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Did you miss the #HEW19 conference on June 5? Watch it on-demand!

The 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference was a really fun and engaging experience (check out the pics!) for all the American, Canadian and Australian schools in attendance – and you can now get it on-demand!

The 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference was full of fresh ideas, best practices, great takeaways in the sessions as well as the Q&A session – with all the speakers on screen – we streamed live on Facebook (totally unfiltered as you’ll see with the mix-up at the beginning)!

More coming soon!

Whether you registered for the live conference or get it now on-demand, you will also get access to an extra bonus session (the 13th one!) to be released on-demand this month – at no extra cost :)

Website Redesign Process: From Discovery to Information Architecture
Ryan MacDowell, Communications Strategist at MIT’s Teaching + Learning Lab
(to be released on June 19)

How do you redesign a website to better support faculty, staff and administrators to create an educational environment where students are academically challenged and actively engaged? That’s what the MIT Teaching + Learning Laboratory went through over the past year. In this case study, Ryan MacDowell shares the internal process undertaken to establish and maintain clarity, while overcoming decision-making challenges during the discovery and site planning phases.

A conference focusing on higher ed WEBSITES?

The 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference is a must for higher ed web professionals and teams looking for inspiration, ideas and best practices to kick off their summer projects.

Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference say about the experience.

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Did you miss the #HECO19 conference in April? Watch it on-demand!

The 2019 Higher Ed Content Conference was a really fun and engaging experience (check out the pics!) for all the American and Canadian teams in attendance a couple of weeks ago – and you can now get it on-demand!

The HECO19 conference was full of great takeaways, fresh ideas and surprises including a 27-min Q&A session with all the speakers on screen we streamed live on Facebook (skip the first minute for the start :)!

Extras, Extras, Extras!

Whether you registered for the live conference or get it now on-demand, you will get access to the 3 following bonus sessions (which brings the total to 15) to be released on-demand this month – at no extra cost :)

Repurposing content through digital channels: How to do a lot with a little (to be released on May 1st)
Salma Nawlo, Assistant Director of Communications – Florida Southern College

Your campus community is always bustling with news about a professor, a student or an alum. Rewards and recognitions, hands on collaborations and partnerships, internship and outcome successes — those are the stories that matter and the ones we cover. But digital content rarely lives to see another day. In this session, Salma Nawlo will show how you can efficiently and effectively bring all this content back to life — often. You’ll get tips, tricks and ideas to make the most of all the content distribution channels at your disposal.

Ask Me Anything: Instant Gratification on Instagram Stories (to be released on May 15)
Ashley Muckway, Digital Marketing Assistant – Fort Lewis College

Today’s students don’t want to wait – they want everything RIGHT NOW! From chatbots on websites to overnight shipping, you can see this trend everywhere. In this session, Ashley Muckway will talk about how we can deliver instant gratification on social media, specifically through Instagram Stories. The new “ask me anything” (AMA) feature on Instagram Stories opens a casual means of communication between the user and the school, leading the students to feel more comfortable about asking the “small” questions. You’ll learn how easy it is to start, promote and deliver an AMA session to provide engaging and informative content to your audience.

How I Created a Digital Magazine and Content Hub for Virtually Nothing (to be released on May 29)
Laura Braddick, Assistant to the Dean, Strategic Communications – Towson University College of Business and Economics

For years, the college had been producing a great print magazine for business school alums and donors. It was long past time to put the content online, but with no budget and virtually no resources to build a separate magazine site, we got creative and used resources already available to us on campus to develop a beautiful digital magazine using WordPress. Not only is our magazine now fully online, but it created a platform for publishing content we can push out through social media. We can also track metrics with Google Analytics and much more. All of this was done with no extra hard costs out of our department’s budget.

A conference focusing on higher ed content?

The Higher Ed Content Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed content professionals and teams looking for new ideas and best practices.

Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Content Conference say about the experience.

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What do content creation processes look like in higher education?

Not in theory, not in conference presentations, not in 280 characters (or more), but in reality?

While we all have access to the great content created by our professional peers, it’s rare to get details on the different processes behind the higher ed content we see published on the web or shared on social media.

So, I asked the speakers of the 2019 Higher Ed Content Conference to share how the “content sausage” is made at their school.

Check out these 12 takes on the higher ed content process and get inspired!

#1 Corie Martin, Director Web Services & Digital Marketing – Western Kentucky University

At WKU, our content strategy is collaborative, theme-based, and emotion-driven. It is guided by the prospective student recruitment cycle; by the first semester, first year student experience; and by our mission to remain a student-centered, applied research institution.

We start each academic year (August-July) by taking an actual calendar, which in our case is a shared Google calendar, and we assign a theme to each month that will then drive our content.

Typically, the themes we choose are based on things that prospective families would want to know about our institution based on where those students might be in the recruitment cycle/funnel. For example, January had a theme of, “New Beginnings”, because it represents a new year, a new academic term, and many prospective students are making their college decisions during this time. We also consider the emotions that are tied to various stages of the college choice process such as excitement or anxiety, and we strive to produce content that either evokes or calms those emotions.

