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Brain Waves Newsletter

September 2018 │ Issue 11

In this Issue

Director's Letter

By now I think you probably know that Campus Sonar is not a software company. Yet we're still regularly asked for a free demo of our service. That's not really our style. See, I have a love/hate relationship with demos. Love, because it's always fun to see something new and innovative. Hate, because they're usually cookie cutter, rushed, and not always relevant to my needs. So I decided we wouldn't do free demos at Campus Sonar. We want to provide more value than that.

So what actually happens when a campus wants to explore working with us? We search for a mutual fit and provide value up-front before crafting custom solutions. Here's how that works.

  • Exploratory Call: This is one, maybe two phone calls, where we get to know each other. We explain how Campus Sonar approaches projects or partnerships, but we spend most of the time getting to know you, our prospective client. What are your biggest struggles? How do you think social listening could help? What are your priorities? What is the campus climate like? After these calls, if we think we can help, we offer to prepare a Free Social Listening Snapshot.
  • Free Social Listening Snapshot Creation: After you answer five questions, our analysts get to work. We build a basic Boolean query and pull 12 months of historical social listening data. We use this data to create a five-page report that you get to keep, and to build a custom dashboard that demonstrates our capabilities specifically related to your campus's priorities and needs.
  • Free Snapshot Review: About two weeks after our last exploratory call, we're ready to share the snapshot with you. We review our strategic goals, walk through the document in an online meeting, and then peek at the custom dashboard to demonstrate what sort of data we would be working with if we partnered together. Now we both know how much online conversation there is about the campus, and generally what it looks like. At that point, we determine if there's mutual agreement to move forward. No matter what, we send you the Free Social Listening Snapshot to keep.
  • Proposal Creation: If we both want to keep talking, Campus Sonar prepares a custom proposal that outlines the strategic goals social listening will achieve, how we'll use social listening to achieve those goals, what our support will look like, what deliverables your campus can expect, and the investment required to provide the services.
  • Contract: The next step is signing a contract. Services can generally start within 14 days of signing a contract.
  • Onboarding: It takes 4-6 weeks for us to fully onboard a new campus partner. At this point, your campus receives a welcome guide that describes what the first 30 days will look like.

The whole process can take anywhere from a month to much longer, depending on campus readiness, buy-in, and ability to fit the investment into your budget. If you're interested in starting this process, you can request an exploratory call at If you think we could be doing a better job with this, I'd love to hear that too; just reply to this email.


Bots Are Ramping Up on Social Media—We're On It! 

Recently, we dove into the topic of bots with potential clients after doing their Free Snapshot research. Bots aren’t uncommon on Twitter, but some are better disguised as real accounts than others. Many bots exist just to drive up follower and engagement numbers for real people who are willing to pay for it. If you haven't read The New York Times January expose on this, set aside some time for this long read: The Follower Factory. Others seem to be programmed with some sort of agenda, often political. To the untrained eye, the accounts seem like real people. But after closer analysis, we can spot them. In the course of one investigation, we uncovered a tangled web of cat bots on Twitter. Yes, cats. Tweeting about a college campus. Don't worry, the cat bot analysis is forthcoming.

While the bot drama is fascinating for our own entertainment, we know we need a better understanding of bots to provide exemplary social listening analysis to our clients. So, we're getting to work. The Sonarians are in the midst of an exploratory research project to get to the bottom of the bot rabbit hole. Here are a few things we're looking into:

  • Understand—really understand—how bots work
  • Explore if bot behavior is actually influencing human behavior in our clients' online conversations
  • Understand how we can identify bots
  • Build a framework to segment bot-driven conversation for clients
  • Consider the impact of fake followers in our influencer analyses
  • Investigate higher ed bot trends across school type, size, and location

Emily and Lindsey dove into the research, and they've also identified relevant resources to help our community learn more about bots. We're not quite ready to share the findings yet, but when we are you'll be the first to know! (Do you have friends who would like sneak peeks into our work too? Forward this email and invite them to subscribe.)

Ask An Analyst

Q: What role does fake news play in your analysis?

A: Campus Sonar believes that what happens online is real life. The internet and the communication it enables is how the general public gets its information and forms their views of the world, even if that news is fabricated. As analysts, we collect data through social listening which in our definition is real life−transcribed, sorted, and analyzed to provide institutions a purview of their target audience’s reality.

