Last week I attended my first J. Boye Conference in Philadelphia and it was a great experience. The conference tag line “A knowledge sharing summit for online professionals” was a perfect description.  It combined the best of large conferences (top-notch speakers and experts) with the best of small conferences (networking and personal interaction).  While not specifically a higher education conference, everything that I saw was directly applicable to my job.  The sessions covered a wide range of topics I’m interested in including web governance and management, the user experience and usability, social media, and brand management. (Here is a Google Doc of the j boye 2010 twitter stream.)

The higher ed track featured many people I know including Bob Johnson, Jay Collier, and Mike Richwalsky. I gave a condensed version of my talk on Higher Education: The Toughest Gig in all the Web. All the presentations were well received and generated good discussion throughout the conference.

I was honored to be a part of the Expert Panel Discussion with Tony Byrne, the president of Real Story Group and Barbara Schelkle, the Manager for Knowledge Sharing Systems at the United Nations Development Program. Tony stole the show with his great take on the Ten reasons why web governance is like sex.

Other highlights included:

  • A 3 hour workshop with Peter Kim on Making Sense of Social Business. Peter is an expert in all things social first with his work with Forrester, and now with the Dachis Group. His approach is to think about social business strategy rather than social media strategy, an important paradigm shift applicable to higher ed. Most of the workshop explored his process for designing a social business strategy which will be very helpful in my consulting work. He also provided great analysis on when to build and when to join. Peter is an excellent speaker and this was the best social media workshop I’ve attended.
  • A 3 hour workshop with Christine Pierpointon on Managing the Web: The Fundamentals of Web Operations Management. Christine has a wealth of experience and shared her approach to web operations management which includes strategy, governance, execution, and measurement.   Web management and web governance is a hot topic in higher ed and was a major theme of the conference. On a related note, I’m particularly interested in the work being done by Stephen Emmott, the Head of Web Services at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His presentation Hand in Gov is excellent and I recommend you follow his blog if you are interested in this topic.
  • Thursday’s opening keynote by Eric Karjaluoto called Do You Speak Human? Eric is a great storyteller and his book Speak Human is next up on my reading list. The themes of his speech were reminiscent of “The Cluetrain Manifesto”, my all time favorite book on the web. (The idea behind the Cluetrain is that business is fundamentally human, and markets are conversations.)
  • Great back to back sessions from Valeria Maltoni and Mari Luangrath. Valeria is well known in social media circles through her blog Conversation Agent. She gave a great presentation on How to connect with your customers that provided one of my favorite quotes of the conference – “content is your digital body language”. Mari is a dynamic presenter who told the story behind her business Foiled Cupcakes, where 93% of her leads have come from social media. Here is a great list of articles about how she has used social media to build her business. (I’ve got to figure out a way to get Mari to present at the higher ed conferences I’ll be attending in Chicago this year.)
  • Two sessions on social media management and policy with Ethan McCarty and Deni Kasrel. Ethan is editor-in-chief of IBM’s global intranet which serves over 400,000 employees across the globe.  I’m hoping Ethan can join us at the Penn State virtual summit on June 8 that will discuss Higher Education, Social Media, and the Law.

I’d like to thank Janus Boye for including me in this great conference. I highly recommend all higher education web professionals consider attending next year.