Monthly Archives: July 2013

8 Tips on How to Present at Your Next Industry Conference

I don’t know about you, but I love to attend conferences. There are many reasons why but here is my top three:

  • Personal Brand
  • Networking
  • Personal Brand

Conferences are not only excellent opportunities to learn, but also to build your personal brand. Last week, I had the opportunity to present with Veronica Steele how higher education institutions can build social media strategies with their limited resources. A tall order for some since most enrollment and higher ed professionals in the room were the only resource dedicated to maintain social media strategy and tactics.  I’ll share a tip with you. The best way to get the most out of your social media efforts is to have a plan and strategy tied to you tactics. We shared the best way to do this on a shoestring and you can check it out too.

While at the conference, I had a few folks ask how I landed the opportunity to present. Was I a social media guru? While I don’t think there are truly social media experts, I do believe there are folks who are in the trenches everyday learning and building amazing programs. This is why I push to present how someone, like me, doesn’t need to be at a Fortune 100 company to do social media well.

But, I bet you have something too to share. So, how can you build your brand to present at a conference or the next association’s event?

1)   Brand Your Social Networks.

What story is your LinkedIn profile telling? First and foremost, your social networks should tell a consistent and cohesive story of who you are and what you are about. If you are passionate about Excel, awesome! Then you LinkedIn should share something about your Excel experience and perhaps your Twitter account shares nuggets how to use it better. Build a story so folks come to know who you are.

2)   Build your Authority.

Blogs are a great way to express your knowledge on a topic and build trust with your audience. Hubspot wrote a post on 11 ways to use content to build authority. Everyone has something to share. Start writing down your ideas in a notebook or use Evernote. Here is how I maintain my social media authority through blogging.

3)   Don’t Wait for Your Boss

 I think many folks wait for their boss, coworkers to validate their expertise. Stop waiting for your boss to say you are the expert. There are very few bosses out there looking to develop their team beyond their current job role. Look for ways to build your personal brand through extracurricular activities such as associations and volunteering. I love to teach about social media whether it is talking to college students how to marketing their innate social skills or speaking with colleagues how to use social media better. Regardless of how big or small, I am always up to share and teach what I know.

4)   Find Industry Champions

Find industry allies who know you and what kind of work you do. These influencers will be a great help and will sometimes refer you for other events and conferences to present. Keep in touch with these folks quarterly or at least annually. For me, I tend to share new articles I have written and ask for feedback on projects. You may have something different to share. Whatever it is make sure to always be connecting.

5)   The ABCs of Conferences: Always Be Connecting

Just because you are an attendee at a conference doesn’t mean you cannot be next year’s speaker. Whatever your industry is, find out how speakers get selected. Whether it is through professional services or marketing, find the decision makers for the conference content and make friends. Conference planners want to know if you are a good speaker so make sure to share your previous work through Slideshare or a blog. I tend to share pervious conference evaluations on my presentations, so if you have those share ‘em. Remember the conference planner job is to make the conference amazing so help her out by showing how awesome of a presenter you are.

6)   Find Internal Opportunities to Present

In order to show you have good presentation skills to the conference planners, you need content to share with them. Create workshops or seminars for your own team or company. Start with your internal stakeholders to see if you have a topic that would be interesting to sales or account teams. Host an internal personal development seminar. Leaders are always looking for professional development opportunities and at a low cost. I wrote how I did my social media training DIY and turned that into an article, which then in turned into a speaking opportunity.

7)   Stop Waiting for your Aha Moment

If you are like most people, you are waiting for some earth-shattering event to occur so that it can be your sign to get moving. Stop procrastinating. Personal branding takes time so the sooner you start the better.

8)   Create Some Content

 You heard content is king, but what does that mean? Anna Famery’s summary shared “If there is no content worth reading or seeing on the site, than people won’t go.” How do you fuel the content machine? Jot down different topics to discuss on your blog. Here is a list to get you started:

  • Industry trends
  • Best practices
  • Tips
  • Pitfalls
  • Top Ten lists
  • Case Studies
  • Personal Observations
  • How To’s
  • Work Funny Ha Ha’s

Bonus: Connect with other like minded professionals. You never know what contacts could lead to your next conference presentation.

Everyone has something to share, what will you write or present about?

Rachel DiCaro Metscher, director of advocacy and communications for Hobsons, has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. Currently, Rachel is responsible for Hobsons’ external communication programs, which include public relations, brand, website, and social media.

What Do You Need to Make Social Media Successful in Higher Ed?

As I put the final touches on my social media presentation next week, I started to think about why social media strategy is tough to implement in institutions of higher education. Higher education is not the only space where social media is a challenge, however, I think this market has to address both consumer (students) and business (internal stakeholders) to business (other departments, organizations) end of social. What causes challenges to institution wide adoption?

