75 take aways from #casesmc 2017

Estimated read time: 18 minutes

Last Spring, I resumed my role as co-chair of the CASE Europe Social Media and Community Conference and, yet again, it proved itself to be one of the very best sector social media events of the year.

With absolutely loads of help from my co-chair Marie-Rose Delauzun, and CASE’s Sophie Anderton, we pulled together a really awesome bill of speakers – even if I do say so myself!

As is always the way with this event, I came back with pages of great notes, a head full of ideas and a load of amazing new contacts and friends. While a blog is by no means a substitute for being there, I wanted to share some snippets of learning from the two days. So, here are 75 takeaways from an awesome conference – enjoy!

Eric Stoller is probably the best person I’ve seen open a conference – his sessions are always thoughtful, fun, informed by stats and full of cats.

So much of social media – and the wider web – is now mobile that it’s getting a bit silly. Case in point, Facebook recently revealed that 93% of their traffic is mobile.

Forget the rise of the machines, we’re in the age of the rise of the messenger app. By the end of 2017, the combined reach of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat will reach 4.7bn – have you got a strategy for using these platforms in place?

The unofficial them of the entire conference came from Eric’s session – Be bold! Trust your ideas and jump in!

Management’s fears are never rational – they stifle your creativity and you’ll never have the right argument to win against them. The solution? Push past it.

Want some inspiration for how you might leverage Snapchat? The University of Sydney is running Snapchat treasure hunts at their open days this summer, while Glasgow regularly runs takeovers of their accounts (more from those guys later).

Just why is it, exactly, that in Universities’ print publications it is almost always sunny?

Cambridge are really rather good at Instagram.

We need to stop knocking LinkedIn – students can not only use it to get a job, it could be THE tool they use leverage their career. Instead of bashing it, we should be teaching it.

Regardless of what great work you’re doing on your institution’s main account, crap secondary accounts can still be damaging.

Mark Zuckerberg’s page on Facebook is well worth a look, even if bad things happen when he smiles.

Coming back to being bold, sometimes brilliance comes when you just let loose – like Benedictine College’s brilliant parody of the infamous recent BBC News interview that has garnered more than 34,000 views and made a load more people aware of their organisation.

In the UK, clearing is the only time we really let our hair down – we need to get more of our clearing brain into our day-to-day headspace.

Please, please, please…turn on two-factor authentication on your social accounts.

Also – please, please, please…make sure your social media person has a seat at the table.

Who says that macho, gladiatorial, battle cry videos are the sole preserve of sports teams? Look how cool the University of Kansas’ debate team is!

Not only was it a driving force of insight, conversation, GIFs and banter during the conference, the hashtag #casesmc is also a year-round source of great learning. As are the HigherEd Social and University Video Producers Facebook groups.

I was so pleased to have the University of Glasgow’s social media team present this year – they are my favourites!

Glasgow worked hard to create a student ambassador programme that not only officially recognises the work that their students do on their social channels but that also builds their skills. Students are paid and it appears on their transcript.

The programme has only been running since January but has already yielded some great results.

Even the interview process gave the Glasgow team some great insight – they asked their subjects what they thought the Uni could do better on social media and learned a lot!

Glasgow have 8 student officers. They are paid and meet with the team once a month. There are no set hours – they give Glasgow the time they have.

The student ambassadors have their own Instagram account, which is run in a similar style to the Humans of New York project.

The ambassadors also help get the ball rolling on any social media campaign.

Having a dedicated website to talk about social media at Glasgow is not only a great place to share learning, but is yet another space where their ambassadors can contribute – it gives those students a digital footprint to add to their CV.

Thinking of running your own student ambassador programme? Great! Just bear in mind the amount of time it will take you to set it up and run it.

Also, your students will be better on social media than you are – don’t try and fight it, deal with it!

Having been shown the famous ‘Deng’ video from Western Sydney, which I have no doubt you will have seen already, an interesting point was raised about whether it was an ethical use of his story…if that had been an ad for Vodafone, would it be so loved?

The boldest example in this session though? Surely the marketing manager for the University of Bradford, who created a video that was, quite literally, called Don’t Go to Bradford!

Caroline Beavon is THE infographics guru and, given she’s now based in Brighton, we would have been fools not have her along to give a workshop!

Infographic designers and graphic designers are very different things. Caroline’s background is journalism and she is certain that actually helps when it comes to infographics. Why? Because infographics need to tell a story, and most graphic designers are not storytellers.

If you’re creating an infographic make sure you think about your aim (ie why are you making it), your audience (and be specific dammit) and your data.

Want some good tools to give infographics a go yourself? Hit up Easel.lyCanva and Piktochart.

Also hit up the thenounproject for icons.

And, even though she was too modest to show it on screen, do check out Caroline’s portfolio for inspiration.

Brighton in sunshine during your late afternoon hour of free time is really rather lovely.

