Digital Consumption, Campus Brands & Education 2.0

“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction” – Picasso

Leather bound yearbooks, rugged ‘Letterman’ jackets, gold embossed rings, and other such nostalgic trinkets mournfully speak to a past moment when young co-eds arrived to a University, eagerly ready to consume every element – both minor and major – within an entire campus culture.  For four long years, these future thought leaders gave their academic achievements, activities, and community service the old college try in real time without a rampant Facebook addiction, subconsciously moving them to share their latest college follies online to friends and the free world.

Indeed as the academic process shifts from a time when the prospective student actually took a tour on foot and visited the buildings around a campus they were applying to, today it’s just as easy for one to save gas money and look up a virtual tour via Google Maps or perhaps browse through a tasteful set of photos thread into a properly tagged Flickr album posted by the student government president.  Without a doubt, today’s modern students, faculty, and a school’s staff members are all coming to the table and consuming the ‘campus’ brand in an entirely different way never before thought possible.  Even more interestingly though is how each of these parties are collaborating with one another to develop and build up an identity behind the campus brand they turn right around and imbibe. 

In the following case study we will analyze how La Trobe University, a multi-campus 4 year college, based in Victoria, Australia integrates social media collaboration between students, staff and faculty into their campus brand.  We’ll also look at the many ways an individual can consume the ‘La Trobe University’ campus identity in the digital space.

LaTrobe University; Victoria, Australia; 30,000+ students from over 90 countries; 3rd University to open in Victoria, Australia.

Named after Charles Joseph La Trobe … the first Superintendent of the Port Phillip District from 1839 to 1850 and first Lieutenant-Governor of the new colony of Victoria from 1851 to 1854. LaTrobe’s University founder was also responsible for supervising the establishment of self-government, the public library, art gallery, a university, and the development of the gold fields in Victoria.

On their ‘Coat of Arms’ … Australia is represented by the Australian Wedge-Tailed Eagle, one of the world’s largest eagles. Victoria is represented by the sprigs of heath, Queen Victoria’s floral emblem. The open book refers to the University’s commitment to learning. The scallop shells are part of the La Trobe family bearings and have been included to acknowledge the La Trobe name.


#1 |
When a marketing campaign comes together and unites ‘All current students, future students, alumni, staff and fans’ to support and share their individual story about how they relate to the ‘LaTrobe University’ brand, its immediately clear that the individuals coming together in a community sense at LaTrobe are all contributing their own content which feeds back into the pulse of the campus brand.  Various representatives, staff and student delegates use the university’s Facebook Fan Page to communicate important news announcement and other daily updates or fast facts  like the following, “Did you know that La Trobe has more women in senior academic roles than the average Australian Uni? A great place to start but a long way to go – check out to see how La Trobe is addressing the gender gap.”  More importantly these collaborations, story telling, and discussions about LaTrobe as a culture resonate across the website and inspire those not yet participating to perhaps join in with the community’s energy.

On Campus… Extra curricular student organizations use to cross promote meeting announcements, function details, and welcome messages to new members making those involved in the larger LaTrobe community feel even more connected to small niche sub groups.  A perfect example was displayed earlier this week, The Asian Student Association posted details about their next club function on the LaTrobe Facebook Wall … “I thought it would be useful for international and local Asian students at La Trobe to join the Asian students association if they haven’t done so. It is a very useful group and you guys could find friends, hang out and etc. I suggest you guys to join if you haven’t already done so :)”

#2 | La Trobe University on iTunes U
When it comes to tapping the podcast market and building brand awareness around a campus brand, it’s hard to imagine anyone who might do it better than the folks at LaTrobe. Collaborating to build the campus brand doesn’t just mean getting the on site community involved, an organization should and can take it to the next level. Just look at these incredible stats since LaTrobe began this operation in October 2009.  The podcast series is a perfect way to display the collaborative spirit that exists on campus, just listen in to the interview between Student Producer Matt Smith and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of International John Rosenberg

On Campus … With the continuing development of their content and channel, LaTrobe is rolling out new feature stories to include interviews student leaders, helpful points of contact that an incoming 1st year might not meet or know what their position is, and a class review series which gives others considering course feedback on how their peers felt about the class.  The free lectures that professors post are also helpful when it comes to catching up on that Biology class you missed instead of wasting paper and scrambling notes from your study buddy.

Other interesting statistics about LaTrobe’s iTunes U channel…
– 450+ podcasts are available from La Trobe and 5 have ranked in the ’Top 100’ on iTunes U
– Notable interviews include former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser, Nobel Prize winner in medicine Professor Harald zur Hausen, & human rights and refugee advocate Julian Burnside,
– In December 2010 more than 1 million podcasts produced from LaTrobe University had been downloaded from around the world.

#3 |
As part of a collaborative celebration, honoring LaTrobe University’s Extra Curricular activity revival, over 100 students, faculty and staff performed an adlibbed dance and song to ‘Learnalilgivinanlovin’ by ARIA award winning artist, Goyte.   The performance also featured extravagantly dressed participants from India, Malaysia, Mexico, Indonesia, Sweden and Australia.

