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Summer Conference 2011 – review

June 13, 2011

Our Summer Conference 2011 was titled “Social Media Strategy – are we in control?” But by lunchtime, our entertaining and informative speakers had questioned both whether we should have strategies and whether we could ever be in control. By the end of the day, I think most delegates probably agreed that we should at least have plans, if not formal strategies, and that it was more important to be “out there” taking part in the conversations that are happening anyway, than to worry about trying to be in control.

Our morning speakers included the marketing manager for LSN, Chris Glennie, who, as a self-confessed recent convert to social networking, posed some questions we need to consider before taking the plunge. He was followed by Richard Mayou of the National Apprenticeships Service, who surveyed some of the channels being used by NAS for its campaigns, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Given the virtual moratorium placed on marketing spending by the government, NAS have had to take advantage of social media channels for much of its promotional work and Richard was able to show the responses to some recent campaigns, including the famous Marco Pierre White burger van chef videos on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGKFmgK5cSc)

Simon Connor of femarketing gave some tips on using LinkedIn profiles to develop marketing to employers – suggesting optimising both your own and the profiles of any senior and employer-facing staff in the college to show you understand your business community and its needs. Darren Leafe, Head of Digital Engagement at the Department for Education, then gave a very thought-provoking survey of the rationale for using social media and some pitfalls and successes he’d experienced.

Our afternoon session included Simon England, Digital Webmaster at Doncaster College, who covered some of the barriers to introducing social media in colleges. Finally, two of our delegates, Alma Aganovic of Bournville College and Frank Ramsay of West Thames College, gave a short overview of where they are up to with social media use, followed by a general discussion around issues raised during the day.

Feedback was excellent overall, with most delegates finding the day very useful and inspiring. Comments included: “Good to hear how other colleges are getting on – thanks to them for being honest. Great topic for the day – very relevant.” “Thought-provoking and useful for planning next steps.” “Variety of speakers was a strength of the event and the breadth of knowledge was very relevant and useful.”

Thanks to all our speakers for making the day so useful, and to LSN for hosting the event so efficiently.

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