Since joining EverTrue last week, I have seen Twitter used effectively and have begun to understand how it can be a powerful a tool for spreading an organization’s image. I’ve been working closely with Jesse Bardo at EverTrue. Jesse is the VP of Alumni Engagement, and he deals with marketing EverTrue’s image on the web and reaching out to schools who might want to begin working with us. He is personally active on Twitter (@jessebardo) and is a major contributor to the @Ever_True account.
Jesse has taught me all about Twitter—tweets, retweets, replies, etc. I’ve even watched Twitter drive traffic to this blog. So I now see how this social network can spread awareness about an organization or person, and, more importantly, about an idea or streams of information.
It’s important for EverTrue to market our image, promote our products, discuss things that are relevant to our readers, and update our followers on what’s happening at the company. Schools should be (and in most cases are) utilizing Twitter and other social media in the same ways. Ultimately, social media can be the primary method by which schools establish and promote their brand. Creating an awareness of the successful community, academics, arts, sports, and alumni will engage other schools and educational professionals, potential students, current students and their families, and alumni. It’s important for schools to put emphasis on this and not let it be an afterthought. Sometimes that can mean hiring someone who can use social media to increase the school’s image online.
In 2007, Northfield Mount Hermon hired Jesse to be an Admissions Counselor. In the three years he worked there, he ran the school’s Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Jesse developed a Twitter following that grew from zero to well over a thousand. This resulted in 30% more interviews and a higher yield. NMH’s commitment to social media has had a huge tangible effect on their applicants and on their image online.
On Monday, I analyzed the usage of Twitter in either general school communications or alumni communications. This excludes accounts which are specific to admissions, current parents, sports teams, arts and music, etc. I found that NMH (@nmhschool) has the most twitter followers among the members of the Eight School Association. Let’s take a look at how the other schools compare:
Let’s look at these accounts from the perspective of an alum who wants to use Twitter to stay connected to his or her school:
@NMHSchool tweets frequently to its 1,838 followers. It gives updates on what’s going on around campus and shout-outs to people in their alumni community. Although they could consider making a Twitter account specifically directed toward alumni so as to make sure the content is more relevant to them, they are still a paradigm of secondary school tweeting. Great job Jesse and now the folks at NMH!
@LvilleAlumni is geared toward Lawrenceville alumni. So the content is relevant and useful—interested in an internship? Or, Click here; join us Thursday for X event. But the majority of its tweets have no such explanation; they are just super long links. In other words, Lawrenceville doesn’t do much to stand out amongst the stream of tweets each of their alums must get. Yet they have a strong following and I assume they have a high click-through rate due to their special connection to their followers. So maybe they can pull off the long links.
@HotchkissAlumni has some catching up to do with number of followers (NMH has ten times their followers). But their content is terrific. Maybe they can think of some strategies to get more people in the alumni community to start following them.
@PhillipsExeter has a strong following and offers relevant content to people in the Exeter community. This is nicely complemented by @ExeterAlums, which reaches out to people in the alumni community, gives updates with news and events, and ultimately attempts to create a sense of an community online. Both accounts are effective and well-read. Great job, Exeter!
@Deerfield is a great Twitter feed and has a strong following. It shares upcoming events and conveys the strong sense of community at Deerfield—sports, music, arts, academics, etc. It also reaches out to the alumni community by mentioning what alumni are up to. For instance, one tweet said that King Abdullah II just published his memoir. You know, the king who went to my school. No big deal.
@Choaterosemary is still starting out, so it’s hard to know how it’s going to evolve. So far, they’ve posted 22 tweets and have 106 followers. It seems they’re using it to give little updates about the school, often without links, in addition to information about events and shout-outs to alumni.
@Phillipsacademy tweets a lot about opportunities, events, and successes their students and alumni have achieved. It seems to provide the kind of content alumni would be looking for. It makes sense, then, that it has a great following of 1,243.
@spsadmissions is St. Paul’s school’s most-followed twitter account (although they have another account for parents of current students). @spsadmissions is a good resource for people applying or considering St. Paul’s. It seems St. Paul’s doesn’t have an alumni or general Twitter account. Something for them to consider as they think about their image online.
A strong Twitter feed and following can have a far-reaching effect on a school’s public image. By establishing a strong brand–a higher level of public consciousness about the school and its associated values, students, alumni, and activities–a school can achieve tangible benefits, such as increased applications, higher yield, more alumni donations, and increased prestige among peer institutions.
Oh and by the way, Twitter is really fun!