eduWeb higher education marketing conference Fri, 28 Feb 2020 21:32:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 eduWeb 32 32 Build a Culture of Experimentation and Actionable Data Tue, 25 Feb 2020 21:45:08 +0000

Today’s marketing technology offers us access to vast swaths of data that can provide us with valuable insights into our audiences, campaign performance, and key opportunities to pursue. But all of this information is only useful if we know how to arrange, analyze, and act in accordance with the metrics we’re collecting; oftentimes, we struggle to determine what data points we need, how to examine them, and what story emerges once they’re arranged. If we want our work to be fueled by data-driven decisions, we need to know what we have and how to use it.

If this resonates with you, I invite you to join me for my Master Class at the 2020 eduWeb Digital Summit, held August 3 – 5 at the Snowbird Resort. This year’s course is designed to provide you with the resources you need to leverage your data in ways that make a real, measurable difference. In this interactive workshop, we’ll collaborate to create the paths that fuel a data-first mentality for our departments and teams. You’ll learn how to integrate experimentation into all of your campaigns, web designs, and segmented emails, and then you’ll utilize that data as the foundation for informed change. And along the way, we’ll use Google Data Studio to create dashboards so that everything you’re collecting is consumable and informs campus-wide efforts.

You’ll leave this Master Class with:

  • A clear vision of what experimentation is and how it can be integrated into our marketing and communications
  • Hands-on experience with Google Data Studio and how we connect it to our various data sources
  • Confidence in our ability to present the right data points to the right people in order to empower our institutions to make more informed decisions
  • A roadmap for implementing the data-centered mindset we need to transform our work and our teams

This Master Class is open to higher education marketers in all roles, at all levels (or those aspiring to higher ed marketing). No previous experience with Google Data Studio is required; you only need a Google account in order to participate. Want to join me? Register for the 2020 eduWeb Digital Summit; you’ll see the option to include our Master Class when you sign up. And if you’ve already registered, you can easily add the Master Class to your registration. Space is limited and this class will sell out, so don’t wait!

About our presenter: Will Patch is the Enrollment Marketing Leader at Niche, where he aids clients in building and implementing their enrollment strategies and digital outreach. He also shares insights and research on the Enrollment Insights blog, podcast, through webinars, and a monthly newsletter. Prior to joining Niche in the summer of 2019, he served Manchester University for 9 years in roles including Digital Strategist, Social Media Coordinator, and Associate Director for Admissions Operations. Outside of Niche, Will also coordinates the #EMChat community on Twitter, with weekly chats Thursdays at 9:00 PM Eastern.

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Stop Holding Yourself Back: Building a Structure That Supports Your Marketing Technology Mon, 24 Feb 2020 22:16:30 +0000

In my day job, I work with schools to optimize their use of CRM technology. One of the key questions I ask my clients is how they will engage with the end-user experience, assess and approve requests to modify the system, and ensure that their institution is using their technology to its full potential. Far too often, the answer is, “We haven’t really thought about that.”

When we begin using new marketing tools, we’re generally focused on learning how various features work and what the system is capable of. But our technology is only as good as the processes that surround it, and we must guide and protect our tools and data with solid business practices. How do we ensure we aren’t getting in our own way in our use of enterprise marketing technology? We build a framework of governance that permeates everything.

Start with Your Stakeholders

To develop the policies and procedures that will serve as your foundation, begin by determining who needs to be in the room. I recommend that you create the appropriate committees to facilitate communication, collaboration, and ongoing training:

  • Frontline power users (representing the range of functional areas utilizing your technology) should meet weekly to discuss current challenges, raise up change requests, and be updated on revisions that have been implemented or are forthcoming.
  • Department heads should connect monthly to set priorities for the opportunities identified by your power users, assess how requests align with larger goals, determine the appropriate division of resources, and identify the broader impact that any changes will have.
  • Finally, divisional leadership should receive formal updates quarterly on how your technology is performing, whether there are opportunities that need a greater resource allocation, and the current priorities to optimize the system.

Equip Everyone

An organizational structure is essential, but from there, it needs to scale so that all users know how to execute on the plans you’ve created. Those at your institution who interface with your technology on any level need to be trained, supported, and heard. This manifests in a variety of ways:

  • Education: End-user training can’t just happen when you first implement or hire a new staff member; it needs to be embedded in your culture. Provide regular refreshers on your operations, and always reconnect with your team when things are modified. Ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of not just what is changing, but also how to engage with these changes.
  • Documentation: Document everything. All systemic processes need to be written down and accessible to those who need it. This means providing detailed instructions in some sort of shared drive or wiki, being as clear and detailed as possible. Not only will this serve as a valuable resource for those with whom you work, but it will create a solid foundation of business continuity.
  • Communication: It should go without saying, but for goodness sake, have open dialogue about how you use your marketing tools. Provide regular updates on decisions being made about your systems to ensure that “I didn’t know that had changed” isn’t a phrase used in your workplace. And on the other side, provide a space for all staff members to lift up their needs and ideas as well.

