Sofia Tokar, Web Writer at the University of Rochester, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2017 Higher Ed Content Conference (the 4th edition!).
In this 4-question interview, Sofia tells us about an exciting content project, a favorite tool, the place of SEO and shares a cool video with us.
1) What is the most exciting content project you’ve worked on over the past year?
Each year we try to have fun with our web content for April Fools Day, but in a way that manages to convey something real about the University of Rochester. Inspired by Harry Potter, Rochester transfigured into Rochwarts for the day to showcase its magical history and qualities. This project was very much a group effort, but yours truly got to write the UR Sorting Hat Song, most of the questions for the “What House Do You Belong In?” quiz, and the blurb about the Rochwarts curriculum—all of which were peppered with references and in-jokes for the UR community. Mischief was most certainly managed that day on the web and social media!
2) What is your favorite tool to use when working on content projects?
Visual are vital to the success of our online content. As a writer and word nerd, that can be hard to admit! But when used well, visuals—including images, photos, infographics, GIFs, emoji, Bitmoji—can enhance our written text.
At the University of Rochester, we have an incredibly talented photographer on staff, but he has many demands on his time. When I have to find good quality art, I start with Creative Commons Search. It’s less a tool and more a resource, one which compiles the many entities (e.g., Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Google Images, etc.) that provide creative materials available for building upon and sharing—with proper attribution, of course! For institutions with limited budget or resources, Creative Commons can be a godsend. For others, it can serve as inspiration or to complement your existing cache of images.
3) What is the place of search engine optimization in your content creation and distribution process?
Our SEO efforts are solid, but could be more comprehensive and consistent. We do basic on-page optimization (such as implementing HTML headings, having ALT text with images, including XML sitemaps), although there’s room for improvement. There’s also more we could do with optimizing for specific keywords as well as other words and phrases (including synonyms and close variants) that are semantically related to our keywords and key topics. Part of my role as web writer is to help teach our faculty and staff about SEO and the reality that both humans and robots read our web pages.
4) Video has become a key format. Can you share the most successful video produced at your school?
One of the University of Rochester’s most successful videos was about the Rochester Cloak, a device that uses ordinary lenses to hide objects across a range of angles. The video currently has more than 1.7 million views on YouTube.
With something like cloaking, you definitely need to tell the story with visuals. This optics research yielded cool videos, GIFs, and photography that we’ve been able to reuse and repurpose, including as part of our Harry Potter-inspired takeover for April Fools Day in 2016.
A conference focusing on content strategy & practices in higher ed?
The HECO conference has become a must-attend event for marketing and communication professionals in higher education looking for new ideas and best practices for content creation, management and distribution..
Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Content Conference say about the event.