Not rendering correctly? View this email as a web page here.
  Facebook Link   Twitter Link   LinkedIn Link  
Brain Waves Newsletter

Director's Letter

Hello reader,

Since I last wrote you, we’ve tried a bunch of new things at Campus Sonar. Each of them came with some degree of risk, and I believe we’re better for it. They’ve also resulted in a lot of feedback—some of which has been difficult to digest—but all of it will make us a better member of the higher education community. Here’s a quick summary of what we’re trying.

price-tagPricing Transparency: We’ve been working on some website content updates to help visitors better understand what we do, who does it, and what it costs—that’s exactly what our user research found you’re looking for when you visit. So we’ve got a brand new Services section—and it includes price ranges. If you’re curious, take a look. I’m hopeful we can spur others to follow our lead.

Re-inventing Higher Ed Conferences: We held the first ListenUp EDU conference in October in partnership with Switchboard. cs+switchboardIt was really different: our space was one-of-a-kind (it spurred comparisons to Central Perk), we weren’t segmented into functional areas, and we focused on getting attendees to explore ideas together rather than listen to a sage on a stage. Overall, it worked. People literally told us it was the best higher ed conference they ever attended. But we’re not satisfied. We crafted an evaluation that forced people to tell us how to get better, and they were very honest with us. We’re raising the stakes for next time (yes, there will be a next time; save the dates April 17-18 in Portland, OR). And we’re committed to keeping it small, so space will be limited. Take a look at this year's conference and stay tuned for more information.

Embracing a Pirate Approach: I teamed up with Andrew Cassel at HighEdWeb to share our thoughts and advice on the balance between emotion and data for content creators. It wasn’t your normal conference presentation; there were costumes, very few slides, and a semi-scripted back-and-forth narrative that aimed to both inform and inspire. I accidentally hit someone in the head with a prop (a light-weight pirate hook), but I hope that’s not what made it memorable. I think about 100 people attended, and 72 were kind enough to submit feedback on the session. I opened the feedback and felt like I got punched in the gut. The first open-ended comment was “I’m a big Liz Gross fan, but this was a disappointment.” Some people loved it. Others hated it. Although overall the session was rated slightly above average, the responses were extremely polarized. I actually created a scatter plot to determine a trend, and there was none. Andrew and I have been working through the feedback to determine what this means for future presentations. One thing we’ve agreed on: we’re glad we tried something different and challenged our audience a bit. Perhaps it was too much, too soon. brainstormingWe’re brainstorming alternate ways to share our content, which you may see in early 2019. But basically we declared mutiny on the status-quo of conference presentations and we’re okay with that.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the opportunity to try new things. It’s always a learning opportunity. We’re not planning to slow down in this area; it keeps us on our toes. What new things have you tried, or thought of trying? Reply and let me know. I’ll likely encourage you.

Liz Signature

Conducting a Social Media Audit


One of the most frequently asked questions at higher ed social media conferences is how campus social media managers handle the proliferation of accounts across multiple networks that represent some facet of the institution—from departments to athletics to student organizations and even unofficial mascot accounts. While the strategy that binds the accounts together may vary from campus to campus, it can’t be addressed until the full scope of campus-affiliated accounts is understood.

A social media audit (the process of identifying and describing every social media account associated with your institution) is often one of the first steps to understanding your institution’s online reputation or developing a social media strategy. If you aren't sure of the scope of your social media presence—both official and unofficial—your institution may be open to unnecessary risk in the form of reputational harm. In the course of an audit you’ll often come across dormant or untraceable accounts, as well as hidden gems you didn’t know were broadcasting your brand (for better or worse) to an online audience.

A thorough audit identifies accounts on all channels, categorizes them as active/dormant and verified/not verified, documents the audience of each account, and identifies the administrator of each account. You can also categorize accounts in ways that make sense to your institution (e.g., student groups, academics, athletics, student life, flagship). The results can help you refine how your brand is portrayed online and inform your campus-wide social media strategy.

We’ve heard from folks that social media audits are valuable for their strategy, but they’re also time-consuming and tedious to create. It turns out, one of the benefits of social listening software is it makes it easier for us to identify accounts affiliated with your campus name or mascot. And we’ve been conducting audits as part of the onboarding of our Strategic Partnership services for clients. So now we’re offering the Social Media Account Audit as a stand-alone product. Let us do the work for you, so you can focus on more campus-specific matters. We’ll turn your audit around in less than a month, and provide actionable information to help you create or refine a social media strategy that is true to your brand. Learn more about the Social Media Account Audit on our website, or reply to this email to request yours today. This can be a great use of end-of-year budget; most audits cost between $1,000 and $5,000.

Get to Know Campus Sonar: Michelle Mulder

mmulder-newsletter-headshotCampus Sonar’s Content Strategist Michelle Mulder has been with us since we launched as a contract employee, but only recently became an official Sonarian. 

What intrigues you the most about social listening?

The amount of information we can find through social listening and how we're able to use it to help campuses better engage with their students.

What is the most memorable vacation you’ve taken in the past?

We try to take a family vacation every year—there are so many places we want to explore with our kids. I think my favorite was a trip out west five years ago. We started with my grandma’s ninety-fifth birthday in South Dakota, hit the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Cody, Wyoming, Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole. Lots of fun adventures along the drive and beautiful places to visit.

What’s rocking your world this month?

