When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro for my vacation and volunteer program I found it interesting to discover that I wasn't immediately given a map of the city or even a map of my section of the city (since Rio is quite large). Since I had to traverse quite a few difference neighborhoods (favelas) of Rio during my three weeks in Rio I needed to figure out another way of getting around with only a little spoken Portuguese ability and a desire to not get lost after dark.
Then I remembered this little known trick of Google Maps - it will still provide navigation to the last set of places you looked up even without wifi or a data signal. Did you know about this awesome ability? It doesn't even need to be directions to a place near where you currently are. That is the best part!
It will also allow you to zoom in on the last map you searched directions for to the detail of where the bus will stop. If you are navigating to a place you can follow the bus stops to figure out where you need to get off. It makes it super easy to get places and to know what bus to take when you have no idea even what the bus routes are.
Now here is where the but comes in. I will admit some of the issues may be a result of user error but not all of them. ;). One of the problems I have with Google Maps is that when I am trying to figure out how to get from point A to B, generally using public transportation, it will leave out the metro unless you are right on top of it. Also, there may be more than one bus that can get you there but it may not be coming at that exact time. Rather than just list all the buses that come at the closest stop it only lists the bus that comes within the next 5 minutes for example. Because of this I have missed several just as qualified buses and taken double the amount of time to get somewhere because of it. Finally, if you get beyond a certain perimeter of where you last navigation, Google Maps will no longer even show you street names.
In the end because I had to be able to get from point A to B and a map of some sort was necessary I purchased a SIM card (they were extremely expensive) so I always had data access to turn on my Google Maps and navigate myself to where I needed to go. While Google Maps did lead me astray several times it would eventually get me where I needed to, sometimes while I sweared at it all the way.
If you didn't know about the Google Maps trick I highly recommend you always having your Smartphone device with you even if you only have one direction in it or can get it to zoom into the downtown area of your foreign city it will be well worth it.
Do you have any fun navigation stories to revel my time in Rio de Janeiro?
In early June I had the pleasure of attending the first ever International Programs Marketing Conference (IPMC) sponsored by GoOverseas. I wanted to share a little of my experience at this inaugural event. First of all, I must say that this is one of the best conferences I have attended in a really long time, if not ever.
Why do I say that? One of the main reasons is that it was social media and website marketing sessions geared specifically towards international education and a conference like this has never been done before (to my knowledge). They had an amazing lineup of speakers that geared their presentations towards our field even though they could have easily done otherwise. We had the opportunity to listen to people from Moz, Google, Facebook, and Optimizely among others.
This was the first year for a conference such as this and was a trial run of sorts. I would have to say it was a huge success. I have so many new ideas that I will never have time to implement them all. I talked to several other attendees who felt the same way.
Some of the highlights were the in-depth discussions on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), A/B testing of everything from website pages to newsletters, as well as Facebook tips for pages and groups. I must say that I rarely take notes at conferences other than a few lines from meetings or sessions but, from these two days I took almost 10 pages of notes and ideas. That is how good the material was and how stimulating.
This event was very reasonable priced, much more so than any other social media, technology or even international education conference out there. They even offered an optional wine tasting pre-conference outing which was a nice relaxing way to transition between NAFSA and IPMC. It was also not a sales pitch conference even though there were a lot of great service-oriented companies. All attendees did get a virtual good bag with discounts and free trials at the end of the conference but, at no point did any of the presenters or sponsors try and push their products/services on you. You were free to learn and generate your own ideas.
A couple of notes, if I may. I wish that the conference had focused a little more on institutional offices. It was pretty heavily focused on program providers. That is fine since many of the ideas can work but, most institutional offices do not have the full time staff that are dedicated to social media and web marketing as providers, which make some of the ideas out of the reach of institutional offices. College and university international education staff can generally only make social media and web marketing a small portion of their overall job.
However, these are minor critiques for such a great experience. I would highly recommend attending this next year since they plan on offering it again. It will be interesting to see what topics will be covered at the next event. Thanks again to GoOverseas for putting on a great event and I can't wait to see what next year holds.
Mandy Reinig is the Founder and Owner of Mandy's Mashups. This company works to educate the international travel community on effective social media use. Mandy also enjoys traveling the world and sharing her travel experiences and her use of social media while traveling with others.