At the same time, we are also producing content that will assist our current students, particularly our first-year students who need more support and assistance. Understanding that involvement and engagement are keys to student retention, in February, our theme was “Broaden Your Horizons”, which highlighted ways to get involved and extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom. For a week we covered study abroad, for another week we covered internship opportunities, we also covered volunteerism activities. These content pieces also spoke to prospective students who are beginning to research and become excited about all the diverse opportunities that are available to them in college.

Our content strategy is collaborative because we utilize our entire campus community to help us find out what programs and students to feature. Representatives from each of our five academic colleges feed us content, as do a variety of student service offices.

We also use a team of volunteer social media squad students to produce this content. Our marketing team is fairly small for an institution our size, so we all jump in to help to create content pieces that are disseminated via newsletter, news blog, and social media.

We are also in the process of creating messaging and timing for various audiences on various platforms, all based on data. We use personas to keep us focused on the audience for whom we are producing content and we no longer just produce one piece of content for all audiences, as not all audiences are in the same place at the same time.

#2 Jeanna Balreira, Creative Director – Trinity University

At Trinity, content is collaborative.

The Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing produces written, video, and photographic content for print and digital distribution.

Most content can be categorized as being “partnership” content—produced for partners in enrollment, alumni relations, development, and the Office of the President—and “campus” content, brand stories that highlight faculty, students, staff, and campus news. Our team has a staff video producer, creative producer, brand journalist, digital marketing manager, managing editor, and creative director; we produce stories broadcast on our website (thanks to our awesome web team), published in print (thanks to our great designers), and shared on social (thanks to a team of great interns).

In a weekly meeting, the content team discusses upcoming stories and topics as well as any urgent communication that needs to be written for the campus. Throughout the week, story creators discuss their progress with the managing editor, who works closely with the digital marketing manager to schedule timely communications for our prospective students, alumni, and everyone in between.

Constructive, collaborative feedback is vital to our process: everyone on the content team is empowered to both teach and learn as we evaluate success. This includes crossing media, as writers can give feedback on videos, creatives can give feedback on writing, etc. This allows us to think like different viewers—which we are!

#3 Salma Nawlo, Assistant Director of Communications – Florida Southern College

Florida Southern College’s Enrollment Marketing team of four is mainly responsible for prospective student outreach. The material produced comes in the form of web, print, social, and email.

Collecting content to feed these platforms requires reaching out to the various college community members, which would include professors, staff members, current students, and even alumni. The information collected from these members typically consists of the “latest happenings” on campus, which can be about engaged learning experiences, recognition and awards, internships, study abroad experiences — or anything else, college-related that can be shared with high school counselors, prospective students, and even their parents.

My job as the assistant director of communications is to collect this content by way of creative methods. Over time, I have developed programs and partnerships with multiple areas on campus that would allow content to be fed through consistently.

For example, our partnership with the Student Travel Office brings in student blogs from each of the study abroad trips we host. These blogs serve as testimonials and engaging stories that we can repurpose for the various platforms. I also have an agreement with certain professors who are happy to blog once a month about their field. In these blogs, they talk about their one-on-one relationships, their brilliant students, or just their expertise in general.

#4 Jeff Bunch, Web Content Strategist – Gonzaga University

We’ve changed the cadence of our core storytellers team to have more regular check-in meetings as we attempt to tell more stories across campus for both internal and external audiences.

We’ve also invited key departments on campus into our meetings each semester to share current initiatives with us. As a member of the web and storytelling teams, my role continues to be a web liaison between the two functions in our division and to help envision content within new sections of our website to execute on our broader strategies.

In the past year, we’ve created collections of content to better draw in viewers and help them find similar content more easily.

Our biggest success was our 2018 graduation section, where we executed a plan for all graduations on campus. Our biggest story out of those efforts was simply publishing the transcript of the undergraduate speaker address, “Cannonball: A Gift to Gonzaga Grads,” which went viral nationally across Jesuit websites.

#5 Janet Gillis, Communications & Marketing Officer – USF College of Engineering

At the University of South Florida College of Engineering our content creation process started by building strong relationships with key stakeholders in the College and across the University. The faculty and students know we are the go-to folks for getting their stories out. They are comfortable reaching out with information about research funding, awards, community outreach events, alumni and donor gifts.

I also get information from the research and innovation division and sometimes at the university communications level. While I’ve never been a reporter, I imagine this is like having a beat. Engineering is our beat and we work it and keep in close communication with the principals in the beat.

In my opinion, you can’t be successful unless you make the effort to build these relationships. I’ve been the primary relationship holder for the past 10 years, but I am currently grooming my communications specialists to start building these relationships, as well.

#6 Shay Galto, Manager of Marketing Analytics – University of Denver

As the Manager of Marketing Analytics, my role is to work with our content team throughout the creation process and to analyze the success of the content after it has been displayed. As frequently as possible, we work together at onset to establish key performance indicators (KPI) for our website, social, and written content.

