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August blogging inspiration: Welcome back, Bears!

students with boomerIt’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. Soon, students – new and old alike – will be arriving back on campus. Welcome them back to campus through a blog post featuring your student organizations, back-to-school events and more.

This month’s inspiration: Welcome Weekend

Welcome Weekend 2014 introduces new Bears to campus life and welcomes returning students back to campus. Highlights of the weekend include Friday night’s Playfair, Saturday night’s Bear Bash and Sunday’s afternoon lineup of New Student Convocation, Bear Path and New Student Festival.

In your back-to-school blog post, you can:

  • Highlight your area’s student organizations
  • Recommend a Welcome Weekend event to attend
  • Preview changes in your unit – construction updates, a new class, new faculty and more
  • Promote informational meetings in your area
  • Recommend campus resources to help new majors

Resources and tips: Be social

Thing to know: MSU Mobile

Missouri State’s mobile app includes a special section with a Welcome Weekend schedule of events, move-in map, packing details and more. Download MSU Mobile for iOS and Android to access these resources and more:

  • Campus map
  • Bear Line tracking
  • Class schedule
  • Calendar of events
  • Activity stream

Be inspired: The power of a first-person perspective

Explore how to develop a first-person perspective in your writing with Meet Content’s recent blog post.

Upcoming dates

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Summer blogging inspiration: Share the blog

FireworksIt’s summertime, and your blog can help you catch some of that search-engine sunshine! Right now is a great time to build a strategy for your blog and plan how to keep it updated and fresh all year long.

Invite a guest contributor

You’re going on vacation but you don’t want the blog to rest, do you? Schedule a post for while you’re gone, or ask a guest writer to contribute to your blog.

A new point of view might add an interesting perspective. Reach out to someone with a unique specialty. Send out a request for possible contributors – you may be surprised at the response.

Before handing over those reigns, give the contributor some tips about how you usually do things –

  • Do you use internal headings? How many?
  • What types of photos do you incorporate into your posts?
  • Include suggestions about using bullets and hyperlinks for greater clarity.
  • Point them to the Web and new media blogging site for more tips and tricks.

Having guest contributors can work year round; just consider what level of access each person should have to your blog. You can request changes to author and editor permissions by visiting the blogs site.

Teacher and student collaborating at computersTopics for summer

If you or the contributors are struggling for content in the summer, consider:

  • Introducing new faculty/staff/graduate assistants for the new academic year
  • Explaining some of the research/publication projects that have been keeping faculty busy
  • Asking for feedback on programs, facilities, specific course work and seeing if change is feasible
  • Talking about the impact of a recent alumni
  • Probing into how your subject area touches the community or the world

Blogging tip: Media resources

Adding great photos and videos to your blog posts can make your posts more visually appealing especially when viewing on handheld devices (no one likes reading heavy text on a small screen). Tell your stories through photos (cell phone shots work great on a blog). If you need a picture quick, visit the Marketing Toolkit.

Points of prideWriting on desk

Feel proud of all you do for the campus community! This summer, consider highlighting:

  • The number of students who are participating in an internship this summer
  • The percentage of recent graduates who have gone on to graduate work
  • The types of great jobs your recent graduates received

Upcoming dates

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How-to: Schedule a blog post

Make the most of your blogging time

Make blogging even easier by writing posts whenever you have time and scheduling them to publish at a later date. It’s easy, and here’s how you do it:

In the Publish box of the WordPress interface, click Edit (to the right of Publish immediately).

Schedule 1

An editable field for date and time will appear. Set it to the date and time you’d like to publish your post. Keep in mind that WordPress functions on a 24-hour clock (a.k.a. “military time”).

schedule 2

Once you click OK, the blue Publish button will become a Schedule button. Click the Schedule button to save your choice. This will set your post to publish at the time you selected.

Schedule 3

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May blogging inspiration: #BearGrads and a big world

Student wearing Bears shirt on a study away trip

#BearGrads, #BearGrads everywhere

Congratulations! Over 2,000 graduates will earn degrees this month, and your program or unit undoubtedly has something to do with that. Before your graduates embark on new adventures, consider capturing their thoughts on your blog. A few questions you might ask your grads:

  • When you look back at this period of your life, what’s the biggest thing you’ve accomplished? What makes you proud?
  • What will you miss about Missouri State?
  • What surprised you about your time here?
  • What did you discover about yourself? Any passion or interest that you’d never thought about before?
  • What are you most looking forward to now? When you look ahead at the next five years, what’s your dream?

