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Brain Waves Newsletter

April 2018 │ Issue 6

In this Issue

Director's Letter

CASE SMC Faculty Selfie
CASE SMC Faculty: Tim Cigelske, Liz Gross, Josie Ahlquist, Abby Meyer, and Tyler Thomas

It’s still conference season! If you’re a social media manager in higher education, there is arguably no better conference than the CASE Social Media and Community conference. In March, I had the privilege of joining the faculty and working along friends and colleagues to deliver two days of education, networking, and inspiration in New Orleans. More than one attendee commented that this is the conference where “they found their people.” Some attendees are coming back year after year to continue the learning and connecting. You’ll spot a few more insights from the conference throughout this newsletter. For an unfiltered view, check out the tweets from the conference. But, I’d like to hear from you—what conference do you find the most valuable for the work you do? Where do you find “your people?” Reply to this email and let me know.


Who Are the Campus Sonarians

Have you met the Campus Sonarians yet? They’re a lively crew who like to strategize, travel, analyze, eat, hike, read, drink coffee, and listen to podcasts—and not particularly in that order.

Campus Sonar Founder Dr. Liz Gross loves to travel and try new restaurants. She’s visited 30 countries, including Peru, Japan, France, Germany, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Next on her list is Egypt at the end of 2018. Her all-time favorite meal was at Alinea in Chicago, a super-duper fancy-pants restaurant. For dessert, she and her husband had an edible balloon made of apple taffy! It was challenging to figure out how to eat (delicately!) but fun to inhale the helium at the end.

Analyst Amber Sandall has spot-on intuition, and loves exploring and reporting data. She’s working on her MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and loves to hike, read, and drink coffee. A book-lover, Amber is reading transformational leadership books for her classes and her work with Campus Sonar—a favorite is Profit from the Core by Chris Zook. In her free time she enjoys The Broken Earth Series by N. K. Jemison and author Terri Pratchett.

Meet the Campus Sonarians

Analyst Emily Prell kept stats during NBA games when she was young (watch the video to see how she and Liz have perfected the nerd move). A photographer who loves to travel, Emily is strategically visiting the 50 state capitals—so far she’s visited 39! She’s lived in three capital cities and so far Madison is her favorite. What could be better than eating cheese curds at the capital?!

Strategist Ashley Tanner is the newest member of the team. A born listener who knows how to have meaningful conversations and help others find opportunities for growth, she loves working with higher education leaders. Campus Sonarians are podcast people and Ashley fits right in—she loves Josie and the Podcast and history podcasts like History Goes Bump. When she’s not strategizing and podcasting, she loves to spend time hiking with her family.

For more on the Campus Sonar team, watch the video from Campus Sonar Live Week or see Ashley interview Emily and Amber and find the answers to these questions:
  1. What grade did Emily and Ashley attend together?

  2. What country did Amber live in?

  3. What country did Emily visit simply because of the Instagram photos?

  4. What do Amber and Emily love about their job?

  5. Amber and Emily believe social media builds ___________________.

Is Social Listening Your Missing Ingredient?

Higher ed marketing and communication is a lot like cooking. If you understand some basic principles, you can work without a recipe.

In cooking, those pillars are salt, sugar, fat, and acid. When those are in balance, your food will be delicious, no matter how simple or complicated. In marketing, it’s goals, strategy, story, and KPIs. When all four are present, you can execute and evaluate a marketing or communication strategy in an effective campaign or initiative. But there is a missing ingredient on both sides that will set the results apart from everyone else.

In cooking, that missing ingredient is the creative vision of a chef. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix, you know that acclaimed chefs always seem to hit their stride once they learn to “tell their own story” with their food. Here are two examples.

  • Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea (Chicago) is redefining a meal as an experience with a narrative that evokes all of a guest's senses.

  • Chef Virgilio Martinez Véliz at Central (Lima, Peru) has recreated the geography of Peru through his Elevations menu that sources ingredients for each course from within a specific elevation so diners can taste the landscape.

The missing ingredient in higher ed marketing is online conversation insights gleaned from social listening. These insights can elevate a good strategy to one that is personalized, evolves in real-time, and is tailored to an organization’s specific audience.

Are you hungry?

Implications of Cambridge Analytica for Marketing, Higher Ed, and Social Listening

The Cambridge Analytica news has been top-of-mind for folks this month, as Facebook rolled out notifications to users whose data was shared with the company and Mark Zuckerberg spent two days testifying before congress about Facebook’s data collection processes. The public is learning, quickly, what many marketers have known for years: when you use a social media site, your data and metadata is shared with third parties. While the intention was for data to inform personalized marketing appeals and surface information and entertainment of interest, we now know that Cambridge Analytica and foreign governments used that data to breed divisiveness and sway elections.

As the work of these bad actors is better understood, we can expect to see changes in the way Facebook and other social media platforms treat our data. In the last month, Facebook has already:

  • Removed access to third party data for ad targeting (more)
  • Stopped showing audience reach estimates for custom audience advertising (more)
  • Limited access to the Instagram API (more)
  • Required managers of Pages with a large number of followers to be verified (more)
  • Removed the ability for the guest list or posts from a Facebook event to be shared through other apps, like the Localist event calendar
  • Removed app permissions and implemented formal review processes for apps that access Events, Groups, and Pages API (more)

From a marketing perspective, these changes can make it harder for an organization to conduct the majority of their targeted advertising through Facebook. And it’s put developers that provided extra value by integrating Facebook data in a tough place. For social listening, the immediate impact is on Instagram—the API changes mean that no social listening software can allow a user to monitor an account they don’t own. This functionality was used for competitive intelligence, influencer research, or audience research. Now, social listening on Instagram is limited to owned channels and topical listening via hashtags. This use-case is still valuable, but now it's more difficult to conduct comprehensive social listening on Instagram—no matter what software product you’re using.

