October 11, 2016
by University Web & Design

Snapchat Geofilters 101

Whether you’ve dived head first into the world of Snapchat or are just testing out the waters, chances are you’ve heard of Snapchat’s “geofilters.” These geofilters are used, like on Instagram or Facebook, to add some additional visual interest to your photograph or video. Geofilters on Snapchat, however, can do more than just boost the color contrast or make things black and white. Geofilters range from colorful frames for a photo to enabling you to turn your video selfie into your face virtually augmented to look like a bee (complete with high pitched voice modification).

To see the filters available to you take a Snap, then swipe left or right on the preview screen and you’ll see everything available in your area. (Note: you can add multiple filters to one Snap by applying your first filter then pressing, holding and swiping to add another.)

Snapchat creates many of the geofilters in-house, however, as a user of Snapchat you also have the option to submit your own filters. All geofilters are geographically based, so after determining where you want the filter to be available, you have two options of filters to submit: Community filters and On-Demand filters.

Community Geofilters

A Community geofilter is available at all times and is free to submit. Due to this “timeless” nature, Community geofilters are much harder to get approved and cannot be associated with a single event. They are generally used to promote a small geographic area (such as a town or neighborhood) and are often found around college campuses.

On-Demand Geofilters

An On-Demand geofilter is a paid filter that’s set up to run during a particular time frame. The amount you pay is dependent on both the length of time the geofilter will be available and the area where you want it to appear. On-Demand filters are often purchased for a special occasion like a birthday or wedding for guests to use and share.

On-Demand geofilter prices can range anywhere from $5 to thousands of dollars depending on the length of time and area you want the filter to be available (and whether Snapchat has determined it is a popular area or time frame). The area for the geofilter must be less than 5,000,000 square feet so they are often located around specific buildings (like a football stadium or museum) rather than an entire city.

Recently Snapchat released an easier way to create an On-Demand filter by letting you create the design via their website rather than needing to create an image via Photoshop or a similar software program. These web-based filters come pre-designed for a birthday, music festival, wedding and other common On-Demand geofilter uses and allow you to customize the text.

Submission Guidelines

In general, you aren’t allowed to use copyrighted material like logos in the design of your geofilter (for either Community filters or On-Demand filters). However, if you submit the On-Demand filter as a “business” (rather than a “person”) you’re given more flexibility on logo use.

The submission process is notoriously obtuse. Sometimes a filter will pass on the first try, other times it will take multiple revisions to get through the review process, and there is little detailed feedback as to why something was approved or denied. The full list of submission guidelines is available, so that’s a great place to start as you begin creating your filter, along with checking out lists of existing geofilters for inspiration and guidance on what has been accepted in the past.


So how can you gauge whether putting up an On-Demand filter has helped with your social media goals (and if it is worth the money)? Snapchat offers limited analytics for On-Demand geofilters, namely “Uses” (how many people chose your geofilter for their photo or video and posted it to their account) and “Views” (how many people saw your geofilter on a Snap by a person they are friends with). These give an indication of the popularity of your filter as well as the reach your filter has and how much your brand was seen by Snapchat users.

Geofilters at W&M

As part of the W&M community you are welcome to submit an On-Demand geofilter for any events you may have coming up. If you opt to create your own filter, don’t forget to follow all of our Visual Identity guidelines. Also, avoid using any W&M logo (current or retired) as that will likely get your filter rejected.  If you are working with our office on event collateral and think a geofilter may be appropriate for your event, be sure to include that in your request so we can allocate appropriate time and resources for that filter design (as well as allow appropriate time to submit the geofilter).

Do you plan to integrate geofilters into your social media marketing strategy? Do you think it can provide more than just brand visibility?

~Tiffany Broadbent Beker (@tb623)

September 15, 2016
by University Web & Design

Cascade Tip of the Month: Clean System Names

Fall is a busy season for new and experienced Cascade users, and it’s also a great time to clean up any messy system names you may have in your folder structure. The system name forms the URL for your page, therefore it’s essential to use lowercase letters and no spaces, or separate words using a ( – ).

Why is this important?

