TikTok is becoming more popular among 16-24 year olds. During fall term 2019, Oregon State launched its TikTok account with the goal to connect with prospective and current students by producing timely, authentic and relevant content that showcases the university and its community.

The most important part of this social media platform is to stay on top of trends (including music) and hashtags by spending time on the app. We have found it helpful to follow other university accounts and see what they are doing.

These are the topics or trends the OSU account will create videos from:

  • College related trends
  • Trendy hashtags/music
  • Dance and Cheer team
  • Student clubs

We’ve had success on TikTok so far with collaborating with departments across campus. We were lucky to create a video with the OSU Dance and Cheer Team, and it’s one of our best videos since launching the account. Success will come when you collaborate creatively. We’ve also seen success when sharing our exported TikToks on Instagram Stories. This connects your followers with another channel and can help with growth. A little call to action never hurts.

While we are still learning this new platform, we need to remember that the audience we are trying to reach is not only current students but prospective students. We need to create videos that showcase campus in a positive way but also builds on nationwide trends. Sure, there’ll be some things that you cannot do because they aren’t university appropriate, but there’s always a trend/style/music track to explore. You need to put your creative hat on and be willing to put yourself in the shoes of Generation Z knowing no idea is a bad one. Go out there and get your TikToks started!

Getting out and covering events across campus is a fun way to engage your social media audience. They are always wanting to learn more about the Oregon State experience.

Part of the strategy for Oregon State’s institutional accounts is to attend events to help bring awareness of the culture on campus. Our goal is to reach students and prospective students by posting stories and photos to Instagram.

With this in mind let’s talk about our coverage of the 2020 Women’s Basketball Civil War. Planning is everything! You need to have a game plan and different scenarios.

Our game plan was simple. We designated jobs to certain people. Someone would be on Instagram stories, someone taking photos, and someone ready to push a tweet out if we won. Secondly, we made sure we had a plan if we did win. That was to test out going live from Instagram. The goal of that was to reach a bigger audience and celebrate a big win.

Here’s a breakdown of each job:

  • Instagram Stories– To get photos/video/boomerangs of the team, fans, cheer and Benny. With the key thing in mind: to show what it’s like to be at a game even if you aren’t there. (Make sure you have a beginning and end)
  • Photos– capturing game action, cheer, Benny, fans (before, during, and after the game)
  • Twitter– on call for if we win with great copy and a fun photo

With all of that planned out before the game we all felt prepared. Just to be clear things change all the time and you need to make adjustments. We made sure to go to the game early and feel conformable in a new environment. Sometimes that can be the challenging part but, if the crowds having fun then you will probably feed off of that energy.

Looking back at the game we didn’t win, but we put up a good fight. If you make sure to have a solid game plan heading into an event and people know what they are suppose to do you will have great content. Our Instagram stories and photos turned out fabulous and our followers enjoyed them. Our goal is to continue to share more events on our Instagram feed as time continues.

Cheers to the next events!

Reading a book on the beach is very different than the reading we do on the internet. But why exactly?

When reading on the web, people commonly…

  • Are looking to accomplish a task, and aren’t in a leisure reading mode
  • Don’t read word for word
  • Scan in an F-shape pattern (but, there are other scanning patterns too)
    • Literacy skills affect scanning abilities. People with lower literacy skills don’t scan, but will skip sections entirely. Keep this in mind as you consider your audience.
  • Have a limited cognitive load
    • Cognitive load is how much processing power and memory it takes to perform a task on your site. If it takes too long or is too difficult, they may give up.

Strategies

Just because people don’t read on the internet the way they read a book, doesn’t mean all is lost. There are plenty of things you can do to make your website visitors’ experience easier when they’re on the hunt for a specific piece of information.

Front-load paragraphs

Put the most important information at the beginning of the paragraph. This is a good writing practice anyway, but definitely even more so on the web.

Use clear visual hierarchy

  • Use headings to break up your content.
  • Headings should be 5-6 words. Concise headings are the most effective.

Make bullet lists

  • Not everything has to be a bullet list, but it is one of many strategies to break up content.
  • Use similar sentence structure for each bullet point.
    • For example, each one of these bullet points in this list, start with a verb.
  • Choose consistent punctuation. Use a period at the end of each bullet point if each point is longer.

Write in a conversational way

While this decision can depend on your audience, writing conversationally will make your website seem more approachable and friendly. It’s also easier to read. Write sentences with simple structure, limiting the number of clauses or phrases.

Complex sentence:
In Drupal, blocks and contexts can be used to control where content shows up on your website, whether that be through the use of a template for many pages (contexts) or through the use of one block that needs to show up on one page (blocks).