Prepare to Pivot

Finally, remember that the only constant is change, and you need to assess what works and what doesn’t. This means that your governance framework needs to include regular audits of your business processes and system. Create space to cast a critical eye on how work is done and how effectively it achieves the team’s objectives. Annually, host a larger conversation articulating what has changed over the past year, the biggest current challenges, and key priorities for the next year.

And know when to raise your hand and ask for help. If you find yourself at an impasse, reach out to your larger network of users at other schools. Identify if and when professional services are needed or whether a consultant may be best equipped to speak to your current situation. Leverage the external resources that exist in order to maximize what you have.


At its core, governance is a framework that allows for iterative, effective change. Your school has invested significant resources in the course of procuring your marketing technology, and that shouldn’t go to waste. When your school develops and adheres to a system that fosters dialogue and accountability, you’re creating an insurance policy against the need to correct bad business practices or poor system design down the road. No one wants to do unnecessary work, or face uncertainty regarding their tasks, or feel like they’re uninformed on how everything operates. So let your structure prevent these barriers from arising, then watch as your teams are able to work with the confidence and clarity that drives sustainable, meaningful progress.

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Lean On Your Network Mon, 24 Feb 2020 22:08:08 +0000

This is one of my favorite times of the school year. The new year has started, we are halfway through the higher ed calendar, and we can start to see how our strategies have worked out. We are starting to get the hang of new tactics, strategies, and platforms. We also see where we have succeeded and failed, what has worked and what hasn’t.

Every year I see how our expertise in web, marketing, writing, and content creation is used to tell the story and the unique value proposition of our institutions. I see the tough issues that we are being asked to solve. The times where we go viral and the times where our Instagram account is mysteriously switched from a business account to a personal account.

We are asked to do more and more with less and less each year, which can be a challenge each day. Where do we go for support? Where can we find people that know what we are going through? Our colleagues sometimes know, and there might be a few other folks nearby, but most of us go to our industry network. As you think about what professional development you will prioritize this year, you are making an important choice about how to further your professional growth and build your network. One of the things that I have been so proud of over the past 4+ years working with the eduWeb Digital Summit is helping to build a community that people want to be a part of. A community that supports each other year-round, helps answer those tough questions you are struggling with, and helps you deal with that tough situation that you’re facing for the first time.

So when you decide to attend eduWeb Digital Summit this year, you become a part of a network, a community, a new family of amazing people that have an incredible amount of knowledge they are willing to share.

But this year, we’ll be adding a new element to this community: a remarkably different physical space. This year we’ll be coming together at a location like very few in the world: Snowbird, Utah, a mountain top ski resort just half an hour from Salt Lake City.

We will have the whole top of the mountain to connect. We will have unique opportunities to bond over campfires (maybe we can find the fixings for S’mores), on mountain hikes, or from the comfort of the rooftop pool. Come experience something new with us. We promise you that we will have fantastic opportunities for professional growth at a conference like no other.

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Don’t Feed the Trolls Wed, 19 Feb 2020 16:32:51 +0000

Social media professionals hear this advice all the time. Viewing constant negativity is bad for our health – it can lead to trauma, stress, anxiety, even depression. It’s one of the top reasons for burnout in our industry and it can be hard to overcome. That’s why it’s important to establish boundaries. Ignoring your institution’s social media after hours is easier said than done, because the Internet simply doesn’t close at 5pm. Monitoring, listening, responding, and posting happens 24/7 and it takes a toll on all of us.

Here are some ways to combat negativity and social media fatigue while keeping your chin up.

  1. Work with your manager to construct rules for after hours. Create a plan where you only check-in after the workday for emergencies, or only during special events each semester. This can help lower your stress level and give you more peace of mind.
  2. Turn off notifications. This can be tricky, as some of my fellow eduWeb friends have experienced. You might want the notifications on during the workday, but at night it’s a different story. Look through all your notifications and decide what’s important and what you can live without. Alternatively, you can also set up ‘do not disturb’ time on your mobile device.
  3. Use social media management software. Tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Sprinklr, Falcon, or Buffer can change your job as a social media manager. They can help automate some of your work and allow you to schedule posts after hours and assist with alerts or keywords. This gives you more free time after the workday to relax and less time posting or scheduling in the evening hours.
  4. Create automated responses for Facebook Messenger. Use the bot feature. This is another time-saver and you don’t have to worry about your Facebook response rating. Creating a bot can give people the answers they’re looking for, or at least allow you 24 hours to respond if you choose to incorporate that language into your newly created Messenger bot.
  5. Hire awesome interns. Internships can create opportunities for students looking to work in the field after graduation, but a well-trained intern can also be a life saver and provide after-hours coverage, which can give you more time to enjoy dinner, or go see the latest Marvel film or a concert.
  6. Stay positive. According to Pew Research, 45% of Americans think it’s more important to allow people to speak freely on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets, but 53% of Americans feel it is more important for everyone to feel welcome and safe when using social media. When you see trolls commenting on your social media posts, remember they don’t know you, and many times they also don’t know the university you represent — it’s not personal no matter what they share. I know it can still be extremely hard to absorb or understand how another human being could say such things, but remember they’re hiding for a reason. On the positive side, there are many stakeholders (students, alumni, staff, faculty) who help self-police comments and come to your aid. Of course, if it gets way out of hand and you need to assemble your crisis communication team, there are more actions you can take.

Bottom line, don’t feed the trolls and don’t let them get you down. Help make the Internet and the social media world shine by infecting others with positivity. It can be hard, but we need to have each other’s back on this. Our health and our livelihood depend on it.

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Guest Post: Building Confidence and Community Through the eduWeb Scholarship Tue, 17 Dec 2019 04:05:43 +0000

by Amber Owens

In July of 2018, I accepted a job as the Social Media Manager for a small private university in Indiana. I was brand new to the field, and the position was brand new for the university. The members of our marketing team had been balancing social media amidst all their other duties, and when I arrived, they gave me all the passwords and left me to my own devices. It was a little terrifying and a lot of responsibility, but fortunately, my boss and team were incredibly supportive and understanding as I learned the ropes and tried to effectively wrangle years of social media chaos. On top of this, we rolled out a major, multi-million dollar re-brand within my first 30 days on the job, so not only was I learning about our audiences, our history, and the structure of our university brand, but I was also trying to figure out how to marry that information with a lot of new and exciting changes. It was a lot to take in, and most days I felt like I was barely keeping up.
As a somewhat new employee I felt uncomfortable asking for professional development dollars, so when I saw something about the 2019 eduWeb Scholarship for Developing Professionals pop up on Twitter, I applied and crossed my fingers. I didn’t let my hopes get too high, as I figured that I would probably be the least qualified of all the applicants, but lo and behold, I was selected.

It was a life-changing experience. Getting to hear from other social media experts in higher education felt a lot like coming home. I was encouraged to hear that I wasn’t alone in the things I dealt with on the job– there was an entire community of people out there who were just like me. Not only was I validated and understood, but I was welcomed. I expected to feel like an impostor in a room full of geniuses, but I didn’t; instead I felt both recognized and inspired.

During my time at the conference, I took part in presentations that both supported the work I was already doing and stimulated my creative side. I came back to my office with pages and pages of notes and ideas, ready to hit the ground running, and my team offered nothing but support. Since returning home, I’ve been able to roll out several new university-wide projects, and I’ve also built connections with our students on a deeper level than ever before. I can easily say that not a week goes by where I don’t reference something that I learned or heard at eduWeb 2019, and my university has benefitted so much from it.

Attending eduWeb as a scholarship recipient opened my eyes to so many opportunities that were at my fingertips, ready for the taking, and the perspective that I found in those presentations and discussions with other professionals was more than I ever could have hoped for out of my first conference experience. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to attend, and I would probably still be feeling somewhat alone in my job. This year, a new group of scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to have their career transformed by eduWeb, just like I did, so if you’ve been thinking about applying but have hesitated, I can only say this: there is no reason why you shouldn’t, and every reason why you should.

Amber Owens is the Social Media Manager at Indiana Tech and a recipient of the 2019 eduWeb Scholarship for Developing Professionals.

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Your Guide to eduWeb’s Tracks and Program Tue, 26 Nov 2019 14:20:05 +0000

Are you considering submitting a presentation proposal for eduWeb’s 2020 Digital Summit in Snowbird? Have you been thinking about applying for our Scholarship for Developing Professionals? Are you an eduWeb newcomer who’s curious about what the conference experience is all about?

If so, you might be looking for some more information about our tracks and program, and we’re here to break it all down for you.


