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 means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand 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 from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques 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 ago when he went on what I would call a social media governance crusade at Coal Gate, convincing each and every department on campus to willingly give up their individual social pages in favor of a more centralized, more unified approach with a much larger read which I'm constantly impressed with the way Matt sees the world and fights for stronger communication on campus. And today we're going to have a great conversation about 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 colgate university and your role there? Yeah, thanks, thanks again. KOGATE university is a leading residential liberal arts university up in the northeast where in New York State 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 one of our fifty five majors and and go into anything. My role is communication strategies, which sounds fancy but really, with so much content and so many opportunities for content, what at the way I think about it is that a bunch of people like Col gator making content and I try to figure out what content should go where. When, so what video should go on what platform and 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 alluded to in the intro. So at Colgate you have one facebook page total at the entire university. Talk about how you got there and how beneficial it is from an advertising standpoint. Yeah, so, you know there's some rogue facebook pages out there. Don't get me wrong, I still have the occasional department of history 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 google search for colgate university. So instead of starting another facebook page and then and then doing other marketing to try to drive people to that page and then create content on that page, why it? Just create content and give it to me. And that goes back to the whole communication strategy of instead of thinking about a channel specific piece of content, think about a piece of content or a story that you want to tell someone and let me help you put it on the appropriate channel at the appropriate time. Far Too many people say it's a page and then start thinking about the kind of content they need to create instead of thinking I have a story to tell the people. How can I tell that story to the most people at the right time? So my argument to everyone was always like we have prospective students who look at our school every year. The rising high school seniors who are about to start school or started school around the country are starting to whittle...

...down their top twenty list or their top ten list and think about the schools that they want to go to and they're going to go to the Google and they're going to google the schools and the 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 what I 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 search for Colgate or one that comes a hundred and fifty? Would you rather talk to twenty Fivezero people or ten people, not Tenzero, ten people, because that's who you're going to talk to you when you have a group. And so you know I'm not very good at mass, but twenty Fivezero is way bigger than a hundred. It is. I think, yeah, like just why not? Let me put your content out to the people who are going to see it, instead of you working so hard to try to do other marketing to build your audience, when we already have an audience met. It is such an important conversation to have. I love that you've had its cold gate for so long and in a lot of us can look to you for for how you made that happen. I think. I think I immediately in our listeners proa jump to but, Matt, you're not going to post their garbage content. That's why they want their own page. How do you get over that kind of governance issue? Well, again, come down to you a story to tell. Who are you trying to tell it to you and why? Why are you doing this piece of content? Why do you want to take a picture of this lecture? It's not about the lecturer that's coming here. It's a the story is about the access that students get when I come 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 make sense to perspective students, because if your goal is to try to get people at your event, students, then make a make a sign, make a polter 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 the story about access within your department, then let's tell that story. It's so good, it's so good. But...

...you're right, you know, they come to us with you know, it's not bad content, it's badly thought about content. So instead of coming to me with your picture of a lecturer and then let's just kind of reframe it so that it actually makes sense to a perspective student and it's a reason to come here. Really good, really good. 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 is used, 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 of audiences and the different kinds of people that come here. We take a step back and say that for higher read it's a it's a highly involved, high consideration purchase decision. Even if a student doesn't pay the full price, and not a lot of students pay the full price, it's still cost a certain amount of money. So there's a lot of consideration that that students are going to make. And one of the things that is different about the consideration process for a university in comparison to like a house or a car or some other high 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's the application is done. You cannot say I would like to buy your product on January sixteen. So when you think about the the structure, you in September 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 in November you want to get them to generate a behavior which is apply or visit and 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 this summer and so they're thinking about applying.

That's a custom adience. When you have a region of people where you want to kind of grow and use facebook's as event targeting and say, I would like to go after a thirteen to seventeen year olds in Texas who are interested in liberal arts and and are interested in a school that has spirit. Facebook, let's you advertise to those interests and so you can. You can kind of forge your advertising plan to fit the kinds of communities and the time of the year that you want a behavior from those people from your communities. Yeah, I think you've got on something really important. To hear that that one of the clear targeting advantages facebook has is its data. So unlike twitter or other self from networks, where as an advert tiser you really don't know much about the person besides what's in their short hundred and forty character bio, whereas facebook knows so much about the individual and 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 awareness initiatives versus going hyper, hyper program specific for the most cost effective inquiry generation versus, like you mentioned, targeting liberal arts interested students in Texas where the coal gate brand recognition isn't a strong how do you kind of a way out those balances and targeting take a great question and it's a it's an evolving thing for for us especially, facebook assigns a score to your ad. It's zero or it's one hundred and twenty nine. One is bad. Nine is really good. When we do adds out to our alums, we get we got a score of seven hundred and eighty nine, and if you get a score of nine you can pay as much as seven cents a click. If you get a score of three or four, you can be you're paying a buck fifty, two hundred and fifty a click. So when you do those broad kinds of 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 in Texas, you're going to get a low,...

