Social Media

IUE 2009 Social Media Panel Discussion

After the January Refresh Detroit meeting where I was on a panel talking about social media, I was asked to be on a similar panel for the then upcoming Internet User Experience 2009 conference. This week I attended IUE 2009 and the panel was a great success!

The panel consisted of

  • Christopher Barger, Director, GM Global Communications Technology.
  • Nick DeNardis, Associate Director, Web Communications, Wayne State University.
  • Kelly LaVaute, Social Media Director, Quicken Loans.
  • Shauna Nicholson, Marketing Manager/Ingenuity Engine, Biznet Internet Solutions.
  • Steve Schwartz, CEO Guy,, and Co-Founder, Alfa Jango, LLC Software & Marketing.
  • Moderator: Tim Kiernan, Co-Host for the wildly popular Design Critique podcast.

There was no live stream or recording of the panel but Zachary Spencer rocked out an almost word by word transcript of the whole discussion.

In preparing for the panel they asked for a position statement from each of us. I decided to post mine below to get your thoughts.

Position Statement

Higher education institutions are working to understand the best way to leverage social networks to get the attention of prospective students. High school and even middle school age students are spending more time on social networks interacting with peers and companies they trust.

The more time prospective students spend online the more they ignore traditional media and commercials. DVR’s and MP3 players are letting these users bypass traditional advertisements. Companies and universities now need to start evaluating where they spend their ad dollars and resources.

Social media exposes the truths about a company or university regardless if it is good or bad. In the social space users are in control and are not afraid to speak their mind. University administration may not be open to exposing these truths. Because of the traditional nature of universities getting buy in is tough. Spending the already limited resources on an untested and unknown ROI of social media can be a difficult task.

The universities that do embrace this media and can navigate it appropriately, have the ability to tap into a wealth of motivated advocates that can essentially promote the university for them. On the other hand universities that go into the social space without a game plan or by thinking too traditional, have the potential to be pushed out and their advocates could turn into protesters.

The simplest thing for a universities to do is search and discover what is already being said and posted about them. Some administrators would be amazed at the content that is already out there.

Without being present in the social space, any negative comments or posts will go unanswered and all the user’s followers will see them as truth. Being in the social space allows universities to control their brand and respond to any misconceptions or answer any questions users may pose.

The best recommendations for a product or service are ones by friends or family. When a user has 800+ friends online and they post a message, it goes out to those 800+ friends as a recommendation. It is scary to think but news that use to take weeks to tell all their friends now only takes seconds online.

With the high spam detector that middle school and high school students have, universities have started creating positions for community managers and social media experts. Ensuring they are using the most appropriate tactics to interact with prospective students. The social space is essential for universities to be apart of, but strategy and experimentation are key to their success.

event Social Media

Social Media Panel Discussion Wrap Up

Refresh Detroit held a Social Media Panel Discussion on January 21, 2009 that I was lucky enough to be part of. It was the first time I had been part of a panel discussion and it was a great experience.

Refresh Detroit Social Media Panel

The panel consisted of (from left to right):

This free event took place at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There was ~30 people who attended from various industries, they came to get a better understanding of social media and how they can leverage it.

The questions brought out not only the direction and how to for beginners but also the best practices and case studies of the advanced users in the social media field.

On the Refresh Detroit Web site they posted the summary of resources and references.

In addition the entire panel was recorded and is available below.

Audio provided by VC Web Services:


Social Media Panel Discussion – January 21, 2009

refresh-logoInterested in social media? Do you want to hear me speak? On January 21 Refresh Detroit is hosting a Social Media Panel Discussion at Washtenaw Community College. It is a free event and open to the public.

Learn about the opportunities social media brings for individuals, companies, and social causes. Find out how to use social media to

  • engage your customers
  • grow your career or business
  • drive social change
  • and more


  • Kevin Krason, President, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Founder of Biznet in 1994, Kevin’s strong leadership and business savvy have led Biznet to become one of the most successful web development companies in Michigan. Kevin’s skill at getting everyone on the same page has been instrumental for Biznet in establishing long term client partnerships.
  • Shauna Nicholson, Marketing Manager, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Working exclusively in online marketing strategy, Shauna is known for her insight on social media marketing, Shauna is a resource for metro-Detroit businesses who want to leverage the most powerful online tools available. By transcending the social media hype and pairing reality-based business and marketing strategy to the tools, she positions clients to effectively secure measurable ROI.
  • Ken Burbary, VP Digital at BIG Communications
    Ken has been involved in web development and interactive media his entire professional career. Constantly learning, he soaks up as many new pieces of information as possible. He’s equally passionate about both business and technology innovations driving his industry.
  • Nick DeNardis, Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University
    Nick oversees a staff of eight dedicated to web communications at Wayne State. He has initiated and maintains all of the university’s current social media initiatives. He hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews a higher education web sites live. Nick is also a .eduGuru writer and an active member of the higher education web community.

Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan. We will be meeting in Room 121 at the Morris Lawrence Building (map). Plenty of free parking is available adjacent to the building.

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Cost: Free! Open to the public.