What they are: As the soul of the eduWeb program, our tracks are designed to provide you with breakout sessions that are tailored to your specific work in higher education. Each track offers eight to nine 45-minute presentations and panels that will address topics directly relevant to your role, and you’ll get the opportunity to connect with others in your specialized field. You can attend all the sessions in one track, or hop around from one to another based on the presentations that you’re most excited about. They’re led by those in our higher ed community, so if you’ve got a great idea to share, let us know about it!

What’s covered: Too much good stuff! Let’s explore each track individually to give you an idea:

Social Media

In a rapidly-evolving social world, we need to focus on both the fundamentals and on innovation. Explore how to formulate goals, measure success, and develop best practices in social media, plus be inspired by the success stories from the pioneers in our field. We’ll discuss emerging trends in social media, building effective campaigns, the keys to social listening, securing buy-in from campus leadership, managing many departments with conflicting ideas and priorities, student ambassador programs, and much more.

Last year’s Best of Track: Rebecca Stapley’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Closing Accounts: Increase Engagement and Spark Audience Joy 

Content & Email Marketing

Content is still king! Come discuss how to create and disseminate the most relevant, timely, and valuable content to attract and retain your target audiences— and ultimately maximize engagement with your university. Explore topics like drip marketing, developing an evergreen content marketing plan, segmentation and personalization, identifying your audience’s priorities, and organizing and maintaining what you build out.

Last year’s Best of Track: Victoria Marzilli and Rachel Tilley’s “A Star is Born: Student Creators, Storytellers, and Allies

Using Data & Analytics

Tactics without metrics are pretty much useless. Here, we’ll focus on how higher ed professionals can investigate the stories that live within their marketing data points, and we’ll learn how to benchmark and make data-driven decisions that transform our work. Join us as we dig into Google Analytics, campaign KPIs, predictive modeling, measuring ROI, identifying the data points that really matter, and translating it all in a way that makes sense to the rest of our teams.

Last year’s Best of Track: Nathan Gerber’s “Analytics, Please: Helping Departments Understand the Data

Web/Mobile Design & Strategy

We’re living in a mobile-first world where UI and UX cannot be understated. So how do we adapt to dynamic changes in web design, promote accessibility, embrace personalization, and meet the expectations of our consumers? We’ll explore all that and more in this track. In these sessions, you’ll hear about developing a web governance strategy, leveraging your CMS to its full potential, best practices for microsites, managing your digital assets, tying landing pages into larger marketing campaigns, and about a million other things that will empower you to lead your university’s web presence more effectively.

Last year’s Best of Track: Jennie Powers and Stephen Tidmore’s “Don’t Ignore 50 Million People: How to Make Your Content Accessible”


Other Duties As Assigned

Juggling tasks that aren’t in your current job description? Come explore the ways that others have succeeded in orchestrating the initiatives that fall outside of their regular responsibilities—and get some tips on how you can succeed as well! We’ll cover some of everything here, from launching a podcast to managing a rebrand to creating a departmental training curriculum to maintaining your operations in the midst of new software implementation, plus all those other curveballs that your job keeps throwing your way.

Last year’s Best of Track: Katie MacInnes’s “No Budget? No Problem!: How UNC Greensboro Managed a Website Redesign on a Shoestring

Pre-Conference Workshops

What they are: Our pre-conference workshops allow attendees to take a deeper dive into topics relevant to their work in higher education marketing. In these sessions, held on the morning of the first day of the conference, presenters offer a hands-on format that enables those present to engage deeply with the subject matter. Our experts will guide you as you dive into the skill set that you need to further your institutional objectives, and you’ll benefit from hands-on instruction from leaders in our field in these two-hour sessions.

What’s covered: Workshops have covered a wide range of topics, including Instagram strategy, analytics essentials, how to cultivate creativity, and developing a framework to support institutional goals.

What you should know: Pre-conference workshops are scheduled so that eduWeb attendees can attend several; generally we offer four to six each year. There’s an additional charge to attend them, but the ROI is huge. And if you’d like to lead one of our workshops, let us know by submitting a proposal!

Master Classes

What they are: If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and really dig into things, our master classes are the place to do it. These four-hour sessions are usually held on the afternoon of the conference’s final day, after general programming has wrapped. These learning lab-style classes give you a full picture of the topic of discussion, then facilitate time to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your specific institutional strategy and work. You can expect a highly interactive, comprehensive approach to higher education marketing, and you’ll walk away with an action plan so you can move from theory into practice.

What’s covered: Previous master classes have addressed crisis communications planning, inbound marketing, segmentation strategy, and more.

