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Buzz Cuts April 2014

Mount  Royal is not your average university 

In 2014 Mount Royal’s Marketing and Communications launched a campaign that showcases and celebrates the personalized learning and community experience that makes Mount Royal unique.

At the centre of the campaign is a video that draws from the University’s brand to convey the benefit students experience from a face to face environment inspiring the video’s tagline “Not your average…’ (click picture to watch)

Not your average video still

The video will be used in multiple ways: 
· as a feature on the Mount Royal YouTube Channel
· as a recruitment tool shown at University Information Evening and at Open House
· as a tool our Recruitment Officers can show in classrooms and on the road
· at university events such as Pearls of Wisdom
· as an attachment to emails being sent to University donors and partners
· to engage Mount Royal alumni and encourage them to reconnect with the University
· as a commercial on select local television channels and YouTube advertising

Word of Mouth Share campaign – In March, Mount Royal Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram social media channels highlighted the ‘Not Your Average’ video. We asked our students, alumni, faculty, staff and community partners to show their MRU pride and share the video with their online circles. It has been a true word of mouth marketing campaign in action – our own community proudly sharing the MRU story over social and digital platforms to their friends, who share with their friends online, and so on and so on.

Stats to date: 

  • 40,000 impressions, 70 Shares and 175 Likes of video on MRU Facebook Page
  • 4,060 views of the video on the MRU YouTube channel
  • 8,000 impressions and 279 clicks on LinkedIn of the video
  • 70 Likes on Instagram

We also launched a #notyouraverageuni campaign on Twitter by using facts and figures that demonstrate what makes MRU unique that was met with great success:

not your avg tweet1 not your avg tweet3










not your avg tweet2







not your avg tweet4






We uploaded a shortened version of the video to one of our most popular social channels, the Instagram mrulife page

Instagram not your average still

Fall 2013

Alberta-FOIPUnderstanding FOIP and Copyright is part of the Social Media job

If you manage social media for your faculty or department representing MRU, your focus is probably on building relationships, engagement and customer service (rightly so). But to use social and online communities effectively you also need to be aware of how copyright and privacy laws affect your day to day activity so you don’t inadvertently get Mount Royal (or yourself) in trouble.

Be aware that each social media platform (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter) has its own operating rules, each country and/or province or state can have different laws and your company may have its own policy – you need to have a general understanding of how these interact together and what the limits are to use social media specifically for Mount Royal University.

Photos, Videos and Privacy

Building relationships and online community means sharing posts, photos, videos across several social platforms – but is it always ok to share or use your audience’s photos videos, and comments?

At Mount Royal University we look to the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) act to guide our photo and video usage of our students and entire MRU community.  In the day to day of creating campaigns, communication and managing our social channels this translates to:

If the purpose is to share photos or videos we can do so without written consent. We retweet Twitpics, Vine or Instagram photos and video, we ‘like’ photos and videos on Instagram, we share Instagram photos and video on Facebook and we use Instagram photos as our Facebook Cover Photos all within the MRU social communities.

Tip: when you are using your audience’s photo or video make sure you give them credit with a ‘shout out’ or tagging them in your post – it is a courtesy plus they will most likely retweet or share because they are happy you used their photo or video.

Tip: before you retweet or share a photo or video (or anything!) make sure you actually look at it or watch it first – reposting is endorsement so make sure the content is appropriate for MRU.

If the purpose is to use our community’s photos to market our business we need written, signed permission for each and every photo. Students’ photos of their school experience is great to show prospective students what life at MRU is like, and in recent publications such as the Viewbook and print campaigns such as for Open House, we have used these pictures – but because this is an intentional marketing piece we received permission on each photo used.

Tip: when your audience posts a photo online it may seem like ‘implied consent’ because the internet is public, but your audience may not expect their photo to appear in magazine ads, bus ads, online ads looking like they represent or endorse your company. Fair usage is to think about what the audience expects to happen with their online photos.

