eduWeb Digital Summit #eduweb15 Recap

[Side note: I would normally use Storify for a recap like this but I didn’t capture the tweets at the time so it’s now easier to embed them manually. I used Storify to recap my first digital/social media campaign (in 2011) and other events. I’ve also used it as a resume of sorts back when I was looking for a job after grad school. More recently, I’ve used it as a sort of storage locker of things I’ve done that have gotten me to this point. My hope it that (even without any comments), it shows the progression of my experience in higher ed marketing starting with blogging for Mount Allison seven years ago to some recent posts on Analytics.

Anyways, all of that is just to say: Storify is a great tool, it just isn’t right for this post. Also, given the embeds, I’m not using standard English grammatical conventions so…sorry if that bothers you.]

So conferences can be pretty overwhelming with the amount of information offered in them. I’ve been to/organized a dozen different workshops/conferences/summits/whatever you want to call them (at different times/for different reasons) and I think so far #eduweb15 has matched my specific needs and interests the most specifically (as a web communicator/marketer). An important note is that I haven’t yet been to many other conferences (among them #heweb, #casesmc, and #pseweb, about which I’ve heard great things).

For this conference, I had done a lot of research and had put together a lot of the presenters in a Twitter list (this being the first time nearly everyone I interacted with used Twitter regularly).

The days were pretty jam-packed, starting early and going late (including organized events, including one by Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Some of the most interesting sessions reviewed the history of video production from mini DV

to modern day drones

and included the planning stages of video production

At one point, a keynote speaker, @sree, noted that I was the only K-12 (N-12, really) person at the conference. I attended because higher ed institutions are generally more advanced in terms of digital marketing and are generally more willing to share their more advanced tactics, which seemed like a great reason to attend.

Independent school and higher ed marketing have a number of important differences, however, there is a lot of knowledge/skill that is transferable between the two. As evidence, independent school communication leaders, including Peter Baron, found information from the conference’s Twitter stream to be true for independent schools as well.

Many of the outreach strategies could be optimized with creating a content strategy beforehand:

There were a number of sessions (thankfully), that focused on Google Analytics and I was able to share my experience and suggestion for beginners to start with Analytics Academy

Others at the conference helped tell the story of portions of the conference, including this Storify by Jason Smith of OHO Interactive.

Day two began (at least for me) with many opening up about not using remarketing in their digital efforts.

The conference was to many (including myself) in part, a call-to-action to take full advantage the full range of social media marketing tools and featured. The insights from hands-on use add tremendously to even the knowledge that Facebook itself shares with advertisers.

The keynote lunch by Higher Ed web professional Mark Greenfield was a commiseration about issues caused by the structure/nature of institutions of learning.

There was also some immediately practical advice on advertising, for instance, making the most of your AdWords dollars

In addition to hearing from seasoned experts who had spent decades in the field, the organizers included fresh ideas, including many from Morgan Day (of OU’s Web Communications team).

She shared her thoughts on traditional communications work which, judging from the room’s reaction, resonated with many in the field:

As the communication habits of the target audience of college change rapidly, higher ed has to adapt. Despite some controversy surrounding reddit, recent developments (including many high-profile IAmAs and leadership/policy changes), reddit is now useful for sharing knowledge/expertise.

As the conference wore on, the changing nature of website use was discussed. The current reality is that users are less apt to do what higher ed professionals want them to do by default, and therefore inbound marketing and lead nurturing is becoming more and more necessary. This fact was illustrated more succinctly with this cartoon

There were many implications that affect both higher ed and independent schools, including so called “ghost applicants” or in Carnegie Communications’ vernacular (which I prefer), “non-compliant prospects”.

Carnegie Communications also shared insights from some anonymized reports because it’s not really the data that’s most valuable, it’s the ability to collect and interpret the data effectively which makes analytics so important.

One of the more novel talks included the input of a presenter’s daughter (a rising senior who has already made her college choice)

Next up was a session from LunaMetrics, a Google Analytics Certified Partner. I was a pretty big fan of the company already.

The talk was right to the point about which dashboards can be immediately helpful and some reports that would be helpful to have sent on a regular basis.

I’ve used/made custom dashboards for quite a while so I shared some thoughts that might be helpful

[It should be noted that sharing dashboards shares the layout/’queries’, so to speak, but not any actual data.]

The conference ended on a high note from Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel + Education Strategy at Facebook. I think one of the most useful points he made was the ability Facebook has to find lookalike audiences similar to a defined set of people

and how quickly you want people to see your content after they’ve left your site

(hence the importance of remarketing).

So it was a great conference in terms of the sessions but also in the type of people it attracts. I made a number of contacts, including a fellow web communications person who just to happens to work at a school in Greater Philadelphia.

Anyways, that’s my recap. As future organizer Chris Barrows points out, there were many tweeting at #eduweb15. Mine is just one of many perspectives.

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About Geoff Campbell

Geoff Campbell is an Assistant Director, Communications & Marketing at American University.

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