The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 2 weeks ago

Small University Presidents: Build Your Social Media Presence


Big universities have the luxury of spending $1M per year only on advertising. For smaller universities, that’s close to a tenth of our entire operating budget.

But all universities have the exact same access to social media platforms. When a university president starts amplifying stories about the institution, think of it as free advertising that works.

In this episode, we interview Walter M. Kimbrough , President at Dillard University, about how he cre ated a personal social media presence to promote his university.

Join us as we discuss:

- Techniques that President Kimbrough used to build his online persona

- How social media attracted Denzel Washington for the nation’s second most watched commencement address

- What audiences that different social media platforms are good at reaching

- Advice for university presidents who might fear social media

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

Denzel Washington’s commencement speech 

The AP report on Dillard’s physics graduates 

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or your preferred podcast platform. 

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Higher Ed Marketer in your favorite podcast player.

You were listening to the Higher EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in highereducation. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to studentrecruitment, donut relations, marketing, trans new technologies and so much more.If you are looking for conversation centered around where the industry isgoing, this podcast is for you, let's get into the show, welcome to the hired market podcast. Myname is troy singer and I'm here with my co host Bart Kaylor and each week wedo our best to interview hiered marketers that you would admire andalso benefit hearing from for the betterment of the entire Hieratcommunity to day. It's a treat to bring to you, Dr Walter Kimbro, who is thepresident of Dillard University in New Orleans, and some of you may know himas the hip hop press, but, most importantly, he is known as being oneof the most effective higher ed presidents in Utilizing Social MediaBart Yeah. I did a search a few weeks ago when we're researching and findingguests to be on the podcast, and I knew that social media was something that Iwanted to talk about and have a guest who could really talk through socialmedia. Well, and so I just did a quick Google search on schools and presidentsthat are using social media. The best and Dr Kimbro kept coming to the top ofthe Google search, and I recalled meeting him several years ago at anICSE conference here in Indiana at Bastik University. I think I did aworkshop and he was one of the key note speakers and he had talked at that timeabout utilizing social media in the presidency and in higher at marketing,and I was really impressed with that presentation and so, when I reached outto him to see if he might be interested in coming. He responded like in fifteenminutes and it was pretty incredible that he came and and participated withthis today, and so it's a real treat to talk with him, he's very passionateabout what he's doing in social media and how he uses it. And keep in mind,as he's talking about this and all the amazing things that he's been doing atDillard, that with his team Dillard's a small school, it's a school of twelvehundred Dondergat students, and so it's it's not a powerhouse. It's not a stateschool, but the way that they are leveraging social media to get theirname out and to get everything going. They've done a pretty amazing job. Letme also add he's not only a wonderful advocate for his institution and hisown brand, but also for H BC us. So I was super excited when Bart had theidea for us to interview him- and I am so honored that he accepted ourinvitation. So without further ado here is doctor Walter Kimbro. It is my pleasure and honor to welcomeDr Walter Kimbro. He is the president of Diller University in New OrleansLouisiana to the Higher Ed Marketer podcast Hello, Dr Kimbro, Hey. How areyou doing today? I'm feeling good, I'm feeling blessedand again. I am so excited for a conversation today. A lot of peopleknow, but for those who don't, he is a big presence on social media he's ahuge advocate for historically black colleges and universities, and he isprobably best known as being the HIP hop press. How did you come to be knownas the HIP HOP press? So when I was selected as president of Falander SmithCollege in Little Rock, I was thirty seven and normally, when they do thoseintroductions. You give some short speech about who you are so here. I amthis thirty seven year old that looks like he's twelve, and I'm saying youknow I am not from baby boomer generation or the greatest generation,I'm from generation X, and you know people had you know misconceptionsabout generation x and I'm also from the hip hop generation. So it's justsaying this is how I have to operate, because this is who I am and so there'sa local paper called the Arkansas Times, which is a weekly paper and the verynext week. The title of the article was Falander welcomes help pop presidentand the Media Marketing Team at...