I am super excited to have the opportunity to attend the upcoming International Programs Marketing Conference (IPMC) which is being hosted by GoOverseas just days after the NAFSA Annual Conference in Berkeley, CA. They have an amazing schedule and excellent speakers lined up. In order to give you a better understanding of what this conference is going to be about I decided to go right to the source. Here is an interview with Mitch Gordon, CEO of GoOverseas. There are still a few spots remaining and I highly encourage you to consider attending this awesome and extremely inexpensive event.
1. What does GoOverseas do?
Go Overseas is the Yelp/Trip Advisor for programs abroad. We’re a community site for students, and others searching for a great program abroad. We have two main missions that we’re equally passionate about: 1) To help students and travelers make more educated and informed decisions when choosing a program abroad. 2) To encourage more students to study abroad. I think many students are still too intimidated to study abroad. We want them to use Go Overseas and say, “Yes, I can study abroad. If all of these other people can do it, I can too!” We want to help people get over that decision hump and actually make the decision to study abroad. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I feel incredibly passionate about my belief that study abroad changes lives. I still think it should be a degree requirement!
Many focus on the review component of Go Overseas. We look at reviews as just a part of what we do. Our primary goal is to promote study abroad in all forms: Through great articles, alumni interviews, interviews with study abroad staff & advisors and through alumni reviews. We welcome anyone and everyone to join us in this mission!
2. How did you come up with the idea for IMPC?
Our partners were increasingly looking at us as experts and asking us to help them with all different types of marketing decisions: How to structure their website, content development, Google Analytics, A/B testing, lead tracking, etc. We thought, “Why don’t we create a conference where we can help everyone learn all at once!” More than anything else, we created the IPMC Conference as a service to our partners and the study abroad community in general. As you can see from the pricing, we’re not making money on this Conference. We’re doing it to help.
We also wanted to help organizations make more informed decisions when it comes to the ROI of their marketing dollars. There are companies that are still selling banner ads, linked listings, top of page rankings, etc. Other fields haven’t been selling advertising in that format since the early 2000s. It still happens in Study Abroad, which I think is unfortunate. We’re in a field where marketing budgets are relatively limited. Our goal is to help these organizations make better decisions with their limited marketing dollars.
3. Who should attend this conference?
Two type of people should attend the IPMC: 1) Leaders of Study Abroad & Intl Ed organizations. 2) Marketing departments. From the agenda, you can see that we’re focused on some very cutting edge topics. These skills will help marketing folks grow in their jobs, starting from the day after the conference. Leaders & executives should attend because it’s important to understand online marketing these days. Millennials make more and more of their decisions online. Students, after all, are 100% millennial. It’s important to understand how millenials think and what motivates their decision making process.
4. What are some of the highlights people can look forward to if they attend IMPC?
I’m looking forward to a lot of the speakers. Our keynote speaker, Kyle Rush, ran the online fundraising campaign for Obama, raising nearly $1B dollars. I’m incredibly excited about his talk and we’re really lucky to have him. I think attendees are going to find Kyle extremely compelling and interesting. Another highlight will be the 1-on-1 meetings. All attendees will have at least one 1-on-1 meeting with one of the speakers. This will give them the opportunity to sit down with someone at Google, MOZ, Facebook, etc. and learn directly from them.
5. How were you able to get such great speakers?
We’re lucky that we’re based in San Francisco. As a result, our network includes people at companies speaking at our Conference (Google, Facebook, Hubspot, MOZ, Optimizely, Salesforce). We worked these connections to help make the workshops and sessions as useful as possible for attendees!
6. What do you hope people will people take away from this conference?
We want the IPMC Conference to be the most workshop-oriented Conference you’ve ever attended. We’re focused on making it extremely tangible and interactive. Our goal is for attendees to learn in a very hands-on way. We want attendees to be engaged, with their laptops open, actively learning.
Mandy, I know you’ll let us know how we did when the conference is over!
Mitch Gordon, CEO, GoOverseas, @MitchGordonGo
The following is a guest blog post by Victoria Mita, Director of FundMyTravel. She describes how anyone can use social media to be able to generate funds for their study abroad adventures. It really is much easier than it sounds! Victoria offers some great tips and advice for anyone out there wondering how they are going to make their travel dreams come true!
Fortunately, the entertaining and rewarding aspects of crowd-sourced funding also happen to be the most vital ingredients to making a successful campaign pie. Don’t worry, that’s enough with the recipe metaphor, but I am going to break this down and you know, social media will be the cherry on top (right, I promise that’s the end of it.)
