Biz Blog Profile Series: Wharton MBA Admission Blog!

03/29/2005

Biz Blog Profile:  is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Wharton_logo_1Biz Blog Profile: Wharton MBA Admissions Blog! 

Alex Brown, Associate Director of Admissions, created the Wharton MBA Admissions Blog! to help wannabe Wharton MBA students navigate the twists and turns of the admission process. That in itself is a case study in innovation. However, Alex, who also authors of the blog, went steps beyond. He created a portal that provides continuous, fresh content that is of interest to all MBA applicants!

About Wharton's MBA Program

Wharton's MBA Program is considered one of the leading programs in the world. The Wharton School itself was the first business school, established in 1881, as a part of the University of Pennsylvania.

Why Wharton Is Blogging

This is an extension of our use of boards and chats. We believe in designing a transparent process for our applicants, while also trying to build community among applicants and the school. We assumed that a blog would futher fit this idea.

The discussion boards often uncover common questions among our applicants and we thought it would make sense to use the blog to answer some of those questions (kind of like an FAQ) while also using the blog to offer broader MBA admissions related insights, resources and links to other sources of active content. 

How Blogs Fit Into The University's Marketing Strategy

The blog essentially serves as a portal for MBA applicants, so in that sense it helps us reach out to a pretty wide audience of those potentially considering the MBA, as well as, Wharton in particular. (There is value in coming to the blog beyond simply applying to Wharton, we found this to be consistent with our discussion boards also.)

Blog Design Strategy

The design of the blog is such that we bring in many industry, as well as, Wharton related resources. The left hand column is full of Wharton's 'active content' such as feeds from Knowledge@Wharton, Wharton Journal, 2 student discussion boards and Diaries (student blogs). 

The right hand column is complete with industry-wide active content (businessweek discussion boards, links to the most recent entries from MBA applicant and MBA student blogs from around the world, etc.). The fact this content is coming from 'feeds' ensures it is constantly updated with the latest information without any work on my part.

I think this allows for a pretty 'balanced' set of current content for a wide audient. It provides reasons for our audience to return on a regular basis. The blog generally gets over 1,000 impressions a day regardless of whether we actually update it with our own content, which I do only about once a week.

Search Optimization Strategy

The blog also serves as a search engine optimization tool. We know blogs are regularly updated in Google and it is ofen interesting to see what search terms bring people to our blog. My favorite is 'Harvard round 2 interviews' where we are the number one result returned, based on a post I included about our Google results!

Selling-in To Management

This was the easy part. We have gone down the road of transparency with the use of discussion boards. This was merely another step in this direction. And since blogs are easy to set up (all you need is a Typepad account and a smart student to help) we really  did not require too much in terms of resources. We are considering extending this to additional blogs for next year, but we are still in early discussions.

How Wharton Is Marketing the MBA Admissions Blog!

Like anything we do that is 'new', we rolled it out quite quietly at first (there is a link to it from our home page, but it is a little obscure) and integrated it with our discussion boards. I included it in my signature file when corresponding on the discussion boards (both student 2 student and businessweek). When responding to questions on the discussion boards, that were answered by the blog, I include the permalink and suggest they go to the blog for more information. 

The applicant and student blogs are clearly linked to the blog (with reciprocated links). Other blogs can also us the code we use it to highlight the latest student and applicant blog entries and place it on their sites (more viral marketing).

The industry MBA blog, which is the central resource for new MBA and MBA applicant bloggers to list their blogs, now uses our 'code' to list the most recent entries from applicant and student blogs and the most recent posts from our discussion boards. Basically anyone in the MBA segment of the blogosphere will see our site, but we have tried to push it beyond the traditional blogosphere.

Lessons Learned

I'm not sure yet what we have learned, except it has become an important part of our marketing/communications/customer service while also being a central resource for others.

Future Direction

As I mentioned earlier, we are considering other related blogs, e.i., using a blog to write stories about Wharton and its different academic programs. We will see, there is something very interesting about creating content that has an RSS feed and I have only recently discovered Podcasting!

Alex Brown On Blogs

I am always fascinated by the use of new technology, and while blogging itself is not new, using it to accomplish business goals is relatively new. Our experience to date suggests it is likely to be an important tool for us going forward, and I am looking forward to seeing the progression in terms of its use here, as well as discovering how others are effectively using blogs in the future.

And ... It Rocks!

Sidebar: Read Diva Marketing Blog Wharton's MBA Admissions's Blog - A Lesson For Marketers posted in January 2005.

 

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Comments

Great job Toby. My site is dedicated to people just like this (hope you don't mind that I will definately be linking to this post)and their ability to shape the way their industry operates. As a business school and law student myself, I would have definately appreciated having a blog like this available during my admissions process.

Posted by: Michael G. Cohen on Mar 30, 2005 6:36:49 PM

Thanks for the article. It was very informative. I have started a blog for our graduate admissions, and it's been more successful than I thought it would have been (up to this point). I didn't realize the potential of blogging until I started doing it. I've done a modified blog, where I act as more of an information giver from mainly other people related to the University of Arizona College of Nursing (faculty, students, alumni) and I add other relevant information for potential students. Even though the blog was geared towards potential students, I have found a good number of people who have subscribed to my blog to be current faculty, students and alumni. This is an unintended (but fantastic) consequence of the blog, as it acts as a community builder. Since our Master's and PhD programs are online, the students and faculty don't see each other that often, so this is another way for them to keep in touch and learn about each other. I believe they learn a lot more about each other through the blog than even if they had face to face courses. We don't have the numbers like Wharton, but I definitely used their blog as a guide in how I contstructed mine. If you want to take a look at my blog, it is at http://blog.ltc.arizona.edu/alanbeaudrie/ I'm always looking for constructive criticism in making it better, as I'm pretty new to this whole blogging thing.
Alan

Posted by: Alan Beaudrie on Jul 15, 2005 12:38:53 PM

I've managed to save up roughly $26012 in my bank account, but I'm not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

Posted by: Courtney Gidts on Nov 14, 2005 3:44:32 PM

Very nice blog.

BTW, there is also a new website for the best MBA's in Canada.

http://www.canadianmba.com

Pretty interesting if you are thinkinh about an international mba program.

Posted by: Thomas on Nov 30, 2005 1:48:01 PM

I totally agree with what you're saying. I wish more people felt this way and took the time to express themselves. Keep up the great work.

Nathan Trevors
http://www.universityonlinecenter.com

Posted by: Nathan Trevors on Jan 20, 2006 5:19:39 AM

MBA Forum - Mbapag is mba and business forum. We offer information about MBA and business management and allow user to post and reply the question. This MBA forum cover the topics related business, MBA, MBA Jobs, business resources and lot of other topics.

Posted by: Mr. Harsch on May 4, 2006 6:41:09 AM

I agree completely, for a business it is best to keep on the cutting edge. Whether it is a educational institution or generating insurance leads!

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