Falander Smith College thought it washard, but they were like. Oh, my God, he'll pop is awful. Just here was anolder school. You know view of music and he's just like. This is terrible,and I said no, they might be on to something and I'dlean into it, because it then you know, gave me this sort of unique brand tostep out, particularly when you're at a little bitty school in a state thatnobody can find on a man. So it made a lot of sense to say lean into this.This is something that is different and you can put a spin on it doesn't havebecause for me you know, as a college student hell pop for me, were peoplelike public enemy and it was very conscious and thoughtful. So to me,that's not necessarily a negative thing. Is You can't wrap it all up intogangster RAPP and all those other things as well? So it made sense to meand it was a good decision. Well, that's a great transition, because notonly do you lean into or did you lean into that title, but you really leaninto marketing and utilizing social media effectively to to give yourmessage and to communicate to the different constituencies and audiencesthat you communicate with, would love to know how you developed your approachto that and how you deliberately approach the communication that you dothrough social media right so part of it was when I became presidentof Flanso in two thousand and four that's a year, facebook lane, and soyour it's. My presidency evolved as you started, adding social media platforms.You know along the way so facebook instagram twitter, all those starts todevelop around that time. But once again, I at this school that mostpeople don't know anything about in Arkansas state that people don't know alot about either stuff for the Clintons. That's it and I would work out at a gymin North Little Rock, which is really right across the river and every time Iwell go in there. There were these ads from the universe of Central Arkansasand they would talk about. You know UCA the center of learning in Arkansas andit didn't matter whenever I went to that gym. I saw one of those ads and Iread in the paper that they were spending a million dollars a year inadvertising. I we're never going to get our message out like that, as you can'tcompete with that, we don't have that kind of budget. I mean that would havebeen. You know one twelve of my entire budget for a year to do those ads. Sofor me it was become logical. Social media was a free way to start gettingout our message and amplify other things that we could do so I mean Ijust started by doing my own blog, just to say think of myself as a reporterhere, the things that are happening on our campus and then I you know, wouldbuild that out and then use facebook, some and then finally got to twitterand those kind of things, and so it made a lot of sense and then over thecourse of my career. You know I'm still today, I I can get a direct messagefrom a reporter saying: Hey I'm doing a story on X Y Z and I can respond thatway and then the story is done. It was a good thing to do, but some of thatwas out of necessity. You know you're in this major market. The University ofArkansas takes a lot of the Air Universe of Central Arkansas. So how doyou get any kind of notoriety in the space like that? I use what was freeand I livers that's great, and I think that if I recall in our initialconversations some of the social media that you did, I mean certainly kind ofjumped in on the blog and some the other things. But- and I and I did someresearch before we even invited you on the show, just kind of like who's doingsocial media, the best and college presidents and you consistently come upin some of those churches, but I think it even at the beginning of there wassome, maybe some reluctancy on some of the platforms. May We tell us a littlebit about that. Yeah was I mean, so I start off with a blog I felt like thatwas the best way that I could really add some kind of narrative to what washappening, and then I moved to facebook really as a way to say we had a goodgreat photographer on campus, so there is a way for me to amplify events. If Ijust had a photo album in to say we did this on campus, we did this. That wasreally good. In particular, it was something that was popular like for thelecture series which I called blessed... Mike. I had, you know, hip hop iconcommon there, and so you have comment on campus. A lot of students work theevent they tag their friends. Their friends are saying. o coming was onyour, so you get a lot of buzz, because people are excited that just happened.You know common is in a Little Rock Arkansas. So those kinds of things, Ithink, were very helpful. So I thought because I had the blog and I had facebook. I was good and one of ourteam members who handle all of our marketing pr she is just kept saying,like you got to do twitter you had to to. I was like that's. A micro blockalready have a blog. I don't need that you know, and so we fought the wholeway. So she had somebody come in and really talk about it. So I said: Ok,okay, all right I'll get in a twitter. That was two thousand and nine. When Igot in a twitter now that becomes one of my main platforms, but that was whatI did not want to do. I just like. Oh I got enough. I think that's fine, butyou know once I got into it and then figured out ways to use it, and I thinkone of the things that helped is that as major mainstream media C companiesstarted to make it easy for you to amplify your stories via social media.It may sense to be able to have an access to you, know, facebook and thetwitter, and now the linked in. So if there's a great story about theinstitution, all I have to do is go on and Click and then I've ampleyfied thatstory for free so that I think part of that for me was seeing how those newsites started to change and they had the little titter icon on there, and itwas like all I have to do is point and Click, and now I'm telling other peopleabout what's happening here, so it a lot of this is just being practical,yeah, a practical and using using free tiles, as you talked about earlier andright, and I think that it's probably evolved over time, because now it givesyou kind of access to being able to engage with you now, students currentor perspective and families- and you know how are you leveraging that evenwith other constituencies, I mean. Certainly I'm sure that there arecommunity members and things like that, how's that working out right. So youknow I look at the platform differently, because I find that differentconstituencies will reach you in certain places. Students are moreinstant and so they'll get a lot of information off of twitter, even thoughparticularly- and I think some people try to use it like some of the airlinesare really good. If somebody has a problem with their luggage, they havetheir help. Person He's on twitter all the time and we don't have that kind ofband with so. For me, it becomes a tool that particular a student reaches outvia twitter. I want them to send me an email, so I can get more detailed toreally address the issue. So sometimes people say well, you know just meetthem where they are. It's like that's a starting point for me, but it doesn'tgive me enough. Information on two hundred and eighty characters arereally solved that that's part of it right, but for the general population, twitterbecomes a good too just to share, what's happening on campus, that's veryimportant parents and alarms lean a little bit more to our facebook. So youknow pictures of events and those stories that go there. I can reach someof them linked in you'll. Get, I think, link I you start to get more of theunsolicited hey. I got this deal for Diller, so you Javey know try to weedsome of that out as a part of that but yeah. Those are different ways and thenjust having a platform particular like foundations, foundations will do theirresearch and look at what's on your platforms and see what's happening soall of the platforms coming to play for them and then you know instagram isanother like facebook, but it's shorter, where you can have just some pictures,and you know almost like announcements and bulletin bore, so I use it more inthat or just simple congratulations about different things. So I have adifferent mindset for what I want to share her platform and they are alittle the audience. The audience is skew a little differently based on theplatform issues. That's great and I guess one of the questions I have aboutthat is, and I might be hearing people you know who are on the listening rightnow they might be saying: okay, that's Great. Where did you learn that? Howdid you do that? My guess is and if I mean being a generation extra myself,we kind of figure things out and I'm guessing that's kind of what you'vedone. Yeah it's trial and error. I mean that's, I mean that's really wasn't Imean there? Are People now doing...