Contests and collecting information 

A common way to build your database of customer contacts is with Contests online where personal information is required to enter. Be aware that when you are actively collecting information on your audience online (name, email, phone, history etc.) you should consider posting what and how this collected information will be used and allow audiences to opt out if they choose.  If you truly are interested in developing a community around your brand or business (you should) this step is a courtesy and helps you to communicate with those people that are actually interested in you.

cropped-BuzzCuts-Banner.jpgFacebook contests are allowed back on your Page time line again, but remember, you are responsible and liable for issues that may come from a contest, not Facebook. Make sure you think through how your contest works from beginning to end and be sure to post right on the Contest:

  • Eligibility to enter
  • Dates and deadlines to enter
  • Full contest rules including specifically how winners are chosen
  • Disclaimer that you are responsible not Facebook for the contest


One area I am very aware of copyright is with videos, music and YouTube. YouTube has its own operating and copyright guidelines (sometimes they flag and pull your video for copyright sometimes they don’t, you can tag the artist name on your video and then a video can be ok) but these are not aligned with our university copyright guidelines. Copyright is a huge issue in an academic environment so even though YouTube has some allowances as a social platform, as a university we do not allow any copyrighted materials to be used in video as part of our organizational guidelines.

Tip: even though you may feel you understand what is acceptable ‘online’ or on specific platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, you need to understand how Mount Royal University Social Networking Guidelines apply.

Open House 2013

instagram booth 2013When describing the Mount Royal University experience to high school students we decided, why take it from us? The best way to see what student life is like, is from current MRU students! Instagram is still a social platform of choice of our students so we encouraged all students fall 2013 to use #mrulife to document their life on campus using Instagram pictures. MRU’s recruitment marketing publication, the Viewbook, featured a spread of our current students’ photos to show prospective students what life is really like complimented with an Open House advertising campaign that had an Instagram look and feel. We had an Instagram photo booth at Open House to tie it all together – group kids photo booth 2013prospective students could have fun while literally picturing their #mrulife. See a social snapshot at Open House Storify.






Say it With Video

Videos, when done well, are an engaging way to communicate and many at Mount Royal are making great use of this medium to share the MRU experience online. Some to mention:

Ashley Black Legacy 2013


Each year at the Alumni Legacy Awards, award winners are featured in videos produced by Media Services at MRU. The videos are professional, inspiring, humourous and insightful.

Calvin training 2013




Calvin the Cougar shows off his cat like reflexes in this training video created by Cougar fans Colin Brandt and Brendan Greenslade. Calvin in Training 




Responsabella and Sex Escapades is an amazingly creative video (part 1 of a series) put together by MRU students with the help of Mozz in Wellness Services.

May 2013 Buzz Cuts

MRU Kids hits success using Facebook’s Sponsored Stories


May is the month we target Calgary parents who are looking for activities for their children over the summer to raise awareness about the amazing programs at MRU Kids, create excitement and ultimately fill all spots for the summer.

In the past we have run MRU Kids contests through radio stations, which generally result in some entries and a bit of awareness. We chose to do these contests again this year with the addition of a Facebook Page contest. We decided to run the ad on our Facebook page for a couple of reasons. First, many of our Continuing Education students have children and are already familiar with Mount Royal. Second, because of the ad options that go with Sponsored Stories, we knew we’d be able to reach a much larger audience than just those who like our Facebook page. With Sponsored Stories you essentially create a page post with an image and link, and your ad shows up to your likes, their friends and also people who fit into the target demographics and location you chose.

By making a contest page that lives on the MRU Kids website we were able to direct traffic from Facebook directly to the MRU Kids website. Even though this required people to do one extra step, we hoped that the chance to win a free summer camp would be enough to entice people to click to the website which was ultimately the goal.

The results of the ad have far exceeded all of our expectations. After the first weekend we had over 50 entries so we tweaked the contest page to allow people to check the box to receive MRU Kids updates in the future, and add them to our MRU Kids email lists.

The contest runs 4 weeks in total – next time we would do 2-3 weeks which saw the best results. Here are the stats to date:

  • Facebook Page Likes: approx. 85 (Facebook insights are behind, so I can’t get an exact number but it’s between 80 and 90)
  • Ad Post: Likes: 88, Comments: 5, Shares: 1, Impressions: 93,024, Clicks: 1,307
  • Contest Link Clicks: 711 (I know this stat as I made the contest link in the ad a bitly link for even more tracking)
  • Contest Entries: 234
  • Emails added to Mailing List: 90 (with an additional 82 that were collected before we had the option added on. We plan on emailing those entries thanking them for entering and asking if they’d like to be added to our email list for future updates and contests, so that they aren’t just missed opportunities).
  • Cost: less than $500

Continuing Education Facebook Page
Contest Page on MRU Kids website

Krystal Archer, Continuing Education

Convocation and word of mouth marketing


Convocation is the best day of the year for graduates and provides a fantastic word of mouth marketing opportunity – students want to share their milestone experience with all of their online circles and we want to help them!


