Nov 042016
 
LEGO Challenge Judging at SSBS16

LEGO Challenge Judging at SSBS16

This year’s Smith School Business Summit was better than ever! I really enjoyed the keynote speech by David Williams, Merkle’s CEO.

“If you get leadership, management and culture right, everything else takes care of itself,” keynote speaker David Williams told an audience of more than 300 faculty, staff, students and working professionals gathered Oct. 28, 2016, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

I also had the opportunity to catch up some some of my EMBA alumni friends, which is always great. But the best part was a LEGO challenge we did with Prof. Oliver Schlake… attendees were challenged to be creative with five LEGO pieces. The best creations won prizes. Check out the Twitter feed to see some of the LEGO submissions and my captivating live tweets. Full video of the keynote is also online.

Highlights and video are online here. 

Twitter highlights are at #SSBS16

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 Posted by at 4:03 pm
Oct 202016
 
Digital Partners

Digital Partners

 

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of guest lecturing for Prof. Mary Harms undergraduate digital marketing class. It was a good opportunity for me to take stock of all the great things we do at Smith to market our programs and build our brand. One of my favorite slides was the one above – a look at all of the great resources we use at Smith for our digital marketing.

Have any questions about these partners? Let me know and I’m happy to talk about how we use them.

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 Posted by at 3:55 pm
Oct 192016
 

I work at a business school and I have an MBA, but I had not heard the term VUCA until a few months ago during our planning meetings for the Smith School Business Summit. Are you familiar with it? VUCA = Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. (Actually, this seems like a good description for a certain presidential candidate!)

If you’re interested in business and want to catch up on the latest trends, I hope you will consider coming  to the 5th Annual Smith School Business Summit next week. I’m on the planning committee and I go every year. It’s always a great day of learning and networking. I hope to see you there! I’ll be live tweeting at #SSBS16.

Success in a VUCA World: Leading in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous Times

Friday, October 28, 2016 • 2-6:30 p.m.
Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

RSVP/Free: http://www.SmithBusinessSummit.com

The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business presents the Fifth Annual Smith School Business Summit on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

David Williams, president and CEO of Merkle Inc., will deliver the keynote address. Two breakout sessions with six interactive panels will be moderated by Smith School faculty experts. A networking reception will immediately follow the event.

Join us as we examine innovative practices that are turning the business world on its ear using real-life, real-time examples of leaders and influencers who are making VUCA work to their advantage.

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Oct 172016
 

I’m a proud graduate of one of the top executive MBA programs in the world, at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. I started this blog back when I was an EMBA student in 2009 and have kept it going, writing about my Smith EMBA experience and more recently about social media. Each year, the Smith EMBA program is ranked as one of the best programs MBA in the world – top-10 in the U.S. – by Financial Times. (#10 in 2016, #7 in 2015)

Obviously, I’m pretty familiar with MBA programs, but before I started working at UMD Smith if someone had said EMBA to me I probably would have thought it was an electronic MBA program. OMBA? Now I know that’s Online MBA, but it’s just not obvious to someone who is not working in higher ed or attending a business school.

Alissa’s MBA 411:

MBA = Master of Business Administration

Who should get an MBA? An MBA is not just for someone who is trying to climb up the corporate ladder into a management position or for an entrepreneur starting a business. If you have any undergraduate degree and want to expand your skill set and improve your marketability, an MBA can help you achieve a more disciplined approach to everyday tasks and enable you think more strategically. Anyone who has a job can benefit from learning more about business and management, right?

What kind of MBA should you get? You need to figure out the best fit for you – that’s why there are so many different MBA options: full-time, part-time, weekend, executive, online… UMD Smith has a MBA program comparison matrix you can check out. Typically, full-time students are younger and give up their jobs to pursue the MBA. Working professionals usually select one of the other more flexible programs. The executive MBA requires more work experience, so that’s normally an older crowd. Sometimes you can get your employer to help pay for your MBA.

Where should you get your MBA? First off, decide if you are really serious about getting an MBA. Good MBA programs are not easy and they are not cheap. If you’re reading this blog post I’m assuming that you don’t just want to put “MBA” on your resume and not learn anything or make lasting connections. If you are serious, you need to find a business school that is AACSB-accredited. There are thousands of schools out there who will sell anyone an MBA. Recruiters at big companies know which MBA degrees are the most respected, and a cheap MBA can really hurt your personal brand. Visiting the school and talking with students or alumni is a great way to find out if a school is a good fit for you.