Pointer 1: This should never feel like asking for a hand-out. That’s no fun for anyone.
Whether you’re doing an online fundraiser to cover the costs of airfare, trying to scrounge up the remainder of a program fee, or just need a little something for visa and study materials, tapping into your online networks simply makes sense. It’s not about taking advantage of friends and family as a financial resource but it is about community building and gaining their support to reach your goals. Whether they can and want to offer support in monetary or moral form is up to them, but communicating your ambition and making it exciting is your job. Just as with any other project, you are only going to get out of it, what time, effort and activity you put into it, but as I said: that is the fun part!
· Time Investment: this sounds like a drag in written form, almost like another thing added to the to-do list or some type of personal homework assignment. Instead, consider it a break from your other work. It’s really an outlet and a space for you to be expressive. The more time you put into making little Updates, adding photos, video or even creating your own perks, the more it is going to benefit you and your longer term goals, while you’re abroad…
· Effort Investment: This is just about being consistent. If you’ve made the decision to do this and create a campaign in the first place, you might as well go all out and do it right all the way through. You can think of it as if you decided to join a sports team- Aim to make it to the championships and win. Just remember, if it does ever going slowly or your current efforts aren’t paying off, then it’s simply a matter of changing it up. (More on how in the next tip…)
Pointer 2: Never forget to say ‘Thank You,’ but offer more than your undying gratitude. Get creative!
If you’re putting in all that time and effort, be sure to make it engaging for yourself too. When you carry out a fundraising campaign in conjunction with something else that you love to do, all of your passion, determination and motivation become contagious for your page viewers because it’s genuine. If you can share the reasons you are so fired up and driven to make this goal a reality, then potential donors and other supporters are more likely to join your team and help build up that momentum, needed to keep your campaign going. SO, find a personal area of interest and loop it into the way you Update your campaign.
· Into Arts, Music, or Film?
o Write a little song for everyone who donates or shares your page themselves.
o Create a painting or drawing for donors and mail it to them from home or away.
o Make a video, make multiple videos! Even if you’re no cinematographer it’s fun.
· Into Literature, Writing, or History?
o Find/share quotes that connect with your feelings in anticipation of your trip.
o Create a reading list relevant to where you are going and share with viewers.
o Make a blog about your trip before leaving. Share links every time you Update.
o Explain the history and culture of your destination via video, blog or illustration.
· Into Service, Sports, or Cooking?
o Host a shindig around any theme of choice, and accept donations for organizing.
o Invite friends over to watch a sports game/have a board game night and ^
o Sign up for a marathon or walk/run to gain sponsorship for your campaign.
o Get some friends together to bake and sell the delicious treats for donations.
o Inform supporters you will put in community service hours for donations.
These kinds of ‘offline’ activities are just as important to bring into your online campaign experience. It makes the whole thing more meaningful to you and everyone else who gets involved. Just remember to communicate these extra efforts an ‘offline’ donation gains with your audience through Update sharing*
Pointer 3: This is MOST important for thee. Sharing can make the difference between flight and visa fee!
The biggest and most important influencer in your campaign’s success is the amount of exposure it gains. This is in large part up to you and those efforts we talked about earlier, but if you’ve kept your Updating and activity consistent, then your supporters and viewers end up doing a lot of this work with you. Allow me to explain why and how this all works out-
Dispelling the myths:
It’s obnoxious to over share.
· This could be true if you’re discussing something which is only of interest to you, but now you’re well aware that this whole experience is a relationship-building project! As long as the Update content is related to new photo, video, blog link or action you’ve taken, it is fun to see and read about. Likewise, the more activity that you have surrounding your campaign efforts, the more exciting, interesting and meaningful it will be to you, and so the same goes for your trip abroad.
· There’s nothing obnoxious about it, if you make something worth sharing. People and online audiences in particular, like to see positivity. They like to see someone who works hard, achieve their goal, and they like to be a part of the process. Making and sharing meaningful Updates on a daily basis also gives you more ownership on the whole project. It’s no longer just some online fundraising campaign. When you sort out how to communicate and relate this content to your audiences frequently and meaningfully, you’ve then developed a skill, a knowledge base and an experience that is highly valued and relevant to future employers, organizations, mentors, study abroad and admission offices within universities, the list goes on.
