Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chicago AMA "Hot Seat" Challenge Next Week

Next Thursday I am going to be on the 'hot seat' challenge with the AMA's Higher Education SIG in Chicago at Catalyst Ranch at 656 W. Randolph, Jitterbug Room at 5pm..  People will ask me questions and I will answer to the best of my ability.  Since I am a professor I always have an answer for everything so I am looking forward to the evening!

I think the big topics for higher education right now are engagement and content, the same as for most marketers.  My students have been doing AdWords projects this semester and one entire class is working specifically for units within the University.  Higher education is competitive now and the keywords are expensive, many too expensive for the budget of a student project.  Some of the students have taken the approach of asking their University clients to improve their web pages to facilitate organic search results.

Although I would not recommend abandoning paid search, I think the best strategy for a University is also to develop meaningful content on the web site that will allow for higher rankings in search engines during organic search (the results that are not ads).  Blogs, videos, images, whitepapers and other types of content are looked upon favorably by search engines in organic or 'natural' search rankings.

My blog (which is with blogger, a company owned by Google) gets ranked highly on my own personal search engine results page when I am logged in to Gmail and I can also see which of my professional acquaintances has posted on relevant topics.  You can see above I recently created a post on 'tag management '  However, blogs are given weight by all search engines, as are other forms of content.  When my class did a viral video project, the organic search rankings for our program soared.  This success is documented in +Aaron Goldman's book Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google.

I would ask what organization is better suited than a University to create original content?  Universities have experts available in every academic department.  These experts can be showcased on the University's website to enhance the social 'reputation' of the University.

These experts can also help with engagement.  Another topic is engagement and social media can work to improve engagement.  DeVry University is connecting current and perspective students with subject matter experts that are available on faculty and staff.  I think the challenge will be to incent and motivate faculty and staff to contribute.  When faculty see that social media participation improves how they are viewed as an expert in their field, I think they will be more likely to participate.  I look forward to 'engaging' you on these topics at Catalyst Ranch.  Register for the event here.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on Google+ and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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