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04/07/2011

Living Social with USciences and Building the Brand in the Process

Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Flickr. Five years ago you may not have heard of any of these, probably because most of them were just coming into existence. Now, millions of Americans use these social networking tools as their primary means of communication and gathering information. This is particularly true for those in their teens and twenties who even consider e-mail to be getting outdated.  Email outdated?  I remember tapping away on the ol' IBM Selectric at Baxter Advertising, circa 1988.

Typewriter 
So what’s a university to do? Join the social networking revolution, of course. And University of the Sciences has. It’s not just about being part of the latest craze, though. It’s about reaching our core constituencies where they are most likely to find us and reinforcing our brand in every medium. According to Nielsen, the average American spent more than 61 hours on the Internet in January, up 10 percent from just the month before. More than seven of those hours were spent on Facebook alone, with another hour on YouTube. Social networking sites are where people congregate, and USciences wants to be where the people are, telling the story of our brand and engaging with our alumni, students, and supporters.

The ubiquity of social media also gives us a unique opportunity to simultaneously share our new branding with—USciences, where healthcare and science converge—and listen to multiple audiences. We want people to recognize that USciences delivers an unparalleled scientific education that will enable them to be leaders and innovators for new generations.

Social media allows those who already know us to communicate with us, often in real time, something we don’t get with traditional media outlets. We find out what our students, alumni, and prospects are thinking as they give us feedback through comments, posts, links, and videos. Their responses let us know that if our new branding is being understood and if we are fulfilling the brand promise we have made. We are able to answer their questions and concerns as they come up, sometimes even before they arise.

But USciences is also using social media to get the word out to people who have never heard of us and to elevate the general awareness of our brand. We are running ads on Facebook that promote the graduate chats or undergraduate or graduate programs. The ads are cost efficient, since we only pay if someone clicks on our ad, and they target individuals who are interested in the types of programs we have to offer. It’s also easy to track response and to tweak—or replace—ads that are not performing. As USciences stories and news get shared virally across Facebook and Twitter, others are made aware of our expertise, which elevates the positive perception of our brand.

 Tree stump tell a story 

And it’s a perception we live up to. We know we have a great story to tell. Not all science degrees are created equal; we’ve been doing this for 190 years. If we can get the word out to prospective students, they will have a great career. What we teach our students is life or death. Their future work and research will change the world. We want them to know we are the university that can best prepare them for that worthwhile future. And so we will tell them—wherever they gather and in whatever medium furthers the USciences conversation.

 

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