Recap: The edSocial Media Summit

I was fortunate enough to attend the edSocial Media Summit held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. ed Social Media, a Boston-based organization, hosts a number of events throughout the US with this most recent event in SF being the pinnacle. I was able to attend — and man a sponsored table — on behalf of Socialbrite. I began engaging with Socialbrite a few months back after managing to gain an introduction to the organization’s founder and have since been taking some time to learn more about social media strategy within the context of nonprofit environments.

A speaker, our Socialbrite table and the view from Fort Mason.

The edSocial Media Summit focused on social media within this realm, as well, with the primary focus being on educational institutions. I was expecting to stay half of the day, but after looking through the slated presentations I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to listen to as many presentations as possible.

As I’m currently working with a San Francisco-based human/sex trafficking-focused nonprofit (and with Boat Shoe Boy having a start-up), I couldn’t help but listen to these lectures and try to think of how they would be implemented in each of these environments. Boat Shoes’ company isn’t a nonprofit, of course, but it would seem that these strategies and tips would be applicable across the board.

The first lecture I attended was focused on Facebook marketing and actually proved to be way more fascinating than I imagined. Brian Carter, the presenter, discussed the potential of advertising on Facebook and the power of utilizing Facebook groups. He noted that while a traditional newspaper may cost upwards of $30 in advertising to reach 1000 people, you can reach 1000 people on Facebook for about $0.25. Online advertising in general (whether through Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, etc.) is all significantly cheaper than traditional print media, but Facebook takes the cake. Plus, your ads can be targeted (by sex, interests, marital status, etc.) to make them more effective. With people spending an average of 26 minutes on Facebook each day, it seems like a good option!

The second lecture I attended was conducted by Rand Fishkin on Inbound Marketing for Excpetional Return. While he touched on a range of social media, he focused quite a bit on twitter, Google+ (something I’m still kind of out of the loop on) and the power of using videos. A few key things to pass on from this:

– Tweet good links; links are the most shared (re-tweeted) item.
– Learn the best time to tweet and reach your audience. Sign up fortweriod and you can look at the analytics on when your followers are most online and most active.
– Lever social media but also be prepared for the increased volume this can generate.
– Understand multichannel attribution: typical analytics show how people accessed your site from the last link they clicked. Naturally, most people probably followed a progression of links to get to your site though — find a way to learn about everything that leads to site traffic before writing things off.

I attended three lectures after lunch, with the first one being hosted by‘s Erin Swanson. I was most looking forward to this presentation as I found it much more nonprofit-focused than the others. She discussed the prospect of utilizing social media with a limited budget and looked at the goals of their marketing: gaining people’s attention, voice or time. To this end, she looked at their micro sites (, and examined the ways in which many of their campaigns worked to advocate and raise awareness without coming off as a fundraising campaign. Through asking people to donate their voices or to help advocate for a cause, the organization’s visibility increased, helping to gain more funding, a greater number of individual donations and increased partnerships. I found myself furiously taking notes on this one as more of the tips were applicable to many smaller nonprofits taking their first dip into the social media pool.

The following lecture was about viral video campaigns and, naturally, involved a lot of movie-watching time. Again, this was focused on education, but looking at videos’ objectives and the way they were executed across the board was pretty entertaining. The one below was one of my faves. It was done by kids at Bowling Green State University as a way of recognizing donors for their philanthropy:

The last presentation I sat through was conducted by Andy Shaindlin from Carnegie Mellon. He discussed the leadership vs. creativity and discussed how social psychological researchers proposed that people with high perceived levels of creativity had low perceived leadership potential. Yes, an interesting proposition when you consider the likes of people such as Steve Jobs (though I think it’s broadly accepted that he was a bit of an anomaly). Still, what he noted made sense — people are generally less likely to get promoted into a position of responsibility (or hired into that) if they are perceived to be creative. Organizations are generally worried that a ‘creative person’ who thinks outside of the box will waste resources on endeavors that haven’t already proven themselves successful. Of course many of the most successful campaigns are the ones that are innovative and original. Copying other campaigns typically doesn’t make you stand out much, but the low risk/low reward adage perhaps rings truest in these environments. The biggest take away from this though (and very well tied in to the presentation): Mix old school tactics with new tools. Leadership and creativity are only at adds insofar that leaders accept the tried and true ways of doing something as the best or only way of doing something. If leaders can recognize the potential of new tools and technology, then these two characteristics can certainly co-exist successfully.

All in all, an awesome day. Great speakers, interesting people and a lot of really great information and takeaways from the summit. A big thank you to Socialbrite for allowing me to be a part of this event and gain some great insight from some awesome people.

xoxo from SF,

  • Cauani

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