The fact that I have three kids in high school and one about to head off to college. High school girls are very different than high school boys so it’s going to be an interesting four years. Our senior is in the middle of applying to college and making a decision, which is turning out to be easier and harder than expected. But it provides nice insight into the prospective student and enrollment world of higher ed.

What current part of your job is your favorite?

I love that I’m always learning. Since I started working with Campus Sonar, I’m constantly learning about social listening, higher ed, new platforms, content strategy, and more. I also enjoy connecting with people online and building new relationships with our guest bloggers and other experts.

What would you like to accomplish in your job this year?

I’d like to continue to help Campus Sonar grow as a leader in the higher ed social listening space and continue learning and developing expertise in our industry.

What’s the last book you read?

The Last Mrs. Parrish—I don’t read much lately but I’m trying to change that. 

What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

I’m extremely good at doing laundry—unfortunately my family is on to me.

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

We just finished season 2 of Ozark and are now eagerly awaiting season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. We're dabbling in some This Is Us and Modern Family while we wait.

Ask an Analyst

research-iconWhat’s the coolest connection/analysis you’ve made from social listening?

In a previous position I held, I helped a student who was down on her luck. She had an unmistakable name and story of struggle that stuck with me. While social listening recently, I ran across a Reddit post where someone mentioned that a woman with the same distinctive name is now working in higher education. I was overjoyed to learn that despite being dealt a difficult hand in life, she persevered and received her master’s degree. By social listening happenstance, I had closure and, even more, a happy ending.    

Read Our Latest Blog Posts

Social Service—Shape Institutional Priorities by Meeting Customers Where they Are by Donna Talarico, Oct. 10, 2018

What Is the ROI of Social Listening? by Mike Nagel and Liz Gross, Oct. 17, 2018

Capturing Hearts and Minds by Rochelle Kulas, October 17, 2018

Creating Long-term Partnerships: Engaging Students and Alumni Influencers by Genna Welsh Kasun, Oct. 24, 2018

How Social Listening Can Benefit Your Content Marketing by Stephen App and Liz Gross, Oct. 31, 2018

Six #ProTips for Using Social Listening for Crisis Management by Emily Truax, Nov.7, 2018

Key Social Listening Resources

4 Mistakes Higher-Ed Execs Make on Social Media and How They Can Stop Making Them Liz Gross, Josie Ahlquist, and Gail Martineau presented a session on trends and tactics for higher ed execs on social media at the American Marketing Association 2018 Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. Read a summary of their session, learn four common mistakes from Josie’s work with campus executives, and get a preview of Tuning In: Higher Ed Execs Online—a research study coming from Campus Sonar in spring 2018.

College Students Predicted to Fall by More than 15% After the Year 2025 Future college enrollment is expected to drop to by 15% between 2025 and 2029 and continue to decline by another percentage point or two thereafter. Find out where Nathan Grawe, an economist at Carleton College, predicts declining enrollment will be felt the most and who may be immune to the trend.

Consumer Trends in the Retail Industry: The Power of the Disgruntled Consumer Social listening is one way to better understand your customers and respond to them when they have a problem. It can help you meet and exceed response time expectations, find and respond to comments and complaints, and analyze comments and identify process improvements. Find out what’s trending in the retail industry and how that might relate to higher education.

Department of Retailing Pilots New Social Media Listening Curriculum with Keyhole The University of South Carolina Department of Retailing is piloting a new social listening curriculum—providing students with an accessible, hands-on learning experience using the latest software. The coursework empowers students to apply concepts and theories to real-world challenges and develop actionable insights.

Fake it ‘til You Make it (Or Don’t) Part 5: Millennials Love Reviews But Reviews Aren’t Always Right Online reviews may be more important than ever right now—60% of people view a person like yourself as a credible expert. Eight out of 10 millennials won’t buy anything without reading a review. But what happens when the reviews aren’t accurate?

Here’s How to Boost Enrollment with Chatbots Georgia State University used chatbots to help freshman navigate the student enrollment process, which led to a significant increase in enrollment. Read how they did, what their results were, and what GSU learned.

Research Firm Ipsos Buys Social Listening Platform Synthesio There have been a series of acquisitions and mergers recently that are turning social listening platforms into a larger suite of tools. The latest is market research firm Ipsos acquiring social listening platform Synthesio.

See Campus Sonar

CASE V, December 9 to 11, 2018—Chicago, IL
Visit Liz Gross and
Lindsey Hinkel in the exhibit hall of the CASE Region V conference. They’d love to chat social listening, crisis monitoring, Netflix shows, gardening, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

AICUO Communicator’s Summit, January 8, 2019Delaware, OH
Liz Gross is keynoting the communicator’s summit at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Carnegie Conference, January 22 to 24, 2019—Orlando, FL

NAICU Annual Meeting, February 3 to 6—Washington, D.C.
Liz is presenting "Online = Real Life. New Research Benchmarks the Online Conversation about College Campuses" on February 5 at 9:00 a.m.

CASE III, February 24-27, 2019—Atlanta, GA
Liz and Ashley Rains from Spring Hill College are co-presenting "Using Social Listening to Understand Brand Perception and Inform Marketing and Communication Strategies" on February 26 at 1:30 p.m. 

Tell Us That 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

Campus Sonar 2501 International Lane , Madison WI 53704 USA

You received this email because you are subscribed to Brain Waves Newsletter Subscription from Campus Sonar.
Update your email preferences or unsubscribe.