Revised version:
In Drupal, blocks and contexts can be used to control where content shows up on your website. Contexts provide a layout template applied to many pages. Blocks are chunks of content that are best for just one page.

Use Active Voice

We’ve all read something that seems like an absolute slog to get through. One thing that that contributes to that is writing in the passive voice.

Active voice: Gina hit the ball.
Passive voice: The ball was hit by Gina.

Passive voice usually adds a lot of words and make for some pretty dry reading.

Write descriptive links

Don’t write “Click Here” or “Read More.” Screen readers, assistive technology that reads websites to blind or visually impaired people, can read through all the links on the page. It is more difficult to navigate through the website if all of them say the same thing.

To benefit everyone, write links that succinctly tell people where they are headed.

Example: Request the institutional logo files to use in your print materials and websites.

Cut the fat

Write your copy, then cut it by 50%. If you want a gold star, cut 50% again.

If you want to dig deeper on this subject, I recommend looking at the articles on writing for web from the Nielson Norman group.

If you haven’t checked out beav.es/analytics, I encourage you to do so, now, without delay. It’s a dashboard that shows the analytics for your site at a glance. It’s useful if you need to look at basic statistics or want to easily share data with your stakeholders.

By default, the dashboard will show data for all centrally hosted sites at OSU. You can filter the data by selecting your site from the list in the left hand corner.

If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics vocabulary, here’s a guide to some of the terms.

Definitions

Pageviews

The number of times your pages have been viewed. If someone hits refresh on the page 8 times, all of those instances will be counted. If someone goes to another page and then comes back, it’s also counted.

It’s normal to see a dip in traffic on Saturdays and Sundays.

Sessions

Think of this as a time that someone got on their computer and clicked around on your site, then got up and watched videos of cats on their phone while sipping a cup of coffee. This would count as 1 session, even though they viewed multiple pages. The session ends when they’ve been inactive for 30 minutes or left your site. (There are a lot of cat videos out there, so they’ve been gone for a while.)

Top Content

Shows the pages with the highest number of pageviews. It lists the path portion (the end part) of the URL and won’t include the domain name.

For example: “communications.oregonstate.edu/brand-guide” would be listed as “/brand-guide”.

When it lists only “/” that indicates the homepage of your site.

Top Mediums

Are ways people find your site. Think of these as the broad categories, rather than specific sources like “google.com” or “search.oregonstate.edu”

Organic

Someone used a search engine, like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, to find your site. They clicked a result that wasn’t an ad.

None

Can mean several things. A visitor to your site may have:

  • Typed the URL in the address bar
  • Clicked on a link to your site in a desktop program like Outlook or Thunderbird
  • Used a bookmark
  • An aggressive ad blocker that prevents tracking

It’s better to think of “none” as more of an unknown category.

Referral

People visited by clicking a link on a different website. For example, a high school student is looking at colleges on the US News College Rankings list. In the section about OSU, they click on a link that goes to the admissions site. That would count as a referral.

Referrals can also be other OSU websites that are on separate domains or aren’t centrally hosted.

CPC/SEM

This is traffic generated through paid advertising campaigns.

Email

Is just that. Someone clicked a link in an email.

Other Categories

When creating ads, you can assign names to a medium using a custom URL (UTM parameters). Other names in this list besides the default ones listed above are from these custom campaigns.

Landing/Exit Pages

Say you’re researching for your next vacation, so you Google “Hawaii beaches.” You click on the first search result that has a tranquil and idyllic picture of a pristine beach.

That page you landed on is probably not the homepage of a website, but rather a page nested within the site. That page, “Hawaii beaches,” is your landing page.

Then, say you click around on a couple of pages to check out standup paddle boarding, the snorkeling options, and then you reach the prices page. Yikes! That’s a tad out of your budget for the trip, so you go back to your search. The price page would be your exit page.

For more information about Google Analytics, you can check out their help center or come to Open Lab.

Headings in a webpage are vital for creating an organized and accessible web page. Think of headings as the main points in the outline of your written content. Short and concise headings should describe sections of your web page. If someone only read the headings of your webpage, they should be able to have a good idea what your page is about.

Headings provide structure and are hierarchical–to mark most important to least important. They start with heading 1 as the most important and ending with heading 6 as least important.

Example heading structure

Let’s say I have a website that’s all about beavers. Here’s what the heading structure would look like:

  1. Beavers (Heading 1)
    1. Species (Heading 2)
      1. North American Beaver (Heading 3)
      2. Eurasian Beaver (Heading 3)
    2. Habitat (Heading 2)
      1. Dams (Heading 3)
        1. Affect on climate (Heading 4)
      2. Lodges (Heading 3)
    3. Lifespan

Why do headings matter?

