6: Colgate University’s Advanced Facebook Targeting w/ Matt Hames

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Matt Hames, Communications Strategist at Colgate University, discusses how to centralize your social media governance and utilize Facebook’s hyper-targeting capabilities for your enrollment growth initiatives.

Find a breakdown of this episode here.

Attracting today's new post traditional learners meansadopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, andHelix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percentbrand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges.Downloaded today for free at Helix educationcoms playbook. You're listening to enrollment growth university fromHelix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking togrow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growthtechniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place.Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university. I'm Ericleson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education and we're here today with Matt Hames,Communication Strategistic Coal Gate University. Matt, thanks so much for joining us today. Thank for having me. Eric. Matt I first connected several years agowhen he went on what I would call a social media governance crusade at CoalGate, convincing each and every department on campus to willingly give up their individualsocial pages in favor of a more centralized, more unified approach with a much largerread which I'm constantly impressed with the way Matt sees the world and fightsfor stronger communication on campus. And today we're going to have a great conversationabout advanced facebook strategy for perspective students. But before we get into that,Matt, can you get the listeners a little bit better understanding of both colgateuniversity and your role there? Yeah, thanks, thanks again. KOGATE universityis a leading residential liberal arts university up in the northeast where in New YorkState we have around twenty nine hundred students and it is undergraduate liberal arts.So you know the promises. Be Whatever...

...you want to be, take oneof our fifty five majors and and go into anything. My role is communicationstrategies, which sounds fancy but really, with so much content and so manyopportunities for content, what at the way I think about it is that abunch of people like Col gator making content and I try to figure out whatcontent should go where. When, so what video should go on what platformand at what part of the cycle. So it's it really is just strategy. Love it, love it and and let's start off with what we alludedto in the intro. So at Colgate you have one facebook page total atthe entire university. Talk about how you got there and how beneficial it isfrom an advertising standpoint. Yeah, so, you know there's some rogue facebook pagesout there. Don't get me wrong, I still have the occasional department ofhistory facebook page and but my argument when I got here was this.We have a huge we have a one facebook page and it wins a googlesearch for colgate university. So instead of starting another facebook page and then andthen doing other marketing to try to drive people to that page and then createcontent on that page, why it? Just create content and give it tome. And that goes back to the whole communication strategy of instead of thinkingabout a channel specific piece of content, think about a piece of content ora story that you want to tell someone and let me help you put iton the appropriate channel at the appropriate time. Far Too many people say it's apage and then start thinking about the kind of content they need to createinstead of thinking I have a story to tell the people. How can Itell that story to the most people at the right time? So my argumentto everyone was always like we have prospective students who look at our school everyyear. The rising high school seniors who are about to start school or startedschool around the country are starting to whittle...

...down their top twenty list or theirtop ten list and think about the schools that they want to go to andthey're going to go to the Google and they're going to google the schools andthe results of that are the ways that they're going to look at our school. Now our facebook page comes fifth in a Google search. And so whatI say to people when they want to start the Department of history page.Would you rather have your content on the page that comes fifth for Google searchfor Colgate or one that comes a hundred and fifty? Would you rather talkto twenty Fivezero people or ten people, not Tenzero, ten people, becausethat's who you're going to talk to you when you have a group. Andso you know I'm not very good at mass, but twenty Fivezero is waybigger than a hundred. It is. I think, yeah, like justwhy not? Let me put your content out to the people who are goingto see it, instead of you working so hard to try to do othermarketing to build your audience, when we already have an audience met. Itis such an important conversation to have. I love that you've had its coldgate for so long and in a lot of us can look to you forfor how you made that happen. I think. I think I immediately inour listeners proa jump to but, Matt, you're not going to post their garbagecontent. That's why they want their own page. How do you getover that kind of governance issue? Well, again, come down to you astory to tell. Who are you trying to tell it to you andwhy? Why are you doing this piece of content? Why do you wantto take a picture of this lecture? It's not about the lecturer that's cominghere. It's a the story is about the access that students get when Icome to colgate. So take a step back, give me the picture.Let me help you frame the story in a way that is going to makesense to perspective students, because if your goal is to try to get peopleat your event, students, then make a make a sign, make apolter on campus. Put it into the classier facebook groups that we all start. There are better ways to drive people. If you just want butts and seats, you don't want to facebook page. But if you want to tell thestory about access within your department, then let's tell that story. It'sso good, it's so good. But...

