At a presentation last week, someone asked me how we “know” which updates we should be making to our websites. They asked if there was a ‘gold standard’ higher education or corporate website to reference.
It’s seldom as simple as launching a Facebook or Twitter page—and boom—there’s your captive audience. It takes a little time and a lot of effort. Here are a few ways to gain quality Michigan Tech fans and followers:
- Integrate social media into your larger communication plan; setting goals and tracking metrics keeps your social media targeted and strategic.
- Add social icons and a call to action in your printed collateral and e-newsletters. Tell your audience what kinds of content they can expect and where to go (URL) to like/follow the page.
- During events, ask folks to like and follow your pages. Leverage the opportunity to grow your social media audience when you are speaking to several hundred people—who happen to already love the University. Ask them to take our their smart phone and hit ‘like’. Seriously. Give it a try!
- Ask the campus community to like and follow your pages in a Tech Today post. You might even consider quarterly reminders.
- Like and follow other Michigan Tech accounts. Upon launching your accounts, this is one of the best, first steps (after you load your page with a bit of content).
- Regularly like and follow key industry, research, or partner pages. Interact regularly to stay visible. Remember, social media is not just a megaphone to
shout messages—it’s a real conversation.
- Perhaps the most important way to expand your reach is through consistent, quality content. Check out our Social Media Field Guide for more best practices and ideas (2017 edition coming soon!).
What are some of your tried-and-true ways to grow your Michigan Tech social media pages? Email email@example.com.
Brand and Social Media Manager
There are a number of advantages to the new CMS Templates that we are offering beginning on August 1st. They include:
- a wider webpage width that is more inline with industry standards
- a drastically improved design with areas for more visuals and multimedia
- a responsive template that fits all devices from wide-screen TVs and desktop monitors to smartphones and tablets
- a larger font for easier reading
- Schema.org data tagging to increase search engine optimization
- new tags to make webpages ready for social media sharing
- added accessibility code to achieve WCAG 2.0 AA and AAA conformance
- horizontal navigation
“What should I post on social media?” It’s one of the most common questions the social media team at Michigan Technological University hears. Most folks understand a stagnant social media page isn’t favorable, so most people are anxious to regularly produce compelling content that will engage their audience. Here are some things to consider when planning content for your Michigan Tech-affiliated social media pages:
You’re working hard to plan an event at Michigan Technological University. Now all you need is people to show up. How do you make that happen? Pro tip: it takes more than a Facebook event page. Here’s a few nitty-gritty event promotion tips for our Michigan Tech campus community:
Begin Promotion About Two Weeks Out
This means your assets, like designed posters, should be completed two (or more) weeks before the event. Of course the bigger the event, the more lead time required.
As a web manager, you have a lot of responsibility. You have to keep your content “fresh” and accurate. It is a lot of work when you have 50+ webpages to manage along with various other job responsibilities. Making CMS updates typically falls under “and other duties assigned”—making things particularly difficult.
The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of External Linking
We link to a lot of external websites—ones that Michigan Tech does not own or control. We link to resources about the local community and lodging, responsible research practices, and the products that our university uses. We link to information about disabilities. To our corporate partners’ websites. To sponsors, writing tips, and career advice.
Social media seems spontaneous and off-the-cuff. And for most of us, personally, it is. Professional social media pages representing brands like Michigan Technological University, however, warrant planning, editing, and attention to detail. Here’s four easy ways to make your Michigan Tech-affiliated social media posts look more professional.
As the flexibility of a system increases, its usability decreases. It sounds simple, but yet is so difficult to understand. Intel has a couple nice examples of this. Flexibility has costs. I would argue this holds true in general, but for now let’s focus on the web.
Making it ‘Foolproof’
Murphy’s Law claims, in part, that “nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.” In basic terms, you cannot plan for everything. Rather, you should design and code for the critical mass of users needed to make your website successful. When you go overboard on flexibility, you decrease efficiency, added complexity, increase time, and spend more money for development. You may deliver a user experience that is worst than what you started with.
When universities or corporations redesign their website, the trend is to ‘go responsive.’ There are a few important reasons, beyond being trendy:
- Mobile usage is exploding: More than 33% of our web traffic is on a mobile device and that percentage increases every few months. Our Athletics website has already seen “the flip” where more of their traffic is via mobile than any other platform.
- Consistent user experience: if your customer is used to your desktop website, they should have a similar experience on a tablet or mobile phone. This is ensured by serving them a responsive website that adapts to their screen size. We believe in serving the same content, regardless of the screen size. Smartphones are fully capable of displaying all of the content that a desktop machine can.
- It is recommended by Google: Google will boost your search engine rankings if a user is searching on a mobile device and your website is ‘mobile friendly.’ Although Google also values a separate version of your website as being ‘mobile friendly’, they recommend that your website be responsive.
- Cost effectiveness: in the long run, it is easier to make your website responsive than it is to maintain two or more separate versions of your website. With multiple website copies, it is easy to be lazy and develop for ‘desktop only’ and then have to redevelop for the other screen sizes. A responsive website puts the focus on all screen sizes and one code base.
Our websites will be upgraded in August as a part of our ongoing brand initiative. We will no longer use a left navigation structure as the only choice for our websites. Beginning August 1st, top navigation will be the default CMS option and will be supplemented by left navigation on internal pages that require it.
Although there are numerous advantages to this approach, our decision was supplemented by reviewing 125 universities classified as division one institutions. Our goal was to determine what type of navigation structure was common in higher education. We reviewed the main homepage, alumni association homepage, and one internal academic webpage from each university.