Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

At the end of April, Pamela and I were lucky enough to spend two days in Brighton attending CASE Europe’s Social Media and Community Conference. It was the first time that CASE Europe had dedicated an entire two-day meeting to social media. The diverse agenda and impressive attendance was a clear sign that social is very much at the core of digital communication in higher education. Packed with insights into industry trends, methods to measure return on investment and practical examples of how to increase engagement, the meeting provided a host of very tangible ways to enhance the efforts of any social media account owner.  Here is a selection of top tips we gathered from the conference.

Social media trends

Recent trends include live-streaming and real-time video. Platforms such as Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope allow you to watch and broadcast live video on your phone. There has also been a continued rise in closed-loop messaging, such as WhatsApp and other messaging apps, where content is not publicly available. Tracy Playle of Pickle Jar Communications introduced us to the term ‘Dark Social’ to describe this trend.

Looking to the States for inspiration, an anonymous platform called YikYak is becoming increasingly popular. YikYak provides a live feed of ‘what everyone’s saying around you’ but its anonymity has led to concerns being raised about online bullying. In response, YikYak has offered to geo-fence campuses if requested.

Reporting your social media efforts

Dave Musson of Warwick University explained the benefits of reporting your social media efforts to internal stakeholders. By finding an efficient and informative way of explaining why social media is important, you can share audience insights, conduct industry benchmarking and demonstrate the value of social media as part of a digital comms effort. Dave recommended using Facebook Insights, Twitter analytics, TweetArchivist and Iconosquare to collect the numbers and Canva to create a custom report.

Fundraising on social media

Adrian Salmon’s session on social media fundraising highlighted some great examples of how social media can be harnessed to increase the reach and impact of fundraising campaigns. The team behind Cornell Giving Day used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to both maximise coverage of their 24-hour advancement effort and to actively encourage donations, and even used Social Toaster to ask keen alumni to spread the message far and wide.

Online service and reputation management

Karlijn de Wit of Delft University of Technology gave a fantastic overview of the ideal way to run a social media team dedicated to online service and reputation management. Karlijn explained how social media at Delft is resourced by student officers, with over 20 students taking on rolling 4-hour shifts to provide a webcare service that is online 15 hours a day, 7 days a week! For those wishing to emulate Delft’s round the clock service, Karlijn recommended using Trello and a secret Facebook group and to log issues and ensure smooth shift handovers.

Inspiration and procrastination

Some cool things to look at when you are in search of an idea or in have a few minutes to spare:




Web Forum – April 2015

May 6, 2015
by Pamela Agar

We had a great turnout for the first Web Forum following the launch of phase one of Imperial’s newly designed website – thanks to those of who came along.  It was particularly helpful having so many representatives from the Faculties at the session.

If you weren’t able to attend, or want to review some of the details again, you can:

Highlights from the April Forum:

Web Redesign implementation review

Following our launch update, Tom Pearson, Head of Special Projects, presented the findings of the initial Website Redesign project implementation review – commissioned by the project’s Quality Assurance Board.  You can download the complete report (password required) to read what the review recommended for College projects and its observations on the recent redesign.

Web Redesign next steps

Opportunities to get involved

  • The next phase of user testing of the newly designed website is about to commence, involving a range of different audience groups and some specific accessibility testing with a panel of disabled users.  If you want to get involved as a tester or recommend participants, contact FoNS web officer, Lucy Stagg.
  • The central digital and creative media team is on the look out for topics to highlight on the new College homepage, or suggestions for homepage content themes – send any suggestions to Pamela Agar.
  • If you have not yet been contacted about migrating your site into T4, and are keen to get started, please contact your Faculty Web Officer.
  • For any suggestions of new T4 content types, email Pamela Agar.

Future communications to website editors

  • Open Web Forums will take place on a termly basis and from this point will move away from entirely focusing on the website redesign.  Instead, topics will be selected of relevance to the broad group (e.g. content strategy, social media) and external speakers will be invited to contribute.  If you have ideas for speakers or topics, please email Pamela Agar.
  • A regular email newsletter will be introduced to notify the web editor community of site launches in T4, the release of new content types and functionality and to share best practice and sector developments.




Making your website accessible

June 6, 2014
by Liz Swift


Richard Warren and Grahame Page are specialists in web usability and accessibility and work for a company called Userite. The Userite team has a wide range of experience covering website design, e-government, internet services, training and marketing and are passionate about making the web inclusive to everybody. Userite are currently involved in testing our new website, as part of the web redesign project, to ensure our new Imperial website meets AA compliance for accessibility.

