Tag Archives: #pseweb

no gurus: we are all social media students.

Perhaps no term draws greater disdain from web communication practitioners than the phrase social media guru. It’s vain, it’s pretentious, it’s arrogant … and, if you use it to describe yourself, it’s almost certainly wrong.

Social media is an ever-evolving landscape. New platforms, apps and communities appear all the time. Best practices are established, demolished and reshaped. And Facebook is bound to change everything it does at any moment. At best, we are all social media students — paying attention, comparing notes with colleagues and realizing this field requires non-stop learning.

By all means, seek out experts among those who have tried (and failed) things in social media. And seek out classmates — those traveling this field’s fascinating learning curve and studying it together. Twitter is a never-ending classroom where even the most seasoned can learn something from novices who express great ideas or insights. Even with my geosocial presentation last month at PSEWEB and later this week (!) at SUNYCUAD, I expect to learn from my audience, just as I learn by attending any presentation.

So if someone says they know everything about social media, then they know nothing about social media. But if we admit we are still learning social media, anything is possible.

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review: does icerocket blast away other social search engines?

Fig. 1: Twitter search.

Learning about new websites and services would rank among the best parts of attending gatherings like the Canadian Post-Secondary Education Web Conference (#pseweb). When JP Rains of Laurentian University mentioned real-time social-media monitoring site Icerocket.com in his presentation, I knew it was worth checking out. My two-word review: Whoa! Cool!

Fig. 2: Facebook search

I like Icerocket for its very fast search, usability and clean organization: The top bar provides options for Blogs, Web, Twitter, Facebook, News, Images and Big Buzz. All those options are self-explanatory, with the exception of Big Buzz — which compiles all of the above plus video on one page (you have to scroll, occasionally past banner ads, to figure this out). It’s strange that Video is not an option on the top bar at this point, but otherwise their sense of organization is logical and user-friendly.

As a bonus, Icerocket offers services including an RSS Builder, a Blog Tracker that invisibly can provide analytics on your blog(s), its own RocketMail service, a Blog Trends search and an IceSpy tracker that shows top searches by Icerocket users. They also welcome you to add your blog to their search results in a one-step process if it isn’t in already. That’s a lot of functionality all under one roof.

Fig. 3: Image search

It stacks up very favorably vs. services I’ve been using:

Icerocket vs. Addictomatic.com: Long-time favorite Addictomatic offers a nicer interface in terms of the layout aggregating various searches onto one page. But as a result, the search returns are shallower and send you to the native search page for each application, from which you have to use the back button. Addictomatic offers more surfaced search options, but some of those are for obscure services. The ability to quickly toggle to long, comprehensive lists of each search tool gives Icerocket a clear edge.

Icerocket vs. SocialMention.com: My main problem with SocialMention has always been its slow-as-molasses serving up of searches. Icerocket blasts SM out of the water by providing nearly instantaneous response. Icerocket’s search via media category is more logical and has a better signal-to-noise ratio than SM. This matchup is a no-contest.

Speed and ability to search within one site prove especially important if, say, half your audience calls your college “SUNY Oswego” and the other half uses “Oswego State.” Did I mention this is a free service? Like I said: Whoa! And: Cool!

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#pseweb11 review: the importance of being human.

It may sound strange, but my top takeaway from the 2011 Canadian Post-Secondary Web Conference, among all the talk of emerging technologies, involves the importance of being human.

This thread tied up neatly in the keynote by Scott Stratten, the engaging fellow behind @unmarketing, as he humorously yet passionately championed humanity, customer service and authenticity as a way we can better do our jobs in higher education. Tools are just channels, and social media does not automatically provide connections any more than a content management system magically generates content.

Scott doesn’t know the ROI of responding to a student who tweets their acceptance to your college, “and I don’t care,” he said. “Just do it!” As to how we let complicated policies and committees get in the way of good conversations, he recalled asking an educational leader (tongue in cheek, I assume): “What’s your social media policy about talking?” The response, an excellent one: “If someone asks me a question, I just answer.”

