Thought Feeder hosts featured in a square image. White text reads “Live at HighEdWeb - Is it time for campuses to BeReal?"

Episode 45: Live at HighEdWeb: Is it time for campuses to BeReal?

Thought Feeder hosts featured in a square image. White text reads “Live at HighEdWeb - Is it time for campuses to BeReal?
Thought Feeder
Episode 45: Live at HighEdWeb: Is it time for campuses to BeReal?

Coming to you LIVE from HighEdWeb 2022, it’s Joel and J.S.’s latest mailbag episode of Thought Feeder!

Find out what happens when Joel and J.S. stop being polite and start Being Real!

Joel Goodman: From Bravery Media and Live this week from HighEdWeb 2022 in Little Rock, Arkansas. This is Thought Feeder. My name is Joel Goodman. With me, as always is the Unsinkable Jon-Stephen Stansel.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I can’t be sunk.

Joel Goodman: He can’t, he refuses to be. A few people tried, but you know, it’s the, it’s like the Salem Witch trials and we’re recording this in October, so it’s entirely appropriate.

So, we may have people filtering through to ask questions. We may not, we don’t know what’s going to happen. But we are recording this episode live from HighEdWeb in a conference room. In the Little Rock Convention Center. And, there’s a very nice little bit of room reverb in here.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah. The last time I was here, the celebrity of choice was Tom Arnold. The Little Rock Comic Con was here in the Little Rock Convention Center.

Joel Goodman: Did you give him a beer?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: No. Um, yeah, no.

Joel Goodman: Did you meet, did you meet him?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: No, no. The line was very short, but I, was chasing after my son, so did not have time to, to meet Tom Arnold.

Joel Goodman: Yeah, he didn’t wanna meet, the five year old kid wasn’t interested in Tom Arnold,

Jon-Stephen Stansel: He didn’t have any interest in Tom Arnold.

Joel Goodman: Okay. Makes sense. Uh, so for this episode, uh, we wanted to do a mailbag, depending on if anyone comes in to ask questions while we’re recording this, we will talk to them. But, if no one does, we uh, will just, I guess, recap HighEdWeb so far or something.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: We’ll make our own, and some of them are quite insightful. So let’s start with one. A listener asked, what is our favorite, most helpful metric to track?

Joel Goodman: So I’m not gonna take this from a social media per perspective because that’s not what I do. Right. Um, And man, I don’t know if I have a favorite metric. I,like doing conversion rate optimization. I like tracking conversion rates. And so along those lines, you don’t have to say like a conversion is just, Oh, someone applies, or Oh, someone becomes an actual student.

You can set that to, uh, an inquiry or you can set that. You know, conversion metric to something that you is attainable and something that actually has, uh, value in the process of what you’re doing. And a conversion isn’t just one thing that, you know, it can be multiple things. So I like to, I like to look at that, but I think in, you know, kind of more simplistic terms.

Yeah. I don’t know. Like, I love it when people share their news stories from a website and on

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I like, I like vanity metrics because I’m vain. Oh yeah. And I just wanna see those numbers go higher and higher. Um, that’s just my favorite thing ever. Um, but in all seriousness, it’s always a cop out answer, but like, it’s just, it depends on what your goals are, right? So, you know, if you know the metrics that you need to track for an admissions office who’s, you know, you’re trying to get applications or sure is gonna be very different than the main account or an account selling.

Not even in higher ed, something, which is where you can be very quantifiable and say like, I, I’ve got conversions based on, you know, people click this and bought whatever do add. Um, so it really varies, you know, I think at the bottom line though is like, More than anything is engagements, and we’ll talk more about this later, I’m sure, and as we talk about the conference, but like what Liz Gross was saying in her, uh, presentation about, you know, all of the magic that happens in replies and, you know, if, if we are engaging with our followers and we get that engagement, those engagement numbers higher with not so much just higher, but like of a higher quality engagement, like genuine engagement, Not just like, not a, not, not, not like or a retweet.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Retweet.

Yeah. Or just like replying with a hard emoji. You know, it, there, there there’s some sort of genuine connection being made between brand and consumer. Um, I, I think that’s really what where it is and it’s hard to measure.

Joel Goodman: It really is. I mean, you apply that to like a website and it’s like, Oh, well all they’re doing is engaging with the website, but, but are they?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: also ask, what are your favorite trending content formats? Um, . I have so many, like you were talking about.

Joel Goodman: Be reals. Yeah, that’s what it’s

Jon-Stephen Stansel: be reals or are we talking about like content formats as. as content channels or are we talk talking meme formats? You know,

Joel Goodman: code codecs,

Jon-Stephen Stansel: there’s so many different, different, I mean, are we talking gifts?

