Aug 19, 2009

Tweeting with Washington and Lee

Thanks to Washington and Lee University, I received a huge lesson on Twitter. It’s not like I’m totally unaware of Twitter. Obviously I blog and I’ve read studies on how colleges use Twitter to inform prospective students and keep current with alums through university-controlled affinity groups. I know that high school students really don’t Twitter that much (not as much as we originally thought), and before last week, I’d never been the subject (as far as I know) of a "Tweet."

So imagine my surprise when hits to my blog began to take off. At first, I thought, “Oh boy, I’ve done it now. The Stanford Office of Undergraduate Admission has unleashed its alumni association and I’m done for.” But curiously, the hits were not going to any of the Stanford posts. Instead, this amazing group of wildly varying IP addresses was heading toward the post entitled, “Sink or Swim,” guided by a Tweet from the W&L news group.

It’s no secret that tracking software gives me some fundamental information about my readers: country of origin, state, city, referral source if there is one, and sometimes (not always) organization. What I learned about Washington and Lee University by following my hits told me more about the school than reading a score of viewbooks or examining every page of a website. I learned the school either graduates and/or continues to maintain close relationships with folks from all over the world—London, Belgium, Thailand, the Philippines. And, I saw that they come from every region of the country and are employed (if their computers speak the truth) by a fantastic number of corporations, universities, government entities (including the US House of Representatives), and nonprofits. They’re also engaging, as no other post to my blog has received so much comment—and funny at that. While not scientific, my small study of W&L made a fantastic impression that added to what I already learned while on tour: this must be a neat place to go to college!

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