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UNSW student's first week in GradConnection

Posted by Rob Chan

Hi, I'm Rob, studying full-time at UNSW and I don't drink coffee, unlike everyone else in here. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been spending days in the office of GradConnection and it's been a really (really!) cool experience. I first found GradConnection in Google, when I was searching for graduate job application deadlines in 2010. And when I was looking through the Graduate Forums on GradConnection, it turned out that the boys were searching around for an intern. So I gave @davejenkins a call and we met up for coffee (I had orange juice).

Digging into Facebook

I've always had an interest in social media and as business start to figure out how to monetize Facebook and YouTube in the new decade I wanted to see what all the buzz was about.

 So with some whacky Photoshop skills and a spluttering laptop, I had a crack at fixing up GradConnection's Twitter Account and Facebook Fan Page. I had play around with the cosmetics... and it turns out that personalising a Facebook Page ain't that hard. When you click on the GradConnection Facebook Page, you now land on the "Boxes" tab which shows off pretty graphics to engage the user rather than a text wall. In addition, I we fixed up a few things here and there, put images and links to GradConnection's Twitter and YouTube on the "Wall" tab as well as touch up those photos that Dave took on his Blackberry. All this…

  • Took me 10 minutes to learn FBML.
  • Took me 1 hour to make the images.
  • Took me 1 minutes to show it to the boys.

 Then I went to investigate how Facebook users interact with these company profiles. I did a bit of research, and Facebook touts that their average Facebook user spends 55 minutes on "fb" a day, has 130 friends and only fans 2 pages a month. I distilled a lot of great research from Social Media Examiner, give it a read if you're interested in the mechanism of consumer behaviour on social media!

Market Research - Guerrilla Style

I found out that Facebook advertising space is quite well fought over. The demographics that Facebook users reveal have specificities that marketers drool over. I wondered what the CTR for such specific advertising was, so I ran some searches and apparently (anecdotally) it sits somewhere around 0.04% to 0.2%. Then I did my own guerrilla market research and I ran my own test. I promoted GradConnection's Facebook page to groups of my friends — through Facebook's "Suggest to Friends" — that I thought would benefit from the service, i.e. soon to be graduates (this is not just meaningless promo spam!). So I sent out to (some of these users overlap) the following users: 302 UNSW, 102 USYD, 27 UTS, 12 Macq, 50 High School Friends There was no methodology behind the sample set. But it was roughly around 400 people that I sent a suggestion to.

  • 4PM Wed 27 Jan 2010: GradConnection's Facebook Page had 534 page.
  • 12AM Fri 29 Jan 2010: 604 fans (at time of writing)

And a very quick headcount shows that 57 GradConnection's fans are my friends. That's roughly, a 14% click through rate and a 10% increase in fans in 52 hours, pretty impressive for just one advocate of a website. [Thanks sis for the correction, I'm still maths dummy].

Why?  Because personal recommendation may be better than just faceless advertising. There is still no doubt that word of mouth is the most effective form of promotions. But how do you inspire evangelists to personally recommend your product/page to their friends?! Another contributing factor could be because the demographic of the people I was targeting and the students I know. Most of them are career orientated and are willing to respond to attempts at conversation between corporations and students (I bet a lot of these students are also fans of the Ernst & Young and Deloitte pages). Either that or - as I would like to believe (and self deluded I am) — my friends regard me as a valuable source of information. And while I do repost things that are quality — job opportunities and career-enhancing posts — I also post a lot of videos of Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Silence. I KILL YOU!!

Snowball effect

I think there's a significant snowball effect. While users who receive the suggestion may reject it initially, once their friends start 'fanning' it, they might be interested in why they chose to fan it. Put it in front of your user once, they'll forget it. Again, they might take note again. Third time, they might actually look at it! I've been keeping an eye on my social feed (and while Facebook aggregates news stories dependent on what I find engaging…) I saw the story that "X and Y number of friends became fans of GradConnection" consistently on my wall throughout the week. And while I don't want to take credit for the other 14 new fans I think there's a chance it may be a 2nd degree (therefore indirect) relation to me; they saw their friends fan it and they checked it out. So what does this all prove?

  • targeted marketing WORKS! You will have a much better ROI on people who are interested in your message.
  • social media, grown organically is great engagement.
  • people are mobile on Facebook so fickle are the GenY!


PS: The day after Australia Day... The great thing about public holidays is that it gives everyone a conversation topic, so what'd you get up to yesterday and “gosh it was hot wasn't it?" and more importantlydo kiwis even celebrate Australia day?! The 3 founders of GradConnection are from a special corner of Australia we call, New Zealand.


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