From there, we build out a map that loads the content into our KPI buckets. Our Content Manager or Manager of Social then works with campus constituents to build the content. Whether the content is displayed through web, email, or social, we all work together to make sure we are appropriately tracking and analyzing the content.

We later use the analysis to inform future content based on what resonated most with our constituents. What makes all of this work so well is the collaboration between the teams involved. Our content team does an outstanding job keeping all of the pieces moving in the same direction. We could improve by performing this process throughout all of our projects (even the last minute ones!).

#7 Emily Mayock, Online Communications AVP – Case Western Reserve University

No matter what the piece of content is, its creation is almost always a collaboration in some way—whether we start with a brainstorming meeting, shoot a quick email or Gchat to another person for their take on an idea, get help with a great lede, or even write solo but come together to transform the words into a website, print piece or social media campaign.

I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team of creative people to make content in nearly all media. But probably my favorite things to work on are websites—where my team and I can see our ideas evolve from a black-and-white Google doc into an interactive, exciting platform that can inspire and educate people.

Honestly, content creation works well, because our team works well—the only thing I’d change is the ability to have more time to plan ahead!

#8 Rebecca Stapley, Assistant Director of Social Media – Nazareth College

On my team, for our larger content needs like a specific project or campaign (Giving Day or Admissions Search, for example), we will often begin with a kickoff meeting and brainstorm.

In this meeting we’ll address our goals and objectives, audience, channels (most of our projects are integrated at this point: combo of web, social and print) and review past content to assess our needs moving forward. We’ll then transition into brainstorming and idea mode. We’re always looking to elevate or transform ways to tell the Nazareth College story to help us meet our larger goals.

When we have a solid foundation of ideas and content leads, we always conclude with next steps, deadlines and project management roles. While brainstorming, big picture thinking and idea generation will always be my favorite part of the content process. I’ve grown to deeply value and appreciate the less exciting aspect of project management to keep myself and the team on-task. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking of a project milestone, no matter how big or small.

#9 Kelly Bennett, Manager of Social Media and Marketing Strategy – Miami University (Ohio)

At Miami University, our university communication and marketing content team, comprised of writers, photographers, and designers, gathers weekly and bi-weekly to plan short term content for the week ahead and long-term content for the month and semester ahead. We work through the filter of presidential priorities to define where to focus our efforts.

What works well is getting all the right people in the room to brainstorm and share ideas. Something that could improve the process would be adding a sub-group specific to defining the content needs for social media and how all areas can work together to provide the content that’s timely and relevant in a fast-paced space.

#10 Jon-Stephen Stansel, Digital Media Specialist – University of Central Arkansas

Like many schools, our social media department is a team of one.

So, I create the bulk of the content myself. Whenever possible, I try to recycle assets created for other areas, reformatting it to work in each social network.

For example, I might take a graphic element that was designed for a print piece and turn it into a GIF sticker or a Snapchat filter. The idea for our GIPHY channel came from this method, when our photographer had a photo shoot with the mascot for another project. I said, “Hey, while we’ve got the mascot here, let’s grab some video and create some GIFs” and it became one of our most successful projects.

#11 Andrew Cassel, Social Content Strategist – University of Alaska Fairbanks

I curate content from wherever I can find it.

Some days it’s super easy. A new press release is posted on the news site and I can share it from there. The campus photographer has captured a new a beautiful image that communicates a strong sense of place. A volcano webcam captured a beautiful sunset in remote Alaska. I just craft a post for the news release, share the image, or create a short video or GIF from the webcam footage. Those are normal paths and get content out on the platforms.

Then, I create some content myself. I curate playlists for Spotify, make a pop culture GIF to get engagement for a post about deadlines. For the weekends, I try to share evergreen content like student profiles and dig into online sources of entertainment. The library has subscriptions to video streaming catalogs and electronic libraries. Those are great things to share in the evenings or other times when I want to be present in people’s feeds but not be reminding them of deadlines or to do their homework.

My ultimate goal with social media for my school is to be a cool friend that offers good information and small moments of delight. The content recipe to achieve is a tasty mix of content provided by others and a content created by me.

#12 Derek DuPont, Social Media Manager – The Ohio State University

Our first step in creating content is to get really focused on the question of, “who is this for?”

Once we identify our primary audience(s) this helps us determine which platform(s) the content will be created for. From here, we are able to start the process of brainstorming the creative approach and medium with audience and platform strategy in mind. In my role, I work to merge these strategies with the content our teams are creating to maximize the effectiveness of the final product.

A conference focusing on higher ed content?

The Higher Ed Content Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed content professionals and teams looking for new ideas and best practices.

Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Content Conference say about the experience.

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Looking for great presentations for the 2019 Higher Ed Content Conference (April 17)

Welcoming hundreds of participants from close to 70 different institutions based in the US and Canada in April 2018, the 5th edition of the Higher Ed Content Conference was a big success.

This online conference focusing only on content strategy and content processes for higher education will be back this year on April 17, 2019 – and YOU can be part of it and help make it as good as (or even better than) its previous editions with your 10-min presentation proposals!