The infamous campus ‘LipDub’ (LaTrobe was the 1st University to participate in Australia) was produced together with student theatre director Bob Pavlich, the Student Guild, and in association with screen production company, Suitcase Murphy.  Since starting in Germany in 2008, the ‘‘ movement has attracted more than fifty responses from universities worldwide.  Who wouldn’t want to come together and build up their campus brand for the sake of garnering a quick flash of YouTube Fame?  To date LaTrobe is the leading Australian representative on the founding site.

On Campus … After participating in the LaTrobe LipDub, students can then go online to connect with other universities who also submitted their videos to the main website and carry a relationship initially launched online to more offline discussions through comments, cross sharing other places students could connect online (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).

#4 |
When one thinks about a university campus, there’s obviously a vast amount of information to share and discuss when it comes to the campus brand. Every day, using 140 characters or less, 2,385 students, teachers, and staff members connect across the LaTrobe University system via Twitter. The site not only shares an ‘RSS’ of straight news about LaTrobe between these parties, but members aren’t afraid to have a little fun while making their collaborations personal. There’s a significant trend between sharing links, photos, videos, and more through Twitter to one another as well.

On Campus … When graduation commencement time rolls around, students can give special well wishes and share memories from their time a University and what they learned like this alum did recently, “@gsyoung @latrobe Thanks for a fantastic Graduation ceremony today at Alb/Wod. .. 1:56 AM Apr 15th via Twitter for iPhone’


#1 | The ‘Web 2.0 College Olympics‘ sponsored by
LaTrobe Unviersity’s campus keeps a fine ear to the ground when it comes to tracking their social media presence and online reputation.  In an exciting development during 2010, news hit the community that LaTrobe had just earned a silver medal in the Web 2.0 College ‘Olympics’ run by Collegesurfing. com.  The global contest in which La Trobe came 15th – was the only university outside the US to reach the top fifty.  For those aware and consuming educational news, this was a report to watch and a place where LaTrobe earned major props when it came to their campus brand.

When considering the many ways a person could pick up references and tidbits that lead them to swallowing a tiny piece of the ‘LaTrobe University’ campus brand, a myriad of social network platforms come to mind.  However, one unturned stone in particular that leaves a trail back to the campus identity stems from a former faculty member who served as an Educational Designer for the University.  As a contributing writer for the blog, EDUCAUSE (a nonprofit geared toward advancing higher education through IT) Catherine Howell was able to post stories, ideas, thoughts, musings and observations for the free running online world to consume about her role at LaTrobe and her history there.  Her efforts served as a leaping point for one to further investigate LaTrobe University and the campus brand it represents.

#3 | A LinkedIn Presence
Although this platform has been around since 2003, it’s not necessairly the first place one might turn to consume a brand online. However the rate at which this is changing is staggering, and surprise, surprise, LaTrobe University is already ahead of the curve.  Want to ask a professor about the specifics of a degree program and what they teach?  Just connect with Law Professor Craig Scoggie, .  Want to get in touch with John Rosenberg, Deputy Vice- Chancellor for Development and International who oversees the internationalization planning/implementing strategy for the campus?  Send him a LinkedIn invite.  LaTrobe University also encourages former alumni (all 135,000) to join the official LinkedIn Group so that even graduates can still consume their campus brand beyond the stage.

#4 | LaTrobe University in Analog Media gone Digital…
Conveniently, for those who still use ProQuest to pull from Newspapers, Magazines, and other ‘outgoing’ media, LaTrobe University is also holding a strong presence within in these platforms as well. Anyone so inclined to do a quick Google search will come across a variety of articles featured in places like The Hindustan, or to name a few.  While this campus brand is certainly enjoying people consuming their identity across new, interactive, and engaging platforms, they also see no reason to disregard the old all together.

Users Be Aware and Integrate Social Media Positively with your Brand: 
Village efforts of all kinds make up a brand identity that cause it to spread widely amongst the public masses.  Consumption occurs across a plethora of different media vehicles.  A truly progressive institution makes their campus brand known for consistency and thoughtful intelligence, regardless of where one learns about them and endures a first impression.

By incorporating numerous emerging media platforms into their core communications model and continuing to post thoughtful/relevant content, LaTrobe is actively taking steps and already achieving milestones with their enrollment.  In a recent article from, discussing how LaTrobe plans to act competively with recruiting incoming University student, Vice-Chancellor Paul Johnson remarked, “We have done set ourselves a growth target for student expansion to increase undergraduate numbers by 30% for 2015 and we’re well on the way for that. This year for instance across our regional campuses first-year enrolments was 30-40% above what it has been in previous years. And enrolment was 25% higher in Melbourne.” Because recruiting efforts are heavily toted via LaTrobe’s different social media channels, branded messages about the University’s well rounded environment not only come across in posts, but in videos, pictures, podcasts, and more.

Of course with much good comes much caution.  In considering how a University system begins to develop a social media communications model, governing leaders must also remember to constantly monitor safety/privacy practices.  Support strong IT support systems that can field any large scale virus attacks and above all things consider the representing voice of the organization when it takes the stage publicly on Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc.  If an organization fails to administer an authentic, ethical and professional manner – the negative consequences will long out due any good that might come from engaging in these online communities.


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