The recent Stamants SIM Tech conference was, quite simply, one of the most amazing I’ve ever had the honor of attending. And while I took 4,959 words of notes, my main takeaways are 1) goals first, then tools; and 2) it’s (still) about quality content.
Yes, many of us jumped, and/or took our colleges, onto social media just to figure out the lay of the land. But as the social media landscape keeps sprouting new shiny objects, we have to remember goals first, then tools. It’s a no-brainer that, by now, your college should have official presences on Facebook and Twitter. Given the propagation of Facebook misrepresentation, actual representation remains important. But before we spread ourselves (thin) across every platform, we have to stop and ask ourselves: What are we doing and why are we doing it?
When folks on the New Paltz campus come to Rachel Reuben hoping to start a social media project, her best way to help is a form where they articulate what they want and why. Sometimes they learn that the ideal social media solution for them is not what they initially thought. Kyle James counseled schools to put their own house in order before going too heavily into social media: know your goals, audiences and stories first. And if you spend a lot of money driving people to a bad landing page, reconsider your priorities.
I was also pleased to hear repeatedly that it’s (still) about quality content. You can throw up the fanciest pages, platforms and schemes, but if you don’t have quality content to fill these outlets, you’ve bought a $1,000 frame for a 5-cent painting. This came up in pretty much every presentation, whether Robert Brosnan detailing how educated contributors create campus content pipelines, Raven Zachary on making iPhone apps that innovate instead of imitate or Scott Leamon reminding us that technology and channels change but great stories are timeless.
On another note, my cherished mantra of less is more came up in such sessions as Kati Davis championing usability and simplicity, Karlyn Morissette discussing how the best e-marketing gets to the point with a call to action and Stewart Foss saying that bombarding users with too many links/too much cramped copy can be a turnoff.
The conference also brought the present into the future. Matt Arnold noted we’re heading into a post-homepage (search making every page a homepage) and post-mouse/post-monitor (mobile) era. Frittz McDonald explained that 2/3 of world’s Web users visit social networking and blogging sites and that, by 2012, more than half of Internet users will be content creators. Small wonder David Armano points to a world where we are no longer brand managers, but facilitators of brand advocates whose own stories join with the greater narrative.
I tried, with great difficulty, to narrow down to Top 5 Takeaways for each session. It only presents a flavor, the tip of an iceberg. But thanks to Stamats SIM Tech, I now feel more confident that I can avoid the icebergs as we navigate the thrilling waters of the Web and new communication.