What’s the payoff of an MBA? MBA ROI is such a hot topic that many rankings outlets even measure it. Financial Times asks students about their pre-MBA salary and their salary three years out. You can probably count on getting a promotion or raise if you get an MBA and stay in your current position. You should also find it easier to switch to a new job after you get an MBA. The biggest benefit by far is your MBA network. After almost seven years, I’m still super tight with my EMBA friends.

Bottom line? MBA = More knowledge + superior judgement + bigger network = better job, increased salary, more friends, greater influence

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Oct 032016
 

The start of the academic year at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business is always exciting time for me at work. We have five graduate assistants (GAs) who work with our Marketing Communications team and I really enjoy getting them started on their projects and student experience blogs. I worked to set up a new blog theme this year and I really like it! It seems much more trendy and mobile-friendly.

Check out the blogs from our first-year Smith MBAs, in a new WordPress theme:

Zane: http://blogs.rhsmith.umd.edu/zaneadoum

Janna: http://blogs.rhsmith.umd.edu/jfernandez

Bhrugi: http://blogs.rhsmith.umd.edu/bhrugibadheka

We try to have a friendly competition with our student bloggers, analyzing which blog gets the most page views each month. Google Analytics and SEO is a big part of their GA responsibilities, so it all comes together perfectly.

For the first month (Sept 2016), I’m happy to announce that Zane won with almost 300 page views!

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Sep 262016
 

Last week, a bunch of us from the Office of Marketing Communications at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business attended Digital Summit DC, which is an annual conference for digital marketers. I attended in the past and was really excited to bring along some other people from MarComm – and we ended up sponsoring the event! Typically, we go to a lot of higher ed conferences but it was really nice to get out and see what larger companies can do … and dream of big budgets and unlimited resources.

The coolest part for me was that everyone was talking about VIDEO. I really love making videos and using videos on social media and the website… so to hear that it is still super relevant was music to my ears.

After the conference, we were motivated to do a very short video to promote our upcoming Smith School Business Summit… and it has been a huge success! In less than a week on Facebook it has more than 4,000 views (which is huge for us since we only have 8,700 Facebook fans). Nowadays, it’s a best practice to post videos directly to Facebook so they autoplay… and to have visuals that do not rely on audio.

Check it out:

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Sep 062016
 

Yesterday, I was quoted in the Washington Post about Twitter usage during Election 2016 in the article “Social media campaigns attract millions of followers, but can they get them to the polls?

I provided the reporter with a lot of background information that was not used in the article. See below for my full interview!

Interview Questions for Jenn Little, Washington Post
August 10, 2016

Prepared by: Alissa Arford, Director of Online Strategy, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

How has social media become the new “ground game” of the electoral process? Past the canvassing and phone banking, what unique power does social media have?

Social media is having a huge impact in this election! For hundreds of millions of people much of the news they see about the presidential election is filtered through Facebook and Twitter. What you see depends on who you follow and who you are friends with and their political views. Everyone is going to have a very different experience on social media with respect to the election.

For example, if you’re following the Washington Post, The New York Times, or Huffington Post you’re probably going to see positive posts about Hillary Clinton and negative posts about Donald Trump. Following Fox News? Obviously, they are pro-Trump. You are likely to see more positive posts about the candidate you support because you are more likely to have friends with similar views and follow news outlets that reflect your opinions.

If you have friends who are very extreme in their views and you don’t agree with them you may even decide to stop following them or hide their posts. If you’ve crafted your social media experience to only see posts you want to see, how effective are the negative posts being made by the “other candidate?”

For Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, social media is allowing them to connect with the voters in a new and exciting way – but it’s also scary. One mis-tweet could have a profound impact on the campaign. And every tweet is being heavily scrutinized by the media. The unique power of social media for the presidential candidates is that it unites their supporters and allows them to engage with voters directly and in real-time. Candidates can get immediate feedback when something goes right, and when something goes wrong.

When I see a Facebook post or tweet come into my news feed, I feel an immediate connection to the person who posted it. I sometimes think about the writer taking the photo and writing the tweet just mere seconds ago. The immediacy of social media is really appealing – people are more inclined to engage with a post about something that is happening right now. The lifespan of a social media post is measured in hours, so the candidates post very often to connect with their supporters.

