SXSW SoMe 2015: Front line report on social media

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Election of Officers

Leadership Team positions of Chair and Secretary are up for election in June. Mike Hagedon offered to serve as Chair for another year but welcomed nominations for other candidates from the floor. Laura LePere is retiring so the Secretary position is vacant. There were no nominations for either position. Mike was elected to another term by unanimous voice vote. The leadership team meets twice a year and includes a number of advisors in addition to officers. If you are interested in being the secretary or an advisor, contact the leadership team.


The UA digital branding group continues to meet most Fridays: 10-noon in UITS 303 (the couch room). An alpha-version UA-branded Drupal 7 theme will be released soon by the digital assets sub-group. The UI/UX/Governance group will begin reviewing/testing it and addressing questions and concerns.

There is a UA Software Developers group for people involved in application development. If you are interested look up the swdev listserve. They have monthly meetings on Mondays

Watch for notices to sign up for the IT Summit coming up in the Fall.


SXSW SoMe 2015
Front line report on social media (March)

By Matt Harmon: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Communications & Cyber Technologies group providing support for college marketing.

Matt has attended SXSW each year for a number of years. It’s a music, film & interactive digital media conference. It started with just music and later added film. Interactive digital media came later but now it’s the largest part with over 900 sessions. So nobody sees everything. Matt’s report reflects what he saw.

Key points:

No dichotomy between social media and other media.

Formula for success: relevence, timeliness, authenticity, and transparency. Humor helps especially if one of these is missing.

Relevance: people interested in you will find you if you are visible to them.

Authenticity: NASA has been very successful in getting out a message through social media that traditional media wasn’t interested in delivering. Many of their strategies would transfer to the University environment.

  • Humanizing science, making it personal.
  • Leverage super-fans. Identify active social media users with an interest in your subject who have lots of friends/followers. Host exclusive events or offer special perks to engage them in your work. See Frontline episode: Generation Like: interesting look at super-fans.

Transparency: Let people see behind the curtain (e.g. WGBH tweets with links to Downton Abbey cast read-throughs.)

Do your research/be thoughtful especially when using humor. Learn from failures:

  • Papa Johns offhand repsonse to Iggy Azalea tweet/complaint when the pizza delivery person gave her phone number to friends.
  • #WhyIStayed used by DiGiorno intending to by funny. The hashtag was already in use to raise awareness of domestic violence

You don’t need to go through established media outlets or hire consultants to reach a certain demographic. You can do it yourself by reaching out to people with lots of followers who will be willing to promote you.

As an example of how social media is no longer separate—it’s all just media—some people with lots of followers now have agents.

Things are different from a year ago. Within CALS the idea of turning over social media feeds to students was proposed last year. It took 6 months to feel comfortable doing that. Now they have smart, savvy students doing their social media and everyone thinks it’s great.

Q & A

Q: Was there data at conference about which outlet to use?
A: Facebook is now like email, everyone expected to have an account (some people even use it to replace email). Different platforms attract different demographics: e.g., Instagram users tend to come from higher socio-economic backgrounds (attracted to good imagery). There are distinct subcultures w/in Facebook. Use Insights to focus in on a certain demographic. Google+ tends to be used to find new friends while Facebook is where you interact with your current friends. Google+ tends to be more long-form than Facebook: people write longer posts rather than one-liners

Q: I’m torn about using Linked In for our unit. The university seems to want us to use theirs.
A (Matt): It’s definitely a different demographic. You could use to target alumni or promote your grad & post-grad programs.
A (Audience comment): Read an article suggesting you give up Facebook for a week and just use Linked In. Tried it and began finding more interesting information about work related topics, not just resumes. Getting burnt out on hearing what people ate for breakfast on Facebook.

Q: What about Tumblr?
A: My examples were all from Twitter; it’s dominant at SXSW because it launched there in 2008. Not that familiar with Tumblr. What do you think?
OQ: More about imagery (lot of gifs), seems crazier.

Final Comments:

NetFlix uses metrics exclusively. They don’t use social personas at all, only A/B testing. You need to experiment with social media and see what works, both within and across platforms.

If you’d like more information about the conference contact me: