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A Half Million Likes on Facebook: Cisco Networking Academy Uses Social Media to Engage and Educate

Hilal_ChoumanThis post was written by Hilal Chouman, social media strategist for Cisco Networking Academy

Since late 2009, Cisco Networking Academy (NetAcad), one of Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, has been present on various social media networks. The earliest presence was on the rising social network of that time: Facebook.

In late 2010, NetAcad’s Facebook page hit its first 100,000 likes. After this milestone, the Facebook page continued its growth, following the growth of the number of students in the NetAcad program.

Today, NetAcad’s Facebook page hit a half million likes (fans).

Cisco Networking Academy 500K Fans

It is amazing how a social presence can accelerate in content and size, as soon as it grasps the right connection with the audience.

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Hershey Teams Up with Cisco to Deliver Telepresence to Students in Ghana

I’ve always liked The Hershey Company. Before now it was mostly for the delicious morsels they stack candy shelves with, but now I’m even more impressed with the company because of what it’s doing for the underprivileged youth in both the U.S. and Ghana.

In the summer of 2012, Cisco’s own Ed Schermerhorn worked with Hershey to help deliver telepresence to 80 elementary students in the U.S. and Ghana. The goal of the project? To provide an enriched educational experience by creating a collaborative learning environment where students were provided with curriculum developed by teachers in both Hershey, Pennsylvania and Ghana.

It’s such an interesting story and quite an adventure Ed went on. To hear more about his journey, read about it first hand in Ed’s latest post: A Delicious Experience: Connecting Kids in Rural Ghana with Kids at Hershey’s via Telepresence

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Systematic Transformation: The Intersection with Technology in a Journey Toward the Future– Part Four of Six

Single Student LabPart Four of a Six-Part Series: Modernizing Teaching and Learning in the U.S.

Part four will focus on the critical role education leaders play in the intersection of technology and the future of learning.  Previous parts of this series included:

  1. The Need for Change
  2. Challenges in Changing the System
  3. Systematic Change and Navigating Culture

Higher education leaders know that in addition to addressing their culture, they also need to modernize teaching and learning. The most innovative educators are using new technologies to do this. But rather than implementing technology for technology’s sake, these educators are closely examining their current modes of curriculum and instruction, and thoughtfully implementing technology where it makes the most sense and can have the greatest impact.

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A Delicious Experience: Connecting Kids in Rural Ghana with Kids at Hershey’s via Telepresence

I am often asked what it takes to create a successful telepresence experience. Usually, I respond with requirements like: a high-speed network, great lighting, good acoustic space and the right equipment. However, after a trip I took late last year, I’m going to add “stable power” to the list, and here’s why.

In late 2011, my customer The Hershey Company – you may have heard of them – invited me to be involved with a new project they were kicking off with the goal to enrich the education of underprivileged youth in both the U.S. and Ghana. Hershey wanted to create a common, virtual classroom so 80 elementary students could learn together based on a curriculum developed by teachers in both Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Ghana. The obstacle they faced was how to connect the students, which ultimately led to my visit to Ghana.

Throughout the summer of 2012, I worked with the Hershey Telepresence support team to equip a space at the Milton S. Hershey Foundation headquarters with a C90 codec, two Precision HD cameras, an AudioScience Microphone array, a document camera and some displays. The plan was to duplicate this setup at the Assin Fosu school in Ghana. The ever-revealing reality of a “less than ideal” environment for telepresence required scaling back the Ghana design to an SX20 codec, one display, two microphones and a document camera. The endpoints at both locations were then registered to a VCS Expressway to enable firewall traversal and easy connections across the public Internet.

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5 Tips to Becoming a “Savvy” Social Media Marketer

Where do you go to find social media tips, statistics, trends, and best practices? I recently attended the Social Media for Savvy Marketers event hosted by Cisco featuring speakers from Twitter, SAP, Adobe, BuzzFeed,, Percolate, and more. The two-day event brought candid conversations, interactive panel sessions, and an engaging way to learn how B2B and B2C brands are using social. When else can you hear from industry experts on the hottest trends in social media and learn best practices to leverage for your next social media campaign? If you missed out on this thought provoking event, below are my takeaways from the event.

savvy event picture 2        savvy event picture 1

5 Tips to Becoming a “Savvy” Social Media Marketer:

Tip #1: A Social Business Starts with your Executives: According to a social media statistic from eMarketer, “82% of employees say they trust a company more when CEO and leadership teams are involved in social.” Jeanette Gibson, Senior Director, Global Social Media Marketing at Cisco, shared that Cisco placed a monitor including a Twitter feed outside of CEO John Chamber’s office, showing the importance of the customer conversation. This was the first step Cisco made in transforming to a social business.  Additionally, Gibson noted, “Help your business to be S.O.C.I.A.L.: Scalable, Open, Consistent, Intuitive, Active, and Limitless”, showcasing the social conversation highlights of what is being said about your brand. The conversation is happening across channels and brands shouldn’t miss out.

Tip #2: Listening is the First Step of a Social Strategy: At each stage of a social media strategy, listening is critical. Before jumping into any conversation, we must pay attention to what is being said and then engage accordingly with that particular audience.  LaSandra Brill, Manager, Global Social Media Marketing at Cisco, shared the significance of listening as she discussed the importance of Social CRM. Brill noted that “85% of Tech buyers engage in some form of social activity.” Listening to what your customers are saying and are interested in allows for targeted offers to be sent to customers increasing the propensity to buy. Note: be sure to be clever vs. creepy with the targeted offers.

Tip #3: Content is King and Distribution is Queen: Creating good “snackable” content is critical to increasing the reach of the conversation. Video is quickly becoming the next generation of content as it is fun and engaging.  Matt Rozen, Group Manager Corporate Social Media of Adobe, shared his thoughts, “the best part of video is the measurable traffic. Video was just 10% of impressions, but drove 50% of site visits.” Content can engage an audience and keep them active in the conversation. On day two of the event, James Gross, Co-Founder of Percolate, advised “If we reshape how we create content, we will shift from renting audience to owning it.” Ultimately, I think Jonathan Perelman, VP Agency Strategy & Industry Development at Buzzfeed, summed up the idea of content most eloquently, “Content is King and distribution is queen.” Create great content and then let your fans share it. Once you have this great content, don’t forget to integrate search: include keywords, hashtags, and tagging!

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