In early June I had the pleasure of attending the first ever International Programs Marketing Conference (IPMC) sponsored by GoOverseas. I wanted to share a little of my experience at this inaugural event. First of all, I must say that this is one of the best conferences I have attended in a really long time, if not ever.
Why do I say that? One of the main reasons is that it was social media and website marketing sessions geared specifically towards international education and a conference like this has never been done before (to my knowledge). They had an amazing lineup of speakers that geared their presentations towards our field even though they could have easily done otherwise. We had the opportunity to listen to people from Moz, Google, Facebook, and Optimizely among others.
This was the first year for a conference such as this and was a trial run of sorts. I would have to say it was a huge success. I have so many new ideas that I will never have time to implement them all. I talked to several other attendees who felt the same way.
Some of the highlights were the in-depth discussions on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), A/B testing of everything from website pages to newsletters, as well as Facebook tips for pages and groups. I must say that I rarely take notes at conferences other than a few lines from meetings or sessions but, from these two days I took almost 10 pages of notes and ideas. That is how good the material was and how stimulating.
This event was very reasonable priced, much more so than any other social media, technology or even international education conference out there. They even offered an optional wine tasting pre-conference outing which was a nice relaxing way to transition between NAFSA and IPMC. It was also not a sales pitch conference even though there were a lot of great service-oriented companies. All attendees did get a virtual good bag with discounts and free trials at the end of the conference but, at no point did any of the presenters or sponsors try and push their products/services on you. You were free to learn and generate your own ideas.
A couple of notes, if I may. I wish that the conference had focused a little more on institutional offices. It was pretty heavily focused on program providers. That is fine since many of the ideas can work but, most institutional offices do not have the full time staff that are dedicated to social media and web marketing as providers, which make some of the ideas out of the reach of institutional offices. College and university international education staff can generally only make social media and web marketing a small portion of their overall job.
However, these are minor critiques for such a great experience. I would highly recommend attending this next year since they plan on offering it again. It will be interesting to see what topics will be covered at the next event. Thanks again to GoOverseas for putting on a great event and I can't wait to see what next year holds.
Mandy Reinig is the Founder and Owner of Mandy's Mashups. This company works to educate the international travel community on effective social media use. Mandy also enjoys traveling the world and sharing her travel experiences and her use of social media while traveling with others.
I am super excited to have the opportunity to attend the upcoming International Programs Marketing Conference (IPMC) which is being hosted by GoOverseas just days after the NAFSA Annual Conference in Berkeley, CA. They have an amazing schedule and excellent speakers lined up. In order to give you a better understanding of what this conference is going to be about I decided to go right to the source. Here is an interview with Mitch Gordon, CEO of GoOverseas. There are still a few spots remaining and I highly encourage you to consider attending this awesome and extremely inexpensive event.
1. What does GoOverseas do?
Go Overseas is the Yelp/Trip Advisor for programs abroad. We’re a community site for students, and others searching for a great program abroad. We have two main missions that we’re equally passionate about: 1) To help students and travelers make more educated and informed decisions when choosing a program abroad. 2) To encourage more students to study abroad. I think many students are still too intimidated to study abroad. We want them to use Go Overseas and say, “Yes, I can study abroad. If all of these other people can do it, I can too!” We want to help people get over that decision hump and actually make the decision to study abroad. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I feel incredibly passionate about my belief that study abroad changes lives. I still think it should be a degree requirement!
Many focus on the review component of Go Overseas. We look at reviews as just a part of what we do. Our primary goal is to promote study abroad in all forms: Through great articles, alumni interviews, interviews with study abroad staff & advisors and through alumni reviews. We welcome anyone and everyone to join us in this mission!
2. How did you come up with the idea for IMPC?
Our partners were increasingly looking at us as experts and asking us to help them with all different types of marketing decisions: How to structure their website, content development, Google Analytics, A/B testing, lead tracking, etc. We thought, “Why don’t we create a conference where we can help everyone learn all at once!” More than anything else, we created the IPMC Conference as a service to our partners and the study abroad community in general. As you can see from the pricing, we’re not making money on this Conference. We’re doing it to help.
We also wanted to help organizations make more informed decisions when it comes to the ROI of their marketing dollars. There are companies that are still selling banner ads, linked listings, top of page rankings, etc. Other fields haven’t been selling advertising in that format since the early 2000s. It still happens in Study Abroad, which I think is unfortunate. We’re in a field where marketing budgets are relatively limited. Our goal is to help these organizations make better decisions with their limited marketing dollars.
