The 2018 Massachusetts Marketing Summit, presented by IC Summits, took place just before the holidays at the Westin near Copley Square Boston. I was honored to be asked onto a panel all about social media trends and what’s next. I shared the panel with Melanie Cohn from Dunkin’ Brands, Ann Unger of Puma, and Kim Currier of Nightshift Brewing Company. I had lots of support from several colleagues from the University of New Hampshire who were also in attendance.

IC Summits - Boston
Colleagues from The University of New Hampshire in attendance

The panel discussed many things, including our favorite social media platform right now, which was unanimous… it’s Instagram. Photos speak louder than text, and not much needs to be your content is engaging, right? At UNH, Instagram gives us the opportunity to tell our story through photos and some videos. It gives our 25K followers great insight into what our campus looks like, what we do, how we do it, and all that is waiting for you in Durham if you apply.

Add Instagram Stories to the mix and we have new content every day, most of which is created by our student staff – Why? Because it’s authentic, real, and we get 1000% more views then we ever did with Snapchat. Our social strategy has shifted towards Generation Z, as they are becoming a more powerful. We have chosen to include real photos and real videos, meaning less polished and from the perspective of a student. Gen Z doesn’t care if students look dirty and are not smiling in photos, as long as it’s real and engaging, delivering a message that resonates with them, whether its performing research in the field, volunteering with the homeless, working at an internship, or just sitting in the dorm – as long as it’s authentic content. Gen Z sees right through traditional marketing techniques, so don’t stage photos and don’t curate diversity, instead have real moments. What might not be interesting to us is what Gen Z is all about. Less me and more we.

We also discussed emerging technologies that are playing a future role for our brand in regards to social media. Emerging technologies like AR / VR, which is getting there. UNH has virtual tours of campus available now, but I’d like to see us dig deeper and provide more VR experiences with our research programs and around all three of our campus locations. It can help attract long-distance applicants to choose our campus since they might not be able to visit prior to applying.

Another great topic was the role of “influencers” for our brand on social media. Where we actually shine is with micro-influencers… Those are the prospective students that apply, accept, and then share the great news on social media with UNH branded posts. Whether it’s a sweatshirt, pennant, hat, or the package they received in the mail from admissions, its shared with their followers, many who are high school friends that get exposed to the UNH brand for the first time by their friend’s posts.

What’s next? Is there a new social channel rising to the top for our brand Not yet, but we’re watching Lasso (a TikTok competitor created by Facebook). It lets users create fun, short 15-second videos with music and text and is very reminiscent of Vine. Lasso is Facebook’s latest bid to win over teens, who are either leaving Facebook or simply not interested…

Finally, we were asked what’s our biggest challenge in social. Easy — It’s ROI and social media’s overall value. How much should we spend on promoted posts or social media ads? With Facebook’s crazy algorithms and engagement numbers shrinking all over the place, we need to measure consumption data, meaning how many people watch our videos, click the links in our social media posts, or click to play our videos – they may not share, comment, or like the post, but they’re still in some way consuming the post and still watching our content.

I’m looking forward to the 2019 Massachusetts Marketing Summit presented by IC Summits on Thursday, December 5th, 2019 already! I hope to see you there.