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Word Of Mouth: Turning Noise into Intelligence

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  1. Word Of Mouth:Turning Noise into Intelligence Philomena Mantella Senior Vice President Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Northeastern University

  2. Assisted by Kerry Salerno Sr. Associate Director of Admissions Marketing and Communications Seamus Harreys Dean, Student Financial Services Jillian DeTeso Financial Aid Counselor Anyone over 2 and under 30

  3. Word of Mouth • Consumer created marketing-relevant information • Also known as consumer generated media (CGM)

  4. Presentation Objectives • Create recognition of key shifts • Create understanding of prevalence and penetration of CGM in our markets • Be clear controlling it is not an option - don’t react to every post – attempt to get a handle on the tipping point

  5. Who is Talking? • Prospective freshmen are the biggest audience out there • Current students talk about their experiences • Parents are biggest user of university sponsored Blogs • Alumni are reconnecting outside of the web through WOM including /university sites/ Groups, classmates.com and other online community sources

  6. The Freshman Mindset Who are they? • “The Millennial Student” • iGeneration • The Net Generation • MyPod Generation • Generation Next • D.A.R.E. Generation • Reality to Generation Authenticity is the Holy Grail

  7. College Search Alone • On an average day, 4% of internet users • That’s 5 million people!! • Changes to Enrollment Management • Stealth applicants (first contact is an application) account for more than 40% of the applicant pool* *Eric Hoover “The Rise of the Stealth Applicants” – The Chronicle of Higher Ed; March 31, 2006

  8. “About two-thirds of all economic activity in the US is influenced by shared opinions about a product, brand or service.” McKinsey Consulting 2005 www.researchandmarkets.com

  9. Online “chatter” is: • Unfiltered/unadulterated • Perceived as highly credible and authentic It is what they know…

  10. Challenges of WOM • Perception becomes reality at warp speed • The starting point may define the direction of the dialogue • Its potential impact on our market is huge • Yes, it is out of “our” control

  11. University are largely focused tactically Getting in the game: • Creating Blogs • Participating in the conversation • Managing content

  12. Examples • Online Omsbudsman • Engage student worker to monitor key blogs/boards who would provide factual information regarding NU online • Outreach • Factual response to inaccuracies on the web to both independent and commercial sites. • Student blogs • not the answer unless they are genuine • Community ambassadors • Use your insides • Buzz Generation • With bloggers, community voices and websites owners to provide interesting stories, similar to how we pitch PR

  13. The “real student” bloggers

  14. Market Response • Helpful and convenient university information • More parents than students • Not perceived as “real” consumer information • “Flogs” versus Blogs

  15. What Should We Focus on? • The tremendous influence, power and speed of WOM • How we can better understand WOM • It’s impact on traditional marketing • How can we use it to improve our understanding of the University

  16. Influence, Power & Speed

  17. AOL HELL

  18. June 15, 2006 June 20, 2006

  19. June 24, 2006 June 25, 2006

  20. June 26, 2006 June 27, 2006 July 14, 2006

  21. Consequence or Concurrent AOL Impact • In the quarter that ended Sept. 30, AOL lost 2.5 million subscribers • Revenue declined 3 percent • AOL abandoned its “pay-to-play” model, is now trying to succeed as a free service in a very crowded marketplace

  22. Remember These:TraditionalMediaReadership • The New York Times 1.12M • The Washington Post 708,000 • The Los Angeles Times 902,000 http://advertising.washpost.com/the_market/2005General.pdf

  23. “The New Influencers” By Paul Gillin – Quill Book Spring 2007 Former Editor of Computerworld Magazine Paul Gillin – www.paulgillin.com

  24. 4 million page hits per month 30 Million page views per day 300,000 downloads per month 400,00 million page views in 2004

  25. WOM Power is Compounded Given the prevalence and proliferation of sites discussing the consumer experience and the high usage by high school and the college age market… WOM impact on Universities must be seriously considered

  26. What is Critical to Explore • How WOM creates a virtual reality of our university • How can it be used to gather market intelligence • How WOM can be used internally to create a deeper community understanding

  27. What we can learn • The strength of our brand • A consumer perspective on academic and student life • What is driving students’ decisions? • What starts the best (and worst) conversations • Where are our brand advocates • Where/what de-brands our universities

  28. Transparency is not an option, it IS a reality of the new world.

  29. What is OUR virtual reality? And what can we do about it?

  30. What’s Out There? Information sites Post information from various sources (that may or may not be correct)

  31. The U: Have you seen your university’s video? Sponsored by: The WB and U.S. News & World Report

  32. Collegeconfidential.com • Average 300,000 visitors per month • Founded to “demystify” the admissions process • College Counseling – specializing in Ivy League and elite college counseling • Staff has served as college counselors

  33. Conversation Starters College Confidential conversations are often started by a parent interested in input on their student’s chances on getting accepted livejournal.com

  34. Networking SitesAllow users to connect with others

  35. Facebook • More than 7.5 million people registered. • Over 2,200 colleges, 22,000 high school, 2,000 companies. • Has sign up an estimated 90% of all undergrads • Two-thirds of registered people return every day. • People spend an average of 20 minutes on the site daily, according to comSource. • #1 Photo site on the web with over 1.5 million photos uploaded daily. • Was ranked the 7th most trafficked site in the United States.

  36. What are students doing on Web sites? • 36 % of college-bound juniors have read profiles of current students; 63% would if they could • 18% have read alumni profiles; 56% would if they could • 30% have read student blogs; 63% would if they could • 17% have read faculty blogs; 83% would if they could • 35% have viewed a virtual tour; 63% would if they could Source: Noel-Levitz / James Tower/ NRCCUA E-Expectations 2007 Study

  37. MySpace.com • More than 50 million members • Fastest growing Web site in the country • 75% of members are over the age of 18 • Murdoch’s News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million one year ago

  38. Social Networks • 85% of teens who have created an online profile they use or update most often is on Myspace • Nearly half of teens who use social networks visit the sites either once a day (26%) or several times a day (22%), while 17% visit the sites three to five days per week, 15% visit on to two days per week, and 20% visit every few weeks or less often Source: January 2007 Project Data Memo released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project

  39. Dialogue & Opinion Sites “the bloggosphere…”Allow users to talk amongst themselves about your University and other issues and to rate and review their experiences

  40. LiveJournal.com • As of 7/11, total accounts: 10,626,317 • Accounts active in some way: 1,851,177 • Top Countries where Livejournal is most popular: • United States 2,989,290 • Russian Federation 313,625 • Age distribution: • 15 191,427 • 16 338,726 • 17 416,434 • 18 433,467 • 19 432,400 • 20 401,853 • 21 336,701