My 3 Action Items After Social Media Week Chicago 2015

Conferences are always inspiring. Hearing about the amazing new tactics my fellow social media managers are using always leaves me determined to start hundreds of new initiatives when I get back to work. This can be overwhelming though, so after Social Media Week Chicago 2015, I’m forcing myself to pick only 3 action items to focus on going forward.

Action Item 1: Emergency Prep Meetings

The university I work for has a very detailed plan about what to do in the event of a major emergency. There are exact plans for what will be communicated, by who, and how we will evaluate our response when the emergency has ended. So the most I expected to pick-up from the panel Crisis Averted: Structuring your social strategy to prevent, plan for and manage crises was a few tips that might bolster our plan. Instead, I had my mind opened to a whole new side of emergency communications–PR emergencies.

The panel pointed out that many PR emergencies can be planned for ahead of time and procedures can be created that are just as detailed as the ones we use for traditional emergencies. For example, from time to time our university is the subject of an unflattering newspaper article. We can predict this will likely happen again, and we should have procedures for when and how to respond. My action plan is to move forward with our Director of Communications and our Public Relations Director to begin building out these plans.

Action Item 2: Narrow our Brand Voice

I was inspired after attending the panel Building Niche Awareness on Social Media. In particular, I was impressed by how the staff of the Onion has defined the tone of their accounts. As a satirical site, they attract an audience that is fairly cynical and doesn’t like being marketed to. Any campaign the Onion launches has to fit their brand very closely, or they risk upsetting this audience. My favorite example was a campaign around the holidays for an alcoholic beverage. The campaign centered around an article listing annoying family behavior and suggesting alcohol as a means to escape. This campaign would not fly with a more family-friendly audience, but it worked perfectly with the Onion’s audience.

I’ve worked very hard since taking over my university’s accounts to utilize a less formal and more friendly tone, but I think there are ways to narrow that voice even further to fit our audience. My action plan is to gather a group of students together and work with them to define specific language trends for our campus.

Action Item 3: Take More Creative Risks

Jason Peterson’s and Chuck Anderson’s panel Blow S**t Up: Why Embracing Risk is the Key to Brand Survival was very different from any other panel I attended at this conference. Most presenters are business executives with clearly laid out PowerPoints and gentle advice for the attendees. Chuck and Jason are an artists, and they didn’t hold back his criticism for those working in the social media space. Why do we need panels on being authentic when we should just be authentic? Why complain about reach when what we should do is focus on being more interesting? Why are we chasing trends instead of creating them?

It was a harsh challenge, but it definitely rang true. It is very easy with social media to get in a rut posting the same types content over and over again. It can almost be a necessity because our time is limited. But our social media audiences deserve better. My action plan is to schedule a new meeting at the beginning of each month with our entire creative team and make sure we are trying at least one new creative initiative. Our graphic designers and writers aren’t just marketing professionals; they are artists and authors with creative potential just waiting to be unleashed.

My name is Josh Schweigert. I graduated in May 2012 with an M.A. in Digital Storytelling from Ball State University, and I am the Social Media Manager at Roosevelt University.

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