...scholarly work about? How do you youknow, maximize or use these platforms, but right, you know. Once again Ibecame a president the same year, facebook started so they're figuringout facebook and I'm figuring out a facebook at the same time. Yeah, and sothat's, I think, that's just been part of it and you, I don't think you haveto use all the platforms. I think sometimes I mean I, you know I have anaccount on a pair of scope. People don't really use periscope because youcan do video on instagram and facebook so that doesn't really exist. A lot ofpeople talk about the benefits of tick tack. I you know, I have an accountthis there just to protect a brand, but I don't use it and and based on studiesthat we've done for for our campus. Our campus is much more of a twitter campus,so I'm not going to really expand my reach. If I go to tick top, that's notgoing to. I mean I have a fifteen year old daughter. She likes Tick Tock. Soso that's it! I just you know the ones that I want to use. I really lean intothose and others I'm aware of, and I haven't really found a good use forthem yea, and so I'm not pressed to do that, yeah. Okay, what would you sayfor other campuses that are saying like hey? We really think that our ourpresident, his personality or her personality would go well in socialmedia. How would you encourage them to help them get involved, or is thatsomething where it's like? Well, if they don't already, do it and they'renot already, naturally there it might not be the best use of their time. Well,yeah, I think presents more presents, are open to having that kind ofpresence at our accreditation meeting in the South Southern Association ofcolleges and schools about three or four years ago, Josie Alquizel a lot ofwork in his area. She she was a speaker for present day, so I mean she showedthem examples as o how college presence can be effective on social media, and Ihad a lot of people asking me questions afterwards, because you know I was oneof for examples a number of times, so I think a lot of people are aware of it.I think there still is some reticence by people just because they might thinkthat oh I'm too old. A really engaged. That way, I always tell us like Gordonget at West Virginia, is in his mid to late, is and he's an active presence onsocial media. So don't give me the I'm too old answer, because that's not it,but that you just have to find a way that you're comfortable in using it. Itdoesn't mean that you need to be on there all day. It might just be acouple of times that you pick. I always encourage people to make sure it's moreauthentic, because some places you got a team of people that do their socialmedia for them, and I'm not a fan of that at all. I, rather you not do itthan just have somebody posting as you right. I think it is better fitsauthentic, but it's you know it's scared for some people, because thenyou know you're there and, if somebody's mad about something thathappens on campus they're, going to add you and you're going to get the victoryall and that sort of comes with the territory so well first by wouldencourage our listeners that they haven't followed Dr Kimbro already togo out there and do so on twitter in the other platforms that he is on andyou'll see that he is authentic, he needs very engaging a very dynamic andwould love for you to share a story or two. I I think, the one that I'm mostcurious about and with love for everyone to know is the story behindyou getting denzil Washington to do the commencement address that I think isone of the most famous commencement addresses on Youtube Right, so it thisis one where, at the end of the story, after ithappened, we were able to use a social media, something like you to to toreally amplify what happened on our campus, so dis Washington filmed themovie in New Orleans right after Katrina with Paula Patten, and he heard aboutDillard and in one of the scenes he has a black on black diller hat. So if youwatch this movie, you see this billet had on and he gave money because we'rethe oldest HB C. U speech and theater program in the country. He gave amillion dollars a dillar universities, that's right after training he was intown heard about diller, and so we were thinking for a commincement ahead saythis is going to be the tenth anniversity of Catrina, two thousandand fifteen. Let's send Denzil Washington and we have this people'sinformation but see if I do...

