendar event, Facebook Fan Page Update. So now that I have 36+ on my calendar I can sit back and let Outlook remind me to update the Fan page.

But wait, wait, there’s more to this secret!

So your next step is to set aside 20 minutes to find content on others websites that your audience would be interested in, and that validates your message, product or theme. It might be videos from YouTube, serious research, a blog article, an article in a major news source or something fun and interesting from Wikipedia. In 20 minutes you should be able to find 3 interesting, relevant pieces of content that you can copy the link and write a short intro to for your News Feed.

The next thing to do is simply copy the link and the content into the day of the week you want to share it. Then on that day, drop it in and it’s posted. I know what you are thinking! Wouldn’t it be great if there was software that would let you post content for an entire month and walk away from it? There is, but, for the moment – you don’t want to pay for it!

So that’s it. It’s simple fast and it provides you a framework to fit this additional responsibility into your daily life, but more importantly change your behavior so you actually do it!

Now, that you have mastered updating content, we’ll need to circle back around and evaluate how people are responding to the content with Insights. You my friend are just getting started on a process that is going to suck more and more of your time, but research is suggesting it’s worth it.

Check out some of the latest posts that confirm this at:

www.facebook.com/internetstrategiesgroup

Fans not only will BUY MORE from you, they will more likely RECOMMEND YOU!

Blogs are DEAD!

Written by on August 4th, 2010

Too time consuming! Less impact than a Fan Page!

I’m blogged out! This 547 word blog took 37 minutes out of my life!

I started blogging in 2004 with a blog called WiredCommunities. My focus was on organizations who were doing ground breaking and/or unique things in building online communities. Each article required time to research, write, edit, contact the organization for quotes, publishing and finally handling the spam that tried to get on the blog. It was a huge undertaking. After writing nearly 200 articles, I just pooped out!

So I wrote a book!

And then realized I should promote my book with a blog. So the blog you are reading now is designed to continue the discussion I started in my book Internet Dough! But I’m stressing again. Once again each article is requiring me to take time to research, write, edit and publish. While I love to write, there are times I feel a slave to the blog. It’s another thing that gets added on my “Things to Do” list. It nags me on weekends! And why? Well, if I do enough articles and get picked up by other blogs and share it frequently with my customers and fans, then I build my social credibility!

But is it worth it?

For some yes! But like anything else, only a few bloggers/organizations will have the stamina and consistency to be able to reach a sizable audience. Based on the over 100 million blogs just in the United States, I would wager that 99.5 bloggers start off with good intentions and lose interest. Life and their current job and family responsibilities get in the way and they slowly lose interest.

So, to me blogging is Dead. It’s over rated and it’s too difficult to scale.

So what do you do?

I’m leaning to our corporate Facebook Fan page as a faster way to educate, share and develop a conversation with people interested in what we are interested in.

Think about it.

Our attention spans are short. We consistently wrote 400-600 word blog articles which for the typical reader requires 4-5 minutes to read. But do readers really have the time to read them? If they are like me, they have a fire hose of news, content and information streaming into their mail boxes daily.

Instead of fretting about writing an article, we check our Google News Reader/Alerts for interesting content. We then write a 100 character summary and attach a link to the article and publish it on our Fan page. It gives us the same effect. But with an extra twist.

Now we can offer our opinions and use third party sources to validate them. To us, our Facebook Fan page is also our eNewsletter. Once a month, we dump in the summaries of the last 3 status updates in our News Feed and fire off our Newsletter. It’s fast, easy and repurposes content and information we have already produced.

So for us, our blog has been demoted!  It’s not a primary communication channel.  Maybe considering it dead is a little over stated, eh?

We’ll still blog, but not fret about it.  We’ll do an article every other week or once a month. In the meantime, our focus will be on building our readership on our Fan Page and using Facebook Insights to better understand what our Fans want to know.

What about you?

Oh, follow us at www.facebook.com/internetstrategiesgroup

Big Brother 1984 – Just took a Couple of Decades to Reach!

Written by on January 15th, 2010

FBI, Electronic billboards, Social Media & MORE “wisdom of the crowds”

The FBI is at the beginning phases of using social media and the “wisdom of the crowds” to solve crime.

I was working out today and watched as the FBI unveiled a new crime fighting strategy.  They unveiled on Time’s Square a massive electronic billboard that will list America’s most wanted!

NBC did a great job covering the story and providing additional background to show how their strategy emerged.  It appears they picked up on the Amber alert technique and started working with Clear Channel and other electronic billboard companies to post information about wanted criminals.   The program proved effective for them when they posted an image of a South Carolina bank robber that led to his identification.  They then posted his name and information which led to his arrest.

