Humber College AdCentre measures its social performance

kcress    November 2, 2015

Humber pic 01 


Organization Name:  Humber College AdCentre

Industry:   Post-secondary Education

Contact:  Marilyn Cresswell, Director, Humber College AdCentre

Web References: Humber College,Humber College AdCentre, Social Media Examiner, HootSuite

About Humber College and the AdCentre

Founded in 1967, Humber College has evolved from a college of Applied Arts and Technology to a full polytechnic academic institution.  With two campuses in Toronto, Ontario and one in Orangeville, Ontario, Humber delivers more than 300 post graduate certificate, diploma and degree programs.  With this breadth of offering and a vision to “develop broadly educated, highly skilled and adaptable citizens who contribute locally, nationally and globally”, Humber justifiably prides itself on providing excellence in polytechnic education to its student population.

The College is divided into eight schools, led by faculty with advanced academic credentials and deep industry experience. The School of Media Studies and Information Technology,  one of the eight schools within the College,  delivers the largest combination of Media, Arts, and IT programs offered in any college in Canada.  Its mandate, which it communicates through various social media platforms, is to enable students to “tell their story through multiple platforms”.

To fully enable students to meet this mandate and to prepare students for the needs of a constantly changing workplace, the School of Media Studies and Information Technology recognized the need to provide students with real-life experience.  The School addressed this need with the creation of a “Live Lab”, known as the Humber AdCentre.

The Humber AdCentre connects students with clients. Clients choose the AdCentre because of the multidisciplinary approach to projects and the high level of creativity brought to each project by the students.  Clients, some of whom are repeat customers,  come from all industries, including for-profit, government and charitable organizations. Some of the recent work prepared by students of AdCentre include campaigns for Markham Board of Trade, Daily Bread Food Bank, the Alzheimer’s Society, Canada Bread (Dempsters), and the Ontario Association of Police Chiefs.

Watch these video interviews featuring a selection of Humber AdCentre clients:

The Challenges

In a recent conversation with Marilyn Cresswell, Director of the Humber AdCentre, and a Professor at the school, Professor Cresswell commented, “One of the challenges we face is related to measuring the value of the AdCentre. We strive to increase student learning and engagement in these “Live Lab” environments, all while recruiting potential clients to work within the established curriculum. As an educational institution, we work with limited budgets and resources to fund and market the Ad Center.  Like our clients, we too have resource constraints and must validate whether our efforts are realizing a return.”

The AdCentre needed methods for monitoring and measuring whether the AdCentre was viewed as an attractive element of the School of Media Studies and Information Technology. It also needed to measure whether the projects completed by the students were generating interest and referrals of potential new clients.

The Solution

With the well-defined goals of generating awareness of Humber AdCentre among students and potential clients, the team at the AdCentre chose to engage on a select number of social media properties.  According to Ms Cresswell “While our students are often engaged on multiple social media sites, we recognized that the most popular sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn would provide us with the reach we needed.  We also realized that monitoring and measuring tools were already in place on these sites—providing us with the basis metrics that we need to determine how successful our efforts are.”

The AdCentre approaches its measurement from both a quantitative and qualitative approach.

100711SocMedMetrics--use this one

According to Ms Cresswell, “We monitor our site traffic, and we measure changes, increases and decreases in fans, likes, views and shares.  We track the number of clients who learn of us via our social media and web properties.  This provides us with a snapshot of how our social media activity is performing.  On the qualitative side, we measure student sentiment in a less structured manner – we’re concerned with how students perceive the value of the AdCentre as a core element of their education in the School of Media Studies and Information Technology. Students comment in social media and also provide in-person comments to faculty.”

Produced for this blog post by students at Humber College, the following reportage-style video features Humber AdCentre Director Marilyn Cresswell discussing the use of social media metrics.

Lessons For Others

Measure, no matter your size. While the Humber Ad Center is educationally focused and won’t be listed as one of the worlds largest Ad agencies any time soon, it still needed to measure the success of its social media presence. Measurement helps to create a baseline from which the AdCentre team can build on and to set goals for future performance.

Listen to this audio interview with Marilyn Cresswell,  Director of the Humber AdCentre, on the value of measuring your social media properties:


Plan, according to your resources. The AdCentre has limited staff resources and a constant intake of new students working at the AdCentre. In order to effectively manage their social media properties, they’ve chosen to limit their platforms to those that they feel generate the most traffic. The AdCentre has also focused its measurement activities on tracking visits, likes, views and shares. With a targeted approach to content and measurement, the AdCentre is able to better manage its social media activities and successes.


Humber College believes in the value of preparing its graduates for the highly competitive workplace. One of the most effective tools for achieving this goal is the Humber AdCentre – one of the “live lab” opportunities at Humber that provides real-world work experience for students. Social media placement and measurement is a key component of the AdCentre’s goal of creating awareness among students and clients alike.

Submitted by: Kcress, University of Waterloo

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