...commincement we sent him the letter inOctober so October, two thousand and fourteen. So it's February we haven'theard anything. It's like all right. We better get somebody so I reached outthe Dawn. Limon he's a Louisiana native. He agreed to do it so one day I leadoffice early, I'm going home to work out our worst study student answers,this the call and it's Disney Washington and she doesn't believe him.So she passes the phone call on to my assistant and she says: Miss Kath issomebody's on the phone plan and I don't know what it is, and so sheanswered Kate Answer the phone and his dise Washington trying to reach me. Soshe gives them my cell number. So I'm working out it's like four an afternoonfour thirty. I see this unlisted number I think, is Arnie duncing, becausewe've been having conversations about something that I carnun back late. I'mnot worried about that now and so I finished working out and I listen tothe message and its DIS at Washington saying basically hey. I got your letter.I'm sorry took me so long to respond, but I know my schedule now I'll be inthe area. So if you want me to do commincement I'll do it, he was filmingthe magnificent seven, which is one of my favorite movies, and so it's likethis, a washing is said, I'm going to be in the area. I'm going to do this sowe're like cool. You know it was great and we know we did like a littlepreview for the seniors I had to meet in the room and I actually played thevoice mail messages. So you know they're sitting around looking likethat's this in Washingtons. Oh, you tam to hear him saying I'm coming to doyour commincement. That was like one of the coolest moments that happened so hecame, and so you know he had only done one commincement before at pen. So thisis the second one he's ever done before and short to the point like nine minutesand it this is really viral because it's like been viewed thirty fortymillion times, and so you know we put it on our youtube channel. But it'sbeen on so many different platforms that this I mean. I think there is areport that came out recently is like the second most viewed commincementaddress ever behind one that I think Steve Jobs or Bill Gates gave one ofthe two I can't remember which one so it's just been crazy, but that's howsocial media has as amplified that and every year invariably somebody pops up.They show that dese Washington speech at diller and its great branding,because you see him, you see the pod in with dill at university and that's justthat's going to lead live in infamy. It's just going to be there foreveryeah and we see you to right beside him, Dr Kimbro Right, Yeah Yeah. It's I meanit's just one of those things, but that's the way that, for us, socialmedia just continues to just you know a great. You know iconic moment in thehistory of this institution. Is that Dins Washington commincement addressthat's great and because it was just so good, it was to the point it waspractical, so he was just like boom boom boom boo boom. It was greateverybody loved it. He kept it moving yeah I mean that was perfect well andit seemed like he really when I've watched it it's I mean he knew theaudience and he really leaned into the audience, and I think that's foranybody. I think, and even when we're talking about social media really beingable to know your audience and lean into that and being able to beauthentic, I think those are really good. Takeaways right, that's greatyeah. No, it was it was. It was just. It was a great. It was a great momentand, like I said, continues to live on when people talk about greatcommincement speeches he always is mentioned, and so just to have dillardand dial mentioned together is always good. Dr Kimbro, is there a a piece ofadvice that you would give other presidents or higher red leaders thataren't as leaned into social media as? U and maybe a tip ortwo to get them started, and maybe a convincing reason why that they shoulddo it. So, on my reasons I always tell peopleis that sometimes people feel like if they don't have an account on socialmedia they're, not on social media, and that's a that's a mistake, everybody'son social media. They just don't have a way to sort of at you, but they arewhat your name in it. So you can't avoid it you're, a part of thatconversation. So since you're already a...