What you should know: Plan your eduWeb travel accordingly if you want to participate in a master class– they’ll usually run from 1 – 5 pm on that Wednesday. There’s an additional registration cost if you choose to participate, and each year we offer one or two topics. If you’re interested in presenting a master class, please contact our conference leadership team.


Put all this together, add in incredible keynotes, unique networking opportunities, and the greatest community in higher ed marketing, and you get an unparalleled conference experience that is truly career-transforming. Ready to be a part of it all? We’d love to have you join us.

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Guest Post: How the eduWeb Scholarship Impacted Me Tue, 12 Nov 2019 00:17:10 +0000

by Callie Goodwin

I was a year into my role as the social media strategist at a small, private, women’s college (and struggling with some intense imposter syndrome) the day I saw a tweet promoting eduWeb’s 2019 scholarship program. Our college had been through some major changes in the previous two years, as the marketing and communications office was reduced from a staff of eight to… just me. Learning to navigate the #TeamOf1 life was difficult, especially considering that I was new to the field. And that’s where the eduWeb scholarship comes in.

I saw the tweet as I was searching the #HESM hashtag, and I quickly applied. I tried not to let myself get too excited, but I silently prayed I would be chosen, as I knew that my school could not afford to send me otherwise. A few months later, I opened my email to see the incredible announcement that I had been selected for the scholarship. I was ecstatic and ran to my boss’s office to share the news with him. He shared my excitement and told me that he had also nominated me after seeing one of my tweets about it.

In July 2019, I jumped on a plane and headed to Philly. I knew this conference was going to be great, but I didn’t quite realize just how life-changing it would be for me– both personally and professionally. I gave myself a pep talk that I would fight my shy instincts and do everything to make the most of this opportunity; then I jumped in and did it. I attended all the events, sessions, dinners, and networking opportunities that were offered. I met tons of Twitter folks in real life and formed some incredible friendships. I was like a sponge with a fire hose of information hitting me full-force, and I was soaking up everything I could.

At eduWeb, I found the community that I had been lacking and desperately needed. I remember calling my mom after the first full day, trying not to cry as I shared how happy I was that I had finally found “my people” who not only understood higher ed social media life but also encouraged and championed me to keep going and dream big. I realized that I wasn’t alone, and I was given countless resources to help me to do the job I loved even better. I left eduWeb feeling full, inspired, and overflowing with new ideas to implement as soon as I got back to the office. As someone new to the higher ed world, the experience and opportunity were priceless.

If you are thinking of applying or know someone who should apply, this is your sign: do it now! I will forever be grateful that I applied and that my boss took the time to nominate me. Not only did eduWeb provide me with dozens of sessions and keynotes with applicable tips, tricks, information, but it also provided connections and friendships in the industry that have endured well past the end of the conference.

Callie Goodwin is the social media strategist for Columbia College of South Carolina and a recipient of the 2019 eduWeb Scholarship for Developing Professionals.

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Announcing eduWeb’s 2020 Scholarship Program Mon, 04 Nov 2019 13:00:55 +0000
Last year, we introduced our first-ever eduWeb Scholarship for Developing Professionals. The program is designed to provide those who are new to the world of higher education marketing with a unique opportunity for professional development. Whether you’re in your first “real” job or you have a longer career path that’s recently brought you to higher ed, we’ve built this scholarship to open new doors for you to network, learn, and grow as a member of our eduWeb community.

What’s required to apply you ask? It’s quite simple:

  • 3 years (or less) of experience within higher education
  • Willingness to share your experience through blog posts and social media

That’s it! We’ll ask you to provide an account of your key takeaways and highlights from our time together at Snowbird, just like last year’s selected scholarship recipients did in Philadelphia, and we know that you’ll come away from the conference with numerous valuable experiences worth recapping. If we’ve piqued your interest and you’d like to be considered for this year’s scholarship, then use the link below to submit your application today; it’s a quick and easy process, and the payoff is more than worth the effort.

And if you don’t personally qualify for the scholarship, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from all that it offers. If you know someone– perhaps a member of your own team– who you believe is deserving, you can submit their name using our nomination form. We know that not every new professional realizes how remarkable they are, and the affirmation of being nominated may provide just the right boost of confidence that they need to submit an application. eduWeb attendees come back inspired, motivated, and ready to take their work to new heights; doesn’t that sound like exactly what you’re hoping for in your employees and teammates?

Have questions? You can reach out to Chris Barrows, this year’s scholarship lead, on Twitter at @CBarrows or send him an email.  Regardless of whether our scholarship is the right fit for you, we hope you’ll join us at the 2020 eduWeb Digital Summit at the Snowbird Resort near Salt Lake City, UT. We’re looking forward to welcoming you there– perhaps as a member of our new class of scholarship recipients.

