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.
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.