Richard and Grahame presented ‘Disabled Browsing’ at the Web Forum event on Wednesday 4 June to help us understand how disabled people browse the web and what we can do as editors to design pages to make it easier to navigate.

Keyboard usersKey Board with key symbol

Not everyone can use a mouse for various reasons, they may have repetitive strain injury, motor neuron disease or the mouse might just not work, therefore they have to use the keyboard (the internet was originally designed for keyboard).

These are the common functions that work across most browsers:

  • Keyboard users use the Tab key to move through the links on a page (Shift + Tab to go back).
  • Arrow keys to scroll the page up and down.
  • Back Delete goes back to the previous page
  • Ctrl + or -Zoom in or out
  • Alt + Home goes to the default Home page

1. Tabbing
When arriving on a site for the first time a keyboard user will press the Tab key to get into the page. Once on the page the user will require an indication of where they are. As internet standard a website will highlight this as a dotted line around a link.

To move through the site the user will keep using the Tab key, but due to high volumes of content the user is more likely to want to use a search box to save time.Example of Amazon website with dotted line tab

A site like  is an example of a site that highlights tabbing with a dotted line. This site may be frustrating for keyboard users as much tabbing is required to find required items and to shop online.

To make it easier for people to find where they are when they arrive to a page the Tab highlight box should be clear using a bold colour, a good example is the RNIB website

2. Skip to content
To reduce the need for tabbing you can add a skip to content area at the top of you page that appears when a user Tabs into the site. The users clicks Enter on the skip to content and the page moves down to the area that contains the first heading in the content. A good example is the RNIB website

3. Top tip – Don’t forget to reset the tabbing sequence in your skip to content area, otherwise the user uses the Tab again they will be taken straight back to the first tab in on your website.

 Try it yourself – unplug you mouse and see if you can navigate the web!

Poor Vision

Users with poor vision can include those with Dyslexia, colour blindness, tunnel vision and other visual impairments.

1. Enlarging the screen

To enlarge the screen use Ctrl + and Ctrl – which stretches the screen.

Some problems faced by enlarging the screen include; sub menus overlapping, falling off the end of menus, menu collapsing if cursor moves to far to the right or borders on menu options not clear.

2. Top tip – To ensure users do not have complications with menus editors should create large clear borders round menus.
Use high contrast (Windows Desktop)
People with Dyslexia sometimes use a high contrast, for example, a pink and black colouring on their screens as this helps stop the letters from jumping around. You can configure most computers to display in this way.

Try it yourself – For Windows Desktops you can personalise your screens by going to your desktop, then personalise, under appearance you can choose from a selection of high contrast themes!

3. Further tips to help those with visual impairments

  • Keep sentences short
  • Use good spacing (140%-150%)
  • Use zoom browser technology

Text only browsing

1.Text only

Braille and screen reader technology uses the text on websites to read the content. They do not read the divs and the span, they are only interested in the message. Text only browsers remove the ‘fancy bits’ and graphics on sites and just leaves the basics like; links, headings and text content.

2. Remember Google is blind too!

Google only knows which is the most important elements on the page if the page has been coded correctly in HTML. i.e H1 for the page heading and H2 for the sub-headings.

Try it yourself – Visit WebbIE software programs that make it easier for blind and visually-impaired people, especially using screen readers, to browse the web, get the latest news, listen to podcasts and radio stations and other common tasks. 

Screen readers

Screen readers move through pages by headings, each search result in Google is a heading.

1. Images

To help screen readers with graphics, image tags are very important. As-much description of the picture is required to help users visualise the image or help them to pick a product. For example, on Moonpig it is difficult for someone who is blind to choose a card because they have not tagged them with descriptive text, merely graphic 123.

2. Videos

Videos can be hard for screen readers to read if the buttons are not labelled correctly. It is more useful for the button tags to read Stop or Play, than unlabelled.

Further information






Social media planning – top tips

April 4, 2014
by Liz Swift

Are you starting out with social media at work?

Or have you been asked to develop a strategic approach to social media, but don’t know where to start?

Well fear not! I have some top tips that Tess and I have brought back from the ‘Social Media – Marketing and Communications Strategy for Education’ workshop run by PickleJar Communications in Moorgate, London.

We met some great people from the Russell Group Universities who shared with us their knowledge and expertise around social media in education and how they are currently using a variety of platforms to reach audiences on a variety of campaigns.