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eduWeb 2019: A Look Back Sun, 01 Sep 2019 20:34:30 +0000 It’s been about a month since #eduWeb19 concluded, and now that we’ve settled back into our regular routines, we’ve had some time to reflect on everything that we gained during our time in Philadelphia… and we want to tell you all about it!

As we look back on this year’s experience, we’d like to share a few things with you about what this year’s conference had to offer:


Best Of Track 2019

This year, we had more than 50 incredible breakout sessions for our attendees to choose from, and our presenters knocked it out of the park. Choosing best in track was a very difficult task, but the following five presentations rose to the top to receive this honor:

Social Media

“The Life-Changing Magic of Closing Accounts: Increase Engagement & Spark Audience Joy”
Rebecca Stapley, Nazareth College

Content and Email Marketing

“A Star is Born: Student Creators, Storytellers, and Allies”
Victoria Marzilli, Harvard College Admissions and Financial Aid
Rachel Tilley, Harvard College Admissions and Financial Aid

Web/Mobile Design and Strategy

“Don’t Ignore 50 Million People: How to Make Your Content Accessible”
Jennie Powers, Auburn University
Stephen Tidmore, Mighty Citizen

Using Data and Analytics

“Analytics, Please: Helping Departments Understand the Data”
Nathan Gerber, Utah Valley University

Other Duties As Assigned

“No Budget? No Problem! How UNC Greensboro Managed a Website Redesign on a Shoestring”
Katie MacInnes, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Slides, Slides, Slides

It’s one of our most frequently-asked questions: “Where can I get the slides for all the presentations?” And the answer is simple: you can find them living in the app, which is available year-round for your use (and you can also access the app via desktop)! But if you’re looking for another source for all this valuable information, eduWeb’s Andrew Meyers has created a Twitter megathread that’s worth checking out.


Reflections and Takeaways

We all came away from the conference with so much useful information, and several attendees have provided great summaries of their lessons learned. Check out what eduWeb’s Jason Boucher identified as his most valuable moments, and read Volt’s overview of the eduWeb experience. Our scholarship winners shared their takeaways in a series of video posts, and Callie Goodwin and Katy Spencer Johnson both offered their thoughts in threads reflecting on both the practical and personal impact of eduWeb.

Building Community

Speaking of getting personal, we heard it from so many attendees, and we completely agree: eduWeb is a community like no other. We were moved by Summit Award winner Jon McBride’s reflection on how eduWeb has shaped his career, and Kati Hartwig summed the eduWeb experience up perfectly. So how do we foster this all year long? Start following (and using!) the #eduWeb20 hashtag now to stay connected.


Plan for #eduWeb20

It may be almost a year away, but we’re already full-steam ahead on plans for next year’s eduWeb in Salt Lake City, and we hope you’ll be there with us. So go ahead and mark your calendar for August 3 – 5, and prepare for an experience like none other at the Snowbird Resort.

Thanks to all of you who joined us (and tweeted nonstop!) this year. You all made the 2019 Summit amazing, and we’re so glad you were a part of it all. And for those who couldn’t make it, we hope we’ll see you next year in Snowbird for what’s sure to be an incredible event!

We agree, Nicky. We agree.

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eduWeb: A Love Story Tue, 27 Aug 2019 02:41:10 +0000

by Jon McBride, Brigham Young University

This year at the eduWeb Digital Summit in Philadelphia, I had the absolute honor (not to mention the total shock) of receiving  the Summit Award for Industry Excellence.

Having attended nine eduWeb conferences/summits in the past ten years, I have gained a deep appreciation for the profound sense of camaraderie and collaboration we have in this world of higher education digital communications. It’s easy to say that this community has given me so much over the years, but instead of just telling you that, why don’t I show you?

I have loved my eduWeb experience, and here’s proof:

2009: Chicago


A fresh-faced, brand-new to the ranks of full-time employment Jon McBride showed up to his first professional conference of any kind. Working in a small shop at Weber State University at the time, this experience was eye-opening to me. There was a whole community of professionals and colleagues in higher ed that I never knew existed. I felt empowered, energized, and inspired.

2010 : Not at eduWeb


My boss mandated a different, non-higher-ed conference for me to attend. It was good to experience a contrast of professional development opportunities that exist. Through this, I realized that the value from attending eduWeb the year before far surpassed what I gained from this other, non-industry-specific communications conference.

2011: San Antonio


In 2011 I sat in a session from the Oklahoma University web communications team. Coming from a small shop, I was blown away at the resources they had. They had an entire department just dedicated to digital and social … in 2011. They were doing such entertaining and innovative things. They would eventually end up running a fun, official school Tumblr that was fun to keep an eye on.

