Hewitt Offers Case Study in Social Media Success

Hewitt to bring real-world success to SIPA 2011

Perry Hewitt, Harvard University’s director of digital communications and communications services—and SIPA 2011’s keynote speaker for Monday afternoon, June 6—will offer a successful blueprint for winning in today’s digital world. She will present a case study of how Harvard University has embraced the digital age and also unveil some amazing decisions that allowed the prestigious school to stay at the forefront of knowledge building and creation.

A story last month in the Boston Herald described the atmosphere that Hewitt has helped to create. The article began: “Harvard University is a case study in using social media. StudentAdvisor.com ranked the birthplace of Facebook as the most social media-savvy college in the nation for its use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other tools to communicate with students, parents, alumni and others.”

Said Hewitt: “Social platforms allow the university to provide unprecedented access to information and open up lectures, performances and news of research and discovery to a worldwide audience. We use these… platforms to tell—and empower others to tell—real and relevant stories about Harvard.”

Hewitt’s goals focus on serving the users. On a panel in early 2011, she spoke about Harvard’s mobile initiative (check this out; she’s very impressive to see): “What we did with the mobile was try to build an integrated experience that allowed people to do all the things they really wanted to do that was mobile aware and mobile appropriate content…So how we pushed that out was we did an analysis of where the need was; we looked a lot at analytics to see where our traffic was [and focused on helping those people]…

“I’ve managed corporate websites since 1996 and everyone opens and IT sets it up as their homepage, and everyone has an opinion, so I said ‘let’s shift the battleground.’ The [Harvard] website today is very much the website when I came. We may look to change that in the future but I thought it was far more important to win at other fronts that were really important to our users than to take on an internal discussion that I might conclude when I’m ready for a nursing home and a life insurance policy.”

“Don’t you love how Perry Hewitt summed it up,” said Dave Wieneke on a video on his blog Useful Arts: The Future of Digital Marketing. “She looked for the low-hanging fruit, and took her victories in areas that the culture wasn’t yet engaged in. It got her early results, established momentum working with new technologies, and now, with diversification, she’s able to deal with some of those stickier issues like the corporate website that often, at first, a digital marketer isn’t able to control…”

Harvard launched its strategic mobile initiative last year to package content from across the university for display on handheld devices. “This mobile initiative is consistent with the university’s communications strategy of delivering ‘content in context,’ and meeting our users where they are,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt has held significant digital marketing, editorial, and client services roles at firms including Crimson Hexagon, Razorfish, ArsDigita, Harcourt Online and Lotus Development Corporation. She has acted as a consultant to major media companies on online product development, and began her career in publishing at Houghton Mifflin Company.

“Engaging in the social web means a significant commitment to contributing content. Are you able and prepared to devote that time,” Hewitt has said. “Who is tasked with maintaining these conversations, and keeping on top of new conventions?”

Hewitt will be asking and answering lots of questions at SIPA 2011. From Harvard to SIPA’s doorstep—you can’t get any better than that.


The Early Bird rate for SIPA 2011 expires on Friday!
Don’t miss Perry Hewitt, Josh Bernoff,
David Meerman Scott, Knight Kiplinger
other amazing speakers! Sign up now!

SIPA’s 35th Annual International Conference
SIPA 2011: Cashing in on Content –
Models for a New Decade

June 5-7, Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
Register now to get the best rate!

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