And when sharing Commencement experiences on your social media platforms, remember to include the hashtag #BearGrads so that your thoughts can become part of a larger conversation.

Commencement resources

Commencement takes place on May 16. The following resources are available to help you keep your readers informed.

  • The Commencement website includes information for graduates, guests, faculty and staff.
  • The social media kit provides easy tips and sample tweets for sharing the Commencement experience online.
  • Live streaming makes it possible for graduates’ faraway friends and relations to view the ceremonies.
  • Missouri State offers plenty of resources for the next chapter of grads’ lives, including the Career Center, the Alumni Association and advanced degree options through the Graduate College.

Study abroad

Missouri State’s Study Away Programs can be transformative. Engagement with other cultures enhances and deepens the education our students receive. Some ideas for talking about this on your blog:

  • Use your blog to let students know about available programsStudy abroad trip in Florence, Italy
  • Encourage students who are studying abroad this summer to send you photos and brief anecdotes of their travels. Share them on your blog. (And remind them to pack some BearWear!)
  • If you’re personally traveling over the summer, keep an eye out for experiences that might make good blog posts. Talking about how your travels influence your work or research is a great way to communicate the value of lifelong learning.

Blogging tip: Scheduling posts

Make blogging even easier by writing posts whenever you have time and scheduling them to publish at a later date. It’s easy, and here’s how you do it:

In the Publish box of the WordPress interface, click Edit to the right of Publish immediately.

Schedule 1

An editable field for date and time will appear. Set it to the date and time you’d like to publish your post. Keep in mind that WordPress functions on a 24-hour clock (a.k.a. “military time”).

schedule 2

Once you click OK, the blue Publish button will become a Schedule button. Click the Schedule button to save your choice. This will set your post to publish at the time you selected.

Schedule 3

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April blogging inspiration: Prepare your graduates for life after Missouri State

Graduation is a highlight of many a student’s college career. How does your program celebrate those achievements and support students in their transition into life after Missouri State? Consider writing a blog post about it.

Emphasize your career services

  • Focus on internship opportunities through your programs - Internships provide valuable job skills to students and often turn into full-time employment.
  • Highlight Career Center resources – The Career Center hosts job fairs, provides resume reviews and more. Share what resources may be of benefit and interest to your majors.
  • Share departmental workshops and resources – Does your department host workshops about the job search process or host networking events? Feature an upcoming session.
  • Emphasize your points of pride – Share the number of students graduating in your department, percentage of seniors already employed and the number of students participating in an internship.

Professor takes photo with graduateCelebrate your graduates

More than 2,300 students will be graduating in spring 2014. Feature your Bear grads by highlighting:

  • Their research projects
  • Unique internships they participated in
  • Where they’re headed after graduation
  • How they live the public affairs mission by being culturally competent, engaged communally and leading ethically

Upcoming dates

Students in computer labSocial media workshops to hone your skills

Is your area interested in starting a social media account? Are you already on social media and looking for ways to optimize your activity? Join the offices of Web and new media and University communications for two upcoming social media trainings:

  • Learn more about social media at Social Media 101 Thursday, April 17. This information session is ideal for programs that are considering adding a social media presence and want more information about getting started and instituting some best practices.
  • Attend the Social Media Boot Camp Tuesday, April 22, for tips about distributing digital content through specific social media platforms. It will feature training sessions on blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Please bring appropriate log-in information with you as these sessions will focus on optimizing your existing social media activities.

All workshops are free, but registration is requested through My Learning Connection

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March blogging inspiration: Academic excellence and opportunity

Your blog is a great venue for showcasing Missouri State’s educational achievements and opportunities. How does your program set your students up for lifetime success? Consider writing a blog post about it.

Looking for a starting point?

A few ideas and ways to turn them into easy blog posts:  Students in class

  • Do you offer any internship or service learning activities that give your students a particular advantage? Great! Why not gather quotes from a few students who’ve participated and round them up in a blog post? (Remember to include photos; iPhone/Instagram quality works nicely on your blog.)
  • Do you offer a program that generates lots of interest regionally or nationally? Why do you think that is? Explore it in a blog post; ask a student or faculty member for perspective. (Remember to include links to further program information.)
  • You know that faculty member who’s always doing something interesting or unique? University press releases may cover his/her grants and awards, but you can capture a personal angle on your blog. Ask a question like: What first sparked your interest in this field? What about it keeps you fascinated?