  • The server is case sensitive, so if your system name contains uppercase letters and you manually type it or link to it as a URL with lowercase letters, your link will be broken.
  • Uppercase letters can lead to problems in your analytics data.
  • System names with spaces will result in messy URLs. For example, if the system name is “about us”, the URL will read wm.edu/about%20us. Instead use aboutus or about-us for a nice, clean URL.

Remember to use short, descriptive words when entering your system name. This makes it easier for Google and your users to see what the page is about.

Happy editing!


July 13, 2016
by University Web & Design
Comments Off on Cascade Tip of the Month: Updates to the ‘Related Links’ Box

Cascade Tip of the Month: Updates to the ‘Related Links’ Box

The right column is prime real estate for highlighting content on your webpages, and now you can customize your right column even more with two new updates to the Related Links box.

  • Custom Header Text: You will notice a new field in the Related Links section of your pages within Cascade where you can enter a custom header. If you choose to not enter anything, the box will default to “Related Links.”
  • Linking to files: In addition to linking to internal pages from the Related Links box, you can now link directly to internal files as well. When linking to a file, be sure the title field indicates the file type—this will display as your link text. For example, titles for a PDF or Word document should be: “Sample Document (pdf)” or “Another Sample Document (doc).” Whenever possible, convert documents to PDFs.

Happy editing!

*Note: the updates to the Related Links box are currently available for www.wm.edu, business.wm.edu, law.wm.edu and education.wm.edu. It will become available for vims.edu in the coming months.


June 28, 2016
by University Web & Design
1 Comment

Lessons learned with Periscope and Facebook Live

I explained in my previous post how we came to start using live social video at William & Mary, now I’ll share some of the lessons learned from our first three broadcasts.

It doesn’t have to be a long planned out project

Our first two broadcasts were scheduled a week or so ahead of time. However, our most recent interview was put together in just a few hours. When all you need is a quiet-ish room, a good WiFi connection, and somewhere stable to put your iPhone, a broadcast can come together pretty quickly.

Have two people on camera if you can

Having two people on a broadcast makes things feel a bit more natural, and allows for some pre-generated questions if your community is quiet. For all three broadcasts we have had two people “on camera”. For the Periscope broadcast we interviewed Professor Settle and one of her research students together. This was great as they were able to interact with both each other and the audience asking questions. Plus, it showcased the relationship between our students and professors and how well they can work together. For the interview with John Dickerson we had asked for questions beforehand but did not receive any. We brainstormed questions in the days before, sent them to him so he had some idea of what we’d be asking, and then used those as the base of the interview the day-of. We followed a similar protocol for the interview with Professor Clemens.

Periscope may have been first, but Facebook Live is much more user friendly

Having comments not disappear is very useful, especially when the person running the broadcast is not the one on camera. For our first broadcast with Professor Settle, I was frantically writing down questions on a notepad as they came in on Periscope while someone else was keeping an eye on Twitter for questions. When something came in I’d raise my hand to get their attention and then read the question out loud off camera. It made things a bit awkward and honestly more stressful as I was afraid I would miss someone’s question.

Always download the raw video

Both Periscope and Facebook Live give you the option to download the raw video to your phone. As much as I’d like to trust these companies to seamlessly save the video for posterity, having a backup is always great. Plus, in the case of Periscope up until a few weeks ago, saving the video to your device was the only permanent copy of the broadcast. This also allows you to put the videos up on YouTube or another video hosting platform to use for other projects.

You must have good WiFi

Securing a solid WiFi connection was the biggest obstacle for us when we did the interview with John Dickerson. The show was being filmed in the historic Wren Building’s Great Hall which had weaker WiFi than Facebook preferred. Facebook won’t even let you start the broadcast if it doesn’t think your connection is sufficient. To ensure we had a good connection I found an ethernet port in a nearby room and ran cable to my MacBook and used that as a private WiFi hotspot to use during the broadcast and it worked great.