Top 5 reasons to present at the 2019 Higher Ed Content Conference?
  1. this online conference focuses entirely on content in higher education, so you get to connect and interact with content professionals facing similar challenges
  2. it’s composed of 10-minute sessions, so – as a presenter and a busy content strategist, manager or producer – you can focus on the essential and deliver an A-game presentation (no extra fluff needed :-)
  3. it’s an opportunity to present with top voices in higher ed content
  4. it’s a great way to get noticed by your peers or other conference organizers interested in content issues for higher education (even if you’ve never presented before at industry events)
  5. it doesn’t require a budget to present AND will even help you save some professional development money, because there is no need to travel AND presenters receive a free pass to attend this great online conference WITH their team (it’s worth $500).

Want to help advance content strategy and practices in higher education?

Make sure you share your expertise and experience by submitting your presentation proposal for the 2019 Higher Ed Content Conference. The sessions will be 10-minute long, so you only have the time to focus on the most important and useful points.

Please submit your proposal before Feb 13 (next week!), so you don’t miss this great opportunity for your higher ed career :-)

The February 13 deadline to submit a proposal is a hard deadline – it won’t be postponed, because the conference program will be announced on February 20, 2019. So, whether or not your proposal is accepted, you will get notified super fast.

Not ready to present, but want to attend the conference?

We will have a limited number of seats as the online room is capped.

You can register now and secure your seat via credit card

Got questions?

I love questions! Just post your question(s) below or you can also email karine@higheredexperts.com

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When you do analytics work, analyzing the data and unearthing analytics insights are only half the battle. They are crucial steps, but nothing that matters will get done if you can’t drive decision makers to action.

So, how can you share and present analytics reports that drive action?

This part of the measurement process is more art than science in higher ed marketing and communication where there isn’t a strong data-driven culture.

So, I asked the 11 higher ed professionals speaking, by my side, at the 2019 Higher Ed Analytics Conference to share their top tips to present effectively analytics reports that lead to change.

Think first about how you’ll share for Karine Joly, Higher Ed Experts Director

Stop looking at reporting as something that is disjointed from the strategic part – and only done to prove you measured something (anything?). Start to think about how you will share data, insights and recommendations as soon as you identify your digital objectives and KPIs.

If you can’t communicate your findings to help decision-makers do their job, what’s the point in doing all this analytics work?

In our new 4-week online courses on higher ed analytics, we even avoid using the word “report” altogether (replacing it with “share” whenever possible), because this key stage of the measurement process comes with a lot of baggage, the expectation that it’s only meant to spew out data in long tables of infinite scrolling and colorful charts. On the contrary, this last step in the iterative measurement cycle should be seen as a launch ramp for decisions and actions. If it sounds like more work, it doesn’t have to be. We’re talking about a cycle, so you can iterate your way to better and better analytics reports.

Start with the takeaways, not metrics for Jessica Stutt, Integrated Marketing Manager – University of New Brunswick

When you’re presenting to decision makers you really want to make sure you’re being as clear and concise as possible. These are busy people who likely don’t know the ins and outs of the data you’re presenting.

The key is quality over quantity here. Don’t inundate them with every cool Google Analytics metric you can find. (Save that for your fellow higher ed marketing nerds!). Instead, present them with the key takeaways up front and one or two metrics that support those. For example, give them a report that says ‘We’ve succeeded in increasing international prospective student traffic to key admissions pages” and then include one or two visualizations demonstrating the demographic data you’re referencing.

Also, regularly share results with them. Decision makers understand the value of reporting! If you’ve gotten approval of funding to try something new, make sure you follow up with a report on how that effort delivered on its objectives. If it didn’t work, report on it. Explain your evaluation of how the effort can be improved/optimized next time.

All of this can really help to ensure you continue to get investment to support your efforts.

Help them make better decisions for Mandee Englert, Digital Strategist – Penn State University

Sharing analytics reports that drive action is always a challenge, it isn’t always about analyzing the data itself, it is really about mapping it back with what stakeholders want to see and what is interesting from the results that can help them make better decisions in the future.

My tips for success are:

  • Know who will be receiving the deliverable and adopt a language that is suitable for these folks. This often means toning down the analytics language and translating sophisticated metrics into more common data components.
  • Map your data back to your business challenge, and stop showing data that doesn’t affect that overall business goal or challenge.
    We want to show every number that we pulled because we are proud and want to show it off, but if it doesn’t relate to the business challenge or what will impact your future marketing strategy – take it out.
  • Stakeholders don’t care about numbers, they care about what the numbers are telling them – you need to tell a story. You should be building your results reports as a story.
    Make sure you answer these questions:
    1. Why are you providing this analysis?
    2. Why do the results matter?
    3. What actions should be taken as a result of this analysis?
Give them what they want for Alan Etkin, Senior Analyst – British Columbia Institute of Technology

Know your audience, their data needs and their data consumption preferences.
Some folks love charts, so give them charts. Other folks go bleary-eyed when they see a chart, so don’t use them, or place them on an underlying page.