Points of pride – accelerated master’s programs

Missouri State offers a number of accelerated master’s degrees, which give undergraduates the opportunity to begin earning graduate level credit. Depending on the program, up to 12 credit hours can be applied to an accelerated master’s program, giving students a faster, more efficient path to a graduate degree.

  • Does your department offer an accelerated master’s? You might quickly describe it in a blog post. Include links to program information and contact information for the program coordinator.
  • Make students aware of the upcoming Graduate College Virtual Fair on Tuesday, April 22. During the fair, students will be able to join live chats with program coordinators and also access graduate admissions and financial aid experts. Any student considering an accelerated master’s program will benefit from this event.

Free workshop on writing for the Web  Students viewing an iPad

Wondering how the popularity of smartphones and tablets should affect your writing? University communications and the office of Web and new media are hosting a workshop on creating digital content. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, March 18 from 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. and is recommended for all University bloggers.

At the workshop, you can expect to learn:

  • The optimal way to share your program’s achievements and good news
  • Where to find resources, including photos and videos
  • How to make your content “mobile happy” for smartphones and tablets

The workshop is free, but registration through My Learning Connection is required. Light refreshments will be served.

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How-to: Share your blog post on Facebook and Twitter

As the grandfather of social media, your blog is an excellent content source for your social media accounts. Blogs provide needed content and context for your posts, while social media expands your blog post’s reach.

But, how do you best share that content? To get the most bang for your blog post, follow the steps below to optimize your blog’s content for social media sharing.

Twitter postTweeting your post

Sharing your blog post on Twitter involves five simple steps:

  1. Log in to your Twitter account.
  2. Write a catchy description of your post. Your post’s title is a great place to start.
  3. Copy the URL of your post. Watch your character count!
  4. Add an appropriate hashtag. Review our list of Missouri State tags.
  5. Click Tweet when done.

Posting a link on Facebook

Sharing your post on Facebook allows for a little more customization.

  1. Navigate to the page you want to share the post from.
  2. Copy and paste the blog post’s URL into the Status box. Facebook will automatically provide a thumbnail your post.
    Facebook blog post 1
  3. Edit the thumbnail description, removing extra text in the headline and cleaning up the excerpt.
  4. Remove the blog’s URL from where you originally pasted it. Don’t worry – the post is still linked via the thumbnail headline.
  5. Type a teaser description in the status box.
    Facebook blog post 2
  6. Click post.

Posting a photo on Facebook

Sharing a relevant photo is a powerful way for your content to stand out on Facebook. Pairing a photo with a link to an upcoming event, program or webpage can increase your Facebook page’s engagement stats. Get your photo ready for Facebook by reviewing its photo size recommendations.

Follow these steps to post a photo/link combination:

  1. Navigate to the page you want to share the post from.
  2. Click the Photo/Video option above the status bar.
  3. Select Upload Photos/Video.
    Upload photo/video option in Facebook
  4. Choose desired photo from the File Upload box and click Open. the photo will appear as a thumbnail on your page.
    Adding a photo to Facebook
  5. Type a caption into the status box.
  6. Copy and paste the appropriate URL after your caption. Links should provide your follower with additional information, registration details, etc.
    Photo caption for Facebook
  7. Click post.

Tip: Facebook allows you to edit the caption associated with a photo after you publish.

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February blogging inspiration: A day in the life

Faculty lectures in Glass HallStudents, prospective students and alumni are often fascinated to know what life is like for a faculty member, dean or department head. Use your blog to share a Q&A session with someone from your area. Here are some questions to start you thinking:

  • What is your typical day like?
  • What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • When or how did you select your current academic field/specialty?
  • If you could go back and give advice to your college self, what would you say?
  • Give one great book recommendation.
  • To someone in a non-academic field, how do you describe your research/job?
  • What are you currently interested in that’s not related to your field?
  • What person, place or idea inspires you when you’re feeling “stuck” or frustrated?

 Sample post

Do a Q&A style format for greatest ease, or embed a short video of the interview!

Blogging tip

It may be very tempting to use multiple fonts and sizes within your entry, but the cleaner and simpler the better. When a screen is too busy, it distracts the eye and causes the reader to move on rather than continue. Also, approximately 30 percent of web page views now come from mobile devices, meaning the screen size is already challenging enough to read on.

Instead, use different heading levels to segment your post. Informative headings will help your readers scan your post, finding the information they need quickly.