“Can’t I just pick a heading based on how it makes my text look?”

Screen readers allow those with low/no vision to skim a page by reading all the headings out loud. If headings are missing or out of order, this process becomes quite difficult and frustrating. For sighted users, using headings consistently will provide a cohesive visual experience.

If you need to emphasize an announcement or exception, use bold formatting instead. Headings should not be used to change the appearance of text. Conversely, applying bold or italics to headings doesn’t give the structure needed for people who use screen readers. The screen reading software won’t pick up on the italicized or bold text as a heading.

How to add headings in Drupal

With Drupal, you can add headings to your webpage easily. You select the text and then from the formatting option, select the appropriate heading.

screenshot of text editor in Drupal to change headings

Headings start with level 3 in Drupal because headings 1 and 2 label the site and page titles. Start with heading 3 for your main points and use headings 4, 5, or 6 if you have subsections. Unless your page is very long and complex, you probably won’t use heading 6.

How to check your heading structure

Our accessibility checker, Monsido, will check for the order of the headings. (Contact Web and Mobile Services if you don’t have access to Monsido.) However, it can’t check for lengthy or irrelevant headings. That needs to be reviewed by a person looking over the content to make sure it’s current, concise, and relevant.

If your department doesn’t have Monsido, then you can use Webaim’s Wave Tool, which is free and available right in your web browser.

Writing isn’t easy! But creating well structured content gives everyone an great experience.

Here at OSU, we have Google Analytics already set up on most sites. All the data lives under one account so we can get a sense of the big picture. But, if you work for an individual department or unit, you probably only want to see the data for your site, not everyone’s.

You can create a segment to see only your site’s data.

  1. Log into Google Analytics.
  2. Click on the property menu in the upper left-hand corner
  1. Under the Oregon State University – Core account, select the Universal property and the Unfiltered view
  1. Click on the Audience, then click on Overview
  1. Click on +Add Segment
  1. Click on New Segment
  1. Type a name into the Segment Name next to the blue Save button.
  2. Click on Conditions under Advanced
  1. Then click on Ad Content to change the dimension that you will filter by. 
  2. Click in the search bar and start typing Hostname
  1. Click on the search result to select it. 
  2. Change the Contains option to Exactly Matches.
  3. In the text box, type in your site’s hostname. For example: communications.oregonstate.edu. Don’t include “www” or “https.” 
  4. Then click the blue Save button.

You can now apply this segment to any report in Google Analytics to only see the data for your website. Here’s how:

  1. When viewing any report, click on the All Users segment, which is selected by default. 
  2. This will bring up a list of all the segments you have created. Select the one you just created to see only your website data. 
  1. Click on Apply, which will apply the segment to the data in the report. You can apply this to any report in Google Analytics, such as Behavior or Acquisition.

You can also check out pre-built segments that show a subset of data: visitors from the state of Ohio or people viewing your website with a tablet. There are a lot of options already there if you don’t want to build your own.

If you want to delve deeper, check out Google’s documentation on segments.

Make sure you are logged in and viewing Studio.twitter.com or log in by going to Twitter Ads → Creatives tab → select Media.

Click the Upload button at the top-right of the page and select the video you want.

Give your video a name. For example, Benny learns how to cook | #GoBeavs

Select the best thumbnail. These should be catchy and draw in the viewers.

Next, click the sharing tab.

You can type the handle of the accounts you want to share with.
Example: @OregonState

Once completing the steps above, your video will be crossposted. However, it does not send a notification to the other account. It’s helpful to give them a heads up that you added it to their library.

How to know if a video has been crossposted to you:

In the upper left-hand corner where it says Library there is a dropdown menu. Click Shared Media to be able to view any content that has been crossposted to your account.

Once you are in the shared media section you can see everything that has been shared with you. To post, click the tweet button and add in your copy or other components. Then you can send it out directly or schedule for later! 

Crossposting will help us share content easily and collaborate more. If you have a big announcement or project coming up it doesn’t hurt to give people a heads up. Slack is a great tool for letting people know a video was crossposted.

We will not be able to share all content that is crossposted with us on the institutional level account (@oregonstate) but please don’t hesitate to share. We will do our best to integrate it into our schedule.

Google Analytics is a tool that shows you how people are using your website. You now have a few options for using it here at Oregon State University.

