Karine Joly No Comments

tony dobiesTony Dobies, Social Media Strategist at West Virginia University, is one of the 12 higher ed professionals presenting at the 2015 Higher Ed Content Conference (April 15).

In this 3-question interview, Tony discusses the state of content at his institution, how he measures content performance and shares some advice to create content for higher ed.

1) Would you say that content has now the place it deserves at your institution?

We think digital first in most situations at WVU, and that’s crucial.

When we talk about prospective or interested students, we know where they spend their time – online in some form or another. Since that’s the case, we have to be there … and we have to be at our strongest there.

Our University focuses a lot of our energy on responsive website design to make sure they work from desktop to tablet to smart phone and every device in between. Our social media presence continues to grow in part because of the importance it has when speaking directly to those prospective and interested students.

2) How do you measure the performance and/or the impact of your content at your school? How does this help you with the content creation process?

The two keys here are 1) determining an audience and 2) developing strong goals prior to any project.

When you settle on an audience, and you know where they spend their time whether it be online, out and about, in their homes, etc., you can decide on certain measures.

For example, with prospective students, we can measure in website views or Twitter and Instagram mentions… but we wouldn’t necessarily do that for parents or older alumni. After figuring out the audience, you need goals in place before you even begin to develop the content. Every goal should have a metric that you can measure with it, whether it be clicks or mentions or views or whatever works for you to show success or failure. At the end of the project, you must analyze based on these goals and find out whether it’s been a successful project or not. This might not help right away, but the benefit is that, over time, you will begin to see trends and ways to better create realistic goals. And, most importantly, this process will help you fine-tune what you do and how you do it to get the response you’re looking for from your audience.

3) Can you share the best piece of advice or lesson you learned about creating content for higher ed?

Make sure to take time for idea creation and brainstorming at the beginning of the process.

Sometimes, we get stuck in the day-to-day processes of our jobs and don’t spend enough time finding inspiration and experimenting with our options. When developing ideas for bigger projects, get a dynamic, yet small group together and just sit and talk. Write down every idea you can come up with based upon those goals you’ve already set … watch videos and show photos you like … check out what others are doing. And, once you’ve developed an idea, test it. Can you really shoot video in the way that you imagined? Is it possible to create a website like that? Answer questions like these before you move forward. That concept development phase is so important to the success of a project.

Sure, you can do it without that time and it will save you a few days, but you may miss something or fail to think of something if you don’t take the time to brainstorm as a group. Smart collaboration, especially from the get go, is the key to any big project.

Higher Ed Content Conference Line-Up