I had the chance to present and attend the CASE Social Media and Community conference in New Orleans these past few days. This was a quick trip for me, but one I was very excited to make.

I am very, very grateful to Jennifer, Liz, Josie, and Tyler who all were advocating for me to be part of this event. I had a marvelous time and was able to take away a lot of great experiences and insights.

How did I get to CASE?
I have to thank social for this! Being present and active on social media is crucial to help establish relationships and connections. However, it’s more than just participating in Twitter chats or consuming content – it’s about providing significant value that drives impact. I was approached to give a talk about influencer marketing in a crisis and PR situation by the conference organizers.

They reached out to me because 1) this was a topic they felt the audiences at CASE would be very interested, 2) it focused on areas I teach, research, and consult in, and 3) it would be coming from a faculty perspective. Most of the professionals who were at the event worked in other roles of higher education – so I thought this was a great opportunity to show others what faculty are doing in social media situations.

Big takeaways
I was one of the breakout sessions and I was very pleased to see my session was very well attended. In fact, I had a lot of people come up to me after my session to ask further questions about what I was covering. The topic I focused on was actually a case study looking at what my PR and crisis class did this past fall with social media and influencer marketing for UofL.

Influencer marketing for opportunities and challenges. The main element I was looking at talking about for my talk was related to influencer marketing – an area I have done research in and even some consulting projects. I was surprised to learn not many professionals were actively doing any influencer marketing for their campuses, and no one was doing anything related to this for crisis communications. I think this is one area a lot of people – even professionals – do not consider the overall purpose of building these relationships for both positive events, but also call them in to help out in times of crisis.

With this case study, I was able to show the professionals at the conference what I was able to do in my classes, what my students were able to take away from the experience, and even what impact this activity had on the university. I also shared with the audience I cover this extensively in my upcoming textbook (Social media for Strategic Communications: Creative strategies and research-based applications from Sage). There were a lot of inquiries into assignments, worksheets, etc on this. As I have preached and said many times at conferences and various meetings – I am an open book when it comes to resources and help, so I encouraged everyone to reach out to me with these questions and see what I could do to help.

Disconnect with the perception of faculty social media use on campuses. Another big takeaway – it seems like across universities, there is a disconnect between the administration/staff members and faculty members when it comes to social media. This surprised me because we are seeing more and more professors researching and teaching social media classes.

I was told a few times at the conference – you are not like most faculty members! Many of the professionals I talked to were saying how they felt a huge resistance among the faculty members regarding social media use and how to use it in and out of the classroom. My response? I mentioned they have not met the great professors who are part of the #SMprofs community I manage. I also mentioned professors are on social media – and they are aware of the best practices and trends we are seeing in the industry. We also are getting the message being on social media leads to great opportunities for personal branding, professional networks, and even getting shout outs on social media (I had to share my @TheRock story on Twitter and how I included this in my tenure package!). This got the crowd laughing.

In all seriousness, I think this is an issue we have to address across campuses between faculty and staff. What we have to do is come together – we are all part of the same team here for our respective universities equally.

With that being said – there needs to be more opportunities and events where we can all come together to discuss these points even more! In fact, one potential workshop idea for the future could be how to build these internal relationships on social media to create a higher education advocacy campaign initiative for faculty and staff. Just a thought!

I really had a great time at CASE – everyone was super welcoming to me and I really appreciated it! I had the chance to meet some of my social media friends – who I have been chatting with for years – FINALLY in person! Major, major thanks to Liz, Josie, and Tyler for allowing me to be part of this event! I really had a great time and thank you again for allowing me to share my insights from a faculty perspective.

Liz, Josie and I had a chance to take a selfie while in New Orleans (we’ll have to get one next time, Tyler!). You three are the best and thank you again for allowing me to be part of the #CASESMC group!

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,