This year we have added a few new items to our Convocation word of mouth marketing plan:

  • Find out which of the Valedictorians or award recipients are on Twitter and what their ‘handle’ is – we can then tag them (include) in tweets being sent out about the ceremony so that they can retweet to their followers increasing the reach of #MRU
  • Creating and communicating a hashtag ahead of time on Twitter for all graduates to use – #MRUgrad is relevant, brand aligned, easy to remember and will aggregate the Convocation conversation in one stream that we can follow, respond to, share and collect throughout all three ceremonies
  • The #MRUgrad hashtag can also be used to collect all photos taken by our students over Twitter or Instagram showing their personal experience – we can upload all of these together into a photo album on Facebook after the ceremonies
  • During the Convocation ceremonies photos will be uploaded to the mrulife Instagram account, and the @MountRoyal4U Twitter account will ‘live tweet’ quotes from the President and Valedictorian speeches so our followers can follow along
  • Featured The Leader stories online and videos of all three Valedictorians’ speeches will be tweeted as well as featured one a day on the MRU Facebook page the week after Convocation to continue to share the conversation

 GRAB the right social media tool for you

fishChoosing the right social media tool is imperative to getting the results that you want – and with so many available these days it can be overwhelming. Using social media successfully can take a lot of your time and resources so you want to make sure you think it through to make the right choice.  I have developed a process I call the ‘GRAB’ method to help people, businesses and brands choose the right social media tool which I usedrecently to facilitate an interactive workshop at the MRU Shift social media conference and for the MRU Employee Appreciation Day.

Goals – what do you really want to achieve with social media? Recruitment, brand awareness, networking, sales? Be realistic about what you really want to get out of being on social media and prioritize into your top 3 goals – write them down and measure every social media tool against them.

Resources –  who is the dedicated person that will be managing the social media – it takes time, experience, training and continually generating interesting and useful content. Is this you? Is this an employee – do they need training? Is this an external agency? At MRU we require a commitment of 5-7 hours per week per social channel and that a full time employee be accountable.

Audience – in marketing we say ‘fish where the fish are’ meaning if you want to reach a specific group of people go to the medium they are already using. Be specific and prioritize who you want to reach into your top 3 audiences. If you are only going to be on one social channel make sure you have your number one audience in mind to reach – who are they? What kind of people are they (motivators)? What social channels do they use?

Brand – what impression do people have of you and how do you stand apart from similar competition? Brand is an overarching concept that can be described as a gut or emotional reaction people have to you and the collective stories, experiences and word of mouth that make up how you are perceived.

Once you identify and prioritize your Goals, Resources, Audience and Brand you can see how they ‘fit’ with various social channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest, each of which have their own purpose, audiences and technical capabilities, to strategically choose the social media that best suits you giving you the most bang for your buck!

Karen Richards


March Madness

confessions anonymousAnonymous Social

There are a number of social accounts, on both Facebook and Twitter, that have popped up in the past few months that all share a similar theme; they target post secondary students and encourage followers to send them messages privately, then they post the message on their pages publicly, but anonymously. Some of the accounts such as MRU Compliments say they are ” an anonymous forum for spreading your love. Inbox us a compliment about a fellow MRU student, organization, or faculty/staff member (please include their name) and we’ll post it anonymously!” and MRU Yolo Notes (yolo = you only live once) claim a positive experience whereby followers can anonymously post compliments or fun messages to other students, faculty or areas of the university. The MRU Confessions page seems like it could lean more towards allowing people to vent, gossip or potentially worse. The attraction seems to be that you can somewhat ‘hide’ behind your comments using these accounts to say what you want anonymously. This is fine when the intent is harmless fun and the moderator or administrator of the account understands when and how to draw the line but there is potential for the conversations to take a negative turn.

mru compliments

What does MRU do about these types of accounts?