3. Who should attend this conference?
Two type of people should attend the IPMC: 1) Leaders of Study Abroad & Intl Ed organizations. 2) Marketing departments. From the agenda, you can see that we’re focused on some very cutting edge topics. These skills will help marketing folks grow in their jobs, starting from the day after the conference. Leaders & executives should attend because it’s important to understand online marketing these days. Millennials make more and more of their decisions online. Students, after all, are 100% millennial. It’s important to understand how millenials think and what motivates their decision making process.
4. What are some of the highlights people can look forward to if they attend IMPC?
I’m looking forward to a lot of the speakers. Our keynote speaker, Kyle Rush, ran the online fundraising campaign for Obama, raising nearly $1B dollars. I’m incredibly excited about his talk and we’re really lucky to have him. I think attendees are going to find Kyle extremely compelling and interesting. Another highlight will be the 1-on-1 meetings. All attendees will have at least one 1-on-1 meeting with one of the speakers. This will give them the opportunity to sit down with someone at Google, MOZ, Facebook, etc. and learn directly from them.
5. How were you able to get such great speakers?
We’re lucky that we’re based in San Francisco. As a result, our network includes people at companies speaking at our Conference (Google, Facebook, Hubspot, MOZ, Optimizely, Salesforce). We worked these connections to help make the workshops and sessions as useful as possible for attendees!
6. What do you hope people will people take away from this conference?
We want the IPMC Conference to be the most workshop-oriented Conference you’ve ever attended. We’re focused on making it extremely tangible and interactive. Our goal is for attendees to learn in a very hands-on way. We want attendees to be engaged, with their laptops open, actively learning.
Mandy, I know you’ll let us know how we did when the conference is over!
Mitch Gordon, CEO, GoOverseas, @MitchGordonGo
I was recently at the WIT (Women in Travel) Summit in Chicago and a friend told me about this great new app that I must share. Some of you may already know about it but, this was the first time I had ever heard of it or used it.
The app is called Uber. I love the name but it certainly doesn’t describe its service. I guess it could relate to it being Uber easy or Uber cheap.
In essence this app is a private car service request app for most larger cities in the U.S. All you need to do is create an account, download the app and away you go. You open the app and it finds your GPS location and you are able to order a variety of car types. You can order everything from a limo type car to what they call an UberX car, which is usually a nice mid-size car like a Scion or Toyota. It then tells you how long the car will take to get to you as well as gives you a photo of the driver and the license plate of the car picking you up.
When the driver arrives, they call you, you jump in and you give them your destination and away you go. In my experience with them in Chicago they were much less expense than a taxi, even in traffic. Those that have used them in cities like Boston have said that nine times out of ten they have been cheaper than a taxi.
If you are worried about safety – Don’t be. You have to rate the driver after each trip and if a driver ever gets less than a four they can no longer drive for the service.
You also don’t have to worry about paying then and there either. You pay through your Uber account. So no need to fumble for cash or credit cards.
To me this is a must have app for big cities or anywhere you can use it. If you want to try it out, here is a $20 credit to get you started https://uber.com/invite/xkku3
Why spend extra money when you don’t have to or sit in a stinky cab!! Try it out and let me know what you think!
NAFSA 2013 has just finished and hopefully all of us have fully recuperated and our feet have returned to normal size after all that walking and standing. I thought after all the events of this extremely busy week I would take the time to recap some of my favorite activities and events.
First of all, I want to thank everyone who came out to the Tweet Ups and to the first ever #TweetIEs. They both were a huge success. We had over 40 people attend the first Tweet Up and about 30 attend the second Tweet Up on Friday. We were averaging about 50 tweets an hour using the #TweetIEs hashtag during conference hours which is way more than I expected. Everyone who participated definitely helped make this new event a huge success and this was much appreciated. I hope we can continue this in the future. If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to leave them here or tweet me!
As always, I enjoyed all the networking opportunities that NAFSA offered as well as the chance to catch up with all my colleagues, friends, and acquaintances that I only get to see once a year at this monster event. My favorite reception had to be the Rainbow SIG's bash at Hamburger Mary's which was a drag show. That was the highlight of the week and it seemed that everyone was there. That Rainbow SIG definitely knows how to throw a reception. Way to celebrate 20 years! Of course NAFSA is not all about the receptions. :) I was able to meet with numerous partners as well as potential partners. I even presented a few times to packed rooms and received some positive feedback from my presentations. All in all even though I exhausted myself thoroughly, I made the most of my time in St. Louis and made as many connections as I could. I am just sad that I couldn't attend more sessions since there seemed to be many great sessions listed on the schedule this year.
As many of you know I am on NAFSA National and Regional leadership at the moment in additional to presenting and doing my "little" day job duties. This basically means my time is not my own at the Annual Conference. However, this doesn't mean I couldn't fit in a little fun (outside the receptions) while in St. Louis. I was able to try the extremely sinful Gooey Butter Cake and I rode the tram to the top of the Arch. The tram is definitely not for those that are claustrophobic in the least. Think little round ball riding up the arch. The view was worth it though and it is something I can check off my least.
