Many of us have an opportunity once a year to meet up at a conference, learn from others, politely borrow ideas to bring back to our own institutions, and ask questions that can often only be answered by others in the field. Wouldn’t it be great if we could collaborate with others across the country — or even the world — whenever we needed to? Now, there’s a place for it.
Jonathan Gabriel, media design coordinator at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, is the founder of Team HESM (Higher Ed Social Media); a Slack Team that invites all those who work in higher education marketing to join. Since its founding in 2015, it has grown to roughly 350 members residing in the United States, UK, Canada, Belgium, and Australia. “If you work with social media on behalf of your college, university, or academic unit, I would strongly encourage you to join” Gabriel said. He noticed opportunities for collaboration on Facebook in the #HigherEdSocial group, on Twitter using #hesm and #casesmc, and other smaller groups, but aimed to build a place where these groups could become one.
Slack is a free online workspace, with many tools and integrations to assist working teams, all in one place. “Slack is extremely flexible,” Gabriel explained, “there’s an entire app and bot ecosystem that can extend the capabilities of the community.” Although he considered other platforms for Team HESM, he chose Slack because of its search capabilities and integrations. The channel allows for Skype or Google Hangout integration to launch video calls, individual threads to answer specific questions, and direct messaging between one or a small group of members in the team.
Gabriel used the RSS integration to create a dedicated “news feed” channel, curating content from Higher Ed Experts, Inside Higher Ed, LINK, and other higher ed and social media marketing resources. Members of Team HESM can join channels that Gabriel has created, all revolving around a particular topic. Among the channels are:
#projects and #social-strategy: Gabriel calls these channels “the beating heart of the community.” These channels host discussion about social campaigns, tactics and tools.
#announcements: Information about new app integrations or changes that affect the group as a whole.
#jobs: Dedicated to posting social media jobs in higher ed.
#conferencetalk: For members to chat amongst themselves when they’re at the same conference together, and when they want to grab dinner or just meet up in real life, they can chat in #meetups to create awesome plans!
#random: The watercooler talk that isn’t related to any of the other channels. You’ll find talk about the weather, jokes and GIFs here. “On Fridays I try to get everyone in the channel to post a photo of what they’re up to and where they are.” Gabriel mentioned. “It’s especially fun to see these photos now that our group is extending beyond the United States. One of our Australian members posted a photo of kangaroos near campus not too long ago. You definitely don’t see that in Florida, where I’m from!”
Gabriel encourages anyone who works in higher education marketing or social media to join the Slack community. With members all over the world, there is always conversation, innovation, and interesting questions being discussed. “Make it a point to interact and engage!” Gabriel suggests. “Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid you’ll ask a ‘stupid’ question. We are all there to learn from one another.”
Team HESM is free to join, and simple to use. Those interested can complete an online signup form, or send an email to Jonathan Gabriel, including institution and position information.