I keep an ongoing list of new accounts as they are created that include the words ‘Mount Royal, University and/or MRU’ because 1) this implies they may be an official MRU social account and 2) any account online using our name impacts our brand. The MRU Social Networking Guidelines were developed to inform official university accounts created for the purposes of marketing and communications so many of these external or student-run accounts are not necessarily under my ‘jurisdiction’. My approach is to see if I can find out who is the administrator of the account and contact them directly to provide information on guidelines and act as a resource for them if possible.

Social accounts that pop up, even those using the Mount Royal name or logo, are mostly out of our control – if any of the accounts seriously break our social networking guidelines I do have the option to report them to the social channel they are on (Facebook, Twitter) but any action taken is up to the social channel itself.

mru girl instagramOverhead on MRU Social Channels

The March MRU Social Snapshot gives you a glimpse into what is being said right now across campus, across all our social channels from Instagram to YouTube to Twitter,  from our students, faculty and larger MRU community.

Click for March MRU Social Snapshot 



Social Media Experts, Gurus, Ninjas – In a world where technology and communication are changing so quickly there are a plethora of self proclaimed social media experts out there dishing out advice on what you should be doing and how you should be doing it –  but many consultants, experts or speakers have never actually cultivated or managed an online community. Here is a great article 30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore

Do Less


Do Less – It is not uncommon that I find myself viewing three social channels across two screens while also reading another on my iPhone all at the same time. This  takes multi-tasking to a manic level I know. A new movement I’m seeing lately in TedX Talks and from thought leaders encourages the opposite, to do less and focus on what you do. Evan Williams, co founder of Twitter has a new mantra that he says has made him successful – Do Less.   Interesting, what do you think?

One of the coolest word of mouth marketing campaigns so far in 2013 is Heineken’s Job Interview where many candidates that were vying for a Heineken Internship were filmed under strange circumstances during their interview and then voted on to win the position.

FILE - Candidates for 'TIME Person of the Year' 2012 Viral Videos – as marketers it has become a running joke to hear the phrase ‘I want a viral video’ or ‘make it go viral!’ when putting together a video; we know that this can only truly happen when creative genius meets outrageous levels of planning adding in a stroke of luck. Creativity-Online has put together their favourite funny viral videos from the past year all of which had that special something and went viral.

Vote for your favourite funniest viral video of the last year

February 2013 Buzz Cuts

MRU social snapshot

It has been said that social media is like a human seismograph;  where posts, tweets and pictures tell a collective story. MRU Social Snapshot shows a glimpse into what is being said right now around Mount Royal from some of our social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. February 2013 has MRU talking about everything from Reading Week and midterms to the Tim Horton’s lineup to one of the greatest save in Cougars volleyball and the Canadian Citizenship Ceremony.

Twitter chats – The ‘What I Wish I Knew’ Twitter campaign was so successful at New Student Orientation in Sept. 2012 I am planning some more moderated chats on the @MountRoyal4U Twitter account in 2013.

  • On March 7, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., I will run a technology chat geared towards MRU students using  #MRUtech to aggregate all conversation. A group of experts will get together with me in person during the chat to provide in the moment information on Blackboard, Google products, the MRU App, START program and social media.
  •  On March 21st look for #MRUgreen to talk sustainability on campus
  • A joint chat with Advising (@BeAdvised) in April leading up to University Information Evening.

Tech Test Drive will be on Main Street March 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is a fantastic opportunity for everyone in the MRU community to see what faculty, students and staff are using for technology, have expertise in or are doing research on. There will be booths along main street all day and several 5 minute presentations throughout the day.

National Word of Mouth Marketing Day was celebrated on February 19, 2013 headlining in Seattle and Chicago resulting in over 7 MILLION impressions by over 840 word of mouth marketing practitioners spreading the good word – read the full post to hear what gets social media insiders talking.

harlem shake reacts

Although the latest viral video craze called the  Harlem Shake has taken over the imagination of millions (including MRU), this video “Harlem Reacts” is a very interesting take on the craze; asking people from Harlem what they think of it.




February PR Fail month? One of the fundamentals of Public Relations is supposed to be anticipating issues before they happen or leveraging opportunities, but February saw no sign of this with social media fail after fail. With each one you have to ask yourself, how could they let this happen?!

Burger King apologies after Twitter account hacked 

What happens when a famous restaurant doesn’t buy its domain name 

NASCAR blocks fan video of a horrific crash minutes after it was uploaded citing copyright violation and causing a quick Twitter controversy over who owns what online.