  1. Request access to the universal Google Analytics account if you want to just want to pop in and grab your data. We take care of the account level management for you. You will need to create a segment in order to see only your site’s data.
  2. Go to beav.es/analytics to view the university-wide dashboard. You can select your own site to see any date range of analytics. This is useful for sharing your data with stakeholders or if you don’t want to learn Google Analytics layout.
  3. Create your own Google Analytics account if you want to manage your own account and have more autonomy. You can manage user access, share with 3rd party companies, and do more advanced tasks. Once you’ve created your account, you’ll need to add the tracking ID to your Drupal site. Be sure to check with us first to see if there is already an account that we could transfer ownership to you.

You can get started on your own or come to Open Lab if you want some help.

Our brand style uses strong photography to tell the story visually. However, there are limited circumstances where illustrations may be used because a photo would not be effective. In cases like this, we ask that the illustrations only be used for one year, because the art could be considered a logo if used for multiple years. Please note that stylized, hand-drawn or cartoon images of beavers are not allowed.

If you are unsure if you are in a situation where you can use an illustration instead of a photo, we’ve put together a flow chart to quickly reach an answer: Download a printable version.

 

 

Just as a reminder, all the information below is available at our Illustration page in the OSU Brand tools.

Illustrations are allowed for:

  • Events
  • Magazines
  • Scientific Illustrations
  • On-campus awareness campaigns (intended to educate others about specific topics or issues, ie. bike safety, illness outbreaks)
  • Holiday cards
  • Motion graphics

Illustrations are not allowed for:

  • Ongoing programs
  • Repeated use from previous years
  • Stylized, hand-drawn or cartoon images of beavers
  • Recruitment materials for prospective students
  • External advertisements

Happy designing!

You’ve created a beautiful webpage that has the most important information your department or organization can offer. It’s got great pictures, an attractive layout,  and well written, organized content. And you want the world to see it. Yet you get complaints that it can’t be found with a thorough Google search. Have no fear–there are a few simple things you can do to help your website become more visible in search results. The methods and techniques to increase findability of a site are called Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).

Create Good Content

One of the best things you can do for your SEO is to have well-written content that provides the information what your visitor is looking for. Clear and concise language will take you far. Search engines are about connecting people to the information they need. So if your webpage doesn’t accomplish the user’s goal, then it won’t show up high up in search results.

Hone Your Keywords

Keywords refer to what people type into the search bar. On a basic level, if your website has those same words, the search engine will display your website as a result. The keywords you choose should reflect the essence of your webpage. What answer does your webpage provide? What is your webpage about? What is your goal for this page? You can include keywords in your headings and copy of the page. But, don’t force them into every nook and cranny–the language should still be natural.

Don’t limit yourself to one word for each concept. Google’s ability to understand natural language is getting better every day, so be sure to include other words that you think your audience would use to find what you’re offering. Google Search Console will give you a good idea of what terms people are using to get to your site. If you have access to your department’s Google Analytics account, then you can set up Google Search Console.

Take Advantage of Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are the little blurb in a search result below the page title. OSU Drupal will pull the first sentences of your page as your meta description. However, sometimes, this isn’t the best source for an overall summary.

A solid meta description should draw someone to your site, but also provide an accurate description of the content. Meta descriptions in a search result display around 300 characters, so you have a small window to accomplish both of these things.

In OSU Drupal, you can add a meta description to any page. When editing the page, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Meta tags tab. Fill out the Description field with whatever you’d like to include. (Erase the “[node:summary]”) Click on Save to update your page with your newly minted meta description.

Write Accurate, Short, and Unique Page Titles

This one sounds basic, but it’s a common challenge. A title needs to describe succinctly what the webpage is all about. If you were plopped here without any other context from the rest of your site, would you know what this page is about? That’s how your visitor is often getting there–they didn’t carefully follow the navigation of your site, but rather they Googled what they needed and this is where they landed.

In OSU Drupal, the page title field feeds what is called the title meta tag. This tag is part of the metadata code for your page. Metadata code provides some basic information about your site to search engines. Whatever’s in the title meta tag will be displayed in the Google search result and on the browser tab when you’re on the page. There isn’t an exact word count or character limit for what will show up in a search result since it’s based on 600 pixel width. A good guideline is to keep it at 50-60 characters. So, if your page title is well written, there’s no further configuration you need to do.

Each page title should be unique, as in you shouldn’t have 2 pages with the same title. Generally speaking, it isn’t a good strategy to have duplicate content on your site anyway.


Follow these few steps and you’re well on your way to improving the visibility of your webpage. There’s a lot more to SEO, so if you want to learn more, check out Moz.com.