Jeff Bezos founder and CEO of amazon.com said “your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.” You don’t own your brand (and yes, your school is a brand). This lack of control is an uncomfortable thought. What do people say about your school when you’re not in the room?
If you do not constantly define who you are as an institution your consumers (prospective and current students and their families) will define it for you.
Wouldn’t you rather have some control? Don’t you want to be in the conversation? I do.
A great use of social media is listening. If you are curious what people are saying about your school simply type your schools name into the search option in Twitter, Facebook, or youtube. You may be surprised what you find. You may find nothing which would be worse than finding something you don’t like. The results provide an opportunity to respond, react, engage, or simply be aware of the public perception.
According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, who wrote The leadership challenge “Innovation requires more listening and communication than does routine work.” If you want to change how your school engages and relates with your current and prospective families you should start with listening. What are their wants, needs, and expectations? Yes this requires more work in the short term, but in the long term you will have a more focused marketing plan, you will be more in tune with the expectations of your stakeholders and future students. How they see you is often different than how you see yourself.
Listening will also help you create or redefine your social media strategy, a strategy that must remain true to your school, it’s mission, and community.
Boloco Burrito is a great example of a company that listens. Boloco posts negative customer reviews on Twitter, a bold and confident strategy. Not only does this show that they are listening and responding to their customers but provides a venue for the Boloco faithful to defend the company in a public setting. For example, when Boloco CEO John Pepper, who tweets for the company, discovered this Tweet;
@acbtanya got someone else’s boloco order. it’s pretty good but i doubt they’ll be happy if they get my pork instead of tofu.
@acbtanya uggh… that’s NOT good at all. which location? (glad you like yours!!)
When he discovered this Tweet:
@jilliancyork @nicolecallahan There’s a burrito joint here called BoLoCo-dumbest name ever
He responded with this sarcastic comeback:
@boloco the award was actually “stupidest name change”
And this retweet:
RT @martyshannon: @boloco, I like the name boloco, I don’t see why everyone hates it
This level of transparency and engagement has helped to build the boloco brand; well that and incredibly delicious burritos.
Social Media provides a valuable opportunity for those of us working in admissions — listening to the competition! I constantly urge my colleagues (competitors) to be more engaged on facebook and twitter.
So what can your school learn from a burrito company? At least one simple and valuable lesson, listen. It’s never been easier to do so.