2013 – A Game Changing Year

2013-anne-hathaway-33190905-1360-768Let’s face it, in the world of social media every year seems like a game changer, but 2013 does have the feel of heightened possibility; it will stand out as the year where mobile, social media and sharing of content online goes to a whole new level.


Goals for MRU Social Networking in 2013

Focus on relationships – it is human nature to have excitement around the innovation and cool factor of social media tools, but the sheer number of new tools coming out each month and every year makes it overwhelming, taking attention away from people to technology. A real focus on building relationships with our audiences within the social media channels we already have a presence on, is not only aligned with the MRU brand, it will set us apart from other post secondaries in 2013.

A focus on Word of Mouth Marketing over pure promotion will see MRU working with and building relationships with our current student, faculty and alumni, in person and online, allowing our champions and ambassadors to market MRU through influence, referrals and recommendations.

Continued communication of the importance of MRU Social Networking Guidelines. The Guidelines were developed by the Social Networking Committee in 2010 based on best practice, research, community consultation and will strategically guide all online marketing and communications growth at MRU for success. MRU is ahead of the curve – many post secondaries still do not have guidelines or any roadmap to guide their online efforts – so here is to 2013 being our year!

Continued focus on mobile, sharing and measurement. Creating a mobile MRU website and the introduction of the MRU App are positive moves in the right direction and the momentum will continue through 2013 ensuring students can view, interact and share our content online. Measurement will become a focus this year so we can attach data to our successes (and failures to learn from) and reveal future opportunities we don’t even realize.

Social Media to Watch in 2013

ES infograph
Infographic created by MRU Enrolment Services to communicate how to pay tuition fees

Infographics have been around for awhile but they will continue to grow in popularity during 2013 as the visually easy way to distill and communicate complex information. MRU Enrolment Services created an Infographic this year to better communicate to our students the options they have to pay their tuition fees and how to do it in direct response to some confusion in late 2012 when payment options changed. Posted on the website and MRU Facebook page students posted positive comments about the Infographic. 

Microcontent sharing is a concept that will continue to emerge in 2013, For instance, if you see a quote you like, you might share that to your Twitter account. Or if you see an image within an article, you may want to share just that picture to your Pinterest page. Sometimes you want to share just the video embedded in a news story, not the news story itself. This means publications and projects need to not only be mobile friendly they will need to be piecemeal friendly with sharable options.

Snapchat is a photo sharing platform that distinquishes itself from the others because the photos can be sent to a friend and then disappear in 10 seconds. This could make it tempting to send any kind of picture (embarrassing, silly, naked….) knowing that it cannot be shared or saved.  Pictures won’t end up tagged and forever associated with you like on Facebook, but those on the receiving end can screenshoot photos to save them. Unfortunately to the dismay of preteen and teen parents, Snapchat makes it a perfect channel for sexting.

Vine is a new video platform that can be embedded directly into Twitter and allows you to create 6 second videos that loop and can be quickly and easily shared; the perfect length to accompany 140 characters of tweets. http://vine.co/blog

Social Media Changes the game of SuperBowl Advertising

VW-2011-Super-Bowl-adThis weekend is the Super Bowl, a stand out event historically for advertisers. For years, Super Bowl commercials were closely guarded secrets until they aired on the biggest ratings day of the year. Today, companies have discovered that using social media to tease them online in advance of the big day is a more efficient way of getting their brand message in front of the masses. A notable shift in marketing and communications.

Volkswagen’s 2013 Superbowl campaign follows 2011’s hugely successful (56 million views and counting) Super Bowl spot “The Force,” and 2012’s moderately successful (16 million views) ad, “The Dog Strikes Back.”

Volkswagen’s teaser ad 2013 released to YouTube http://mashable.com/2013/01/24/jimmy-cliff-volkswagen-super-bowl/

Volkswagen’s Super Bowl ad 2013 already with millions of hits and media controversy Volkswagen Superbowl Ad has a Jamaican accent

The question I have is, social media or not, do these ads really reflect the brand of Volkswagon? Does it matter? Do they resonate and make you want to run out and buy one or is the hype of a gimmick that generates conversation enough?