The unconference made a triumphant return! In fact, the weather was so good we took it to the beach, with sessions on student ambassadors, internal comms, Reddit, getting buy-in and, my session, just sharing good stuff. I now have a whole list of cool stuff to check out, from podcasts to blogs and a few bits in between.

Also, I’m now fascinated by what Reddit might be able to offer a press team – time to get my geek on and get my head round that space I think.

The view from the top of Brighton’s i360 tower is rather ace.

I love getting to know people over dinner at this conference – last year I discovered Tim from Reading’s former life as a cape-wearing power metal god and sent Eric home with a long list of essential British sitcoms, while this year I talked dogs, tattoos, cool music and the Welsh language with the Swansea crew, as well as discovering quite what a globe-trotting life Dan from Glasgow has led.

Day two was kicked off by Mi Elfverson, who defied her morning cycling accident and soldiered on, presenting in bare feet!

Video blogging is an incredibly powerful online marketing tool because it raises your visibility and creates both credibility and trust.

Mi turned to her 11-year-old son for an excellent description to separate video and vlogging. Said sage child simply said that video could be anything, but vlogging is personal.

We like vloggers because they are authentic, they are more engaging and more relatable. There is a lack of a filter that we enjoy.

If you’re recording a vlog, be sure to look into the lens and not at the screen. Why? Because we’re humans, we like eye contact.

My favourite social media account at Warwick is, without doubt, the Library’s twitter feed, so it was a very proud moment to have the Library posse speak at this event.

Some wise words from the library about social media – it’s how you communicate and what you communicate, not who you are, that’s important.

Sometimes you will have to tweet a dad/mum message – don’t shy away from them…own them!

There really is something about libraries and pun-tastic, hilarious Twitter feeds. Warwick, Liverpool Uni and Orkney Library are all credits to the Twittersphere.

The team behind the library’s social media efforts are not social media professionals, they’re passionate library practitioners who’ve been trusted to use it effectively. While they’d never say it themselves, I’d argue that the fact they are empowered staff rather than social ‘pros’ is exactly what makes their account so great; their passion for their job shines through – you can’t fake that.

‘Sassing, not shushing’ is an exceptional title for a presentation from a team of Library professionals.

Warwick Library’s five top tips? Be flexible, be brave (or bold, if you prefer), be funny, be engaged and be authentic, human and yourself!

Putting a session about LinkedIn at the end of two days of conferencing, networking and, er other things, would have been a mistake. Not when it’s a co-headline from Charles Hardy and Joe Field – both brilliant, likeable people who are incredibly knowledgeable, open and wise.

The last official user figures for LinkedIn came out last October and had global membership at 467million, with more than 21m in the UK and two new members joining every second. Expect the next announcement to be the big half a billion!

With LinkedIn now being part of the Microsoft brand, expect to see some cool tie-ups between the two. For example, videos on LinkedIn Learning to help you do that thing in Excel or, even cooler, the ability to transform a CV created in Word into a LinkedIn profile.

The merged University pages are here and bring with them cover images, featured groups, career pages, jobs portals, showcase pages and, at last, analytics!

The alumni tool has not gone! It is still there, just scroll down and look for the ‘career insights’ tab.

At the end of last year, 1m students in the UK were on LinkedIn – this echoed Eric’s point on day one about the need for us to teach this platform to our students.

Joe leads a social media team of one at Sheffield Hallam and, I should add, does a damn fine job. Check out their social media blog for proof.

The most popular content on Hallam’s LinkedIn page? Reputation and newsy stuff, as opposed to their Instagram, where it’s all about pictures of Sheffield’s skyline.

Joe has managed to get a number of senior academics – including their VC – to publish blog posts on their own LinkedIn profiles, which the Uni can then share from their page. It’s a powerful statement from their leadership.

A key takeaway from this session? Nostalgia is powerful on LinkedIn.

Three good things about LinkedIn, according to Joe? The data, LinkedIn Learning and the general ‘newsy’ feel to the site – it’s a much better place for reputation pieces than Facebook or Instagram.

Three less good things about LinkedIn, according to Joe? The new interface is clunky, the ads are quite expensive and the site has an image problem – although it is down to us to help solve that.

Some opportunities for Universities on LinkedIn, according to Joe? More/better thought leadership – Joe says that pulling together a LinkedIn cheat-sheet for academics is a big help – more personalised alumni engagement and access to the learning platform.

A closing session that was about the best tweets of the conference and rewarding those tweeters with Brighton tat was WAY better than a toiling closing panel Q+A.

The added caption caption was also lol-errific.

Loughborough’s Liam Ross was a worthy hashtag champion.

My co-chair Marie-Rose Delauzun was an absolute dream to work with – thank you for all your hard work.

Same goes to Sophie, Brian and Tommy from CASE – high fives all round!

*You can also read some great post-conference write-ups from Dan at the University of Glasgow, from Eric Stoller for Inside Higher Ed and from my co-chair Marie-Rose