...which is a bad relevancy score for your Ad. So Yad is going to cost a little bit more. So the more that you target it, the better your score becomes in the less you pay on the click. Now let me just say so facebook has said, to my faith, that the score that you get on an ad does not in pickt your cost per click. My data suggest something else. I don't know who's right. I just telling you that I try to get a high Clis, a high score on my ads, because my cost per click goes down. And so the more I can make it relevant to the end user. And then you think about it this right, right, at the end of the day, facebook as a product and it's a it's a user experience. If people keep getting ads on their new seeds that are irrelevant to them, they're going to have a bad product experience and they could stop using facebook. So facebook wants to keep it as relevant as possible. So the more relevant that you can make your add the more that you're you're sort of fitting in with what the facebook platform is, which is relevant content at the relevant time. So, in order make those ads as hyper relevant and scores 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 sure that 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 that we do adds right to high schools and adds that that are right to high schools 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 the time consuming thing to end put into into building, and if you put in that time, that small number you fit's a kind of rewards. It kind of assumes that it is hyper targeted. If you're if your audience is a really low number. One thing that I've learned. If your audience is under a thousand people, your ad could take...

...forty eight hours to run. It will 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 put we hit run, to it actually charging us with fifty six hours because the audience size is probably about two hundred and fifty people. Yeah, in an audience size like that they take a lot of time. facebook takes a lot of time to just make sure that that add is not it probably gets looked up by hand even I don't know, but it takes some time. So those lower numbers for us because we're a highly you know, we're a leading liberal artist situation where highly selective. We're going after schools that we know that students 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 access to our school. If they don't have high sat scores, they're just not going to get in. What are some ways that you are segmenting out academic quality when trying to find right fit students? That's a great question to we are trying 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're testing things like, you know, a region, an age group, and then interested in chess clubs or interested in like extracurriculars that have it to tendency to be smarter people. Yeah, if you will, you know. So facebook allows that kind of detailed segmentation. So it's really figuring out, like looking at the students who come into your school and seeing the kinds of clubs that they were in when they were in high school and then going to going after that kind of interest, that kind of club, because I can guarantee you 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 Chess Club or you set in them, set...

...in a message to your friend on Messenger. Are you going to Chess Club today? And, like, we tell facebook all the different things that we're going to go to. So facebook knows 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 by your imagination and the time you have to really hyper segment your audience. Really good thoughts on on how to effectively recruit students. Let's talk about how you're rerecruiting 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 to go like our alumni facebook page. They just become an alum and so you 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 do is we do event based advertisements that are synced with email invite. So if there's an event on Wednesday night in Boston, for instance, we do an email and at the same time we can do an add to people in Boston who graduated colgate university and the call to action can even be look at your invite, look at your resough not even not even click through it, so that you're just basically generating awareness for an email and you're not being charged the click. So we did that too. We every year try to get this year we had the last school year we had forty six percent of our alumni give and so our goal is to get it up to fifty percent, half of our alumni to givets. We post events throughout the nation and around the world 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 more so than just people liking our content.

It's really clever and a good reminder that you face books always experimenting with new advertising display formats, video carousels, facebook live. What are you finding the most effective right now, from either an inquiry generation standpoints or to get folks to these alumni events. That's that's really 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 live tours are really sort of those dolgic moments for our alumni, so they engage with those in an in a massive way. Again, we only have one facebook page, so we have a current student do a facebook live mini tour with a call to action to go to the big virtual tour. We're going to do a lot more of those, you know, two to four minute tours of the school on facebook live, and we might even start boosting those after 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 five pictures, especially when we are advertising to the south we are. We are obviously in the northeast where we have winter. So we usually do an add to the 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 you that 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 appeal to your institution, to these specific folks that and how do you how do you show off that that specific novelty and that's come across anecdotally, like we do a we talked to a lot of students around here and I was talking to 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 come to 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 sure we cover before we close today, or can you leave our listeners with maybe one piece of lowhanging fruit to talk with their teams about? In order to utilize facebooks, Evans targeting to reach prospective students more effectively, so I would say this and I would say that focus, focus, focus, on a facebook platform. They're not paying me to say this, I don't. We don't do snapchat, we barely do instagram right now. There has never been a better tool in the history of the world to hyper target the kinds of people that you want to go to your school. FACEBOOK, on so many levels offers the ability to advertise exactly to who you want to, when you want to advertise to them. When people continue only ask me, do you have snapchat? Are you guys doing whatever is next? You guys doing musically? Are you guys doing this? That the other thing. My response to them. As you know, I fight a continued battle to decrease the amount of content that our prospective student see is that isn't entirely and the control isn't the 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 and more. So I would my advice to you would be really truly understand facebook and go from there. Love it. Matt thanks so much for joining us today. What is the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? Twitter? I respond to twitter much quicker than I resent I tend to respond to email. So I'm at am Hams ah a Amazon Matt Es. That's my twitter handle. You can also look me up 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 can you can look me up on linked and I'm always thinking about how the university can 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 time today, tour I appreciate it. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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