Seeing the possibilities like this that existed in the industry gave me hope. Even though I was in a small department with limited resources at the moment, there was room in this industry for robust, full-fledged teams pumping out cool content.

2012: Boston


Now, 2012 was a fascinating year for me. Having worked at Weber State for a few years and not seeing much of an opportunity for promotion in that office, a few months before eduWeb, I made the decision to start looking for other opportunities. One of those opportunities was at Brigham Young University. I went in for my interview in July and happened to mention that I would be attending eduWeb a few weeks later. To my surprise, one member of that hiring committee at BYU would also be attending eduWeb in Boston. 

Being at that conference together with Joe Hadfield, who is now one of my closest friends in the world, was incredible. It gave us a perfect opportunity to talk more shop, gleaning insights and takeaways from the sessions we attended as springboards for our conversations. We also got to spend time together in the city, outside of a work environment.

EduWeb offers opportunities for career advancement in a variety of ways, especially as it equips you with so many tools to better do your job, but no experience for me has been as directly impactful to my personal career advancement as this was.

2013: Boston


In 2013 Santa Ono, then at the University of Cincinnati, gave an opening keynote; hearing from a university president who was so completely invested in social media made everyone jealous. Seeing the impact he was able to make from his own social media presence was eye-opening.

Santa is now at the University of British Columbia, and he’s continuing to do incredible stuff on Twitter from his president’s office.

Also in 2013:

  • I was introduced to the “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign for the first time– an incredibly funny social video ultimately centered around important education.


  • I saw my first Red Sox game at Fenway via scalped tickets I got for a massive discount three rows behind the visitor’s dugout, and it was incredible.

2014: Baltimore


The infamous year that eduWeb was at the same time and in the same city as Brony-con. Those who were there will never forget.

Allison Matherly from Texas Tech talked about what she was doing with newly-admitted students in an #IAmARedRaider campaign, leveraging that excitement in a very impactful session. This directly informed what we would how we would build out our #BYUBound campaign.

Also in 2014:

  • I learned some great silo-busting techniques from Gene Begin and Vanessa Theoharis. With so many silos in higher ed, it’s such an important topic. I’ve always respected Gene and Vanessa and the great work they were doing at Babson, as well as what they’ve done since moving on to other organizations. They’re two consummate professionals in the industry.
  • On the morning of Day 3, Instagram stories launched … as I was in a session about Snapchat takeovers. We were days away from launching a university account on Snapchat but instead decided to immediately pivot, and run our snapchat takeover series through Instagram stories instead. As a result, our #MyViewFromBYU takeover series was one of the first takeover series on Instagram and is now the shining star of our social media content types. (We never did hop onto Snapchat.)

2015: Chicago

Street Teams

This is the year I presented for the first time (after pestering conference organizers about the need for more sessions about leveraging student social influence). I talked about a BYU student in the Olympics, her pre-race dance routine and landing a pitch to Beyoncé’s publicist that resulted in a Facebook post to her 63 million followers.

I attended a related session about student influence from Bryan Cain and Colleen Campbell, who were then at Oakland University. This was the first time I had ever heard about a “Social Media Street Team.” Oakland was doing incredible things with theirs and inspired me to move forward, creating one at BYU. Looking back, this was definitely one of the most impactful sessions I ever attended at eduWeb, considering how it impacted the work that I do today.

Also in 2015:

  • I saw a university with a GIPHY channel for the first time … it was from Harvard. Many universities have added GIPHY channels since, and it’s still something we’re looking to integrate at BYU.
  • I heard the term “thumb-stopping content” for the first time– a game-changer in the way we think about grabbing people’s attention. (This term would’ve made zero sense before we had news feeds on our phones, unless you were talking about using your thumb to browse channels on a TV remote.)
  • I saw my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field with my best little buddy, and it was amazing.

2016: Denver


I presented for the second time, this time doing a deeper dive into identifying, approaching, and cultivating digital influencers in higher education. I was honored to receive the best of track award.

Bill Zimmerman from Penn State presented a session called “Zen and the Social Media Manager.” While the climate of internet outrage wasn’t quite at the overall level it is now, it was certainly trending in that direction in the summer of 2016. Having Bill help us step back, evaluate our well being and mental health, and equip ourselves with strategies to handle the stresses or our jobs was important and impactful to me.