  • Use Google Data Studio. It’s a terrific free tool for delivering highly customized reports for each of your key audiences.
  • Limit the number of metrics you use to focus clearly on the needs of the people receiving the report.
  • Include year-to-year date comparisons whenever you can. This provides context to the numbers you’re reporting.
  • Summarize key insights, to the level appropriate for your audience. This customization is a key step for successfully sharing the data and associated insights.
  • And last of all, be sure to highlight your revenue and goal value data. Including dollar signs fundamentally changes the nature of the conversation.
Share the data they care about for Joshua Dodson, Vice President of Marketing and Innovation – VisionPoint Marketing

Know your audience. Don’t get stuck in the weeds — share the data your audience cares about.

It won’t always be the same. If you are sharing information with other analysts, it is appropriate to get into the nitty-gritty analytics. However, that is typically not the case when you are presenting data to key decision makers. A Vice President, for instance, usually wants to know the bottom line: How do the numbers lead to the institution’s goals? Make sure you get to the point quickly. I find it helpful to have the specific details in an appendix or somewhere nearby in case more detailed questions come up.

Also, don’t expect your audience to always know what questions to ask. It is important to guide the discussion so that you can provide the data they care most about before they even ask for it. That is a big part of the analyst’s role — anticipating questions and knowing what the audience needs to know. If you immediately start out talking about bounce rate, you have already lost them. Build your story and translate the message into what is important for them.

Talk your reports out for Kris Hardy, Director of Web and Digital Marketing – Messiah College

Google Data Studio offers some powerful data visualization tools. Leveraging different chart types, breakdown dimensions and styles can take an analytics report to the next level by delivering key performance metrics in a way that is easy to understand and digest.

Once a report is built, don’t just send it to the project stakeholders, setup a meeting with them and help them understand the report and guide them through how to interpret the data that’s being displayed. In addition, create a channel for dialogue based on feedback from the reports to make them actionable.

Visualize the story for Avinash Tripathi, Executive Director of Analytics – Kaplan Higher and Professional Education

Build trust with stakeholders (most important)

Visualize the story: plan for a “punchline.”Our CEO, Greg Marino, often asks for a 30-second elevator pitch before we even start the presentation, develop that punchline.

  • Enormous amounts of student data are currently being collected by both traditional and non-traditional universities in US and globally starting from on-boarding a student. Differentiate the strategic insights from the “noise” in your enormous data repository.
  • Put yourself in the decision maker’s shoes and ask yourself if the information you present is distracting enough. Does it include an “aha” moment that is actionable?
  • Develop a culture of experimentation, propose as many proofs of concept, A/B tests or pilots to identify potential risks to gain traction based on the data insights.
  • Focus on two metric at the most at a given point in time and tie them in with the story.
  • Choose the right visuals. Avoid overloading your audience with charts and metrics.
UTM-tag your online reports for Courtnie Ridgway, Digital Media Strategist – Tarleton State University

I think it is important to identify what the goals are. Take the time to educate stakeholders, but not just on terminology.

Find out what matters most to them and show them how they can utilize data to measure that specific thing. Don’t overwhelm them with pages and pages of insights or analytics, but break it down into charts and tables that are easily digestible and tell them what they need to know. I’ve found that 3-4 measurements work best for presentations, and I’ll provide a link to a more detailed report (Data Studio/Google Sheet) for those who are interested.

Thank to UTMs parameters, I know the individuals who are interested in the larger report. When I see someone has accessed it, I will often reach out to ask if they found everything they were looking for. If I notice a trend in what they are looking for, I will add that metric to my next presentation. When they are armed with goal-oriented data, they are better informed to make decisions. We are able to show them what approaches worked and which did not. It saves time and money to do the research and perform some A/B testing in the beginning.

Surprise them with something new for Robert Bochnak, Social Media Strategist – Harvard Business School Office of Alumni Relations

Try to experiment with new approaches all the time, collect the necessary data, and then report on it.

A recent example is our “Photo of the Week.” Since we have so much great photo content, I wanted to find ways to involve alumni beyond their “likes” on Instagram and Facebook. So, every other Thursday, we ask alumni to vote for their favorite photo, collect their responses And then share the winning photo via video the next day.

Once I collect the data, I share it with my superiors and we then discuss the merits of pursuing similar projects in the future. This “Photo of the Week, specifically, generated 50+ alumni votes/comments on Instagram and Facebook and the video was viewed more than 400 times.

Act and share for Jackie Vetrano, Online Marketing and Social Media Manager – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

It’s pretty simple. Act!

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers of big reports. In my experience, I’ve learned that presenting small bits of data, explaining how you got there and then using actual words to explain what the numbers mean and the future actions lead to much more action than simply sharing a chart with an overwhelming number of data points. Once the action is changed, you should also showcase the win (or future recommendations) to those who helped to implement it, in order to prove that the data you’re using is reliable and can help drive future decisions.