Buzz Cuts November 28

MoWOMM – Why Movember is such a great Word of Mouth Marketing Initiative

With Movember 2012 deciding to give some proceeds to men’s mental health in addition to prostate cancer this was the perfect year for Mount Royal to get involved on a campus-wide level. Creating a Mount Royal University network on the Movember website allowed every student, faculty and staff member of MRU see our collective success as a community all working towards one goal – and the success was more than anyone could have guessed! MRU Movember 2012 was made up of 41 teams, 238 people and as of today raised just under $30,000!

Why is Movember so successful as a word of mouth marketing initiative?

  • Focus on champions – Movember’s model is not to focus on huge advertising or direct mail campaigns; they know that working with those most invested in Movember, their champions, is where to start. Those affected by prostate cancer and their families and those involved previously in Movember in every city, in many countries, are the core group that begin to spread the word each year. Movember ensures these people have all the information and tools necessary to start recruiting friends in person and online to join the cause. This model of working with inside champions outwards to their circles and in turn to their circles is key to a great word of mouth campaign.
  • Great buzz topic to talk about – the fact that men involved with Movember actually grow a moustache for one month without shaving is a great word of mouth (and over the mouth!) topic because it is participation you can see. Women or ‘Mo Sistas’ can find creative ways to wear moustaches in support of Movember such as pinky ring moustaches, moustaches on-a-stick or fake moustaches for photos and events.
  • Social media helps spread the word – Movember has integrated it’s website and individual profile pages with Facebook so that any activity, donations or pictures you post in support of Movember can also be posted to your Facebook page letting your friends know so they can become involved or donate. Many cities have their own Twitter accounts (@MoCalgary) or Facebook pages to keep you up to date on what is happening locally in addition to the national @Movemberca account.
  • And because moustaches are so visually fun to show off, taking pictures on Instagram and Twitter or making YouTube videos is also a natural to share your MoGress with followers and friends and can also be put on your Movember profile. Hashtags such as #Movember #MoLove #MoBro and #MoSista are used by everyone across several social media channels connecting the conversation even more.
  • Take it from online to real life – core Movember supporters in every city across Canada and other countries organize several in-person get togethers on their own during the month of November to form bonds in person that can be continued over social media – this is critical to keep the momentum going. Movember Canada helps cities plan a huge end of the month Movember Gala Parte for everyone who participated to attend and meet each other and build relationships that will make Movember next year that much stronger.
Fred Cheney shaves it all off for Movember on Main Street
MRU Mo Awards given out by MRU Colin Brandt, Captain of Great Kerby's Ghost








11 Biggest Social Media Disasters of 2012

Sometimes the best way to learn about social media is to see the worst disasters that have happened to others! Imagine your business or department name as the one under scrutiny in each of these situations and you can begin to understand why guidelines and best practices are needed for social media.





Biggest Social Media Disasters of 2012

 Instagram Finally Comes Out With Web Version

Instagram, one of the fastest growing photo sharing social media sites and immensely popular with a young demographic was only visible until recently on your smart phone. In October under pressure from large brands Instagram unveiled its web version. Web version makes it much more accessible so that we can share the MRU student experience with a wider audience.

mrulife on Instagram



Buzz Cuts October 30

 MRU’s Instagram Campaign

A cornerstone of word of mouth marketing is that nothing can have as much impact if it only lives online – initiatives need to also cross over into real life. This is exactly what MRU did with our fall Instagram campaign.

Our goal: to use Instagram photos taken by our current students to show prospective students and their parents what student life is like at MRU from those that are living it.

First, MRU Instagram photos were a part of the Open House marketing campaign ‘Make MRU a Part of Your Timeline’  to recruit prospective students to attend Open House. Upon arrival at MRU’s Open House on Oct. 27 there was an Instagram booth where students could fill out different questions and pin on our board or have fun photos taken to be uploaded to the mrulife Instagram account. These pictures were also uploaded to the  recruitment Facebook page ‘Become a MRU Student’ where students tagged themselves to be entered to win a prize. This is a fun way Recruitment Officers were able to speak to students in person at Open House and continue the conversation on Facebook.

Instagram photos also made a huge impact at the launch of Crowchild Classic – the official rivalry between the MRU Cougars and the UofC Dinos kicked off at City Hall with Mayor Nenshi. See all the photos and social mentions on MRU Social Snapshot

Can your social media be managed by a student?