Facebook makes personal letters obsolete.
· This one is laughable. While many people are hip-to-the-groove with Facebook these days, it’s not safe to assume that all of the people who should see your page are on it or always checking their Facebook. In fact, a large percentage of a campaigner’s target audience may not even have Facebook- believe it or not. Even if they did, the impression made by writing a personal message to potential donors, is invaluable. They still may not all give, but they are going to be more interested to support your efforts and inform others who they think would give, than anyone you did not take the time to write a letter to. This can be done via email and go a long way, depending on your message, but nothing compares to the old fashioned snail mail. The fact that so many people communicate through the internet so often now, actually increases the value of those offline and in-person acts of thoughtfulness…
Once is enough.
· This could be true, if it meant once every hour... Honestly, I know it sounds excessive but, especially because of the way social media platforms are designed to refresh their content, you can share your campaign page two times in a single day and still have it overlooked. The best approach is to share multiple times within the week, of course with new content as often as possible, and then share out via multiple platforms, not just Facebook. Use facebook, twitter, Google+ and email. If you do not have accounts on all of these platforms, it’s something to consider. Twitter and Google+ may not be everyone’s jam right off the bat, but do trust in the long-term and bigger picture, it will only behoove you in business and future communication ventures to develop this presence.
Victoria graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a Bachelors in Education. Her first immersion experience was possible through class fundraising and took her to Lyon, France. She's had a passion for learning through travel ever since. Victoria studied abroad and later worked in Australia. She has presented English Speaking and Resume Building workshops in Macau, China and also worked at the Embassy of Australia, for the Education Team at Austrade. After her time with the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training in Adelaide, Australia, Victoria returned to the US and began work with GoAbroad.com. Now she directs FundMyTravel.com, which offers an online funding platform for meaningful travel experiences. Victoria takes immense joy in working with students to help them realize their dreams abroad.
Here is another post in our guest blog series. In this post a colleague, Kayla Patterson, talks about how she came to work in social media and the opportunities social media has afforded her.
How did you build a career in social media?
I often get asked how I came to work in social media, which is a valid question considering I never could have dreamt of being a social media manager as a kid! It all started during my junior year at Colorado State University when I was tasked with creating a marketing plan for my future. Inspired by the growing social media niche, I created a plan that included social media as the central aspect of my career. Little did I know, that marketing plan would actually serve as the foundation for where I am today. I began integrating social media in all my marketing projects, and started managing social media channels for friends and family. Concurrently, I landed an awesome internship with GoAbroad.com as the social media intern, where I had the fortune of helping grow GoAbroad's social media presence. That internship evolved into helping conceive GoSocial, a social media management and consulting service, in which I became a community manager for several international education organizations. I consider myself very lucky to have been given the opportunity to get real world experience in social media while I finished up my degree in marketing. Upon graduation, I accepted the position of GoMedia Coordinator, where I primarily oversee GoSocial, and our team of community managers.
What opportunities has social media brought you?
Because I just couldn't get enough, I also completed my senior honors thesis by creating a website and blog that was focused on social media. The goal of the site was/is to provide a resource for students to learn how to use social media to help promote themselves or a business. After being dormant for a period of time, I have recently revived SocialMediaForStudents.com with a new look, new content, and more consistent guest posts from other social media students and professionals. As a result of working on the site, as well as my own personal social media presence, I have added more opportunities to my resume, including acting as a mentor to HootSuite's Campus Ambassador program, and guest posting on blogs like Mandy's Mashups! And because I am a true social media nerd, I can't wait to get involved with whatever else social media has to offer.
How do you manage it all?
In terms of social media, management tools are my best friend! At work I'm overseeing and managing over a dozen social media presences, and at home I'm coordinating everything I do for SocialMediaForStudents.com, HootSuite, as well as the other brands I manage for family friends, all of which I wouldn't be able to manage without some handy dandy social media tools. At the top of my list is HootSuite, which is an invaluable social media dashboard, scheduler, team management tool, and report generator, among other things. I also use several tools to help curate content, including but not limited to Google Alerts, Pulse, and StumbleUpon. Beyond that, I find that keeping myself organized is the best way to stay efficient and consistent, so I actually have different browsers and calendars set up for each area of my work. For example, Chrome is all work and GoAbroad related, complete with relevant bookmarks, my Google Calendars, and saved passwords (life-saver!), whereas Safari is home to my personal email, my WordPress CMS for SocialMediaForStudents.com, and my blog's editorial calendar.
