A trip to New York City never disappoints, especially in the fall. Playoff baseball, beautiful parks with autumn colors, delicious bagels with pumpkin smear, and the Social Media Strategies Summit Higher Education, of course! For the last three years, I have been involved with SMSS leading discussions, presenting, or as part of a panel. It’s all thanks to the amazing person behind the scenes, Breanna Jacobs, who keeps asking me back. This year, more panels were on display and that seemed to work quite well, as more voices were heard, more institutions were able to participate, more social media directors told their story. There was also more sharing of information and case studies between the higher ed crowd, which spent most of the day sitting together, networking, mingling, and meeting new friends in the crystal ballroom inside the New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Highlights for me included the panel led by Harvard’s Mike Petroff, which was all about KPIs and measuring your social media performance. It was interesting to see how many people in our industry perform weekly and/or monthly reports, but only a few of us have the ear of our VPs or the administration to evaluate and look at our sometimes colorful, thought-provoking reports (which I really love reading, call me a nerd). I also enjoyed the panel that featured Miami University’s Kelly Bennett, Kristofer Karol from Indiana University, and Allison Matherly of Texas Tech talking video and appropriate length, style, and size for posting on various social media platforms. Very clever ideas from all schools and very informative on how to better use video to reach your audience. Lastly, Jon McBride and his coworkers at BYU had a very informative and amazing presentation on using Instagram Story to help sexual assault victims. Very powerful case study and something I hadn’t seen before — truly something unique. If you have not seen it, please reach out to Jon and his team and ask if you can at least view his slide deck.

The recurring theme that stuck with me at this conference was authenticity. It was about showing empathy, being trustful, and displaying honest content. I think this will only grow in the age of fake news cries and the overall mood of our country. If we’re up front and honest, showing real people and being transparent, it only helps our institutions grow and move forward.

For me, the best part of SMSS is meeting new people (photo courtesy of Kelly Bennett), catching up with my counterparts at other institutions, networking, and just being able to share stories and bounce ideas off each other. I love talking to as many institutions as I can to see what their social media team looks like and how they ‘re structured… It’s nice to find out you’re not the only school that has problems with barstool, right? The last night of the conference a few of us got together for dinner and it was delightful to talk social media and share stories of success and stories of frustration.

The size of this conference is perfect, it’s not overcrowded and you really get a chance to meet everyone. Finally, make sure you download all the slides for all the presentations and follow up with each panelists and presenter if you have questions. That’s why we’re there, to share knowledge and help you out.

Don’t be afraid to contact us!

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