Use Google Data Studio and keep GA open for Sarah Kowalski, Web Content Strategy Manager – Montgomery College

I have really embraced Google Data Studio to present website reports and analysis.

Data Studio’s reports are visually appealing and can help illustrate the numbers in a compelling, easy-to-understand way for decision makers. I like that I can pull in data directly from Google Analytics and combine it with my own takeaways and suggestions for improvement or optimization.

I’ve also found that it helps to have Google Analytics open and available at my fingertips anytime I’m discussing analytics. Whether I’m doing a presentation or discussing an ad hoc report with someone, I inevitably get questions that require me to look up additional information. It’s much easier when I can look up the information immediately and keep the discussion (and therefore the decision-making) moving along.

Offer a central location for Aaron Baker, Associate Director of Content Strategy – Harvard University

I work to provide self-service for people who wish to look up stats on their own as much as I can. For me it meant building my own data warehouse and dashboard, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated — even a single web page where you put links to reports will work.

Keep in mind that having access to the data doesn’t always mean they’ll use it, so I send weekly reports via email with links back to the stats website as encouragement and reminders.

A conference focusing on higher ed analytics?

The 2019 Higher Ed Analytics Conference (#HEA19) is a must-attend event for higher ed marketing professionals and teams looking for inspiration, ideas and best practices to step up their analytics and measurement game in 2019..

Read below what your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Analytics Conference said about their experience.

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A new twist on Higher Ed Holidays Tradition

This year you can find the list on Higher Ed Experts blog!

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Has everybody on your team gone to a conference this year?

Whether it’s for budget reasons, lack of time or even family matters, it’s not always possible to get everybody to fly across the country to attend one of the great higher ed conferences out there.

That’s why I launched – back in 2013 – the Higher Ed Experts Online Conferences, to offer an affordable alternative to spend a day with your team or user group on campus to learn best practices and get energized.

The good news (and I’m sure everybody in higher ed can use some good news now) is that the 6th Higher Ed Social Media Conference is almost around the corner: November 28, 2018!

Why should you team attend the 6th Higher Ed Social Media Conference?

Let me give you 5 reasons to register your team for the conference

1) This conference can make ALL your team members SMILE (again?)…

And, I have “scientific” proof to back up this claim. Just look at the group photos the conference attendees shared during the last edition:

2) Ok, more seriously, attendees just love this conference

Attendees and speakers always feel energized by this live event as you can see in the slideshow below created with the feedback they shared in their online evaluations (you got their names, so you can also ask them directly as well):

3) There’s something in the program for everybody on your team

This year again the program is fantastic – one of the best programs around focusing on social media for higher ed.

With 12 sessions scheduled, you get a great variety of topics presented by higher ed professionals who know social media for higher ed.

We have seasoned presenters some of you might have seen at higher ed conferences as well as brand new voices with very original ideas.

Several of the conference presenters attended the event before, so they definitely walked in your shoes and will be ready to deliver the kind of sessions you want to see as an attendee. :-)

4) The conference is fast-paced and on topic

Your colleagues who attend Higher Ed Experts’ online conferences can’t stop raving about the format of our conferences.

With 12 sessions of 10 minutes each, the 6th Higher Ed Social Media Conference is the perfect format to provide professional development for your social media user group (SMUG) and spark great ideas within your social media team.

More and more institutions sign up for the event, book a conference room or a large auditorium, set up a big screen and invite as many people as possible to attend the live event. Krista Boniface, Social Media Officer at the University of Toronto, wrote a post last week to share some great tips on how to host a watch party for your goup.

Since the recordings are available to attending institutions for a year, you can also use these recordings to start a conversation with your team in monthly “lunch & learn” meetings.

After watching a 10-minute recording, it’s really easy to brainstorm around the ideas or best practices discussed in the session. That’s professional development that keeps on giving!

5) It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Scheduled on November 28, 2018, the conference is just after Thanksgiving but before the big rush leading to the end of the year.

It’s also a great way to thank and energize your team with insightful professional development — without breaking your budget (you can have as many people as you want in a room for 1 registration fee) or worrying about travel delays or headaches (remember? It’s online AND recorded).

Too good to be true? You’re right, there’s a catch: available virtual seats are limited. We’ve actually already run out of the initial allotment at the early bird price and have a few more team seats at the regular price. If you want to attend this conference with your team, register while you still can.

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It’s been a tough year for Facebook — and for a good number of Facebook page admins working in higher education.

While the jury is still out on the real impact of the Facebook algorithm change introduced at the beginning of the year, I have seen several instances of decreased organic reach reported in the higher ed social media online communities.

The jury is still out, but Melissa Cheater, Digital Content Manager at Western University, will share in 10 days the results of her research on Facebook reach and engagement in the US and Canada, a data project we first discussed in March and she presented at PSEWeb this summer. If you’re going to the 2019 HighEdWeb Conference in Sacramento, don’t miss Melissa’s session on Oct 23 at 10:45AM PT as it promises to be really interesting.