Stay stable with a tripod (real or makeshift)

A shaky video can be really annoying for your viewers, so try to avoid holding your device by hand if possible. A tripod is ideal but a makeshift one using books or office supplies will work just as well. The first time we used a file holder that could be placed on a nearby desk that cradled the iPad Air we were using for the broadcast. For the second interview we used a standard tripod with an iPhone 6 held by hand on top (that was a bit more precarious than I’d prefer, but worked nonetheless). For our most recent broadcast we commandeered a small clock stand and a large stack of books to get to our desired height and angle.

You don’t have to use special media equipment (but it’s nice if you have it)

For our first broadcast we used an iPad Air, for the following two we used my iPhone 6. The reason we transitioned was camera quality, the iPhone camera is leagues better than the iPad one overall. We used no external microphones and overall I think the quality and sound were good (or at least, what would be expected for a livestream). Whatever device you’re using, having good, clear audio is key for your broadcast so make sure you check and test this before going live.

We’ve discussed purchasing some external equipment and there are over a dozen live video services out there that integrate with Facebook Live so some improvements may be made (multi-camera options would be amazing) but the simple iPhone works great.

Always test first

We have a dummy Facebook page that we use to test each video before we go live. Before every broadcast we have done a test broadcast. This allows us to know exactly what to expect when going live, check audio quality, lighting, and the WiFi connection.


As you’re setting up your video be aware of how to frame your shot. Facebook Live will crop your video square when showing it in the feed so make sure your subjects are always in that square frame even if you’re filming in landscape. Also when framing your shot, keep in mind how your video will appear in the user’s Facebook feed: no sound. So try to make the visuals interesting on their own without the audio if you can.

Give people time

It will take a minute or two for your audience to get the notification that you’re live (if you’re not on a scheduled time for your broadcast) and folks will need to get onto Facebook and find your page so give them a little time before diving in to whatever the main topic of your video is. Spend this time introducing your topic, who you’re interviewing, what’s happening on campus, etc. Also, around halfway through your video it doesn’t hurt to reiterate whatever you said in your introduction to catch those that may have come in later in the broadcast.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will be launching a feature allowing you to pre-schedule broadcasts along with a “waiting room” for folks to wait in beforehand. They’re also going to allow two-person broadcasts (so folks from two different locations in the same stream) so that will be a nice feature as well whenever it gets released.

Have you tried one of the live social video platforms? What lessons have you learned?

~Tiffany Broadbent Beker

John Dickerson interviewed for W&M's Facebook Live, photo courtesy of Sarah Juliano

June 27, 2016
by University Web & Design

William & Mary’s forays into live social video

Finding great ways to use live streaming social video on campus had been on the agenda of the social media folks at William & Mary since Periscope launched in the spring of 2015. However, no great projects or ideas really materialized, as the ephemeral nature of the Periscope videos made it feel like it was a lot of work for something that would disappear after 24 hours (granted, Snapchat has a similar issue but it is a very different platform, and possibly another blog post).

When Facebook Live entered onto the scene last year and then opened up live video to all people and pages this past April, that seemed like the true tipping point for live social video as the biggest social network was throwing their hat in the ring. This presented a really interesting new (and more permanent) way to communicate with our audiences on social media and I knew this was a tool we needed to be utilizing at W&M.

In University Communications we are always looking for ways to showcase our great faculty and students. Offering a way for our entire community to interact with interesting W&M people in real time (and ideally discuss some of their research) via live social video on platforms where our audiences already existed was a great melding of trying out an new technology and tying in to part of our general social media strategy.

W&M did our first live social video in late March, interviewing Government professor Jaime Settle about politics and social media. We had planned to use both Periscope and Facebook Live simultaneously (because why not just dive in head first and try all the things?), but at that point Facebook Live was still being a bit squirrely as to whether it was available to all pages or not. The day of the broadcast Facebook didn’t cooperate so we just used Periscope.

Our first Facebook Live post was right before graduation in May, when Face the Nation was on campus to interview our chancellor and W&M alumnus Robert M. Gates. John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation, agreed to “Face the Tribe” in a short interview after they wrapped up filming of the show.

