At 2U, we have reimagined the delivery of higher education. Our Platform, a fusion of cloud-based software-as-a-service technology and technology-enabled services, provides leading colleges and universities with the comprehensive operating infrastructure they need to attract, enroll, support and educate students globally.
We provide a range of services to our university partners, from traditional marketing to SEO strategy to content creation. In order to succeed in these areas, we must not only develop high-quality content, but also maintain strong relationships with vertical-specific communities. In some cases, we are supporting more than one program in a vertical (e.g., health care degrees), which is why our content strategies must go beyond topics about each degree program to tackle overarching themes relevant to the field.
BuzzStream allows our content and outreach teams to work independently and collaboratively to research topics, build relationships within relevant verticals, develop content and perform effective outreach. By being able to manage multiple lists, view the current relationship with people in a particular list, and listen in on various conversations via our project lists, we can better serve our partners in helping them reach a wider audience via creative content and innovative placements.
In 2011, when we combined our SEO and community management teams, we began using BuzzStream as a customer relationship management system to organize complex outreach initiatives and track projects. Today, using BuzzStream continues to help us maintain meaningful relationships as we scale.
Here are three examples of how we’ve used BuzzStream to engage with communities, connect with thought leaders and promote content in the mental health, data science and communications verticals.
Engaging With The Community
For our mental health programs, we leverage BuzzStream as a tool to support our community engagement and awareness efforts.
One of our social work partner programs, the MSW@USC, hosts an annual 100 Voices for Suicide Prevention campaign to break the silence around stigmatized issues such as depression and suicide.
In order to drive meaningful conversation, we first reached out to suicide survivors and clinical experts. The BuzzStream blogger search tool and the Buzzmarker allowed us to build a list of bloggers and organizations that add either personal testimonials or expertise on the subject.
Once the list was built, we reached out using BuzzStream email and asked potential contributors to add their voices to the campaign.
Though our team has found that building outreach templates for larger campaigns is helpful, we often get the best results with tailored outreach emails. Depending on the complexity of the campaign, we may reach out to hundreds of community members, which can be burdensome with typical email systems. The BuzzStream relationship field helps us stay organized in tracking each outreach round, submission and link-back statuses within each project.
For the 2014 100 Voices for Suicide Prevention campaign, we used BuzzStream to garner 100 contributors, which made this a hugely successful project.
BuzzStream’s CRM system also makes it possible for us to build a network of meaningful and long-lasting relationships that can be shared across teams. Should another team decide to create a campaign around a mental health topic, he or she can easily use the History feed to track past campaigns rather than starting from scratch.
Connecting With Thought Leaders
Last fall, datascience@berkeley created the “What is Big Data?” project using BuzzStream relationships to produce the richest possible content.
For this piece, we reached out to thought leaders in the data science industry and asked them to define the term “big data” in their own words. To accomplish this, we needed to reach out to bloggers, journalists, professors and a range of industry experts.
BuzzStream proved to be the perfect outreach tool that enabled us to upload a tailored list of participants and get to work right away, with BuzzStream aggregating contact information. The “Match My CSV” custom feature meant that we could tailor the lists to our liking offline and then let BuzzStream do the additional work while pulling contacts into its system.
In addition, BuzzStream’s custom relationship statuses proved valuable, as our standard “Link Accepted” goal did not apply. For this project, we measured success by the number of thought leaders who contributed definitions. By simply creating a custom relationship status of “Goal Achieved,” we signaled to our entire team that progress was being made on this even when links were not being attained.
Undertaking a project with so many moving parts (including pre-outreach, definition collection, and follow-up to let participants know their posts were live) would have proven difficult without BuzzStream. By tracking the status of each individual participant’s definition automatically, BuzzStream allowed us to concentrate our energy on content.
In the end, this outreach strategy proved very successful, with 43 participants contributing definitions that were ultimately shared by sites as diverse as Forbes, io9, the CDC, the Brookings Institute and Information Week.
Promoting Inbound Content
In addition to creating content for our partner programs, 2U also promotes content once it’s live on program sites. Recently, Communications@Syracuse launched an infographic called Mad Men: To Rise and Fall at Sterling Cooper in celebration of the long-running show’s series finale.
For this project, it was crucial to have lists pre-built and ready to launch on the morning after the finale, as the window of viewer engagement would be relatively short. Since BuzzStream allows for an unlimited number of lists per project, we were able to build highly targeted plans for local media, entertainment outlets, Mad Men fan sites and more. We also used the integrated MozRank feature in the link partner view to quickly sort each list by MozRank, creating a prioritized outreach list. Our New York-targeted outreach led to the graphic being picked up by Syracuse-focused sites like The Daily Orange and Syracuse.com.
Malleable and Scalable
For 2U, BuzzStream is more than just a list builder and link tracker, it’s a malleable and scalable tool we’ve used to create and maintain relationships as well as perform qualitative research for content development. BuzzStream helps us be a better business — one focused on strong, genuine relationships that can create valuable, high-quality content for our communities.
Stephanie Echeveste is the brand manager at 2U, where she strategizes, writes and designs content that brings together higher education and education technology. Stephanie is an inbound marketing veteran who works to innovate content development and outreach. Learn more about 2U @2Uinc (we’re hiring!) and connect with Stephanie @Stephanieetxe.