Considering how engagement and reach on Facebook have evolved at many schools over the past 12 months, it’s fair to wonder what should be done on Facebook in 2019.

That’s exactly the question I asked the 12 higher ed web professionals speaking at the 6th Higher Ed Social Media Conference. Nobody has the definite answer to this question, because it really depends on your school, its goals and its Facebook audience, but keep reading to see what 12 of your colleagues plan to do!

Analyzing data for Jessica Stutt, Integrated Marketing Manager at University of New Brunswick

Facebook continues to be a major platform for us both for paid and organic reach. From our paid advertising campaign down to more organic promotion of campus events, our strategy in 2019 is to work to evaluate performance to gain more insight into what’s working and what isn’t. We have definitely seen the same reach challenges I know other institutions are facing, but are still working to uncover the true meaning behind it.

Is it that our audience isn’t leveraging the platform as much, that Facebook is trying to push us even more to paid advertising, that our assets are not properly developed for the platform or something else?

We will focus even more in 2019 on evaluating our data to better understand insights before making major adjustments to our strategy.

Content on target for Mary Jo Stockton, Director of Web and Social Content at Longwood University

Before embarking on the redesign of our website back in 2014, we first went through a comprehensive branding process. The goal was not to rebrand Longwood University but to better understand who we are, who our audience is and what our audience wants from us.

By focusing on producing that type of content and a process of brainstorming ideas collaboratively with our whole marketing team, we have been relatively successful in keeping our Facebook engagement rate increasing for the most part as demonstrated in the following chart.

Focusing on Groups for Dominique Benjamin, Digital & Social Media Coordinator forTAMU Enrollment Services

In Admissions, we’re all about Facebook Groups – not Pages. Several years ago we made the decision to not create an “Aggiebound” Facebook Page, because our audience just wasn’t there. By now, it’s common knowledge that Gen Z-ers don’t spend nearly as much time on the platform as they do elsewhere. For that reason, and so many more, I can’t imagine us ever creating a Page. That decision was even further validated by the announcement earlier this year by Mark Zuckerberg that the Almighty Algorithm would prioritize content from Groups over content from brands (i.e. Pages).

We, as many other schools do, manage a Facebook Group for admitted students. So far, we haven’t noticed a dip in activity over the last year, but it’s something we’ll keep an eye on, moving forward. Our Class of 2022 Group had more than 1.1K posts, 5K comments and 24K reactions.

Mostly, it serves as a place for them to find groups on “private” platforms like GroupMe and Snapchat. We’ve heard many students say they don’t otherwise use Facebook, but that they created an account just to join the class Group. In doing so, they get a preview of what the Texas A&M community is like.

Daily quality and groups for Geoff Coyle, Social Media Editor at West Virginia University

Our plan for the better part of the year, and going forward, is to lean on quality over quantity. We know we will post daily on Facebook, but the key is to make sure that as often as possible, we are putting in the time and effort to make at least one post per week stand out.

That could be a fully produced video like our Gold and Blue Planet series or a simple photo of one of our older residential complexes asking where our former students stayed while on campus. Each targeted different audiences, but each invited a great deal of engagement through comments and shares.

In the future, we hope to put some more focus on Facebook’s closed groups. This past year, we had a great deal of success with our Families of the WVU Class of 2022 group and we will continue to use those groups for each of the incoming freshman classes going forward as they tend to rank highly on Facebook.

Daily posts & format tweaks for Tiffany Broadbent Beker, Director of Digital Marketing at William & Mary

On the Facebook channels that we manage in Advancement we’ve seen a significant decline in likes, comments and shares on our posts over the last year, even though our number of fans continues to increase.

To combat this, we’ve adjusted our content calendar so we are posting more frequently. Before, a “few” times a week was the goal, now it’s every day, in an attempt to cast a wide net with the types of content we share and have something we post come through in folks’ news feeds. We’ve also updated our approach for how we post links to our website, rather than using Facebook’s link preview we attach our desired photo and put the link URL in the post text.

We have been exploring boosting posts for particular initiatives, especially around major annual giving pushes like our giving day or fiscal year end, where we can more precisely track the ROI of promoting those posts.

Less but more relevant content for Tim Brixius, Digital & social media specialist at Franklin & Marshall College

There is no doubt that our overall organic reach on Facebook has taken a hit from its highest point in the summer of 2016; numbers are down nearly 50%.

At the same time, our average interaction per post has been fairly consistent.

We have recently shifted to posting less content on Facebook, while making sure that what we do post is more relevant to the audience that matters most to us there, our alumni. We have slightly increased the amount we spend for paid reach and will likely continue doing so in 2019.

Stories for Dr. Kristin Austin, Assistant Professor at Bloomsburg University of PA

A challenge we encountered in the past is that of keeping prospective students engaged in our social media feeds. In targeting prospective students, we also know they are following several other institutions. Thus, it is always a challenge to balance promoting only the social side of college, in exchange for potentially under-promoting the academic experience. Sometimes, live-streaming at a concert is a lot more attractive than live-streaming a lecture.

