8am.

Some recent learnings I wanted to share…

Last spring, after church in the college town of Houghton, NY, I found myself in a discussion about blogging and social media with the president of my son’s college, Houghton College.  (Couple side notes: 1. The pastor of the small church in the middle of the poorest county in NY has a blog and uses Twitter.  2. Houghton (pronounced ho’ ton, or in the local area dialect … ho’ in !!! like Martin is mar’ in or Walton is wal’ in – so funny!)

Dr. Mullen asked me to come for a more formal discussion with her the next time I was up for a soccer game….

While I don’t want to shift my focus away from insurance to HigherEd, I learned a couple of the things about Social Technologies as I prepared and spoke with Dr. Mullen and the leader of Marketing Communications for the college.

In a quick search of competitive schools to Houghton, I found that almost all of the schools have at least some Social Tech on their Web properties.  But two of the schools are definitely out in front and seem to have invested some energy towards a more well-defined Social Tech strategy.

MNVU

Mount Vernon Nazarene University has an interesting strategy.  While it’s below the fold, if you scroll down a tad, you will find the Social Tech call-outs in a unified bar.  The interesting thing is that the bar is really one image that is all hyper-linked to the same subpage.  But the Social Tech subpage is really well-organized and clearly directs the visitor to the appropriate Social areas of interest.  Again, it seems clear that the school is pursuing a Social strategy.  It’s also clear that it’s in its infancy.  As an example, SocialTech buttons are not in view on all pages of the site.  ShareThis is not ubiquitous.  And the links to the Social sites, such as the Facebook and Twitter links, do not open in a new page.  As I mentioned last time in the NYLife post, it’s critical that these links open in a new page or tab – You don’t want to lose the traffic, you want to spread the traffic, grab more mind-share as it were.

Also interesting that they are doing special things for prospective students.  See the link under admissions.  It goes to a separate domain.  Notice the heavy use of Social Tech there.  The links go to the same Social sites as with the main site, just with a little different treatment.

SBU

Another Social Tech leader we looked at in the president’s office is St. Bonaventure University – nice site.  Their Social Tech links are above the fold. Clicking on the www.sbu.edu/social signage brings you to a similar page as Mt. Vernon, but a little different organization.  The Facebook strategy isn’t segmented yet, but they have a live Facebook integration in the box below the fold.  They also have a video (that doesn’t work on a Mac – doh!).  Perhaps the coup-de-gras is the Blog Directory, although that call-out is really easy to skip over.  But clicking through to the blogs and you can quickly see that Blogs have been in-play at SBU since 2004.  Some of the staff and prof’s have very mature blogs today.  Very interesting.  Most have their own domains, some have e-commerce, even Google advertising (wonder who gets the revenue?).  But again, all the links open in the same page.  Do you see why that’s such a disruptive linking situation?  Here’s the thing… I don’t want to have to hit the back button.  I want to check out those blogs, perhaps even bookmark or subscribe to the feeds while I’m there.  But that’s NOT the main reason why I came to the sbu site to begin with.  I don’t want to lose my original purpose, my original train of thought.  The site needs to help me, not hurt me, not distract – serve up more useful content and links – yes.  But help me accomplish my original purpose along the way.  Does that make sense?  Comments?

Anyway, some intersting learning.  Cool how a casual conversation can lead to important insights.  Btw, that’s why I never close off discussions just because they are out of my central focus.  You never know when or where that golden nugget of information will come from.

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Some favorite pictures from the trip (out of at least 5000 pictures!)  Understand that shooting a soccer game is 1000 pics in itself.  You have to keep shooting to get the good stuff…

Favorite from Lake Waukewan, sister to Lake Winnipesaukee where my cousin has a lake house.  Incredible sunrise on the right, a storm rolling in on the left, and a still lake at dawn in the middle.

Extremely rare photo


Favorite soccer pic of my son at the Houghton College Men’s Soccer 2010 home opener. #19

Soccer pic from Gordon College where four of my son’s teammates from High School play.

Would LOVE your comments, especially with links to other sites that are doing a good job with social, regardless of the industry.

10am (with a couple distractions along the way)

Btw, it’s been 3 weeks since my last post.  Longer than normal by 2 weeks.  Here’s why: The NYLife post saw a lot of action and dialog so I wanted to leave it up for an extra week.  Then last week I decided to tackle a huge trip from CLE up through Postdam, NY, across Vermont to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, down to Boston, MA, back to Houghton, NY, and back to CLE.  It took a week to cover all that ground, but I accomplished my mission… and stayed productive work-wise thanks to my Droid Incredible (a $99 device from Verizon with a new contract – really useful).  Lot to bite off, but I made it.