One of the myths of social media is that because of their age, students by default can manage your social media for you. The reality is that our students do not come out of the womb tweeting and blogging and that having a personal Facebook profile is nothing like using social media to market a business or use as a business communication tool. This is not to say that student interns and volunteers cannot be immensely helpful to you and your social media plans – they just need guidance and direction.

Set a framework for the students to use by doing the strategic planning up front (note: you should already have chosen your social media channels based on strategic planning before hiring a student, they should not be responsible to choose what channel you use)

  • Set the top 3 goals you have for your social media channels in the next year to two years that are tied to your businesses’ bottom line.
  • Based on your top 3 goals, set shorter term measurable objectives that are relevant to you but also realistic; for example increase number of followers to ___ by a date, increase number of comments on a blog, increase positive comments, decrease confusion over a specific topic, increase traffic to a specific website from Twitter.Students should be aware of objectives so that what they do daily works towards them over time.
  • Identify for each social media channel you use who the number one target audience is and be able to describe them in detail to create a profile.It is important with all posts on social media your student clearly understands, and can visualize, your main audience so they know who they are talking to.
  • Describe your brand in one succinct paragraph. This should provide focus to guide the tone and content for students of all your social media posts.

What students bring to the table

  • While we are the marketing and communication experts and strategic planners, students are close to our target audience and they are idea generators. They have a different perspective on the content we are putting out over social media and the way in which social media channels could be used.They have energy, enthusiasm, and a ton of ideas – make use of it!
  • Challenge students to brainstorm creative ideas and solutions for your campaigns, events, contests and key messages that meet set objectives and that fall within your brand. They can act as a focus group letting you know if some of your plans will ring true for other students and ways to improve it.
  • Train students so that they understand your goals, objectives, audience and brand before they take over some of the day to day duties of your social media and include them in ongoing strategic planning sessions involving social media.

The bottom line – involve your students in generating creative ideas and daily activities for your social media but don’t expect them to figure out what will market and communicate your business the best. That’s up to you.

For more information read the Globe & Mail’s article Why an intern should not be handling your social media.


MRU Word of Mouth Marketing Kicking It Up a Notch for Fall 2012

There are some amazing word of mouth and social media initiatives happening at Mount Royal this fall giving students even more opportunities to connect and to share their MRU experiences.


Mount Royal has created a university Instagram account called ‘mrulife’ that will tell our story through cool, retro-inspired filtered photos that students love to talk about and share. We launched the account during New Student Orientation along side of the ‘What I Wish I Knew’ Twitter live chat where MRU students gave their advice to first year students.

Instagram is a fantastic word of mouth marketing tool – our students share their MRU experience through their own photos every day, and Mount Royal shares them with all our fans and followers online, who in turn share with their fans and followers. This gives thousands of people a daily look into what it is like to be a student at MRU. Cool.

Integrating Instagram into MRU life

  • Instagram photos posted by MRU students are retweeted by our photo Twitter account @MRUsnaps for a daily look into what student life is really like
  • A student Instagram photo will be chosen montly to be featured as the Cover photo on Mount Royal’s Facebook page

  • Open House marketing materials for 2012 feature an Instagram theme and a photo board at Open House on October 27, 2012 will feature our own students’ Instagram photos of their student life at MRU during fall 2012 for prospective students to see.

  • U Fest was an amazing success this year and students shared the entire experience with their friends (and MRU) using Facebook, Twitter and especially Instagram. For a look at U Fest 2012 check out our students’ social side on the  MRU Social Snapshot – U Fest

Cougars Take To Twitter

With Mount Royal Cougar Athletics moving into the university CIS league fall 2012 was the perfect time to launch their own Twitter account @MRUCougars where you can find up to date information on games, scores, student athletes and maybe even some friendly smacktalk with the U of C Dinos!

Mount Royal University Student blog

Fall 2012 marks the second year that Mitch Parent’s blog Navigating through university life will provide his perspective as a student on the Mount Royal experience. Mitch will attend several key events on campus such as U Fest, Legacy Awards, Under Western Skies, Open House and Cougars games, and tackle topics such as mental health, student engagement and one on one chats with David Docherty to make for some insightful posts this year.

