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Jon McBrideJon McBride, Media Relations and Social Media Manager at BYU, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2019-2020 Higher Ed Social Media Conference.

In this 4-question interview, Jon 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 believe audiences will continue to crave authenticity and hopefully higher ed accounts can find new and better ways to add value in that respect. More ways of finding user-generated content, more account takeovers, more transparency in addressing tough topics, more utilization of students as micro influencers and brand ambassadors and hopefully fewer requests from people to post their flyers on our accounts. 🙂 I truly believe that higher ed is positioned so much better than brands in other industries for authentic brand ambassador relations and influencer marketing via built-in systems of brand affinity we have with our students, faculty and alumni. We’ve got to continually look for ways to leverage that.

2019 Higher Ed Social Media Conference

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

The weekly newsletters from Later.com are incredible. With such a substantial portion of prospective students, students and young alumni on Instagram, we’ve got to be leveraging that platform in the best ways possible. Later provides practical, valuable insight into all different facets of Instagram strategy and execution. Definitely get on their email list, if you’re using Instagram at all. Later also offers tools for scheduling posts and other Instagram in-platform work. Even though I don’t use their tools anymore, I so appreciate the value they add to everyone for free through the best practices found in the newsletter. They also recently hosted an all-online Instagram conference called LaterCon that’s worth checking out.

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

I love West Virginia’s student vlog campaign run by Chris Young on YouTube. This is definitely something we’re looking to replicate this year with the rise of vlog consumption. I love the authenticity that vlogging can provide in some pretty unique ways.

A higher ed Instagram account other higher ed social media admins should follow is Binghampton’s (@binghamptonu). They are a fascinating use case in voice and tone. They do a lot of things, in a lot of ways, that most of us might not do, but as the university Instagram account with the No. 1 engagement rate in the entire US, they’re doing something incredibly right, and I think it comes down to speaking their audience’s language in some pretty hilarious ways.

University of Toronto’s Giphy’s channel
GIPHY is a massive opportunity for brand integration right now. Simply creating a GIPHY channel and getting stickers in there that can be used in Insta stories and otherwise can be huge. Krista Boniface at the University of Toronto has more than 28 million uses of their university GIFs.

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

While reach and engagement rate can be seen as vanity metrics, they are still vital to track in our age of algorithmic social media. So first off, we’re not throwing those base-level analytics in the trash. But something we’ve really been trying to do more and more of is tackle difficult and big topics through our social accounts. When doing so, we are tracking all of our baseline analytics on our addressing-difficult-topics content and comparing it with our average, everyday content. We want to make sure our audience is engaging with this content as much or more so than our average content. Beyond that, our most valuable thing to track has been the in-person impact these projects have. For example, after our projects addressing sexual consult, consent and introducing our survivor advocate, both our Title IX Office and survivor advocate office saw immediate bumps in appointments made. It’s rewarding to see real-world impact like that.

A conference focusing 100% on higher ed social media?

The 2019-2020 Higher Ed Social Media Conference (now available on-demand!) is a must-attend event for higher ed social media professionals and teams looking for inspiration, ideas and best practices.

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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