Are we talking? But you know, for me, I’m just gonna go, go and say gifts. I love gifts and there’s a lot of talk right now, there have been articles written like is is the gift Dying? Um, our, our gifts are cringe because Gen Z doesn’t use gifts, and apparently Gen Z is the only generation we’re supposed to care about marketing to now.

So whatever. And I, I just, I don’t think that’s where we are yet. Like I think gifts have, are an incredible value add for brands. They’re easy to make. Kevin just made one of us in like five minutes, so you can repurpose content. They get incredible. The numbers that you get from a Giffy account are just.

Off the charts huge. Yeah. So who cares if Gen Z isn’t using ’em like millennials, Gen X and boomers are still doing it and they ha their money spends just as easily

Joel Goodman: there’s more of them. Yeah. Combined

Jon-Stephen Stansel: And I’m sure gen everything comes around. Cause I remember like. You know, gifts were kind of cringe for millennials about 10 years ago.

It was like, oh yeah, those things that were on Web 1.0. You put that little under construction gift and I was

Joel Goodman: this, this spinning, um, envelope or

Jon-Stephen Stansel: And, and now it’s a whole different, So everything comes around.

Joel Goodman: Yeah, I’ve been, I’ve been really, uh, I’ve been really taken by all the, the AI generated, uh, imagery and now like we’re moving into AI generated video, which is really interesting to me. I dunno if it’s my favorite. It’s just the thing that I’m most captivated by right now. Um, You know, I’m been trying to generate some like backgrounds for video, stuff I’m doing and things like that and get some cool results and some really interesting things.

But I’m thinking about, had this thought a couple weeks ago about like, you know, we got a higher ed client and we need a bunch of imagery for their site and they don’t have it, and so why don’t we just. AI generate a bunch of photos from the website and I kind don’t know because you don’t have to get photo releases.

Mm-hmm. like they’re not real people, but they look like real people because it’s an amalgamation of whatever. And then, you know, placing them in a space is actually pretty easy. You just use photos of campus that exist and then

Jon-Stephen Stansel: wait, wait a second. These aren’t real PE I thought we were supposed to be.

Joel Goodman: real. It’s fascinating and like the, yeah, the leaps and bounds that are happening in, in that whole tech, like the video stuff that’s happening now is really interesting.

Or even, I mean, like, you can look at that’s been going, like, it’s been going on for a while. Like I, I’ve seen demos in like, um, like professional filming settings where they’ll like film a certain section of a backdrop and then they’ll just let AI like fill in the rest of it. Um,

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Here’s my question about it, and I, I haven’t really dealt much with the ai. An art or video, but I, I did an experiment not too long ago where, um, I, I used an AI auto generated text tool and cuz all, all the, the TikTok social media folks are like, Yeah, you gotta use copy ai. And I wanted to see, see what it was about.

And at the end of the day, it, it’s impressive what it can do, but the copy that you get, your results. Only as good as what you input into the ai. Yeah. So there’s still got to be some sort of human creativity and skill to generate the result that you want. Yeah. Um, and, and you know, for what I found was, was like the copy ai, the gen, it was really good, but Okay.

The experiment I had was like writing captions for photos. So I had to basically, Kind of like do the alt text and describe the photo and like what copy things. And it was actually a lot of work to like writing out a good description that would give me the result I wanted. Mm-hmm. . So I think there’s a lot of people that are like, kind of threatened and naturally like Yeah.

By, by AI entering the realm of art and creation and creativity.

Joel Goodman: Oh, totally.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I think it’s gonna come down to like, it’s just another, it’s like when, when, when, when photography started, Like, Oh, is this gonna, how is this gonna replace painters? And like, Oh, there’s still room for that. So

Joel Goodman: Yeah, it’s, um, it’s an interesting thing to think about because you, I think, like on the one hand, like, I’m very, very much well with our discussion about cam, but I’m very much against like, the democratizing of design, so to speak, which I don’t really feel like what they do

Jon-Stephen Stansel: not, And no homogenizes it.

Joel Goodman: It’s the homogenize,

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I gotta get my jab in.

Joel Goodman: of it. Yeah. Um, and I think what’s, what’s different with this is that like, it’s, it’s a real skill to do. Proper 3D modeling, you can’t, like, I mean, the photorealism type of stuff that can come out of AI generated imagery is astounding. And most of the human input is the millions and millions of people that have been training this AI over, you know, with their own prompts and with their changes to it and their tweaks and all that kind of stuff.

