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Brain Waves Newsletter
November 2018 │ Issue 1

In this Issue

Director's Letter

Campus Sonar Team
In honor of launching an agency, the Campus Sonar staff posed for some Mad Men-style photos—Emily Prell, Liz Gross, and Amber Sandall.

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Brain Waves, the only monthly newsletter dedicated to strategic social listening in higher education. We created this newsletter for you, esteemed subscriber. You deserve a digest of the latest and greatest thinking on social intelligence, because it’s vital to your mission of connecting with students, families, alumni, and your community. Some of the content will come from us (it is, after all, our job), but even more will be curated from the great minds both in and outside higher education who are digging into social listening on a theoretical, strategic, and tactical level.

We don’t believe social listening is a technology fad. As I’ve shared with many groups at conferences this fall, I believe social listening is one way for higher education to regain the public’s trust—trust that has largely been lost in the past decade, according to data from the Edelman Trust Barometer and the Pew Research Center. Social listening allows us to gain a better understanding of the conversations occurring about our institutions, and amongst the people we strive to serve. When we understand those conversations, insights can inform campus strategy in enrollment management, branding, alumni affairs, development, and more.

This newsletter will highlight the impact of social listening, as well as some nuts-and-bolts of how it works. You’ll also get to know the Campus Sonar team better (psst—we’re hiring). But we want to keep it all about you. So, please don’t hesitate to reply with your questions, comments, and feedback. I look forward to evolving this newsletter with the input of our subscribers.

Finally, if you like what you’re reading, forward it to a friend or colleague and encourage them to subscribe!

Always listening,


Meet Analyst Emily Prell

Emily Prell

We’d like to introduce you to our staff, starting with one of our expert analysts, Emily Prell.

Emily spends her days creating and optimizing social listening queries, cleaning and categorizing data, performing data analysis, and providing data-driven insights to clients through reports, dashboards, and presentations. Emily’s love for analysis grew out of keeping stats during NBA games. Now she loves analyzing data and crunching numbers to help campuses and universities become more engaged with their students.

What intrigues you the most about social listening?
I’m amazed by all the conversations being had in social media, and how insight into those conversations can be used for engagement opportunities and marketing strategies.

What’s rocking your world this month? 
It’s been exciting and challenging to be part of a brand-new company and learn all about social listening. I’ve been able to dive into a lot of data and analysis right away, which has been fun!

What current part of your job is your favorite?
I love digging into the social media conversations about the schools we’re working with and being able to quickly learn a lot about them without ever setting foot on their campuses.

What do you like about social?
I love how social media connects people—from people you already know to the new people you meet on the other side of the world who you have something in common with. Social media has proven that it really is a small world.

What social media platform do you use most often?
I love photography, so I find myself on Instagram most often. It’s usually the inspiration for my next trip!

What is the biggest impact that social has on actual behaviors/relationships?
Social media allows information and opinions to spread quickly and widely. What used to take hours, days, or even weeks to get out to a wide audience now happens in a matter of minutes. Through social media, people are able to come together, spread their messages, and make real change, which, as we’ve seen, can be both good and bad.

What’s the most memorable vacation you’ve taken in the past?
I’ve been fortunate to take some pretty great trips in the past few years, but I think the most memorable was in June 2016 when my friend and I went on a two-week trip to Spain.

What super power would you like to have?
Teleportation. Since I love traveling, it would make it a lot easier to get places without being crammed into an airplane seat for hours.

How Pepperdine University Used Social Listening to Hug a Hater 

Pepperdine Mobile AppIf you haven’t already, we recommend reading Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. It’s our go-to guide for data-driven insight about the importance of finding and responding to online complaints. Although only 42 percent of people who complain about you expect you to respond, addressing a complaint (potentially without even solving it) results in a consumer being 20 percent more likely to recommend your institution. Ignore complaints at your peril—if you fail to address a complaint on social media, that individual’s advocacy drops by a whopping 43 percent. Earlier this year we spoke with Noelle Seybert, former Social Media Manager at Pepperdine University. She shared many examples of the ways Pepperdine proactively finds and responds to complaints. Here’s one of them.

Pepperdine University started using social listening software as part of its social media strategy in 2014—much earlier than most campuses. Using Salesforce Social Studio, the central marketing office maintained a variety of searches to identify conversations about the campus, faculty publications, sporting events, and alumni activities, as well as to aid in crisis communication.