Both Scott and Penn State’s Robin Smail (@robin2go, in “You Can’t Stop the Signal, Mal … Authentic Social Media) brought up the now famous example of the Red Cross social media worker who mistweeted on the company account about “getting slizzerd.” And how the Red Cross quickly said “oops,” reassured people they were sober and engendered a lot of goodwill. We are a forgiving society full of humans who make mistakes. In social media, we are greater when we act as humans and connect as humans. Social media channels are merely opportunities to connect … it is our content, our humanity, that determines if they are effective.

Many other presentations in a conference addressing technology focused on the human touch. In “Herding Cats: Web Governance in Higher Education,” Mark Greenfield (@markgr) of the University at Buffalo said the keys to creating a great institutional web presence do not involve web tools … they involve the education and empowerment of everyone working on the web and the buy-in of top leadership. With “King Content: A Social Media Audit,” JP Rains (@jplaurentian) of Laurentian University gave a great study of effective content among several institutions, which all came back to knowing your audience and interacting with them. Ryan McNutt (@ryanmcnutt) of Delhousie University, presenting “Fire and Ice, Status Updates and Tweets: Emergency Communications in the Social Media Age,” likewise looked at how relationships with your campus and community are vital bits of crisis communication plans.

PSEWEB also saw an upsurge in presentations related to the mobile web — increasingly important as our users go increasingly mobile — and how to produce great video on a low or no budget. My presentation on geosocial media (viewable online) may still represent a novel subject, but the audience was wonderful. The conference once again had great variety in the presentations and the institutions represented, and I learned such a marvelous melange of lessons and met such a magnificent mix of people.

Moreover, if you follow the #pseweb hashtag, you’ll see this conference creates a community that interacts throughout the year. Much praise to the tireless Melissa Cheater (@mmbc) and everyone who came together for a first-rate post-secondary education gathering!

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joining blog high ed: new connections. new content.

Tommy Johnson: I had to be up at that there crossroads last midnight, to sell my soul to the devil.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Well, ain’t it a small world, spiritually speaking. Pete and Delmar just been baptized and saved. I guess I’m the only one that remains unaffiliated.

For a long time, I used those lines from O Brother, Where Art Thou? in relation to my relationship (or lack thereof) with the larger higher education blogging networks. Truth is, no one asked. But that changed this week when Matt Herzberger and Brad Ward asked some folks in the field, including me, to infuse new voices into their collective, Blog High Ed.

It’s a flattering situation, and I’m honored, humbled and happy. But it also brings the added benefit of forcing me to raise my game. Here are some topics to expect in the coming weeks:

* Our efforts at a social Commencement. We don’t have a lot of resources — a few students and yours truly — but we’re trying to step up in terms of connecting this very exciting day.

* The second Canadian Post-Secondary Education web conference, aka #pseweb, taking place next week in Toronto.

* Where’s the love for transfers? One man’s crusade to improve social media resources for perhaps the most overlooked and underaddressed higher education population.

Finding myself affiliated with some really great bloggers, I can only hope I do my part. It’s a great bargain to find company at the #highered crossroads, and I don’t even have to sell my soul.

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social media is a complement, not a replacement.

While I enjoyed the whole experience of the first-ever Post-Secondary Canadian Web Conference, I’d say my favo[u]rite moment was completely unplanned and again showed the connective power of social media.

At #pseweb, like many web conferences, I find myself “meeting” lots of interesting folks via the Twitter streams — whether engaging in @ conversations or retweeting keen comments — but not always meeting them in person. So as the last sessions ticked away, I lamented on Twitter that I hadn’t yet met many of my new tweeps face to face. The solution came quickly, as several other folks called for a tweetup and arranged a time and place (2:45, outside lecture room 203) within minutes.

