A year ago, at the presentation I gave at the EduComm conference and within this column (June 2010 issue of UB), I made the argument--and plea--for a web and social media analytics revolution in higher education. I explained why and how institutions should rely on analytics to stop making marketing decisions on opinions, guesses, and hunches and start embracing a more data-driven approach.
So, have these past 12 months made a difference? Has higher education finally warmed up to the possibilities offered by web and social media analytics?
Is 2011 going to be the "Year of the Mobile Web" for higher education? A few studies have already hinted it. According to a white paper published by The Nielsen Company in December 2010, "Mobile Youth Around the World," 48 percent of the 15- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. now browse the web on their mobile devices?even though only 33 percent own smartphones. The Pew Internet and American Life Project concurred in its own report, "Mobile Access 2010," released in July 2010.
Is 2011 going to be the “Year of the Mobile Web” for higher education? A few studies have already hinted it. According to a white paper published by The Nielsen Company in December 2010, “Mobile Youth Around the World,” 48 percent of the 15- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. now browse the web on their mobile devices--even though only 33 percent own smartphones. The Pew Internet and American Life Project concurred in its own report, “Mobile Access 2010,” released in July 2010.
Based on Twitter, blogs, and web conferences, it looks like everybody in higher education is talking about check-ins, Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla, and SCVNGR. No matter where they work, from liberal arts colleges to big state universities, many web communication and online marketing professionals have already adopted location-based services (LBS). More and more have been busy claiming the Facebook Place for their institution, creating a Gowalla tour, applying for the Foursquare University Program, or setting up their first SCVNGR trek.
Have you heard the news? E-mail might not be dead yet, but it is going away. That's what Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, announced on June 24, 2010, in a keynote at the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference. This assertion was based on a data point from the Pew Internet and American Life Project's April 2010 "Teens and Mobile Phones" report. Sandberg noted that only 11 percent of teenagers use e-mail daily - while an overwhelming majority don't stop text-ing and "Facebooking" all day long.
In a previous column published in the June issue of University Business, I shared a few anecdotal examples of how universities and colleges had started to use online analytics to inform their marketing and communications decisions. Unfortunately, there was no available data on analytics usage across institutions at that time. I decided to survey practitioners, thus testing my hypothesis that a change of attitudes in higher education toward web and social media analytics was required.
Will this new fiscal year come with a bigger budget for your web and marketing initiatives? Given the current state of higher education budgets, chances are it won't (but, if you're one of the happy few, congratulations!). For the past couple of years, institutions across the country had to do more with less. That's why it has become so important today to find out quickly what works and what doesn't, and how you can improve your digital initiatives.
Have you noticed how full your schedule has become? With tighter budgets, smaller teams, and an ever-growing list of responsibilities and possibilities, the typical workload for higher ed web professionals has dramatically increased. While the rising demands of social media and growing shift to the mobile web have put more pressure on web communication offices, the institutional website is now even more central to the way universities and colleges communicate, inform, run, and "market" themselves to students.
It's 2010. Do you know where your mobile web visitors are? If your college or university hasn't managed yet to provide an online presence for this growing section of its target audience, it should probably have been named a New Year's resolution. The days where desktop computers—or even their little brothers the laptops and netbooks—were the only important devices in web town are over. The year of the mobile web has finally dawned upon us, and there is no turning back.