We completed our second Facebook live broadcast yesterday, talking to Government professor Clay Clemens about the the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

I think this new way to interact with our audience and showcase great folks from W&M is definitely staying in the rotation. There have been a few lessons learned from these first forays into live social video and I’ll share those in my next post.

~Tiffany Broadbent Beker

May 27, 2016
by University Web & Design
Comments Off on Cascade Tip of the Month: Consolidating Content using Collapsible Lists

Cascade Tip of the Month: Consolidating Content using Collapsible Lists

Do you need to present lists or sections of content on a single page that just keeps getting longer and longer? If you are looking to offer a more consolidated view of your content, the new collapsible list feature may be the right fit.

Check it out: www.wm.edu/offices/webanddesign/about/presentations/

How to create a collapsible list:

  • Create a one-column table with a row for each section of content to be collapsed.
  • Apply the “collapsible” style to the table (select the table, select collapsible from the Styles dropdown).
  • In each cell, start with either a Heading 5 or Heading 6 to serve as the clickable area to open/close your content.
  • Below the heading, enter the content to be collapsed in the same table cell. Repeat for each section of content, placing each section in its own table cell.
  • Save your page and preview it in Cascade to ensure all the sections behave as expected, then publish.

View the help page for more details: www.wm.edu/offices/webanddesign/web/cascade/help/buildandedit/tools/collapsible-list/

Happy editing!


April 26, 2016
by University Web & Design
Comments Off on Cascade Tip of the Month: Introducing the YouTube Rotating Widget

Cascade Tip of the Month: Introducing the YouTube Rotating Widget

It’s springtime on campus, which means colorful flowers, Frisbee in the Sunken Garden, tour groups galore and new web features! Many of us use widgets to highlight certain content on our pages, and YouTube widgets are a great way to showcase great video content. But how do you pick which video to feature? The YouTube widget we all know and love now has the same functionality as a rotating widget, and can feature up to five videos at a time*! Creating a new YouTube rotating widget—or adding videos to an existing one—is simple:

  • Create a new YouTube widget folder.
  • Edit the widget file.
  • Select the green plus sign to add additional videos.

Happy editing. And happy #wmInSpring!

*Note: the rotating video widget feature is currently available for www.wm.edu, business.wm.edu and law.wm.edu. It will become available for education.wm.edu and vims.edu in the coming months.


March 9, 2016
by University Web & Design
1 Comment

W&M’s Mason School of Business launches their design refresh

Old and New Business School homepage designsOver the past few months our office has been working to unite all of our graduate schools under our new brand and visual identity guidelines that were unveiled along with a new W&M website design over Charter Day 2015.

Today, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business joins the main W&M site and the Law School by incorporating the official university colors and the Business School logo prominently at the top of every page. New banners have been added to the site along with an expanded spotlight feature on the homepage to highlight even more great content coming from the student, staff and faculty at the Business School. We’ve also made the “Prospective Student” area more prominent on the homepage so those curious about the school can easily find the content they’re interested in.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your feedback.

~Tiffany Broadbent Beker

February 19, 2016
by University Web & Design
Comments Off on Cascade Tip of the Month: Help Spell Check Help You

Cascade Tip of the Month: Help Spell Check Help You

Has anyone ever pointed out a misspelling on one of your webpages? Spelling errors can be easy to overlook at times, especially since Cascade doesn’t notify us of our mistakes before submitting and publishing…or does it? It’s time for all of us to reduce those pesky typos and employ one of Cascade’s most under-utilized tools—the spell checker.

There are two different ways to eliminate misspellings on your site:
1. When editing your page, assemble all of your content just the way you want it and select the ABC/checkmark icon in the WYSIWYG editor. This will either let you know that no misspellings have been located on your page, or it will insert red squiggly lines to notify you of any errors.
2. In the bottom right corner in edit-mode you will see a link for “Advanced Options.” This will expand the bottom of your window and offer you the option to “check spelling.” By checking that box and submitting your page, Cascade will then notify you of any misspellings that you can either fix, ignore or add to your dictionary.

It can be easy to forget to use the spell checker, but it’s a good habit to form and a useful tool that is quick and easy to use.

Happy editing!