The impromptu tweetup between sessions found around 12 to 15 (should have counted) folks introducing themselves and chatting amicably. Some even admitted it seemed easier to communicate via Twitter than face-to-face, with an outside context driving the discussion, but everyone seemed quite pleased to meet those they had been tweeting with the previous couple of days.

And this is what those who quickly dismiss Twitter miss: The community it builds is the platform’s greatest feature. Twitter has become the hub of activity at most conferences, with folks starting discussions and posting helpful links even during sessions, but also a true connector on a personal level. Its inclusive nature is not limited to just those there physically, as the positive feedback of those unable to make #pseweb and enjoying our live-tweeting of sessions demonstrates. As for social media changing conferences, I only gave out one business card, yet gained 35 new Twitter connections and even several LinkedIn invites.

But, as the impromptu tweetup showed, social media is not a replacement for regular interaction — it is a complement, and often a catalyst. When incoming students interact in our Class of 2014 group, it isn’t for the sake of using Facebook; they mainly want to get to know future classmates. And meeting someone I’ve interacted with via Twitter is always a treat, confirming an earlier electronic connection. One should never view social media as a kingdom unto itself but instead a doorway that can lead anywhere.

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canada’s 1st highered web conference a success: a foreigner’s perspective.

I’m a big fan of surprise successes. And conferences. And Canada. So I was thrilled that all these meshed when I had the opportunity to speak at the first-ever Canadian Post-Secondary Web Conference at Brock University last week.

Steered by the terrific and tireless Melissa Cheater of the Richard Ivey School of Business, #pseweb started as a modest attempt at a #heweb regional, expecting perhaps a few dozen people. It grew into a very well-received conference with some 150 attendees from British Columbia to the coast of Nova Scotia and many points in between. They received some 40 program proposals and I’m pleased my presentation, Students: Your Secret Weapons for Social Media Success, survived the attendee-voted cuts.

I’m happy the conference focused on institutional websites as well as social media. In the end, social media should drive to your website and, as I found from interviewing incoming students, they consider our properties the best place for information. Thus emphasis on how to improve our own sites proved very helpful. Since we’re in the middle of a redesign — presenter Stuart Foss of eduStyle would say we all are in some way — that three sessions addressed this topic proved most welcome.

Doing my first international conference presentation, I culled additional intriguing observations about our marvelous neighbors to the north:

1. Emphasis on privacy issues. I generally see one or two audience questions about privacy, tops, at a whole U.S. conference, while most individual sessions at #pseweb had queries about privacy and the web. Landmark court cases in Canada famously emphasize privacy over right to publish, as the concern seems to transcend even the current Facebook-related issues. The conference even featured a (great) session by JP Rains of Laurentian University on Risk Management for Facebook that put many social media concerns into context.

2. The difference between colleges and universities. The USian lexicon uses the terms synonymously (if not 100% correctly). Perceptions of prestige notwithstanding, the bachelor’s and master’s degrees SUNY Oswego confers are every bit as accredited and credible as those of Harvard, Yale or any other university. But in Canada, universities generally refer to a higher eschelon of education where one can receive degrees, while colleges tend confer diplomas and certificates (there are exceptions, but how long do you want this blog to be?). So it helps to know, when talking to Canadians, that my institution would be considered a university, even if that’s not what we call it.

3. Canadians are awesome! OK, this wasn’t news to me. As expected, I met so many wonderful attendees with a marvelous span of talents, personalities and insights from across the Home and Native Land. But most telling was how a Brock student named Mackenzie (iirc) saw me peering cluelessly at a map as I navigated the occasionally confusing (aren’t they all?) campus and volunteered assistance. Beyond just telling me how to find my destination, she walked me through a few buildings to the residential quad. She wasn’t a tour guide or any such official thing, but is clearly a great ambassador.

I’ll have to save my favorite moment of the conference, which demonstrated the connective power of social media, for another post. But on every level, #pseweb proved a great experience!

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