Introducing Campus Sonar

Today I get to introduce the higher education community to Campus Sonar, and I couldn't be more excited! This post details what inspired us, how we developed our service, and what you can expect from us.

The Inspiration for Campus Sonar

For the last two years I've been writing and speaking about the strategic impact social listening can have on colleges and universities. Quickly, I started to receive two types of feedback. The first type looked like this:

This is awesome! My mind is racing with all of the ways social listening could positively impact my work and our strategic objectives.

The second type was less exciting, but represented a valid problem:

That's great, but the software is confusing, we don't have any people that know how to do this, and it's pretty expensive for social media, so it will probably be years before we can implement it on our campus, if ever.

Social listening seemed like it was going to be an uphill battle for campuses (especially small campuses) to implement on their own. In late 2016, one of my colleagues at Great Lakes asked a simple question, "Couldn't we solve that problem?" After a lot of research and planning, we decided we could. The solution is Campus Sonar, a specialized social listening agency.Campus Sonar Logo

Empowering Colleges and Universities

Campus Sonar's vision is to empower colleges and universities to find and analyze conversations that matter, seize engagement opportunities, and develop data-informed strategies.

We're a service for campuses that see the strategic value in social listening but lack the time, money, and expertise to implement a social listening program on their own. We leap a lot of the hurdles for you, and avoid the potential problem of investing in software that you struggle to use effectively.

  • We show you the online conversations that exist about your campus with our Social Listening Snapshot.
  • We make sure we understand the value you're trying to extract from social listening, and build a customized program of services to match.
  • We subscribe to best-in-class social listening software that's proven its value to us. We subscribe in bulk so we can pass on the savings to our clients.
  • We do the nerdy work of building custom queries, sorting, tagging, categorizing, and analyzing data.
  • We deliver insights and strategic recommendations, rather than masses of data you need to sort through (you'll have access to the data, too, of course).

We work with clients in many ways, but our ideal partnership is an annual engagement that allows for increased customization along the way. Within the first year of an engagement, we strive to have the context to contribute insights as if we're working with you on campus.

We Developed Campus Sonar with Campuses

This summer we piloted the service with five campuses around the country, and they're seeing real value. Here are just a few things we heard from them:

  • "The Social Listening Snapshot allows us to create a map of action items to turn opportunities into successes."
  • "I could easily show this to a cabinet or board member to help them understand the conversation about us on social."
  • "This conversation is invaluable."
  • "I was impressed with the breadth of the Social Listening Snapshot. Every department and area could learn from it."
  • "There is real value on the development and fundraising side to target these individuals"—in response to influential individuals identified through a Social Listening Snapshot.
  • "The Social Listening Snapshot is the sort of thing you could slice and dice and hand out to people around campus."

The feedback from our pilot schools has been encouraging—and constructive. They've helped us move from a prototype to a comprehensive service that positively impacts marketing, communications, enrollment management, and alumni relations objectives. Over the next few months we'll share their stories as case studies and conference presentations. I think many higher education leaders will be truly amazed at the ways our pilot campuses have benefited from our services.

What You Can Expect From Us

Our clients receive personalized service and insights that are unique to them. But we won't stop there. Our vision is to empower colleges and universities—all of them. Through our blog, conference presentations, and publications we'll be pulling back the curtain on social listening for higher education: how it works, how to analyze data, how other campuses see success, and what's on the horizon. We plan to become a go-to source for professional development and highlight other innovative voices.

Campus Sonar builds on the in-house expertise we've developed at Great Lakes, managing our social listening program for the last five years. If you're interested in working with Campus Sonar, I'd love to hear from you. Sign up to receive our latest updates through our newsletter, Brain Waves. Or email me at

The post Introducing Campus Sonar originally appeared on the Campus Sonar Brain Waves blog.