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Samantha PatersonSamantha Paterson, Social Media Manager at the University of Calgary, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2019-2020 Higher Ed Social Media Conference.

In this 4-question interview, Samantha tells us about higher ed social media in 2020, a favorite tool, 3 higher ed social media campaigns as well as strategy and measurement.

1) Where do you think higher ed social media is heading in 2020?

I hope the higher education community is finally ready to leave the world of vanity metrics behind. What’s the point of collecting metrics if they are just going to exist in a report without informing what we do next? (I always think of the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.) What is social media delivering for our brand, campaigns, promotions and communities? What is the real cost of not actioning the knowledge we obtain from social listening? Data is for learning and improvement. I know social media managers know this, but let’s continue to evangelize social-first content strategy. Social is not a dumping place for last-minute tactics. Okay, end rant! /rant

2020 is (I hope!) the year that creating video for specific social platforms (including Stories) with input from the social team becomes a higher ed standard. I also agree with others that it’s time to seriously think about the business case for Tik Tok (if we aren’t already).

2019 Higher Ed Social Media Conference

2) What’s your favorite new tool for your social media work?

My favourite “new” tool for social media work is not a new tool by any means, but it has worked really well for us with various project teams over the last year — WhatsApp group chat. It’s the easiest way to coordinate and share content between social media practitioners at live events — people who don’t normally work together on a project team.

I also downloaded Pixaloop recently to explore animating images for Instagram and look forward to experimenting with it soon. As a Canadian, I’m sure the first thing I’ll undertake is something where I animate snowfall.

3) What higher ed social media campaigns have recently caught your attention?

Posts that caught my attention and gave me FOMO include:

UMichigan’s egg on Twitter. It was perfect and created so quickly – the power of a resourced content strategy engine and compelling social strategy.

We all struggle with making the “talking head” videos interesting for social media and I LOVE the animation treatment on this Duke University video.

I also was quite proud of our this one of ours here at UCalgary– Giphy stickers of our mascot Rex took off on Instagram. Our Giphy channel rose to over 8 million views in 2019 because of GIF stickers.

4) What are your strategic social media goals and how do you measure against these goals?

Our social media goals tie into our “Eyes High” overall strategic goals: research, teaching and learning, and community. It’s a good lens to view our social activity through when we receive that huge volume of requests that every higher ed social team receives. Some projects without our overarching goals have dashboards with social targets we strive to meet around impressions, engagement, video views, and conversions, etc. Other times we benchmark ourselves against previous years if it is a recurring campaign e.g. 30% engagement growth vs. the previous year. We track monthly and summarize our yearly data to benchmark it against the previous year. Key insights are pulled from each campaign to highlight what worked and what is an opportunity to change next year.

A conference focusing on higher ed social media?

The 7th Higher Ed Social Media Conference (HESM19) is a must-attend event for higher ed social media professionals and teams looking for inspiration, ideas and best practices to get ready for 2020.

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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