  • Social media proliferation is hard for any organization, but extremely challenging for higher ed teams to keep up due to resources (human and monetary). A given, but an important area to address why schools need to narrow down their focus when it comes to social. it is not about quantity, but quality. icon_higher_education
  • New channels coming out often (hello Vine, Snapchat).
  • Not asking the question of where your audience is. Or the other 9 questions before making the social media leap.
  • Knowing how to deal with crisis communications and social media important role.
  • The wrong people managing social media. Think about this in terms of strategy versus tactic.
  • No buy-in that social media is both a channel and a medium outside of the admissions office.
  • Social media is reviewed only when there is a problem.
  • Social media is not only about broadcasting your news, it is about engaging with prospective and current students, alumni, staff, and community.

So, how can you address the above?

  • Set goals up for social media
  • Buy-in from senior leaders both in your organization and outside
  • Listen before sending out any information. what are people sharing about your school now? How can you contribute to the conversation?
  • Have a social media response procedure in place to deal with negative comments or crisis situations
  • Enlist in folks both on staff and students to contribute to the conversation.
  • Make sure to train folks who will use social media on behalf of the school
  • Monitor your success and share those internally
  • Plan for engagement. What can your school do to interact?
  • Plan for content. What content will you share?

While the above is not exhaustive, it is a running list of things to help make social media adoption more successful. What would you add?



Rachel DiCaro Metscher, director of advocacy and communications for Hobsons, has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. Currently, Rachel is responsible for Hobsons’ external communication programs, which include public relations, brand, website, and social media.

Ten Questions You Should Ask Before Making the Social Media Leap

This week, Enrollment Management Report editor published her interview with me and Concordia University’s social media manager, Veronica Steele, on how to create successful social media strategies. Great read for folks looking for best practice on implementing social media across an organization.

I think it is important to note social media strategy can’t happen unless the organization is ready to be truly social.  This readiness or rather willingness for social media got me thinking about what questions you should ask before making the social leap.

If you want more people in your organization to start taking social media more seriously, start thinking about if your organization is truly ready for change. A couple of things to consider:

  • Are your stakeholders both internal and external using social media to connect and share information about you, your organization, or market trends in your industry?
  • Are you ready to listen?
  • Do you have resources both in terms of human capital and tools?
  • Who are you going to share with? Identify your audience.
  • Similar to audience, who is your ideal persona using social media that you want to engage with?
  • Are senior leaders accepting of social media?
  • Do your senior leaders use social media regularly?
  • Is human resources ready to deal with some of the unpleasant aspects of social media?
  • Besides your team or department, who else will participate?
  • Are you ready to prepare training and constant encouragement?

The above list could be lengthier, but the point is to think about social media more than a marketing or public relations function.  Social business has to be the whole company and everyone needs to be involved in the change. Ron Ashkenas wrote in the Harvard Business Review that one of the challenges of change management is strengthening managers’ ability to manage change. I like Ron’s article because similarly with change management, we have a tendencies to pass the social buck to someone else in our organization in hope that it will work. While you need someone to drive the proverbial social media bus, you do need other to contribute.

If we don’t make folks accountable the change will never occur no matter the amount of training or passion. This is why social businesses like Zappos are winning at the social media game. Zappos and others alike understood the organizational necessity for this type of change. It is either everyone is all-in in performing and creating social media programs or not. This type of buy-in has to occur from senior leaders to entry level employees. Social media change does  not happen by chance, but rather on purpose.

If you are thinking about where you are in the continuum, consider this excerpt from an HBR in 2007 about why organization change fails. I like the chart because it serves as a check list for social media strategist. As you move throw the stages of getting social to be acceptable think about where you are and where you like to be. I always think it is crazy when organization’s don’t have a plan in place. Would you create a website without a plan? Probably not.

Rachel Metscher Ten Questions Your Should Ask Before Making the Social Leap

Artwork from HBR article by John P. Kotter on Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail

The Business Case for Social Media Keeps Growing

Last month, I updated a previous post about the importance of earned media to your SEO strategy. And at the rate  social media changes, looks like I have another reason to post an update on how the business case for social media keeps growing.

This morning I was reading Media Bistro’s All Twitter article abut how hugely important social media signals are to a strong SEO ranking. Not just important, but hugely important.  No surprises here, but I think the article does have some awesome nuggets to share.

  • Seven of the top ten important SEO rankings come for social media (debatable, but I think the author provides some good assertions)
  • Several technical factors play a role in SEO: length of url, position of key words, etc.
  • Quality Content is still important.

You can check out the image.

All of this is to say, that I love articles that say what you already know. Social media is not a nice to have, but a necessity. I think at the speed in which social media is growing is scary, perhaps fearful, but that’s why you need to embrace change now.

This is why folks are fighting for corporate change in their organizations to be more social. And let’s be clear, being a social business is not just about marketing, it is about the whole business. Be the disruptive change or diva in your organization to usher social media into the business. You will need to start small because change is hard, but the reward is huge. Rewards for businesses who get that social media is more than just clicks and likes, will be:

  • More profitable. (think Zappos)
  • Better connected with their clients and prospects
  • Mostly have better internal engagement with employees
  • Understanding of real time trends

Nobody wants to say no to more profits, but sometimes infusing this type of change takes a long, long time. It takes planning, strategy, bravery, and guts to get this done. Are you up for the challenge?