As analysts, one of our roles is to find online topics that resonate. Whether that topic is a bona fide piece of journalism, a meme that’s gone viral, an article from a well-known satirical news organization (here’s looking at you Onion!), or even “fake news.” Whatever the topic−it’s our job to identify it, see how far it’s spread, uncover what people are saying, and who is saying it when. The software we use identifies themes, articles, and posts, but a huge benefit of a human analyst is their ability to look at the data, read the content, and flag what might potentially be misinformation.

Our clients trust that we provide all the available information and report said information with integrity; congruous with Campus Sonar’s values. In addition, we provide insights that our clients can use to combat misinformation that affects their brand, reputation, and/or their student body.

Have more social listening questions for our analysts? Send them to

Read Our Latest Blog Posts

How to Use Social Listening Data for Marketing Personas by Amber Sandall, August 22, 2018

When Students Become Storytellers: Students as Social Media Influencers by Carly McCarthy, August 29, 2018

How to Talk to Executives about Social Listening by Liz Gross, September 5, 2018

A Traveler's Guide to Social Listening Analysis: Off the Beaten Path by Traci Sesko, September 12, 2018

Key Social Listening Resources

Each month the Campus Sonar staff shares what they’ve been reading, watching, and listening to as it relates to social listening. If you have resources you think might be helpful, send them to

Leveraging Student Generated Content Use student-generated content to help prospective students see an authentic view what life on campus is really like. Leverage content students are already creating—and see how other campuses are using students as social media ambassadors.

The Newest Forrester Wave on Social Listening Platforms Expresses Disappointment in the Category Insights into the social listening software reviewed in the Forrest Wave Report. Watch for Liz Gross’s thoughts on the report coming soon.

Start Them Young: 4 New Findings on College Search New survey results from Edventures’ “Student Sentiment Survey” offer four findings on why paying attention to college sophomores is worth the effort.

A Tech Wiz Is Conquering College Admissions. It Takes Charm, Innovation, and Dancing Sharks Read about Slate (used by many schools to track data about prospective students), the Slate Innovation Summit, and how the CRM is changing college admissions.

Using Competitive Social Data to Gain a Competitive Marketing Advantage Audience listening is a new way to use social listening that develops more focused insights. Follow the six steps to uncover actionable data.

See Campus Sonar

NACAC National Conference, September 27–29 / Salt Lake City, UT
Stop by booth #106 or attend Liz’s presentation Beyond Hashtags: Creating Social Success in a Dynamic Landscape, September 27 at 8:30 a.m.

CUPRAP Fall East Workshop, October 15 / Philadelphia, PA
Liz is keynoting the one-day workshop, presenting Using Social Media Insights to Drive Offline Outcomes.

ListenUp EDU, October 17-18 / Chicago, ILAsset+13@5x
Campus Sonar is a co-sponsor of ListenUp EDU and Liz is one of the many higher ed curators organizing the conference. Join Liz and Amber in one of Chicago’s most creative venues and spend two days creating a 21-st century approach to accelerate student success outcomes, alumni engagement, marketing and communications, and advancement. Register now!

HighEdWeb, October 21–24 / Sacramento, CA
If you follow Liz on Twitter, you’ve no doubt been waiting for more on her presentation with Andrew CasselAre You Addicted to Data? Balancing Heart and Mind in Your Content Strategy. Join them at HighEd Web! Liz will also present How to Talk to Leadership About Social Listening with Erin Supinka.

2018 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, November 4–7 / Orlando, FL
Campus Sonar is ready to talk to you in booth #504—stop and say “Hi!”—and don’t miss Liz’s extended marketing session with Josie Ahlquist and Gail Martineau on “Trends and Tactics for Higher Ed Executives on Social Media (And the People who Support Them). She’ll share early research from a report on the digital presence of higher ed execs.

AACRAO SEM, November 11-14 / Washington, DC
Stop and see us in the exhibit hall and watch for more information about a presentation Liz is giving with Adam Castro

Tell Us What You Think

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Campus Sonar 2401 International Lane  Madison WI 53704 USA

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