Um, and then from there, You end up, Yeah. Having to write a good prompt and that’s where the work comes. But like, there’s no way you’d like with text, like you could have written that, right? It’s like it’s supposed to save you some time and like that sort of thing. Like when it comes down to the imagery type of stuff for the video stuff, it’s the stuff you’re just, you’re never gonna be able to make on your own.

And so like being able to have a program that generates something that was just like an idea in your head is. Wild . It’s just, it’s pretty astounding. But it, but you know, to your point, I mean, there’s, there’s all kinds of ethical issues that, that come up around that. Um, or at least questions that come up around that, that I think society has to grapple with a little bit more and try to figure out what to.

What to do. And I think, I think that’s new tech that’s really gonna force that conversation, uh, into the mainstream. It’s a conversation that’s been happening in academic circles for decades. Um, even just since like Photoshop editing came around, you know, that, or even before that. This is the precursors to digital manipulation.

But this is like fully, you know, it’s, it’s like all the deep fake type of conversation that happened a few years.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Our next question, and this is, this is a hot one, that we’re gonna have some hot takes. Do you eat cake with a spoon or a fork?

Joel Goodman: Nick, thanks for your question.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I didn’t even know this was a question like, like this was a, there was a debate around this. Yeah.

But because I mean fork, why would you eat cake with, Yeah. Fork. Anything else? Definitely a fork. But after we received this question, my wife brought me a piece of cake with a spoon, and this is blew my mind. It’s never happened before.

Joel Goodman: if you think back, like how often have you unknowingly eaten cake with a spoon cuz you just weren’t paying attention and your wife brought you,

Jon-Stephen Stansel: that. And you know what? It worked fine. It worked. It did. It did the job. It did the trick. I, I’m good either way. As long as the cake is good.

Joel Goodman: Yeah, that’s the, that’s the, that’s the hard one.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: And now let’s take some questions from the audience.

Joel Goodman: Yes. Hi. Hi, sir. What? What’s your question?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. Thank you all so much for doing this. I was wondering if, if you could share some of the insights or maybe your biggest takeaway from the conference so far?

And then second question, if you could, with the snap of your fingers, like Thanos, get rid of one social media platform, which one would you pick and why?

Joel Goodman: I don’t know what my biggest takeaway is yet, except I, I feel like I’m supposed to be on Be Real.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Oh, Yes, but your brand. And have to be.

Joel Goodman: It seems like something that a brand shouldn’t be on because like, there’s, I mean, it’s very hard to find an authentic brand that would make sense on a platform like that.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah. I, I, I think it requires some creativity and some work arounds and kind of defeating the true spirit of the app. But, uh, that, that’s a whole other question. Uh, this person is kindly asked, Come up and ask the question in person. We should do it directly. Uh, if I could snap my fingers and Thano style and make any.

Social platform disappear. Um, I mean, who wouldn’t say Facebook at this point? Facebook. Like it’s, and, and that I, I really enjoyed Andrew’s castle’s, uh, presentation on that of like why he made a case for universities not being on Facebook or Instagram or anything meta owned. Um, based on the standpoint of.

A lot of the negativity and, and bad things that, that that company does. Um, I’ve personally, I guess this says something about me morally where I’m like, I’ve just accepted the fact all social platforms are e uh, evil in some sort of way. Yep. Um, but, you know, they also pay my mortgage. Um,

Joel Goodman: I mean, it’s, you know, you gotta reconcile that these are all corporate owned money making entities that are not there to serve the social good. They’re there to make money off

Jon-Stephen Stansel: of.

Exactly. And, and, and, and we, we don’t wanna discount the good. they can do. Sure. Like there’s a lot of, uh, we, we dwell on the negative stories and there are many, and there, there are, They are big, but we don’t think about. And promote as often the positives that come out, the connections that people make, the, the, the groups where people do find, uh, you know, marginalized groups, find acceptance and find, you know, um, like-minded people, um, fandoms that, you know, can connect in different ways and, and friendships that are forged.

But yeah, Facebook, right now’s just accessible. , it’s just not a lot good is coming out of that one.

Joel Goodman: I, I would definitely get rid of Facebook.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: My biggest takeaway from the conference, I would say I really enjoyed Liz Gross’s presentation, and I, I feel like my presentation was just like what Liz said. Uh, ditto with that.

And, but she made a statement about brand or universities using memes, and as somebody who frequently has used memes in the past, on and on other accounts, pretty much used them constantly. University accounts, but um, where it was a little bit more fitting. I kind of agree cuz I feel like universities in general, um, maybe not the, the main account, but we see it all the time from, from smaller accounts, uh, departmental accounts.