...you're right, you know, theycome to us with you know, it's not bad content, it's badly thoughtabout content. So instead of coming to me with your picture of a lecturerand then let's just kind of reframe it so that it actually makes sense toa perspective student and it's a reason to come here. Really good, reallygood. Okay, now that we have one page, we fought the battle. We've gotten there or we've given up bloody let's talk about how colgate isused, utilizing facebook's advanced targeting on this one page to recruit perspective students.What you're specifically doing at colgate. It's exciting you so much right now.So the the really exciting thing is that we are thinking about different kinds ofaudiences and the different kinds of people that come here. We take a stepback and say that for higher read it's a it's a highly involved, highconsideration purchase decision. Even if a student doesn't pay the full price, andnot a lot of students pay the full price, it's still cost a certainamount of money. So there's a lot of consideration that that students are goingto make. And one of the things that is different about the consideration processfor a university in comparison to like a house or a car or some otherhigh consideration products, is we know the exact date that they need to buy. January FIF s. You cannot buy admissions to colgate on January s that'sthe application is done. You cannot say I would like to buy your producton January sixteen. So when you think about the the structure, you inSeptember you have people who you just want to get them to raise their hand, in October you want to get them to keep their hand up and inNovember you want to get them to generate a behavior which is apply or visitand it and throughout them there's different behaviors that you want to try to generate, which our visit, virtual tour, real tour like all those things right. So when you know that you have a certain population that's already visited thissummer and so they're thinking about applying.

That's a custom adience. When youhave a region of people where you want to kind of grow and use facebook'sas event targeting and say, I would like to go after a thirteen toseventeen year olds in Texas who are interested in liberal arts and and are interestedin a school that has spirit. Facebook, let's you advertise to those interests andso you can. You can kind of forge your advertising plan to fitthe kinds of communities and the time of the year that you want a behaviorfrom those people from your communities. Yeah, I think you've got on something reallyimportant. To hear that that one of the clear targeting advantages facebook hasis its data. So unlike twitter or other self from networks, where asan advert tiser you really don't know much about the person besides what's in theirshort hundred and forty character bio, whereas facebook knows so much about the individualand you're able to target advertisement space on any of it. Yeah, well, what's that balance you found in leaving the targeting broader for larger brand awarenessinitiatives versus going hyper, hyper program specific for the most cost effective inquiry generationversus, like you mentioned, targeting liberal arts interested students in Texas where thecoal gate brand recognition isn't a strong how do you kind of a way outthose balances and targeting take a great question and it's a it's an evolving thingfor for us especially, facebook assigns a score to your ad. It's zeroor it's one hundred and twenty nine. One is bad. Nine is reallygood. When we do adds out to our alums, we get we gota score of seven hundred and eighty nine, and if you get a score ofnine you can pay as much as seven cents a click. If youget a score of three or four, you can be you're paying a buckfifty, two hundred and fifty a click. So when you do those broad kindsof awareness campaigns where your goal is, if your goal is a click,your if you kind of go after one thirteen to seventeen year olds inTexas, you're going to get a low,...

...which is a bad relevancy score foryour Ad. So Yad is going to cost a little bit more.So the more that you target it, the better your score becomes in theless you pay on the click. Now let me just say so facebook hassaid, to my faith, that the score that you get on an addoes not in pickt your cost per click. My data suggest something else. Idon't know who's right. I just telling you that I try to geta high Clis, a high score on my ads, because my cost perclick goes down. And so the more I can make it relevant to theend user. And then you think about it this right, right, atthe end of the day, facebook as a product and it's a it's auser experience. If people keep getting ads on their new seeds that are irrelevantto them, they're going to have a bad product experience and they could stopusing facebook. So facebook wants to keep it as relevant as possible. Sothe more relevant that you can make your add the more that you're you're sortof fitting in with what the facebook platform is, which is relevant content atthe relevant time. So, in order make those ads as hyper relevant andscores highly as possible, does that mean you are breaking up, you know, your class of two thousand and twenty one groups into program specific audiences,or how detailed are you getting from a segmentation standpoint in order to make surethat those ads are hyper relevant? So we're trying. We're trying to test. One of the things that we do is that we visit, is thatwe do adds right to high schools and adds that that are right to highschools that we visit. Now we get a low quality score for those.But if you do ten to fifteen high schools, which is which is thetime consuming thing to end put into into building, and if you put inthat time, that small number you fit's a kind of rewards. It kindof assumes that it is hyper targeted. If you're if your audience is areally low number. One thing that I've learned. If your audience is undera thousand people, your ad could take...

...forty eight hours to run. Itwill run, but it will take for we had, we went time,had an ad that took fifty six hours to run from the time we putwe hit run, to it actually charging us with fifty six hours because theaudience size is probably about two hundred and fifty people. Yeah, in anaudience size like that they take a lot of time. facebook takes a lotof time to just make sure that that add is not it probably gets lookedup by hand even I don't know, but it takes some time. Sothose lower numbers for us because we're a highly you know, we're a leadingliberal artist situation where highly selective. We're going after schools that we know thatstudents are students are going to be able to get in. That's another thing, right. We don't want to, we don't want to promise somebody accessto our school. If they don't have high sat scores, they're just notgoing to get in. What are some ways that you are segmenting out academicquality when trying to find right fit students? That's a great question to we aretrying to figure out. We're testing things like, and you know,bear with me on this because this kind of testing is new, but we'retesting things like, you know, a region, an age group, andthen interested in chess clubs or interested in like extracurriculars that have it to tendencyto be smarter people. Yeah, if you will, you know. Sofacebook allows that kind of detailed segmentation. So it's really figuring out, likelooking at the students who come into your school and seeing the kinds of clubsthat they were in when they were in high school and then going to goingafter that kind of interest, that kind of club, because I can guaranteeyou if you're, if you're a high school student and you're in chess club, facebook knows it. You can either because you checked in at at ChessClub or you set in them, set...