So let’s fast forward this and go “back to the future”

In my book, Engage Customers Online I shared a story how the car company – Mini Cooper used RFID to communicate with Mini Cooper owners through select billboards.  (They called Motorboards).  Mini owners that were interested completed an online profile and were then sent a “key fob”.   When the driver came within range of a Motorboard, the LED readout on the Motorboard displayed a customized, often humorous message that related to the owner’s profession, name, or roof design. Examples: “Nice roof graphic, Rocket!” to an owner with a car nicknamed Rocket, or “Moving at the speed of justice!” to a lawyer.  That was about 3 years ago!

Fast forward to today and imagine that you are driving past a billboard that is using Facebook Connect and RFID.  As you approach it, it instantly taps into your social network to see if you are in some way connected to one of America’s most wanted (or anyone wanted for that matter.  It might include child support payments, parking tickets outstanding – who knows where it will stop)

If it finds you are connected in some way, the billboard or an electronic dashboard system  instantly (says or posts)  “Don, George Lucas is wanted for making science fiction movies,  you are connected to him by Angie Dickinson.  We’re dropping an alert in your News Feed to let us know any tips you may have that will bring him in safely.”

This automated system would feed tips back to the control center where they are instantly validated and checked out.

All of us are trying to figure out how to play and use Social Media for our businesses.  There are good and bad signs we need to be paying attention to as we move along.  Those that are living “The Truman Show” on Facebook, need to rethink what they are doing.  And, those responsible for creating strategies, need to keep in mind basic civil liberties and privacy norms.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in Social Media.   You need to help shape it for the good of your organization and your customers.

Army of tweeting students, alumni and staff to increase enrollment

Written by on January 9th, 2010

H&R Block provides example college admissions can adopt!

 The headline of this blog today was inspired by an article in Advertising Age written by Beth Snyder Bulik.

H&R Block as you know, prepares tax statements for millions of customers.  It’s a very seasonal business – but its big business!  There are nearly 13,000 retail shops around the country and the company has 100,000 employees.

H&R started to notice that behaviors of consumers were changing last year when they recognized that out of the 95 million tax returns that were filed electronically, nearly 1/3 of them were from home computers.  They realized they needed to offer a home computer tax program to not only build their brand, but offer a bridge to their retail shops.

To market their program they decided to incorporate both traditional advertising and social media marketing.  Their goal was to use social media to educate customers, answer questions, build brand awareness and leverage the conversations that develop into visits to their corporate page where the visitor could select a retail shop to help them prepare their taxes or purchase their software.

To accomplish that, H&R built a 1,000 employees social media army!   They provided this team an overview of their strategy, what they wanted to accomplish, outlined their goals and offered basic training on social media.  According to Bulik:

The social-media strategy includes a Twitter account, widgets, blogs, a YouTube channel and a Facebook fan page and apps — a recent one in the form of a quiz asks, “How deductible are you?”

Why did they do that?

If the average person on Twitter has 100 friends, 1,000 employees have an opportunity to reach not only 1,000,000 people but their tweets have the ability to reach the 100 people that each of the people they know are connected to.   That’s a big number!   And they don’t have to pay a marketing, PR or advertising channel to reach them.

This army could be on any of their social networks and respond when:

  • Someone mentions they have to do their taxes
  • A tax question is asked
  • Someone is interested in finding a place that provides loans based on taxes due to the person
  • Someone is looking for a person to do their tax
  • Someone shares an issue they have had with the IRS

While Social Media monitoring software catches this information, it’s people that respond.  Because even in this new online world, “people still do business with people”.

So how would your company unleash an army of Social Media?   Let’s take a look at this from the college recruitment angle.

Admissions offices could do the same thing.

Think about it, a college has thousands of students, tens of thousands of alumni (if not hundreds of thousands) and dozens of staff  that could form the core of the Social Media team.  This army of people could be create a variety of content in audio, video, text and or photographs to build the college brand, engage prospective students and maintain mindshare of prospective students.

  • Students could be sharing information about events, activities and courses.
  • Alumni could share experiences, career advice.
  • Faculty could offer min courses, answer questions.
  • Prospective students could be talking about their visits, sharing research and students, alumni and faculty they are meeting.

And of course all could be engaging prospective students in dialogue.

Why does this make sense? 

  1. It’s cheap! It’s repeatable and once you’ve built the system it runs by itself.
  2. Everyone I just mentioned has a vested interest in seeing the college succeed.
  3. This Social Media team represents authentic voices that prospective students will believe.

Experts today remind us that you no longer have control of your brand

Your brand exists in the people we’ve listed above.  Prospective students no longer pay attention to the “slogans and phrases” colleges work so hard to create and market. Students today pay just as much or more attention to what people they know say about the college.

So what are the steps to implement a social media strategy within a college admissions office?

We’ll cover that in upcoming blog articles.  ? leave a comment or call 800-805-9413.

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