Our plan for 2019 is to do more with the stories feature, allowing for current student takeovers that walk students through a “day in the life” of a student at Bloomsburg University.

More videos for Hillary Green, Digital Specialist at The University of Texas at Arlington

I used to consider Facebook our primary platform as an institution, because it garnered so much engagement. Obviously, that’s changed for businesses platform-wide and we’ve all had to adapt.

Video has shown to be our best avenue for engagement, particularly the more content-driven pieces. We plan to dive further into video including a new in-depth series with our athletics department as well as exploring 360 more. We’ll also be focused on turning that engagement on social into clicks back to our website by better integrating our social and web campaigns.

Boosting posts and co-hosting events for Erika Forsack, Social Media Strategist at Virginia Commonwealth University

We are currently restructuring our boosting strategy in light of “Facebook Zero” and other recent algorithm changes. I can’t take credit for the work on our Facebook page, that’s all my counterpart Megan Schmidt.

Another thing we’re really pushing right now is co-hosting events with other VCU-owned Facebook pages, not only for more visibility for them and the event, but this is also a great way to ensure that the event information is accessible to blind and low vision users who wouldn’t be able to otherwise access the information on just a flyer/graphic.

Fine-tuning and boosting posts for Nicole Morell, Associate Director, Digital Marketing Strategy at MIT Alumni Association

Like many higher ed pages, we’ve seen our reach limited on many posts over the last year, resulting in lower engagement across the board.

Facebook reach has changed many times over in my four years working in social media for the MIT Alumni Association, but last year has been the most challenging by far. Still there is some hope. We continue to see our stories related to pride and nostalgia performing well in reach and engagement.

The plan for 2019 is to continue to push content that has demonstrated results in reaching and connecting with our alumni audience—this will mean boosting new posts that are performing well and streamlining our content creation and sharing.

Broaden the paid strategy for Christen Gowan, Associate Director of Media Relations and Social Media at Union College

I think we’ll continue to broaden our paid media strategy in 2019. With organic reach at an all-time low, it’s super important to make sure we’re reaching the right audiences.

We use Evertrue to pull custom audience lists for Facebook. This can sometimes be based on giving data (when it’s for fundraising purposes) or social engagement data (when we’re trying to reach our most engaged group on social media).

Keep playing for Todd Sanders, Director of Digital Communications and Social Media at UF

Our Facebook plan for 2019 is identical to 2018: keep playing, keep posting.

We can’t control organic reach, we can control the content we post.

Post shareable content and it will find its way into the hands of your community.

A conference focusing 100% on higher ed social media?

The 6th Higher Ed Social Media Conference (HESM18) is a must-attend event for higher ed social media professionals and teams looking for inspiration, ideas and best practices to get ready for 2019.

Read below what your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Social Media Conference said about their experience.

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The 6th Annual Higher Ed Social Media Conference (Nov 28, 2018): the only online conference that makes attendees smile!

The Higher Ed Social Media Conference has been a big hit with the community since its launch in 2013.

Every year, several hundred participants working for colleges and universities in the US, Canada and the UK gather around big and small screens to attend this must-attend conference for higher ed social media teams looking for inspiration, advice and best practices to borrow.

Here’s a selection of 20 photos taken by conference attendees at the 2015, 2016 & 2017 editions. Please scroll down through them to answer a quick question

Are you noticing the “smiling pattern” on these photos?
Year over year, it’s consistent: the audience is happy and engaged. No small feat for an online conference!

That’s why the conference is back for its 6th edition on November 28, 2018.

And, I need YOUR help to make it as good as (or even better than) the previous editions with your conference proposal(s)

Top 5 reasons why presenting at the #HESM Conference is even better than attending

I’ll give you 5 reasons to submit a speaking proposal (before Sep 19, 2018 – next Wednesday) for the Higher Ed Social Media Conference:

  1. it focuses entirely on social media in higher education, so you get to connect and interact with social media professionals facing similar challenges
  2. it’s a great way to get noticed by your peers, their bosses or even other conference organizers interested in social media (even if you’ve never presented before at industry events – don’t believe me? Read these presenter stories from 3 of your higher ed colleagues)
  3. it’s an opportunity to connect with top voices in higher ed social media
  4. it’s composed of 10-minute sessions, so – as a presenter and a busy social media pro – you can focus on the essential points (no extra fluff required) AND deliver a fantastic learning experience for attendees
  5. it doesn’t require a budget to present AND will even help you save some professional development money, because there is no need to travel AND presenters receive a free pass ($500 value) to attend the whole event WITH their team!

You’ve got less than 1 week left to submit your proposal!
Please dot it ASAP.

Oh, and Sep 29, 2018 is a hard deadline – it won’t be postponed, because the conference program will be announced on Sep 26, 2018.
Whether or not your proposal is accepted, you will get notified super fast.

Not ready to present, but want to attend the conference?

We will have a limited number of seats as the online room is capped.

You can register now and secure your seat via credit card.

Got questions?

I love questions! Just post your question(s) below or you can also email karine@higheredexperts.com

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