Using the latest trending meme form, not because it’s fits the brand or has any sort of purpose, but it’s almost like we either need content that day, we don’t wanna miss out. Um, you know, oh, this is, this is easy. We’ll just slap the Photoshop, the mascot in, or Photoshop Bernie Sanders on a park bench on campus.

It doesn’t really do anything for anybody. Like, yeah, maybe a couple people go, Aha, that’s funny. But it doesn’t really move your bottom line. My feeling on it is in order for a university to post a meme, it has to be so good. You cannot not post it. Like, uh, if it’s not a home run, don’t.

Joel Goodman: do it.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Um, yeah, just, just putting the, the meme in your school colors isn’t, isn’t enough anymore.

Uh, it used to be like, you know, maybe five or 10 years ago, like, Oh, okay, they used the meme That isn’t that novel that this university is doing that, and that’s just not Yeah. A thing anymore. Yeah.

Joel Goodman: The, I think my, my real. Not really a takeaway, but it was something also that Liz said that just kind of like clicked in my head and I thought was so good. Um, there it was a question from the audience, I think, and they’re asking like, Oh, how do, how do I sell this?

You know, this approach to engagement, uh, to people that just want to see content posted sort of a thing. Um, and she just, she said, one, come with data and own your expertise, like, Ask approval to do the things. Just own that expertise that you have. And I think, you know, we’ve talked about in a, I think talked about that in a lot of different ways, but I think how she stated that so succinctly, uh, was, was so good.

Uh, and, and it really is that it’s, it’s that, I tell people a lot of times, you know, I’ve, I’ve been moderately successful in the business I run and in the dealings that I have with people because I try to be confident whenever I go into something, like even though I’m not confident, at least try to seem confident, is like, fake it till you make it.

Or if you act enthusiastic, then you’ll be enthusiastic, like my mom used to say. Um, but it’s that, you know, it’s that thing like own the expertise that you have and go that direction.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, and that that comes down to it. I think we a lot of times, Higher ed. We were like, we don’t embrace that expertise. We think, Oh, okay, well I’m just the social media manager. I have to kind of earn this and whatnot. But like at the end of the day, like you are hired to be the expert. You are the expert, so you’ve got to do it.

Joel Goodman: got, Oh, oh, another question from the audience.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So if you use HighEdWeb as a data gathering system, what would you say the temperature of the field is like right now? Do you think things are going well? Do you think things are going poorly? What’s your vibe? And the second question from a friend, why not be on BeReal?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I will me measure the vibe and say, um, Man, so many people have, are, are moving to other fields, me being one of them. Um, a lot of other people are like, again, you know, what was the, the who, who did the, the study we talked about recently, like, like half of university marketing

Joel Goodman: Scarborough one. Yeah. Yeah.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Uh, considering leaving within the next year.

So I, I, I think, you know, higher, we, we’ve talked about this before, whether or not we’re, we’re gauging the, the attitude at high ed web or not, like, Higher ed needs to is, is got a crisis that they are facing with staffing. Uh, and if they do not address it, um, that’s, well, I guess it’s a good thing. AI generated , um, visuals and video are gonna become a thing because, um, your, your, your creative team and your marketing team is gonna move on to other things.

Joel Goodman: Yeah. I mean, like, I wonder if it’s, I mean, I think, I think at this conference in particular, like the, the overall mood has been, Good. But I, I do wonder how much of that is because it’s back in person for the first time. It’s like, it’s kind of like a reunion, you know, sort of thing. Um, and I think like, you know, numbers this year at least live turnouts is, is smaller than it has been.

Probably still some covid stuff. I know there’s other issues with, uh, with, uh, schools being able to spend money in the state of Arkansas on something like this. Um, And so like, you know, I, it’s hard to, I think, prop like really accurately gauge some of those, those issues. But I think, you know, there, I, I hope it’s not just people like holding it together and being like, Okay, it’s pretty good.

We’re going. Okay. I hope there’s actually still some excitement in it, but I, I think you’re right. There’s a lot of people here, like have, you know, talked about changing roles and even a lot of the speakers are people. Applied before they were now at the agency job that they’re at, or, you know, or whatever else.

It’s, it’s a lot of, there’s a lot of transition happening and I think there’s, you know, there’s, there’s a, Andrew Castle said it in his, in his talk that given in different context, but like, if HRA doesn’t. Change, it’s gonna die like it. Ha the industry has to adapt and everyone knows that. And the question is, is it happening or is it going to happen like , like and, and when and how.