MRU Security Services Blog

Security Services at Mount Royal launched their blog recently as a way to communicate with students, staff and faculty about how to stay safe on campus, tips and tools for navigating Mount Royal University during the day and at night, as well as useful information to help you to stay safe no matter where you are. Security believes that through feedback and input on their blog they can build on a sense of real community at Mount Royal.

Follow the Security blog

Stats on MRU social networks

Over 600 new Likes on MRU Facebook page since mid August for a total of 4,640 and our highest sustained weekly ‘Engaged Users’ (unique clicks on Facebook posts) the most clicks were on the first day of Orientation and on the day of U Fest.

Over 400 new followers on Twitter for a total of 4,333 and the most clicked on link within a tweet was a Calgary Herald story Sept. 7 highlighting MRU Cougars in CIS with 50 clicks.

Since creating the MRU YouTube channel in 2009 there have been 158,705 video views, 3,105 views in the past 30 days – the number one video of Yuja Wang from the Conservatory and the Recreation ‘Colour U Blue’ video.







Buzz Cuts June 27

Have you ever wondered if something…. lives in or around the pond at Mount Royal? Something is coming… it’s just around the corner. Find out July 4. Click image to play.

Social Media and Storytelling

I presented on the topic of storytelling and social media in Seattle at the CASE conference and in Toronto at the CCAE conference recently and it seemed to strike a chord with many so I thought it would make an interesting post.

Storytelling has come around again as a hot topic in marketing because of the access and amplification social media has made possible, but it has been around as long as humans have. From scratchings in caves and bone, to pictures on cloth and animal canvases to ancient hieroglyphics to the Mayan Calendar, it is part of the human experience to want to communicate and share with each other through stories. From cave drawings to tweeting, humans will always find what is available in the moment to share stories to communicate with each other.

Our brains are wired for storytelling

It turns out that storytelling has such a rich history because our brains are actually wired to analyze and remember information when it is presented in the form of narrative.Large amounts of data without context cannot be absorbed into long term memory, and because word of mouth marketing relies on information being shared, making information memorable is key.

Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant (brought to my attention by journalism faculty at Mount Royal University) says the most common communication mistake is “Relating too much information with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots. Lots of force feeding, very little digestion”.

The human brain can only hold about seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds, which means, your brain can only handle a 7-digit phone number so information needs to be repeated to be remembered and it needs to have context to be remembered.

Research also suggests that storytelling helps to reach our ‘old brain’ that is driven by basic primitive instincts such as hunger, sex and fight-or-flight which are intrinsically tied to emotion. The old brain does not understand numbers or abstract terms, like “integrated approach” or “comprehensive solution” which are an evolutionary part of our new brain. To speak to the old brain, information needs to be familiar and tangible, highlighting benefits of what you will see, feel, hear, taste or smell as a result. Visuals are also important in storytelling; great stories stimulate the visual part of the brain causing people to ‘see’ or imagine themselves in the story as it is being told.

Pure push, promotional information or marketing speak is not enough; we need to tell our story, the experience in the narrative of our audience for others to have the context to retain information. In terms of social media we need to aspire higher than chasing our audiences across the internet, we need to be intentional and choose to tell a story that resonates with your brand and the human experience.

Our brand, face to face, is Mount Royal’s story told through the narrative of our characters; students, faculty, alumni and staff in person but also over social media. Every tweet, comment, video and post should be framed within our story – the student experience, the Mount Royal University experience, told a million different ways in the words of our own. Create conversation with your community in a way that helps them tell their Mount Royal story; curate and share stories with your community that have emotion and are told in narrative.

Our brains need to be able to remember a story to share it. Create and curate memorable Mount Royal stories our communities will share with their circles to create word of mouth.

McDonald’s Canada Goes ‘Behind the Scenes’ to Show Why Food Looks Better in Ads

One way to create word of mouth is to do the opposite of what people expect – like the Director of Marketing for McDonald’s Canada taking us behind the scenes to see how burgers that appear in their ads are ‘really’ made.

The Apple keynote (traditionally done by Steve Jobs) to introduce ioS6 for iPhone at the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) in June was done by Siri – with pure and amazing creativity. Click image to play.

I hope you have enjoyed the insights, case studies and tips so far in the word of mouth Buzz Cuts blog – I value your feedback so feel free to comment! Have a great summer and see you in the fall.