I was teaching a social media class to high school students this summer at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and we analyzed the Twitter accounts of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It was almost impossible to predict which posts had the most engagement. Trump has a couple million more followers than Clinton, but the engagement levels (retweets, likes) are proportionally much higher for Trump. However, Clinton’s posts are strategically much better – she includes photos, infographics, and videos. If she’s doing everything right on social media, why are Trump’s posts getting so much more engagement? It appears as though he is writing all of his posts by himself, so they are more authentic and people like to “Like” something that is genuine and even controversial. (Think about the Taylor Swift – Kanye West feud, people love to hate it on social media.) Most of Clinton’s tweets are done by her social media team and are technically perfect, but maybe that’s why they’re not as engaging – they’re just too textbook. The posts she writes herself are signed “— H.”

One thing that neither candidate is doing a great job at is using hashtags. Trump uses hashtags more regularly, but not consistently – #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #TrumpPence16. Clinton promotes #ImWithHer, but doesn’t use it consistently in her own messaging.

In your opinion, is having a stronger social media presence or a stronger ground game (rallies, canvassing, door to door, town hall) more important? They both have their benefits of course, but which is more crucial in the 21st century?

I think you need to have something tangible to promote on social media, so the ground game and social media go hand-in-hand. The candidates need to get out there and interact with the voters in order to generate effective content for social media. Photos of happy, smiling faces and big crowds at rallies along with heartfelt photos of personal interactions make a big impact on social media. Donald Trump does a good job of promoting his rallies on social media – thanking the towns and posting photos. Although it was a good attempt, the photo with the crying babies did not go so well! If there was a rally crowd photo posted by one of the candidates with me in it, I’m probably going to engage with that post, which is the goal of social media – increase engagement to increase reach.

At the Smith School we post photos of students all the time on Facebook – our goal is to get the students to tag themselves in the photo so the post will be shown to their friends, and when their friends like the post, their friends see it, and so on, and so on… a Facebook post can reach exponentially more people than like your page or are friends with you. A great photo can be a huge win for social media… think about the photos of the balloons at the Democratic National Convention. Who knew that would be such a huge social media phenomenon?! Gifs, memes = huge.

What are some specific job designations under a team of “social media strategists”? What does the typical makeup of a social media team look like?

I’m not familiar with the social media strategists on the Clinton and Trump teams, but if I were to guess I’d say that there could be the following kinds of people on the social media team, who would work directly with the communications/PR team, so there could be overlap:

Writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and data analysts.

I can’t imagine the amount of analysis and web listening that’s going on right now for the campaign – they may even outsource the basic analytics out to a company. At the Smith School, we’ve used PR Newswire – now Cision – and Radian 6 for analytics.

In what ways do candidates manipulate Twitter or Facebook data collected to their own advantage? (Email lists, filtered content, etc.) Do users always know this is happening?

I’m not exactly sure on this question… but here’s one answer:

I would hope that the candidates are not manipulating social media data! But generally speaking, the way you could manipulate data would be to create fake accounts to inflate the engagement numbers or hire the services of a company that assists in those practices. As my son calls it on Instagram: “Likes for Likes.”

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Aug 102016
 
UMDsocial Conference

#UMDsocial Conference at the University of Maryland

On Aug. 3, 2016, I was able to attend and present at the #UMDsocial conference at the University of Maryland. It was a sold-out conference with about 150 communicators on campus who manage social media. I presented on a panel with Bijan DaBell and we discussed using social media to market events. The biggest thrill of the presentation for me was that we were able to get our event hashtag #UMDsocial trending! Click on this link to see the live tweets and get tips to improve your social media game: #UMDsocial.

Interested in learning more about marketing your events on social media? Presentations from #UMDsocial are available online: go.umd.edu/umdsocial

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Aug 092016
 

Have you updated your Instagram app and started playing around with new story feature? Obviously, Instagram is trying to channel SnapChat with this new feature, but I like it. I only have two connections on SnapChat, so for me the Instagram Story is much more appealing. I have a private Instagram and the people who follow me are people who I actually like and I don’t mind sharing daily photos with them. The cool part is that you can take a photo instantly, or swipe down to see the photos you’ve taken over the past 24 hours and select one of those to use. So far, I give Instagram Story a thumbs up. I also started using it for my work account at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

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Jul 262016
 

Smith Terps at Evita

There are so many alumni events for Terps that I can’t make it to all of them. This past weekend, there was an Orioles game. A few weeks ago, there was an event at the National Zoo. But I was able to make it to an unofficial alumni event that was organized by one of my bschool friends, George Bradford, at the Olney Theatre before the production of Evita. Grads of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business mingled before the show at a reception and I was able to have a mini-reunion with two of my good friends from the UMD Smith EMBA program, Cohort 9 (Blaize & Kiati).

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 Posted by at 11:42 am