Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Importance of Engagement: Jeff Rushton

One of the best parts of Social Media (from a business and marketing perspective) is the ability to engage with your customers and the general public on an extremely broad range.  Each individual person has their own voice and own personality to share with the world.  Being involved with customers and consumers is the main reason why I love social media as much as I do.  That being said, today's guest speaker for COMM-460 really struck a positive cord with me.  Our class had the privilege to have the University of Louisville's Director of Digital Media, Jeff Rushton, tell us his story and insights.  Despite that fact that he thought he was boring us to tears and suffering from a lack of his morning Mt. Dew, his presentation was fantastic.  

To start off with, the analytics portion of his presentation was astounding.  I didn't realize that UofL's homepage, on an "average" month (and by average Jeff meant months other than January and December) gets about 4.5 million hits worth of traffic!!  This bit of information really brought home to me just how important a webpage can be for a company or university.  Being able to attract your audience and hold on to their attention is so so important.  But Mr. Rushton didn't build this machine of a homepage so easily.  He tracks numbers and runs analytics everyday and works off of those numbers.  So anyone out there wanting to boost their homepage or maintain an audience.  Track numbers quickly after posting anything whether it be on a website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and see if your numbers go up or down.  Never underestimate the power of numbers.  Which coincides with Jeff's other point of his presentation.  Quantify everything you do.  What Jeff meant by this, and I'm sure it's common sense for several social media experts out there, is make sure that everything you say or post means something.  Avoid posting simply to post because that's a very easy way to lose followers.  Make sure that your posts will not result in your employer looking at you and asking, "So what??  You posted on Twitter 50 times in the past hour.  How has that generated any results??"  Timing is also everything.  While tracking numbers, look for patterns in the traffic.  For example, Jeff knows not to post anything to UofL's Facebook page or homepage between 3:00 PM on Fridays and 10:00 PM on Sundays.  Traffic is at it's lowest during this time so posting anything (or a great of number of things at the very least) just seems counterproductive.  Jeff also makes a point not to post above 5 times a day.  He's noticed that anything above that (from his perspective) results in a loss of followers.

To wrap up my quick discussion of Mr. Rushton's visit, the importance of engagement seemed to be brought up quick a bit.  It's literally how he got his start with Facebook and UofL.  He started posting periodically when he would see things that people were saying on Facebook and would engage in conversations with these people that were visiting.  It's always a great feeling when a celebrity, your favorite company/brand notices a tweet of yours and responds to it.  It shows you care and appreciate the fact that they are there and (hopefully) saying nice things about you or your company.  ENGAGEMENT.  Always.  An example of fan engagement on the UofL Athletics website is a photo collage in celebration of UofL's victory at the Sugar Bowl.  Jeff and the Social Media Director for UofL, Nick Stover, created this "fan poster" with fan pictures from Facebook .  When you click on any picture, it will take you to that photo's source.  Pretty neat!!  And it makes the head of our Cardinal bird.  In my mind, it's a creative way to show Cardinal pride while giving a shout out to the fans that made the trip down to New Orleans to support their team.

If you are curious about UofL's homepage or Jeff Rushton himself, here are a few links to help you connect with them:

To connect with Jeff, you can find him on Twitter at @jeffrushton 

Cardinal Fan Poster (credit to Yahoo! News)

Speaking with us in class today :)

(photo credit goes to Dr. Karen Freberg via Twitter @kfreberg )