Monthly Archives: April 2013

Covering Tragedy

for boston cover photoSometimes, there are no words. I have nothing to offer in this space that hasn’t already been stated far more eloquently by others regarding this past week. Boston became the epicenter of a national tragedy. This time it wasn’t strangers in the headlines. It was our town. Our neighbors. Our kids.

Social media wasn’t – and shouldn’t be – the first thing on many minds during such a time. However, social quickly emerged as the go-to vehicle delivering news to friends about runners and spectators, provided messages of reassurance for out-of-state families and, later, established a point to rally for support and fundraising. Social media became both a blessing and a curse – it quickly shared breaking news across the country and was responsible for the instantaneous dissemination of misinformation. (BC’s in house social media guru Prof. Jerry Kane has weighed in on what social managers can learn from the bombing.)

Like many colleges and universities in Boston, BC utilized email, text and social to get emergency notifications out about the manhunt and ‘shelter in place‘ order on Friday. BC’s Emergency Response Team issued several updates throughout the day. One need only scroll down through the week’s posts on Facebook or Twitter to replay the fear, anxiety, sorrow and then, relief and even jubilation over the five days. The content on Facebook reached more than 835,000 people during that time.

Departments across campus did a wonderful job sharing and re-broadcasting the emergency messages.  For that, we thank you. In such a heightened state, it is important and necessary to have us all speaking with one voice on behalf of the University.

Departments also utilized social tools in unique ways: on the day of the bombing, The Campus School used social as a means to help account for its 300+ runners during the chaos. Through Facebook, Twitter, Google docs, texts and phone calls all our students were quickly accounted for. A bright spot over the past week has been the work being done on the BC Office of Graduate Student Life Facebook page – updates on Brittany and Liza, Red Cross blood drives and much-needed comic relief via OGSL’s signature memes provide information to fans in a thoughtful way.

Outside BC, anyone who wasn’t following the Boston Police Facebook or Twitter page should look back over the past week. Both as a resident of Greater Boston and a social media manager, it was amazing to see an organization operating a social channel so effectively. The Patrick and Jess Run Again page – dedicated to BC 2005 alum Patrick Downes and his wife, Jessica who were severely injured during the bombing – is a masterful example of the power of video and incorporating YouTube and Facebook. (And great work by SMC member David Ayers from Student Services and the BC Jesuits who sent in videos.)

(If you would like further reading on responding during a crisis – take a look at Kelsey Follett’s practical advice on How (not) to use social, and brand management strategies from Patrick Coffee from PRNewser.)

For-Boston-RibbonIn the days following the bombing, BC News & Public Affairs staffer Michael Maloney designed this “For Boston” logo that we used on our channels. The image was liked, shared, retweeted and repined over 250,000 times. People and many of our departments changed their profile picture, adopting this image as their own. It had a unifying effect, a virtual show of solidarity, but a scope we didn’t entirely anticipate. We should have.

When I first saw Michael’s design it spoke to exactly what so many are feeling: some of us are from Boston. Others, of Boston. This past week has shown that our state, the country, and even the world – for a time at least – we were all “For Boston.”

Social Media Alert: WordPress Plugin

For those of us that use Wodpress as the blog platform of choice, an alert has been issued on one of their most popular widget plugins. Sucuri Blog explains:

“If you are using the Social Media Widget plugin (social-media-widget), make sure to remove it immediately from your website. We discovered it is being used to inject spam into websites and it has also been removed from the WordPress Plugin repository.”

This plugin has more than 900,000 downloads and the potential to impact a lot of websites. If you have been utilizing this widget plugin, contact BC ITS. For further reading, ITS has produced a very informative website: Safe Computing that is great to review.

Click on This: SM tools and ROI

The number one question coming in from social media managers across campus is how to quantify what we do. Especially with annual reviews coming up, many bosses and administrators want to know – what is the return on investment (ROI) for our social media presence?


Infographic by Dan Martell

Before you read the answer, watch this. Gary Vaynerchuk is co-founder and CEO of a social media brand consulting agency, VaynerMedia. In his provocative keynote at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference Vaynerchuk turns the question on its head. “What is the ROI of your mom?” he asks. (A clip of that presentation is here but be warned, he uses foul language that may be NSFW.)  Those who use traditional media are seldom asked to quantify, but print materials, tv/radio spots and websites continue to be produced. Social is, in some ways, being held to a new standard. The good news is that many of the sites we use are rich with data, as long as you know where to look.

My advice when faced with the ROI question: combine anecdotal evidence with data. Throughout the year, keep a running list of successful interactions you have had on social. Actual examples of human interactions are meaningful. Has social helped your office communicate with students, staff, faculty, alumni? Prove it. Tell that story. (i.e. – one of my favorite examples from our Boston College Facebook page, is when a wall post from a BC alumna helped to fill the library shelves in a New York City school thanks to the donations from BC Eagles around the country.)

Stories are nice, but most managers also want to see proof. If you have had your social channel for more than a year, it is helpful to provide the year-over-year numbers – comparing not only fan count, but user engagement. Find a peer school or department and compare yourself through self audit. (Here is a great piece that explains some of the key social metrics to seek out: Social Metrics 101.)

Although Google Analytics is arguably the king of analytical tools, here are a few other resources that can fit all our budgets (read: free) and provide rich data points.

Tool #1: Simply Measured provides beautiful free reports for social channels on some of the platforms where analytical data might not be obvious (read: Instagram, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest).

Tool #2: Tweetreach is a good resource to quantify a Twitter campaign. If you have a hashtag, this might be well worth the time to check out.

Tool #3: Want to experiment with posts outside the work day? Try using the Facebook Pages App. Here are a few of the easy steps to schedule posts (and don’t require the monthly charges from social media software companies.) The app comes complete with Facebook’s insights.

What tools do you find most helpful as a social media administrator?