And um, and that, that’s the thing that I think is a little bit scarier.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: All right. Now the real question. Be real or be fake. . Um, like,

Joel Goodman: so I, I, I have not started to be real account. I’ve thought about it before. Um, but I also was like, I don’t really, I feel like Mo most of what I post on Instagram is actually fairly, fairly real. Like I’m not, I don’t feel like I’m really dressing up. Most

Jon-Stephen Stansel: well, the real question, you know, be, be real for brands. and I, my, I say wait for a couple of reasons. One, I really do not think Be real is enough to sustain itself as a social media platform. It is a feature, not an an app, and Instagram and TikTok are already trying to clone it as a. . So just like, uh, you know, stories on Instagram killed Snapchat for the most part, you’ll see that with Be Real Two for brands, like you can’t control when that prompt to be real happens.

So like you can’t really, and you’re not really supposed to plan content, but like, who wants to see the social media manager’s desk at, you know, four o’clock in the afternoon? So, In order for brands to do it, you have to kind of do the, you can’t be real. You’ve gotta be a little fake, right? You’ve gotta kind of be like, Okay, well when the prompt comes, I’ve got the, I’m gonna go over here, I’m gonna take this picture.

Um, and of course it’s gonna be a photo of you too. Cause it’s the selfie if it ever takes it. So we’ve gotta have a face or something with, with that. Um, you can post late, but that’s really not the spirit of the app. Um, you can do takeovers and give it to like a student or a faculty member, but again, Like, you don’t know when that prompt’s gonna come.

Do you really care what, you know, the, you know, your university president is doing at 11 o’clock? Probably sleeping. uh, I, I just, I don’t, And there’s, there’s, the argument can be made. Well, it doesn’t take a lot of. Of prep or work to get started, but you’ve gotta promote it. You gotta tell students that it, it’s there.

You’ve got to organize and explain and hand hold the, the university president if you’re gonna do a takeover. So it’s gonna take time away from other platforms that you could be spending more time on and working on, um, and not giving you that much of a yield.

Joel Goodman: So what if it was only someone dressed up in the mascot costume?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: But again, like it, that person would have to carry the mascot costume around with them 24

Joel Goodman: Well, they’d have to wear it all the time. Yeah, it sounds like a new full-time role. That would have

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah. The your be real influencer. Yeah. Which I just, I, and that’s the whole, that’s antithetical to what Be Real is supposed to be.

So, um, I, I just don’t, my, my verdict is wait and see. Yeah. On it. There’s no, you’re not gonna get extra. No, no one’s going to enroll in your school because you were the first ones on B. Real. Like they’re not gonna be like, Well, University A has a B, real university B doesn’t. I’m gonna go with these guys.

Joel Goodman: The thing that makes me think about is for, I don’t know, we, we, we’ve seen this with every platform, every new platform that’s, you know, that’s come up in the last 10 years. There’s always this pushback of, well, the kids don’t wanna see our brands on there. And then a brand gets on there, and then eventually it just becomes,

Jon-Stephen Stansel: mm-hmm.

Joel Goodman: Well, it becomes an advertising platform because that’s what all these things are.

They just ultimately are gonna be advertising platforms. Exactly. And be real feels like, like you were saying, that they’re what it’s supposed to be feels like something that is distinctly against that. And doesn’t, and even like, is structured so that I, I can imagine that the creators were sitting around in a room were like, We should, we gotta make it so that we can’t, so brands can’t be on here and can’t be doing this stuff.

You know? And like, how do we limit that set?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: It’s okay not to be everywhere. Like it’s fine. It’s like don’t feel the like if you wanna try it, great. Like, I’m not gonna say like you shouldn’t do it. Like you can’t.

Joel Goodman: I just love the irony of being told when to be real. Yeah. Like with an, with an alert like

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Well we are running up on four o’clock at our time allotted time, so should we wrap up?

Joel Goodman: Yeah. Thanks to our listeners.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Thank you for those who came to ask questions.

Joel Goodman: Thank

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Hya. Ed Webb, thank you for City of Little Rock.

Joel Goodman: Thank you Nick on the old Twitter machine for asking us some questions beforehand. Thank you so much for listening to The Thought Feeder Podcast. Uh, if you’d like to rate or review us, we would appreciate it because that gives us better rankings in all kinds of things.

You can find us on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, on Google, on, uh, Amazon, on I, wherever you want to get a podcast. You can find us with the podcast. Please, please share with your friends if you think it’s great. It helps us get the word.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: oh of course.

Joel Goodman: Live once again from Little Rock and in person for the first J Js. We haven’t recorded this in person.

This is the first time ever. So this was nice. Uh, great to see you in, in, in the flesh after several years. Um, and, uh, yeah, Thanks y’all for listening.