Also in 2016:

  • I learned about Matt Hames and the centralized model he was operating at Colgate. There were only two Facebook pages at the university: the institutional page and the athletics page. Everyone else on the institutional side pitched Matt to have their admissions, student life, and alumni content go out through him, and he would strategically get that content out with a nice Facebook ads and boosts budget.
  • It was my first time hearing from Seth Odell and the incredibly creative and inspiring stuff he did in his higher ed career at Southern New Hampshire University.
  • We had some good discussion about the fact that just because your audience is on the platform, it doesn’t mean that they want you there as well. (Current-day application to Tik Tok perhaps?) Otherwise, you can come across as the old guy in the room trying to look cool.

2017: Boston


I presented for the third time. This session was on how we were using Instagram stories, doing a deep dive into our takeover model at BYU.

Nikki Sunstrum provided the Day 2 keynote. Joe and I had a front row seat and ended up coming away from that hour with a whole new perspective. Nikki’s empowering words about leading out on our campus, using our social influence for good, and adding value by speaking to tough topics prompted a campaign of Instagram stories at BYU that have been game-changers for us. We’ve presented on those projects six times at different conferences now, each time giving props to Nikki for inspiring us to move forward with her eduWeb keynote.

Also in 2017:

  • Emily Truax showed us some incredible things Boston University was doing with social video. This session was the first time that I heard the research stated that by using text/captions in your videos, more people actually end up turning the sound on.
  • Jeff Brown provided a session on 20 Ways to Punch Up Your Posts, showcasing his incredible work at Baylor. There were a ton of great, applicable takeaways.

2018: San Diego

Coming Full Circle

I presented for the fourth time. This presentation was great because I was able to present along with Joe, and we were also able to bring our student employee who was instrumental in the project we were talking about. It was a great way to show how integral the student workforce in our office is to what we do. This was our first time presenting on our Instagram story to help sexual assault providers, the project that was inspired by Nikki the year before.

I loved Justin Laing’s presentation, from the University of Queensland. His strategies in maximizing content pieces from time spent with faculty was especially insightful. Also seeing a truly international perspective all the way from Australia was fascinating and valuable.

Also in 2018:

  • I met Krista Boniface from the University of Toronto and was introduced to some incredible work they’re doing there.
  • Jackie Vetrano and Lougan Bishop, then-hosts of Higher Ed Social, talked about podcasting in higher ed … something we’re seeing more and more institutions hopping into now.
  • My colleague from BYU, Natalie Tripp Ipsom, presented on how she gets a 73 (yes, seventy-three) percent open rate on the monthly email she sends out to all current students.
  • Amanda Savercool from UCLA showed off her incredible work on Instagram and added a ton of value with some interactive activities in her session.
  • Amma Marfo gave an incredible keynote on creativity, and I’ve been trying to bring her out to Utah to speak at various events ever since.

2019: Philadelphia


I ran my first pre-conference workshop. It was an hour and a half deep dive into all-things Instagram. From broad conversations about how we use the platform to specific explanations of how to create individual content pieces, this was a fun, new way for me to kick off the event.

And I somehow was honored with this award I was totally not expecting.

Chris Young and Jeremy Tiers’s session on what West Virginia is doing with student vlogging answered some burning questions I was coming to eduWeb with and gave me some much-needed inspiration in the area. We’re looking at launching a student vlogging project soon. I fully admit that sitting down to watch these 14-minute vlogs of people doing the most mundane things is a baffling Gen Z user behavior to me, but I totally get that this is a major area to leverage.

Also in 2019:

  • There were multiple, great sessions that touched on accessibility, with the master, Erika Boltz, doing a wonderful deep dive.
  • Vanessa Cook shared a ton of great insights into training and utilizing a student workforce.
  • E-Expectations is always an incredible session with so much value. This year, Stephanie Geyer and Lance Merker shared a surprising trend showing a considerable jump in high school seniors this year vs. last year preferring to use Facebook in their college search process. Those students continue to use Facebook less and less overall, but for college searches, they’re seeing value in it.
  • Katy Spencer Johnson and Daniela Huynh shared a fascinating crisis comms case study from Quincy College.
  • Andrew Meyers and Megan Miller taught about time, focus, and project management. I still have the refrain of “your e-mail is not your to-do list” embedded in my brain.
  • Sofia Tokar from the University of Rochester demonstrated the value of microcontent, microinfluencers, and being succinct. (Something I haven’t excelled in here in this blog post. But I’ll try to do better on this very final bullet point and wrap things up here.)
  • Joe and I went to a Phillies game, and it was awesome.

Jon McBride serves as Media Relations and Social Media Manager at Brigham Young University. He is the recipient of eduWeb’s 2019 Summit Award for Industry Excellence.

You can follow Jon on
Twitter and LinkedIn.

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