Like many campuses, Pepperdine experiences some parking challenges. A special event late last year drew a large crowd and resulted in one of the parking lots being closed. This surprised students, and they expressed their anger on social media. One student complained on Twitter using the word "Pepperdine," but didn’t tag the campus using @Pepperdine. At many institutions, this sort of complaint would go unnoticed.

Identifying and responding to online complaints using social listening is a huge opportunity for higher education. With a relatively small investment in tools and automation to find complaints and address them, an institution’s brand can receive the boost it might be spending a lot of money to get through brand advertising. Do you have a story like this? Please consider responding to this email and sharing it with us.

Because of their responsive social listening program, a staff member responded directly to the student within minutes using Pepperdine’s verified Twitter account. She apologized and offered a solution—the Pepp mobile app, which includes functionality to track shuttles to/from various parking lots on campus. Quickly, other students started to join the conversation and were also offered the solution. Incidentally, the Pepp app had a slight increase in downloads that day. Just as quickly as the complaint was posted, the complainer thanked Pepperdine for their quick response and deleted the original complaint from Twitter.


Free Social Listening Snapshot

Our social listening snapshot provides a comprehensive overview of social listening and analysis. Analyze your online conversations to uncover actionable insights.

Request a Free Snapshot


Read Our Latest Blog Posts

Introducing Campus Sonar October 6, 2017

What the Boolean! Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Social Listening? October 11, 2017

What Social Listening Can’t Tell You October 23, 2017

Are You a Modern Marketer? October 25, 2017

Supporting Tech and Digital Leadership in Higher Education November 1, 2017

How to Identify Engagement Opportunities November 8, 2017

What We're Reading

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

2017 Social Campus Report: A Global Survey of Higher Education Social Media Usage; A white paper that details how social media has transformed the communication landscape for higher education institutions. While over 70 percent of institutions surveyed plan to have a formal social media strategy in the next 12 months, there are still major challenges. Lack of skills, cross-campus collaboration, and budget are key barriers impacting success. Download the white paper to read more about the current state of the social campus and eight areas of opportunity for higher education institutions in 2018.

Actionable Insights: The Missing Link Between Data And Business Value: Is “actionable insights” an empty buzzword? In order to better understand actionable insights, you need to understand the subtle differences between “data,” “information,” and “insights.” How actionable are the insights you receive from your analytics and business intelligence tools? Discover six key attributes you can use.

Campus Hate Lives on the Internet. Administrators Need to Catch Up: Real-life examples of how quickly hate groups can form on campus and how often schools aren’t able to keep up in this fast-paced digital era.

The Complete Social Listening Guide: Social listening gives you the ability to take social conversations and develop meaningful insights and data. This guide takes you through all aspects of social listening and how it might be useful to you.

Online Reputation IS Your Reputation: Are You Listening?: There’s a trust problem in higher education, but you can re-establish that trust and build more authentic relationships by listening to your audience. Make a strategic investment by using these four strategic drivers for social listening in higher education.

William & Mary Using Social Media to Expand Presidential Search Engagement: Details how William & Mary engaged their community in the search for their next college president. Launching a social media campaign allowed the community to understand the search committee’s priorities.

Listen to Podcasts

Dr. Jillian Ney Talks Digital Behavioral Science Podcast: Discussion of digital behavioral science and how it differs from social listening. Dr. Ney explains how social media research gets you into social intelligence and details the importance of understanding how people make decisions. She uses behavioral insights to sell innovation.

Building a Modern Higher Ed Marketing Team at University at Albany (SUNY) Podcast and Blog Post: How to hire, organize, and structure your higher education marketing department to fulfill current and future institutional enrollment goals—including the importance of digital on the marketing team.

See Campus Sonar

AMA Annual Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education
November 12–15, 2017 │ Atlanta, GA
Talk to us at booth #56 in the exhibit hall.
Presentation: November 14, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Digital Marketing for Higher Education Online Conference
December 6, 2017 │Online
Using Social Conversation Insights to Identify Strategic Influencers

Tell Us What You Think

Brain Waves newsletter is for you—help us shape the news we share with you. Tell us what you think, send us suggestions, and let us know what would help you do your job better. We want to know! Send your feedback to or just reply to this email.

Campus Sonar 2401 International Lane  Madison WI 53704 USA

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