Points of pride

You blog is a fantastic way to showcase the points of pride for your department – the things that make you great! For February, consider highlighting:

  • Faculty members that have been in the news, sharing their expertise
  • Students or faculty who have presented at conferences or submitted work for publication


Looking forward

Some important upcoming dates to share with your readers include:

 

 

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January blogging inspiration: Highlight your student organizations

Students walk to classThe start of a new semester is a great time to emphasize your student organizations, helping your students connect to resources and opportunities within your unit. From departmental clubs to honors organizations, take time this month to highlight your area’s extracurricular activities.

Sample post

Whether you want to develop your professional skills or become more involved in your major, the XX department supports a variety of research, academic and professional opportunities.

Network with your peers and build relationships within the department by joining one of our student organizations:

  • List organizations with links to websites, contact information, etc.

Apply your classes to real-life situations and gain valuable professional experience by taking a service-learning course:

  • List service-learning options

Study away trips and special research projects can also be included in your round-up of involvement opportunities.

Blogging tip

Expand your blog post’s reach by sharing it on social media.

Sample tweet of blog postTweeting your post

Sharing your blog post on Twitter involves four steps:

  1. Log in to your Twitter account.
  2. Write a catchy description of your post. Your post title is a great place to start.
  3. Copy the URL of your post. Watch your character count!
  4. Click Tweet when done.

Posting on Facebook

Sharing your post on Facebook allows for a little more customization.

  1. Navigate to the page you want to share the post from.
  2. Copy and paste the blog post’s URL into the Status box.
    Facebook blog post 1
  3. Customize any of the fields that automatically show up once you have pasted in the URL.
  4. Remove the blog’s URL from where you originally pasted it. Don’t worry – a link to the post is saved in the custom boxes.
  5. Type a teaser description in the status box.
    Facebook blog post 2
  6. Click post.

Points of pride

Your blog is a fantastic way to showcase the points of pride for your department – the things that make you great! For January, consider highlighting:

  • How your student organizations have volunteer in the community
  • Student groups that have raised money for charity
  • Awards won by student organizations

Looking forward

Some important upcoming dates to share with your readers include:

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December blogging inspiration: past and present

#BearGrads

This month brings Commencement and the year’s end, which set the stage for reflection along with thoughts of an exciting future. It’s a Dec bloggreat time to offer best wishes to your students.

Consider having a faculty or staff member craft a personal message for your blog. You might post a few photos from memorable events in 2013. If your department has a YouTube channel, you might create a brief video greeting for YouTube and then post it to your blog. Remember to share your post throughout your social media channels as well!

If you’d like a little help getting started, the following questions may spark ideas.

  • After hundreds of hours spent in the classrooms, labs and organizations of your program, what’s the one lesson you most hope students take with them as they open a new chapter? Do you hope they are lifelong learners? Culturally competent? Driven and tenacious?
  • Looking back on the year, how has your program evolved? How is December 2013 different than December 2012? What has been achieved?
  • Looking forward, what will be bigger and bolder in 2014?
  • On a different note, do you have a holiday tradition, custom or recipe you’d like to share with students? (Think of Mama Stamberg’s cranberry relish and how eagerly NPR listeners await it each Thanksgiving.) If you have international faculty and staff members who can offer diverse perspectives, definitely take advantage.

Commencement notes and resources

  • The official hashtag of commencement is #BearGrads. Share the hashtag on your blog, and encourage students to use it as they share memories and photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • The commencement webpage gives students quick access to the ceremony schedule.
  • The office of Web and new media has created a commencement social media press kit to help Bears capture and communicate the graduation experience.

How-to tip: embedding a video in your blog post*

Adding a video provides extra visual interest to a blog post, and it’s quite easy to do. Here’s how:

  • Visit YouTube and find your video. (Missouri State’s YouTube channel has some excellent selections!)
  • Copy the video’s url. (In this case, I’m grabbing the url for our Public Affairs video.)
  • Just paste the url into the body of your blog post– wherever you want the video to appear. It should look like this:

embed video 1

  • There’s just one tricky part; you don’t want the YouTube url to be a hyperlink, which means it shouldn’t look like this:

embed video 2

  •  If your YouTube url is hyperlinked, just press the “break link” button in your toolbar.

embed video 3

 

Once you publish your blog post, you’ll get a nicely formatted video box– just like the one below:

*NOTE: This video embedding process is intended for YouTube links and will not work with other video platforms.

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