What was your favorite part of the NAFSA 2013 Annual Conference? It can be a session, reception, site you visited, or a food you ate. Let me know! Talk to you soon.
The NAFSA Annual Conference is just around the corner. I have been asked by many newbies to the conference if I have any tips and tricks to help them get through a very intense and exhausting week of activities. Below are my top tips and tricks for surviving the NAFSA Annual Conference. They are in no particular order and feel free to chime in if you have others.
1. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Ladies leave the high heels at home. You will regret wearing them at the end of the first day. One reason I say this is that the convention center tends to be huge and you could have to walk about a half a mile or more just to get from one meeting room to another. Additionally, the hotels are not all located right next door and neither are the restaurants for the receptions. So you will be doing a lot of walking and in many cases will need to do so quickly. You will notice most people are in their sneakers by Thursday or Friday.
2. Leave time between meetings. This one has gotten me many times. I book meetings back to back and forget that it will take me at least 10-15 minutes to get from the meeting spot to the exhibit hall (and find the booth I need) or vice versa. You need to leave time between meetings so you can transport yourself across vast distances.
3. A few money saving tips. Use the receptions for your dinners and other meals. Many of us get invited to multiple receptions every night. They normally don't have dinner but they usually have enough snacks that you can make a meal if you attend 2-3. This goes the same for breakfast meetings and luncheons. Plus, let's be honest, you will not have time to sit down for a real dinner or meal all week so you need to eat when you can.
4. Buy a power pack to charge your devices. If you are anything like me and are connected all the time via social media, email, etc., you will need an extra battery pack to charge your devices during the day because they will not survive from the beginning of the day to the end without a little help. I just purchased one and wish I had it several conferences ago. Click here to view the one I purchased. It seems to work pretty well.
5. Drink lots of water! I say this not only because it is good for your body in general but for several others reasons. One you will be doing a lot of talking and you don't want to lose your voice. Many of my friends lose their voice by the end of the conference. This may still happen but at least you can prolong it from happening possibly. Also, the convention center and the hotel rooms tend to be really dry and dry everything out including your throat. I always carry a bottle of water around with me and fill it up often during the day. They generally have either drinking fountains or portable water to fill up with around the convention center for everyone.
6. Have a plan of attack for the expo hall. The Expo Hall is huge. There are literally hundreds of booths throughout this massive space. This means if you are planning on gleaning any information from this expo hall you need to know who you want to visit and which booths you definitely want to stop by. If you don't, you will get lost in this massive space. Believe it or not I have gotten lost in there at least once every year. The booths all look alike after awhile. I suggest creating a list of those exhibitors you want to visit and then organize them by their booth number. Then start at one end of the Expo Hall and work your way to the other. You will need to do this over the course of several days since unless you are planning on spending 3-4 hours or more in the Expo Hall at one time, you will not be able to make it to all the exhibitors on your list at one time.
7. If you are presenting, do not count on the internet working. Make sure you include screen shots in your presentation in case the internet doesn't work. I have given too many presentations and been in too many rooms where the internet doesn't work or is so slow you can't do what you want. This also includes embedding videos into your presentation vs. counting on the internet to play them. If the internet works great but, if not you still can show what you want people to see.
These are some of my favorite tips and tricks for newbies to the NAFSA conference as well as a refresher for the veterans. If you have any great tips please let feel free to add them here.
I usually don't write about the conferences I attend because to be honest most of the time I usually don't attend many of the sessions, except the ones I am presenting at, and am usually meeting with partners or potential partners. Additionally, in the last few years I haven't really found any sessions that have really inspired me or given me great ideas to put into practice.
This all changed when I recently attended the 2012 Forum on Education Abroad Conference in Denver, CO this past March. I was fortunate enough to also attend the Standards Institute in addition to the regular conference activities. All I can say is that this is a must attend for all those in the Education Abroad field. In total, there were really only 1-2 sessions that really didn't resonate with me but every other session I attended created so many ideas that I wanted to incorporate into my work that the conference actually became overwhelming. I have page after page of notes from the sessions I attended. The worst thing that happened was that I kept thinking about all the new concepts I wanted to incorporate but then had to stop to think about how I would be able to incorporate them all given the short staff situation I am currently in and already being overwhelmed and overworked as the new Director of an international education office. In the long run, that is a good problem to have. I haven't had that happen in years, in terms of going to sessions that generate so many new concepts I want to being using or attempting.