Top Tip 1 – Look at emerging trends and toolsMobile data - social media

1. Mobile first

  • People now use mobiles and tablet screens to view content online therefore keep posts short and concise
  • Link to responsive websites only to avoid “pinching”
  • Videos should be no longer than 1 minute 30 seconds

2. Wearables

  • External products e.g. Google glass.   These are in the early stages of development
  • Internal products – Bio-wearables. The future
  • Start to think know about how this may impact content and the way we use social media

3. Personalisation of experience

  • A lot of personal information is now available online and companies use this to tailor pages to their audiences preferences e.g. Facebook or Amazon use what audiences engage with to filter data to fit profiles
  • Think about how you can tailor content to your audiences….but before you do so, you must know your audience!

Top tip 2 – Know your audience

Remember, people behave differently when engaging online with us, compared with how they behave with their friends. Find out who your audiences are and whether they are Collectors; Joiners; Spectators; Critics; or Creators when engaging with you? For a more in depth explanation about  Audience Social Technographics see my Top tip 2 – Know your audience blog post

Top Tip 3 – Tailor content to your audience

1. Local and Focused

  • Social media users have recently started to withdraw from large groups of unknown online friends and are starting to reduce head counts to more localised, smaller, known friend groups.

    Segment your audience

    Segment your audience

2. Segmented

  • Segmentation helps users to tailor posts to targeted audiences e.g. Google+ Circles can be created for specific groups
  • Bespoke lists can be created e.g. Facebook can update status to specified lists that the user can create

3. Integration

  • Websites are now working together to tailor content to audiences e.g. TripAdvisor and Facebook – Finds reviews from your friends and uses this to add value to their products by building your trust using your online friendships.
  • Websites use your personal information and social engagements to tailor the landing pages you see when you arrive at their sites e.g. Amazon

4. Gamification

  • Games platforms can connect with social media accounts where users can score points or get rewards, rewards can be cashable as an incentive to do something
  • Game mechanics have to be addictive to ensure longevity
  • Gamification is now advanced enough so that users do not know that they are taking part e.g. Progress bars to complete personal information on Linked In

Top Tip 4 – Devise your strategy based on audience needs

  1. Do not choose the platforms first
  2. Do some research into emerging trends
  3. Align it with your organisational strategy and plan
  4. Align it with your communications plan
  5. Define your audience specific engagement – what do you want them to Think/Feel/ Do?
  6. Make content about them, not you – What they want and need, not what you want to say!
  7. Think about the outcomes – the outputs are; Like/Shares, click through’s, re-tweets, views and sentiment, the outcomes are actions like; sign up or register for…
  8. Target your audience by using segmentation, you can do this by picking the right platforms for your needs
  9. Focus – only use a few platforms
  10. Put your audience first, but serve Imperial with clear objectives

Top Tip 5 – Get in touch if y0u need help

We will be using these 5 tips to shape our Communications social media content strategy going forward and we hope you can too.

If you have more questions regarding your social media strategy or platforms please get in touch me or with Tess or check out Pickle Jars Prezzie slide show

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Social media planning- know your audience

April 4, 2014
by Liz Swift

Top Tip  2  – Know your audience

In the previous post – Social media planning – top tips we discussed how to get to know your audience before you choose platforms or create a plan.

We can use a social technographics profile to assign people into categories based upon their affinities for various social media and this will help us tailor content in our posts to reach the right audiences or choose a platform that fits the profiles.

Audience Social Technographics can help us understand what type of audience we have. There are seven categories:Blog_speech_bubble_84781669

  1. Creators – create larger volumes of original content online (blogs, videos etc.)
  2. Conversationalists – Starts conversations online (tweets, forums, Facebook posts)
  3. Critics – Respond to others conversations online (comment on blogs, review sites)
  4. Collectors – Curate content online that reflects their identity (Pinterest, Storify)
  5. Joiners – Subscribers that become a member of a community online (social networks)
  6. Spectators – do not join, they read content online but do not participate (watch videos, read blogs etc.)
  7. Inactives  – Does not use any type of social media

The cultural relationship between educational institutions and its students normally reflects a ‘we teach, you listen’ model and therefore prospective undergraduate students behave differently online when engaging with us, than how they would behave with their friends. They tend to behave more like Collectors, Joiners or Spectators when engaging with educational institutions. Therefore the types of current platforms available that might best fit a UG student could be Pinterest, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo. (Not exhaustive)

Jakob Nielsen’s Bystander effect demonstrates how people participate online. In short, “In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action”.

Further help

I hope you found this useful, if you would like to find out more about social media planning see Social media planning – Top tips 1,3,4 and 5.

If you have more questions regarding your social media strategy or platforms please get in touch me or with Tess or check out Pickle Jars Prezzie slide show