We don’t expect this to be the last of Facebook’s changes. You can count on us to keep you updated on the impact of data access changes on your work.

Ask an Analyst

If you don’t have much of a budget for social listening tools, how do you make the most of the free analytics from FB, Twitter, etc.?

Emily PrellYou may be surprised at what you can learn from the free analytics in Twitter (which you can access at Click on the Audiences tab to see details about your followers, or the people you’ve reached with tweets. Since Twitter partners with other data aggregators, you see demographics like gender, profession, highest level of education completed, and annual income. You can even compare your audience to other audiences on Twitter (based on location, persona, etc.) to see what makes your audience unique.

If you’re working on content strategy, click over to the Events tab. You can view high-level insights about events (like Mother’s Day 2017) to see what type of people participated in the conversation and what content was most popular. Click over to recurring events for ideas that you can use to create regular engagement on Twitter with recurring trending hashtags, like #MusicMonday or #TBT (Throw-Back Thursday).

Amber SandallFacebook Insights doesn’t offer much in terms of social listening. But when you’re using a personal account, go into the Facebook groups that you manage or belong to and run some searches to see what topics are trending, what people responded too, and what fell flat. You can organize this information in a way that helps you identify gaps in the conversation, as well as topics that receive a lot of engagement. Read more in AMA’s recent article, Inside the Walled Garden of Social Media Communities.

Liz GrossBesides Facebook and Twitter, some free tools to help you do some basic social listening are Social Mention and Follower Wonk. Social Mention offers the ability to view the sentiment, volume, sources, top participants, and a sampling of individual mentions on any topic from sites like Twitter, Reddit, and Wordpress. Follower Wonk provides insight into the characteristics of your Twitter followers, including their location, most active hours of the day, and words that appear most often in their bios.

Do you have a question for our analysts? Reply to this email to have your question featured in a future issue.

Read Our Latest Blog Posts

Athletics: Getting Past the Madness by Emily Prell, March 14, 2018

In Social, Sometimes the Best Advice Is to Shut Up and Listen by Dave Tyler, March 21, 2018

Social Media Data for Alumni Engagement and Advancement by Liz Gross, March 28, 2018

The Real Cost (and Value) of Crisis Social Listening in Higher Education by Liz Gross, March 30, 2018

Crisis Management: Key Metrics and a Case Study by Michelle Mulder, April 4, 2018

Online Presence Is Your Brand: What Does Yours Say About You? by Amber Sandall, April 11, 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

The Higher Ed Social Listening Handbook Download Campus Sonar's free eBook—your go-to guide for implementing social listening strategy in higher education.

4 Steps for Using Social to Recruit College Students Social is definitely a way to recruit and engage high school students. Use these four steps to add to your social media strategy to help you find and nurture the right students.

5 Steps to Preparing for a Social Media Crisis Heather Reed, a digital marketing and communications executive, offers five steps that help you chart out a crisis response structure that will complement your existing social media efforts.

7 Questions to Ask and Answer Before Building Your Social Media Strategy What are the key questions you should ask before you start creating your social media strategy? This article breaks down the key questions and includes a Facebook live stream with more information.

Overcoming the Top Three Barriers to Effective “Social Listening” There are many benefits that make social listening a compelling source of data about your customers and your market. Find out what they are and how they can help you better understand your brand and build your strategy.

Teen Director Amelia Conway on How Gen Z Is “Hypersensitive to Bullshit” A Q&A with a 14-year-old filmmaker who explains how she got into directing, as well as social media habits and other insights of Gen Z.

Uncovering Instagram Bots with a New Kind of Detective Work Bots are boosting engagement on Instagram and companies are beginning to analyze Instagram accounts to determine if they’re real. This is a concern among brands and agencies who rely on metrics like number of followers when they hire social media personalities to promote their products.

Why All Businesses Need to Be Better Listeners According to Penny Wilson, you can pull all kinds of nuggets directly from your customers to help your company get a competitive advantage. A Q&A with Hootsuite’s CMO explains what she means by “beyond marketing,” how she approaches listening, and how they moved Hootsuite out of the solopreneur box.

See Campus Sonar

IACAC, Itasca, IL│ April 25-27
Stop by and see Campus Sonar the exhibit area on Thursday!

MIDWest Conference, Dubuque, IA │ May 20-22
Liz Gross and Melissa Dix from Beloit College share case studies from the admissions and marketing offices of Beloit College and other campuses in their session, Using Social Listening to Impact Enrollment Management Outcomes on May 21 at 3:30 p.m.

PNACAC, Spokane, WA │ May 23-25
Liz co-presents with Jens Larson from Eastern Washington University about Enrollment Agriculture: A Digital Strategies Round-Up—an explanation of online and digital channels and strategies. Check it out on Thursday, May 24 at 8:30 a.m. PT or look for Liz in the exhibit hall.

UW E-Business Consortium Marketing Peer Group Meeting, Madison, WI │May 30
Liz is teaming up with Wendy Scherer, Managing Partner of The Social Studies Group, to present Social Listening and Social Consumer Insights. They'll share their knowledge about what social listening is, why it’s important, and what the top five business uses are.

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