27. September 2011

"They all cook with water, but …" – Day 2 of Social Media Study Tour

Stanford Campus
Day two of the Social Media Study Tour - the group today - led us to Stanford University; I will present some major insights in the following.
Here we met Ian Hsu (@IanHsu), Director of Internet Media Outreach at Stanford University. His approach to Social Media at Stanford is still in a kind of experimental phase, but guided twofold: On the one side intense research is being done about the effects of different Social Media channels and its perception by and behavior of the audience, on the other hand his credo about Social Media utilization is very clear: Social Media has to support the core goals of the university.

And he clearly stated: “Having support from the guy at the top is very critical for me”. Backed by “the guy at the top” Hsu is free “to try things”.

As one result of the analysis of the Facebook audience he presented some interesting figures showing, among others,
  • that the biggest group of visitors are prospective students, 
  • that 100% of students access Facebook at least once a day, 
  • or that the Facebook page is been visited by the audience mostly between 9 pm and midnight which has an impact of the schedule of postings. 
They also found out that most students get to know about the Stanford Facebook page through social or viral but not through traditional marketing.

A main goal of the Social Media activities is get into a dialogue. Supported by a Facebook app students are motivated to answer the question “What’s your story?” in order to create additional user generated content.

Further research figures from the Stanford iPhone research are, among others:
  • 46% of undergraduate and 41% of graduate students have a smartphone 
  • >17000 total apple mobile devices on campus 
  • 24% of students view their students as an extension of their brain or being”. 
Thus a major focus is put on mobile services, e.g., the iStanford App.
Concerning editorial guidelines Hsu made clear that they are needed but there should be enough flexibility left.

Stanford Alumni Center
Also Adam Miller and Amy Wolf from Stanford Alumni gave a clear statement: “Social Media is all about discussion and engagement”. Both emphasized the importance of cross promotion between different channels which are complementary but not competitive. They also stated that Online activities drive Offline interest. One main strategy concerning content is to tell Alumnis’ stories from all over the world.

Concerning engagement on different channels Amy Wolf said: “Facebook is a high barrier, on twitter real conversations happen”. Rather interesting statemet.

At Stanford’s School of Engineering Andrew Myers and Staci Baired (@girljournalist) we learned that although the Facebook page exists since 2010 there is considerable traffic only since January 2011. One major reason is the clear focus on relevant content. Right now there’s no content strategy defined, but instead Andrew and Staci, both having a media background, experiment in order to create an editorial strategy. Contentwise 30- 40% of postings are the School’s content, 60-70 is other people’s content. Tools such as Google reader or Storify are being used to identify relevant content. Several days have a specific focus such as the Musicmonday or Fotofriday.

Especially the Twitter audience focuses on media proving information about research results from the School.

Concerning its relationship to the corporate site it wa stated that the School’s activities are basically independent from the overall activities. Within a group of Social Media managers experiences are being exchanges and best practices are being shared.

Also Stanford University cooks with water and is still in a phase of experimentation, but the activities have been perceived as clearly focused and guided based on internal analysis and research and much more focused on providing relevant content to its audiences.

Both University insights, from Berkeley as well as from Stanford, show clearly that the utilization of Social Media is more or less in a experimental phase and both are in search for the right strategy. But there seems to be a difference in the way how the activities are guided and focused.

See the Blog on for further information.

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