Mount Saint Vincent, King’s get new websites

Experts see social media as vital to schools’ web presence

A snap shot of the new King's website with Twitter feed. Photo credit: Submitted by the University of King’s College.

Mount Saint Vincent launched its new website on Tuesday. The University of King's College will do the same next week, says Elizabeth Yeo, registrar at King's.

Both websites incorporate elements from free, user-generated content sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

King's new website is part of an effort to bring more interaction to the school's web presence.

"It shows we're not stuck in the old school way of using the web. We're willing and excited to use those new things," says Nadine LaRoche, communications co-ordinator at King's College.

LaRoche has been closely involved with the development of the new website and is responsible for the tweets on King's Twitter feed. She says a mention of King's being on Twitter in the school's newsletter yielded a 300 per cent increase in followers from about 20 to more than 80.

"That is 80 new people connected with the college in a new way... to make that connection to people is very important to me," says LaRoche.

The new website will encourage community involvement and help recruit new students, says Yeo.

"As the whole area of recruitment and outreach at high schools has become more competitive King's has had to do more," says Yeo.

"We are incorporating a number of interactive features -- a Twitter feed, photo galleries aligned with Flickr -- so people can upload and we can import photos into the King's galleries," says Yeo.

King's hasn't done away with its printing and mailing recruitment campaigns entirely. Yeo says research has shown a tangible print presence is vital.

But Julia Rivard, creative director at Norex, a Halifax-based marketing, social media and web development company doesn't think that's the case.

"I don't know if there is a need for traditional recruitment campaigns anymore," says Rivard.

"If you really know your audience you might be able to do just recruitment online."

Norex counts Propeller Brewery, Neptune Theatre and the Pogue Fado restaurant among its clients and has seen a major push from clients for social media integration over the last year, says Rivard.

"Integration is really the key in social media, so people don't have to be using multiple sources to get the media they want. The hardest part for our clients is trying to capture where their audience is."

Dalhousie University has recently hired Ryan McNutt, a dedicated social media editor. He says social media is best suited for reaching the university's most invested stakeholders.

"Reaching our keenest audience is very valuable," says McNutt.

The Dalhousie Facebook fan page has about 2,000 fans, giving it one of the largest university fan followings in the country.

But people have more control over what media they consume than they've ever had before. As such, social media is not a great persuasive platform itself, says McNutt.

"Social media is more about taking people who are interested in the Dalhousie community or are members of it and helping them feel more connected on campus," says McNutt.

"Our recruitment efforts are still far more focused on one-to-one campus visits."

The Nov. 23 date targeted for the launch of King's new site will unveil phase one of a two-stage development.

"Phase two, which will allow for more social media involvement, will be spread over two years," says Yeo.

"More social media integration, more interactive features, more audio/video and more student-generated input."

The website sports the new colour scheme of the school's recent rebranding effort, a section dedicated to policy and a new easy to navigate layout.

"I don't know if the industry has totally caught up with what is possible yet," says Rivard.

"If people start to take the time to develop social media the way they did in traditional media we're going to see campaigns that are way above what we ever saw in traditional media."


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