4 Takeaways from Social Media Strategies Summit for Higher Education

Four people smiling
From left to right: Jason Boucher, Kimberly Stern, Kirsten Clark, Webb Lewis at the Social Media Strategies Summit Higher Education

This is a HESM appreciation post.

An unexpected perk of working in higher ed social media is that there is a really wonderful community of colleagues across the nation and world who also work in higher ed social media (HESM). I cannot fully put into words the deep sense of gratitude and appreciation I have for the HESM community.

Our industry is constantly evolving. It’s complex. Our jobs can be non-stop, demanding and stressful. We see the best and the worst of the internet. It can be a lot, and it is helpful to have a community of peers to tap into for support and encouragement.

I attended the Social Media Strategies Summit for Higher Education in NYC in October and had the best time learning from pros within the industry. As part of the summit, I had the opportunity to serve on a panel with Jason Boucher (University of New Hampshire), Kirsten Clark (University of Houston) and Webb Lewis (University of Mississippi). We talked about ways our respective institutions approach student recruitment through the lens of authenticity on social media. Jason has a wonderful recap of our discussion, Student Recruitment Efforts and Authenticity – Strategies for Reaching and Engaging Prospective Students.

The following are some of my favorite takeaways and examples from the summit.

1. Facebook projects that 74% of all content on its platform will be video by next year

That is remarkable. Video is and continues to be critical in social media content strategies. Charlie Chin from Facebook said that advertisers have two seconds to get users attention on Facebook and Instagram. He offered the following tips regarding video ads on Facebook:

  • Less than 15 seconds
  • Include the call to action early
  • Vertical format
  • Include text on screen (videos auto-play with the sound off)

He encouraged marketers to add motion to their creative concepts, particularly ads. People scroll through 300 feet of content a day and motion catches attention.

2. NYU’s We Don’t Have Football: So What?

I really enjoyed hearing from NYU’s Eileen Reynolds talk about New York University’s strategy to lean into the fact that the NYU college experience doesn’t include football. They created a video series celebrating members of their community doing non-football things such as the Table Tennis Male Athlete of the Year and a World Cup Archer. Brilliant.

3. Notre Dame faculty research on Instagram Stories

Liz Harter from Notre Dame is doing some innovative work on Instagram Stories to showcase faculty research. The human heart project and Women Lead highlights are great examples of translating a long-form story into Stories. Users can swipe up to read the full stories.

4. #MSURoadTrip

Ellen Doepke and a few of her marketing/communications colleagues from Michigan State University hit the road for about a month a few summers ago to explore MSU’s impact across the state. They specifically were highlighting the impact of the university’s research in Michigan. The Great State Road Trip showed how Spartans were making Michigan a place of opportunity, innovation and prosperity. Ellen and her team created hundreds of pieces of social content for this campaign. Really appreciate this deep dive initiative to showcase research and discovery stories.

There is so much good work happening in the higher ed social and digital communications space. Shoutout to the HESM community! Big thank you to Breanna Jacobs for organizing this year’s Social Media Strategies Summit for Higher Education.