...in a message to your friend onMessenger. Are you going to Chess Club today? And, like, wetell facebook all the different things that we're going to go to. So facebookknows it and it's one of the things you can you can mark it to. So you your ability to market to people is only limited by your imagination. Right now. I'm not kidding, like it really is only limited byyour imagination and the time you have to really hyper segment your audience. Reallygood thoughts on on how to effectively recruit students. Let's talk about how you'rererecruiting students using facebook's advanced targeting right. So, again, one facebook page. So when a student graduates call gate, we don't have to ask them togo like our alumni facebook page. They just become an alum and soyou can do advertising very easily on facebook to anybody who graduated colgate university.So and anybody can do advertising to their own university. So what we dois we do event based advertisements that are synced with email invite. So ifthere's an event on Wednesday night in Boston, for instance, we do an emailand at the same time we can do an add to people in Bostonwho graduated colgate university and the call to action can even be look at yourinvite, look at your resough not even not even click through it, sothat you're just basically generating awareness for an email and you're not being charged theclick. So we did that too. We every year try to get thisyear we had the last school year we had forty six percent of our alumnigive and so our goal is to get it up to fifty percent, halfof our alumni to givets. We post events throughout the nation and around theworld actually, and try to get people to those events using facebook advertising,and so far that's been a success. It's just it's another engagement opportunity moreso than just people liking our content.

It's really clever and a good reminderthat you face books always experimenting with new advertising display formats, video carousels,facebook live. What are you finding the most effective right now, from eitheran inquiry generation standpoints or to get folks to these alumni events. That's that'sreally interesting question to we've been doing a lot of facebook live tours this summer, something that we're going to do a lot more of. The facebook livetours are really sort of those dolgic moments for our alumni, so they engagewith those in an in a massive way. Again, we only have one facebookpage, so we have a current student do a facebook live mini tourwith a call to action to go to the big virtual tour. We're goingto do a lot more of those, you know, two to four minutetours of the school on facebook live, and we might even start boosting thoseafter the fact out to our to our audiences. We're not really sure,but our most favorite kinds of ads are ads where we have four to fivepictures, especially when we are advertising to the south we are. We areobviously in the northeast where we have winter. So we usually do an add tothe stuff that has a picture of coal gate in all four seasons,at least a picture of one of the seasons, and I can tell youthat winter always wins. Well, without just lost pictures of winter at colgate. That is actually really surprising to me, but it's just the novelty of it. If you're hyper targeted, you can you can understand what might appealto your institution, to these specific folks that and how do you how doyou show off that that specific novelty and that's come across anecdotally, like wedo a we talked to a lot of students around here and I was talkingto a student recently from Dallas Texas and asking her if she knows any like, if everything is okay, and then I said so I had to cometo colgate and without missing a beach, you said I wanted to experience winter. Wow, it's also. So there you go. I love it.Met Really, really good stuff today.

Anything else you want to make surewe cover before we close today, or can you leave our listeners with maybeone piece of lowhanging fruit to talk with their teams about? In order toutilize facebooks, Evans targeting to reach prospective students more effectively, so I wouldsay this and I would say that focus, focus, focus, on a facebookplatform. They're not paying me to say this, I don't. Wedon't do snapchat, we barely do instagram right now. There has never beena better tool in the history of the world to hyper target the kinds ofpeople that you want to go to your school. FACEBOOK, on so manylevels offers the ability to advertise exactly to who you want to, when youwant to advertise to them. When people continue only ask me, do youhave snapchat? Are you guys doing whatever is next? You guys doing musically? Are you guys doing this? That the other thing. My response tothem. As you know, I fight a continued battle to decrease the amountof content that our prospective student see is that isn't entirely and the control isn'tthe right way, but is an entirely the right content at the right time. If you can mail facebook, you're going to start to win more andmore. So I would my advice to you would be really truly understand facebookand go from there. Love it. Matt thanks so much for joining ustoday. What is the best place for listeners to connect with you if theyhave any follow up questions? Twitter? I respond to twitter much quicker thanI resent I tend to respond to email. So I'm at am Hams ah aAmazon Matt Es. That's my twitter handle. You can also look meup at Linkedin. I write about a lot of this stuff on linked n. So I'm want a Google search for Matt Hands on Linkedin so you canyou can look me up on linked and I'm always thinking about how the universitycan market itself in the right way at the right time to both perspectives.To Insan Alumni Awesome. He's a good...

...fine folks. Get connected with them. Matt, thanks so much for joining us today. Thanks for the timetoday, tour I appreciate it. You've been listening to enrollment growth university fromHelix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to theshow on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening.Until next time.

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