Some of you may ask what makes this conference different than all of the others out there that we in the international education field get asked to attend. There are several things that I think make this conference worth attending. One is that it is focused on just education abroad rather than the entire international education field. Additionally, the caliber of the sessions is extremely high. As a mentioned earlier I only attended 1-2 sessions in a 3 day period that didn't really resonate with me. (I won't mention what those were so as to not pick on anyone and those sessions may have resonated with others.)
Another factor that plays heavily into this conference is while, yes, you do get a chance to meet with partners and other colleagues that is not the purpose of most people's time there. The conference gives you plenty of time to network with extended coffee breaks and several receptions so you don't have to worry about missing sessions to talk with people. Plus the exhibit hall is only open for one day which means you have to focus your attention on the sessions.
I can't say enough about the high caliber of the sessions; what I also want to mention is that this conference is a must for education abroad professionals to attend, it is also a great opportunity to bring faculty and others that work with education abroad to assist them in understanding everything that goes into making programs run. It would be great to get these individuals to this conference especially those that have been involved for years in running programs but don't necessary understand why offices have some of the policies they do.
While I haven't talked about individual sessions since what may resonate with me may not resonate with you I would still encourage everyone to try and make this conference every year and make it a priority for your budget to attend this conference. Also consider the Standards Institute, which would have been enough for me in terms of generating ideas, but seems to hit on some of the most relevant topics in the field today.
I will say it would be great if they covered a few more technology topics related to education abroad, especially more than the typical blogs that have been around for awhile and focus on a few more of the newer technology but that is just from some that is fully integrated into social media. :)
If you attended the Forum Conference in Denver I would love to have you comment with your thoughts on this event as well.
Hope to see you at the next Forum on Education Abroad Conference in Chicago in 2013.
Next week I will be speaking in Boston at the International Career Consortium Annual Conference.
I am really looking forward to this event and will be talking about using social media to engage alumni.
Here is my presentation description.
Creating Global Communities: Using Advanced Social Media Strategies to Engage International Education Alumni Social media is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to create global communities that connect people around the world to enhance career opportunities and networks. This session will discuss means for career development professionals to utilize social media to engage international education alumni (both study abroad and international students) in creating these communities. This session goes beyond the basics and assumes some intermediate to advanced knowledge of social media tools.
If you are going to be in the Boston area next week I highly encourage you to consider attending this event. There are a lot of great sessions in addition to mine. :)
The deadline to register is tomorrow - April 6th.
For more information on this conference please visit http://www.intlcareers.org/annual-conference.html
I hope to see you there. Looking forward to an interesting day!
Since it is that time of year and many of us are preparing for the 2011 NAFSA Annual Conference in Vancouver I thought I would write a post about how to make the most of the annual conference, whether you can be there or not, by using social media.
First of all, I wanted to mention that my cell phone provider is Verizon and they told me that any texting I do will be part of my normal package so I plan on communicating primarily through these means. So if you have Verizon this may be a good way to go. You can use your texts to update your Facebook and Twitter accounts even when you cannot access the internet so this is a nice, inexpensive alternative.
Second, I want to say - Make Use of Your Resources. This is extremely important. For this I am mostly talking about social media but this also pertains to networking in general. This can mean the people you know, the sessions you attend, the receptions you go to, etc. You can learn quite a bit from the simply conversations you have with people in passing at any of the above events.
Now in terms of social media, the NAFSA Annual Conference is a hot bed of activity for those both at the conference and those that are unable to attend but you are using social media. If you haven't started using Twitter or something like this, NOW is the time. There will be thousands of tweets happening from the sessions, official and unofficial TweetUps, receptions, information meetings, and the exhibit halls. So you can find out what is happening even if you can't be in the other session you want to or if you can't be there at all. In addition, if you can't be there you can also ask questions and many times others tweeting will see these questions and either answer or ask the presenter for you and get the answer.
For those attending the conference, I want to highly recommend you attend the TweetUps to meet others using social media technology. Plus, I have been assured there will be free wifi for the TweetUps so it is your chance to take advance of this plus meet a great group of people!
I also love all the pictures people post of attendees in action. This could be of presentations, the exhibit hall, receptions, whatever so if you are going this is your chance to let everyone know what they are missing :) and encourage people to attend a session.
I also encourage everyone who has a social media account or who is thinking of having one to start using it before the session to find out what the popular sessions will be, the popular events, and the great places to visit in Vancouver will be. You can also ask questions so you can head to Vancouver ready to hit the ground running since it is a sprint not a marathon of a conference.
Finally, I would like to suggest that everyone log in and create a profile using the NAFSA Conference Connection so you can set up your agenda and schedule meetings with organizations/institutions you want to meet with and so you don't double or triple book yourself (not that I ever did that :)).
I hope you have found these suggestions useful and hope to see many of you in a few weeks in Vancouver.
This blog is all about social media. I hope to offer tips, tricks, advice and more on using social media within international education and international travel.