HESM Tools and Tricks: Suggestions From the Pros

In the fast-paced world of social media, it can be hard to find the time to explore new opportunities for process improvement. To fix this, we asked five #hesm pros what tools they couldn’t live without right now.

3 minutes
By: Dr. Corie Morell-Martin

Social media pros are constantly on the go. We don’t often have time to stop and find new tools to help make our jobs easier or more efficient. To remedy this, we reached out to #hesm pros on Twitter to ask what favorite tips, tricks, or tools of the trade they couldn’t live without. Here’s what they said.


Alexandra Simone (@reeltake) of Ramapo College said, “I love, love, love IFTTT – I set up one of their “recipes” so if someone tweets a keyword, it is added to a spreadsheet in my Google Drive.”

What it is: Short for, “If this, then that,” IFTTT, allows users to create applets that enable devices or services to work together more effectively. Users create scripts that trigger actions when other actions are performed. Using the example Alexandra provided, if a specific keyword is tweeted, then the word goes into a Google sheet, which can then be set up to notify the user of a change in the document. Handy, right? You can manage how social media tools work together, how wearables work with smart devices – you can even set up to send a tweet every time the seasons change on Mars. Best of all, it’s free!

Sprout Social

Tim Prusha (@TimPrusha) of littlefoxesmarketing.com says he can’t live without Sprout Social’s scheduler and competitive reports.

Social media pros are constantly on the go. We don’t often have time to stop and find new tools to help make our jobs easier or more efficient.

What it is: Sprout Social is a popular social scheduling, monitoring, and analytics tool that can be used to manage multiple cross-platform social accounts among workgroups. Users are able to effortlessly deliver content across all networks so that they never miss an opportunity to connect with their audiences. Scheduling tools make pre-posting a breeze, while analytics tools provide customizable reports that are easy to create and may be shared with those who need to be in the know. While Sprout Social is not free, it does fall into the affordable range for HESM practitioners, with pricing per user group and the number of networks managed.

A Good Smartphone

Tyler Thomas (@TylerAThomas) of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommends a good mobile device as an essential tool for HESM pros: “You can be a photographer, videographer, interviewer, writer, and connector all with a device that fits in your pocket,” he said. “A great phone can help you go a long way. Especially for teams of one.”

What it isIt is true that many social media practitioners find themselves as “parties-of-one” in that we have to be well versed in all forms of content creation and social outreach on the go, and often in real time. Anyone who has ever had a phone or computer crash in the middle of a major campaign or crisis can attest that a good, updated mobile device is the most powerful tool in the HESM pro’s toolkit.

Google Keep and AirTable

Erika Forsack (@ErikaForsack) of Virginia Commonwealth University said in a recent interview with Higher Ed Experts that, “I am a huge fan of Google Keep. It’s the best place to keep everything in one place: lists, links, reminders, an idea parking lot.” She also said she likes AirTable, a calendaring tool she learned about from a conference. “We’ve moved our editorial calendar there and have been loving the flexibility of this product,” she said.

What it is: Google Keep is a note-taking, list-making and bookmarking tool that has extensions for web browsers and popular mobile platforms that enable you to set reminders or share ideas with others.

AirTable is a collaboration tool that enables groups to work on projects together and edit documents and projects in real time that are then synced with mobile and desktop devices. Projects can be marked in order of priority and tasks may be assigned to users with notifications attached to allow team members to receive status updates.

Native Social Analytics Tools

Adam P. Coulter (@AdamPCoulter) of Curry College suggested not to count out, “Free, native analytics: Facebook and Instagram insights, Twitter analytics. These tools have come a long way in a few years.”

What it is: It’s true, popular social media insights have indeed come a long way. From offering more detailed data on timing and sentiment, to adding additional publishing tools and ads platform management, native tools are incredibly useful for HESM pros who have few resources to invest in analytics platforms, but who still need comprehensive data to assist them in planning and execution.

These are just a few tools that help pros like us succeed in everyday business. What are your favorite tools? Tweet @volthighered to share #HESMtoolsntricks!

Dr. Corie Morell-Martin

Dr. Corie Morell-Martin

Director of Web Services and Digital Marketing

A professional communicator for more than 23 years, Dr. Corie Morell-Martin has served as the Director of Web Services and Digital Marketing for Western Kentucky University, where she has led award winning web, social and digital media initiatives and outreach since 2008. A frequent speaker at higher ed marketing conferences and special events, Dr. Martin is an expert in social media, collaborative content and innovative outreach solutions. She teaches social media and advanced marketing for the WKU Gordon Ford College of Business. In 2019 she will present as part of the Higher Ed Content Conference for higheredexperts.com.

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