Personal branding online for academics

My recent blog on Sproul-Digital about differentiating your personal brand in digital spaces identifies some great opportunities for subject area experts and thought leaders to exploit. In particular for academics in higher education the current web eco-system offers an excellent opportunity to develop a highly effective digital shop-window based on subject area and institution reputation particularly given the dominance and reliance on Google and other search engines.  If you are wondering how to raise your profile and visibility and please follow this link for some hints and tips on differentiating your personal brand in digital spaces. About the author: Mark Sproul is Director of Sproul-Digital and former Head of Digital at Edinburgh Napier University.


#thisisedinburgh with some Sunshine on Leith

I would have loved it had the latest work on ‘This is Edinburgh’ or #thisisedinburgh encompassed a bit of cinematic beauty of Sunshine on Leith.

‘This is Edinburgh’ is its new city centre campaign  #thisisedinburgh. The campaign is designed to attract families and shoppers back into the city centre. Running for the next two years, it is projected that the £1 million campaign will stimulate an additional £50 million spend within the city centre over that time. 

The adverts are good although I don’t necessarily identify with Girls in Town as shopping and dining isn’t often top of my to do list. That said, the films are a useful reminder of what is on offer in Edinburgh city centre.

However, if you’ve never been to Edinburgh before and what to get a snapshot of what makes it one of the world’s most beautiful cities you should watch the film musical ‘Sunhine on Leith‘ – the trailer for the film below gives a taster of what’s on offer.

The Edinburgh vistas are fantastic and all using the music and lyrics from the brilliant Proclaimers – the only thing I’d say is missing is a rendition of the song Sunshine on Leith courtesy of the fans of Hibs (and I’m not even a Hibee).

Taken all together it reinforces what a fantastic city Edinburgh is to live in with so so much to offer.

Edinburgh Napier’s new Blog service:

We have introduced a blog service at Edinburgh Napier University to give our staff a chance to build their digital footprint and get out into the digital world with their knowledge and expertise.

This will have a knock on effect for my own blog which will be moving from the fantastic service into The difference being I’m moving from a free external hosted service (with limited customisation) to an internally hosted service with greater customisation potential.

The exciting bit for me (and you hopefully) will be the benefit this migration has on the blog’s search engine ranking. Academic domains are trusted by search engines as they are recognised as well-established, unbiased and authoritative, so site is given extra weighting by search engines simply by being affiliated with it. This is one of the reasons we’ve put this blog service in place – to share the knowledge and skills that the university has and make our knowledge open to Google and other search engines.

We are at the start of this work but if you would like to start blogging with us or require more information, please get in touch and I’d be more than happy to talk to you about. The service is available to staff and the content will belong to the staff. If you move on you can zip up your blog and take it with you.

Moving from print to digital

How publications that are designed for print work online is a continued issue for most marketing teams. Ultimately, creative teams need to be considering how the information will be consumed before deciding how to tackle the project so that the output is designed with the end user in mind. However, this does require a different mind set to that employed by a traditional marketing/publications team.

Although we are not there yet at Edinburgh Napier we have discovered this nice publication tool joomag that take a publication designed for print and gives it a little bit more life online – it’s a bit more interesting than a pdf and it is also not too expensive. It will be interesting to see what feedback we get from students.

The publication below is work in progress – I’m just testing it via the blog.

[joomag width=300 height=194 title=edinburgh-napier-university-newsfeed-2013-14 magazineId=0099210001378375587 backgroundImage= ]

Or you can access via this link

Social media policy for Edinburgh Napier

It is needed and this month Edinburgh Napier University issued its ‘Social Media Policy‘.

As an institution we are keen to promote the use of social media as our Good Practice Social Media Participation Guidelines encourages.

However, two things that staff need to be very aware of are in Section 6 and 8.

Section 6 covers the University’s reputation:

Staff should avoid social media communications that may be misconstrued in a way that could damage the University’s reputation, whether directly or indirectly. Staff must not post inappropriate or defamatory statements’. 

Section 8 goes on to address consent
Staff must not post images of their colleagues or students without prior written consent‘.

And its serious stuff because employees who breach any of the University’s policies may be subject to disciplinary action which could ultimately lead to dismissal.

Food for thought for employees who post images of colleagues or are inclined to criticise the University via social.

The full policy can be downloaded via the Edinburgh Napier staff intranet HR documents page

Eventbrite vs Eventzilla

At the start of the year I was asked to help out on the web/social media for a community cinema project – Balerno Village Screen.

On a budget of zero (or as close to zero as possible) my task was to do the digital stuff and allow customers to register for events online.

As cost was to be kept as low as possible, I went with and the twenty eleven theme in black with Facebook fan page and Twitter profile – the committee didn’t want wordpress in the url so we paid to have it upgraded and advertising removed – total cost came in at just under £50.

The next challenge was online booking and my initial investigation suggested Eventzilla was slightly easier to use and integrate than Eventbrite. However, it was only when i got under the skin of using the service that I identified some limitations and bugs – particularly related to the timing of the event – Eventzilla only allows the events to be per hour or every half hour – Eventbrite lets you break it down to 5 minute segments. This was a frustration with Zilla because our 3rd screening was at 15 minutes past the hour.

The biggest drawback i found though with Eventzilla is backend. Many of the processes around booking management don’t seem to work or time out. And although you can see each person’s ticket individually, you cannot cancel say 1 of their 4 tickets, you need to cancel their whole order. In contrast Eventbrite does allow this but more importantly for me, it allows those attending the event to cancel the tickets themselves via a logged in service. From an event admin perspective this is much better and saves time and effort of receiving cancellations and taking manual intervention.

So having used both Eventzilla and Eventbrite, I recommend Eventbrite.

I’ve followed this blog up to reflect on recent Eventzilla improvements and comparison of Eventzilla and Eventbrite for online payment. 




Digital Marketing in the Higher Education Sector with an Edinburgh Napier University slant