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Case Study: How a University Embraced Social Media and Scored Millions in YouTube Views

by Nettie Hartsock  |  
May 13, 2008

Company: Carnegie Mellon University
Contact: Jay Brown, Associate Director of Marketing for Web Communications
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Industry: Higher Education
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 4000

Quick Read:

In October 2006, Carnegie Mellon completed a Web 2.0-focused Web site redesign, created with the help of digital marketing agency Barkley REI, based in Missouri.

The redesign put in place the foundation for a plan to create and execute an ongoing social media campaign in Fall 2007. The campaign's goal was to increase the visibility of Carnegie Mellon online and increase brand awareness among students and alumni.

The university intended to highlight its professors, alumni, students, and curriculum by launching a series of online videos. It also hoped to connect on a deeper and viral level with its 70,000 plus alumni to help build the university's presence and outreach, offline and online.

"We recognized that we needed to engage with our intended audience on their terms," said Marilyn Kail, assistant VP for marketing communications. "Prospective students are cynical about typical hard-sell marketing. They trust their peers. They appreciate entertainment. This is why social media marketing worked so well."

The school created a YouTube channel and a Facebook presence as well as releasing a series of videos on YouTube, Yahoo Video, AOL Video, and Carnegie Mellon's site, among others. Word of the videos spread to some 290 technology and news blogs.

The response to one of the school's social media initiatives was overwhelming, resulting in over 70,000 views, thus far, of videos—the RoboU series—featuring alumnus Daniel H. Wilson and a dancing yellow robot named Keepon.

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