...part of it, is better to play an activerole. So you can decide how you want to participate in it and not just sort ofbe a bystander I mean. So it is. It's scary, like I said the you know thetoughest part, because sometimes social media is a mean space. You know peoplego through outrage cycles. We had a Senate debate here in Louisiana and wejust rent it out the space and it wasn't a big deal until some kind ofway David Duke qualified. So everybody was like you know you guys invitedDavid. Do we like? No, we didn't. I I mean we rented the space. We alwaysrent spaces for the base he did qualify for the one two weeks ago. I stilldon't believe he qualify legitimately. I think it was. Somebody just did USwrong, but that's a whole nother story, so it's like for you know, for twentyfour hours is like don't e. look at your mentions, because the whole worldwas mad at me because of that and you let the outrace cycle go through andthen you go on about your business. I mean that's, you know, as the peoplewho really know you and know the situation, and we you Social Meta, totell our side of the story, but there's just going to be some times when youjust get beat up. That's just part of it. So I think you understand that. Butin the end, can you leverage it to really get out stories about yourinstitution in ways and it might spur additional people to write storiesabout your institution? So another really quick story. I have always whenI got to diller when I learned it, we were number two in the country forproducing African Americans with degrees. In physics, I was tellingeverybody I could about that. I was like I would post a bout of the line.Every time I gave a speech. I live with that, so I had a reporter from the AP.This is two thousand and sixteen, I believe who said Hey. You are alwaystalking about dilling and physics, and this is after we had secured Ganelon abe our commincement speaker, and this is right, after hitting figures thatcome out. You got this movie about these women and Stan, and this reporterfrom the AP says. I am going to pitch this story that we do a AP story onDillard and physics. She pitches the story. She calms. Theywrite the story, they have the photographer here. That becomes anotherone of our viral moments, because this story is an AP story. It ran in everymajor newspaper in the country from the New York Times to the San Francisco,chronic and so now you're getting to amplify the social media and NBC Newson their site. So that was just another, but that was part of me always talkingabout physic physic physics that this AP reporter it click for her to say,yeah he's always talking about saw, she saw Ganelon, she put the dots togetherand she ran with it. That's the power of social media that happens because ofsocial media didn't happen because I wrote up. You know a piss letter hatedoing story on this. She came up with the idea and she ran with that'sexactly that's part of me just continue to say here a good things that we'redoing over and over again, and somebody picks it up, and they say this is agreat idea. Let's run with it. So to me, that's a benefit once again. It cost menothing and the media hit that we got for having genelman ne alone would havebeen great, but then, when they linked in to the movie and to our physicsprogram, it took us to a whole another level. Three cost me nothing that, as Ican't even calculate the aid value of having those stories in every majornewspaper in the country, very, very cool. Thank you. Well again, we are honored to Avhat asa guest on the Higher Ed market or podcast. If we can, if someone wouldlike to reach you, I mean they could just google you and there's so manyways that they can contact you, but as their way that you prefer seriousinquiries to come to you yeah. Well, you know particularly folks antion andhire a marketing they can just email me. I take all my emails directly W Kimbroat Diller di Edu and it doesn't normally take me a long time either. Ialways tell my students, if you haven't heard from me in twenty four hours, itmeans I'm dead. For me s called Liam Nison because I was taken ill respond via email. So you knowpeople who have questions about that. They can see me email and I can sharewhatever I have on that. Thank you,...

Doctor Bark. Do you have any parting wordsyeah, just a couple things. I wanted to point out that Dr Kimbro said just tokind of bring some emphasis to it, but I think that you know Dillard is asmall school under a thousand Undergrad students, if I'm correct Dr Kimbro fohundred twelve hundred okay, so twelve hundred, so it's a small school. So allI know a lot of the audience that listens to the hired marketer. Youwould consider yourself a small to medium size school much like Dillard. Ithink one of the things that Dr Kembo has talked about is just the power ofsocial media and what that can do for a small school. I mean he kind of usedthe illustration at the beginning about the big state school in Arkansas thatwas spending a million dollars a year on advertising. Just like Dr CambronDillard. I know a lot of these schools. Don't have that kind of budget, but youdo have access to the same platforms that Dr Kimbro has with the socialmedia with facebook, with social with twitter, with linked in with instagramleverage that in leverage that, with several of your leaders, I think thatyou'll, you know, rather than just relying on the on the young student inturn in the marketing department, to do your instagram really lean into it andget some of your leadership behind that a d and leverage that free resourcewhich can really turn into something much more as Dr Kimbro has shared today.So thank you again dramer. This has been a wonderful conversation. I thinkit's been very beneficial for audience and it's been a pleasure to have you.Thank you appreciate thanks Bart, the hired Marketer podcast is sponsored bycalor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency, and bything patented, a marketing execution, printing and mailing provider of higheret solutions. On behalf of my cost Bar Kaylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you forjoining us. You've been listening to the Higher EdMarketer to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show inyour favorite podcast player. If you are listening without the podcast we'dlove for you to leave a quick rating of the show simply tap the number of starsusing the podcast deserves until next time e t.

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