What is your favorite aspect of social media?
Results! While social media is notoriously variable, forever changing, and hard to measure, there is a kind of joy and excitement when your page or channel starts yielding engagement, growth, and results. I love hearing from my clients that they had X amount of leads from Facebook one month, or that Twitter was a top referrer for their website last quarter. The fact is that social media works as a marketing tool, and my favorite part is when people and clients accept that realization through results.
Kayla is the founder of SocialMediaForStudents.com, a site that aims to be a resource for social media students of all types to learn how to market themselves or their business through social media. She is also the GoMedia Coordinator for GoAbroad.com where she oversees a social media management and consulting service. Kayla has a passion for country music, travel, and social media, and enjoys a good chick-flick, any kind of shopping, and all kinds of dessert! Follow her on Twitter: @kaylapatt
If you are interested in participating in our guest blog series please email me at email@example.com.
I always find it interesting to see how others got into social media and what they have found to be most useful. Here are a few insights from a guest blogger who has found a few concepts helpful to her as she continues on her social media journey.
"How does social media influence your international education job?"
As the New Media & Research Assoc. at API, social media plays an active role in my position. As many of us use social media as a main source of communication, research, etc., a significant portion of my time is dedicated to creating, managing and monitoring our online presences.
"How did you get into social media?"
In 1992, I created my first e-mail address, began blogging in 2001, created a Facebook profile in 2005 and signed up for Twitter in 2007. I studied advertising with a focus in new media, creative research and strategy. During this time, I spent a year researching social media infrastructures and developed a new social media model to support our converging online/offline communication behaviors. I’ve held various internships and jobs in the field and was one of the contributing authors to The Project 100 (a collaborative book on marketing in the era of social media). I suppose you classify me as a digital native, but the truth is, I’ve always been interested in the relationship between and convergence of humans and technology!
"What is one social media tool you cannot live without now?"
As there are so many social media tools with such different purposes, it really just depends on the end result I’m looking to achieve. With that said, one tool I’ve really found useful is Google Analytics. I’ve learned quite a bit about online behavior via analytics tools.
"What is one thing you wish you knew about social media that would have made getting involved with it easier?"
There are a handful of insights I’ve picked up over the years.
Authenticity: Be yourself, be genuine, be transparent, be interesting, be entertaining and if you do make a mistake, acknowledge it…we’re all human!
Collaborate/Connect: How can you collaborate with people in a meaningful way? How can you make it easier for people to communicate with one another?
Details: Don’t be hasty! Though the message may be brief, take time to think through what you are saying. Before publishing, take a breather. Read. Re-read. Then click send.
Measure: There is so much to learn by monitoring analytics. Quantitative results are important but don’t forget about qualitative results!
Research: Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, Digg, Skype, Blogspot, MySpace, Wordpress, Flickr, Slideshare, Ning, Flickr, Delicious. Whew! Just because it’s available doesn’t mean it should be used! Make sure to research before diving in – watching, reading, listening, collecting, and conversing. What are people saying? What are people looking for?
Strategy: Of course it’s necessary to understand the functions of new media, but it’s just as important to understand people’s motives for using these platforms. New media will come and go, but human behaviors and patterns will always be around.
What do you think is social media’s biggest impact has been on international education?
The web was originally created to display static documents – more of a monologue model. However, the web has evolved into a dialog model, where social elements have been incorporated. Now, people are not just looking to “experts” for answers, but crowd sourcing their respective social networks for information.
It’s important to remember that social networks are not new. We’ve formed social circles for thousands of years. Social media merely adds an online element to our offline worlds.
With this said, I believe incorporating sociability into communication strategies has been the biggest impact social media has had on international education.
Why do you continue to use social media?
As long as the relationship between technology and people continues to evolve and my curiosity remains, I’ll continue to use social media. (:
Kim Karalekas is the New Media & Research Coordinator at Academic Programs International (API), specializing in online user experience, research, brand strategy, new media & web development. Away from work, she enjoys salsa dancing, playing the violin/piano, and geocaching. To connect with Kim: @API_KimK I http://www.linkedin.com/in/kimkaralekas I firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in being a guest blog please email me at email@example.com. Happy reading!
This blog is all about social media. I hope to offer tips, tricks, advice and more on using social media within international education and international travel.