Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 1

Track Everything Posted on Social Media

A skilled social media maven from an institutionally related foundation in Texas says college officials should measure the impact of everything they post on Facebook, Twitter and other similar networks.

"You need to have policies and procedures in place before you get started using social media," says Sophia Corey, director of advancement services at the Houston Community College Foundation. "You wouldn't start a magazine without planning it out first. Just because [social media] is quick and easy to use doesn't mean you should just throw things out there."

When Corey first started tweeting and posting Facebook status updates for the foundation, she would write a message one way, wait a week and then reword it. Then, using the number of clicks on a related link, shares of the post or other similar metrics, she would see which message worked best.

Corey says that this trial method, guided by web metrics, has significantly improved the way in which the foundation uses social media to engage alumni. For example, she has learned that writing a teaser about an interesting tidbit with a link to a news article of interest leads to more hits and comments than simply announcing the news article and providing a link.

Another example of using social media involves the institution's new mascot, an eagle named Swoop. Pictures of Swoop at institutional functions were especially popular on Twitter. In response, the alumni association started a crowd-sourced project in which alumni are encouraged to share pictures of themselves posed with a cutout of Swoop at their post-graduate job, next college or while traveling abroad.

Corey says she is also considering using the popular mascot in other messages to get the word out about foundation fundraising efforts and alumni association events.

"Don't start anything on social media without thinking about how you'll be tracking it," Corey says. "Think about what can be tracked ... and figure out what your communications strategy should be."

For Corey, that strategy includes getting more individuals on the foundation staff comfortable and involved with social media outreach. So from now until the end of August, each member of her 13 staff will take one day to learn about and take control of the foundation's social media sites for a day. They must post at least one item during their select day and monitor the overall metrics of user engagement.

Corey, and a handful of other social media experts, will lead an informal "tech talk" on how to use social media networks—from Twitter and Facebook to Instagram and Pinterest—at the Conference for Community College Advancement in October.

Please share your questions and comments with Marc Westenburg via email at or +1 202 478 5570.

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This article is from the July 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.


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Conference for Community College Advancement
Oct. 3 - 5, 2012
San Diego, Calif.

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