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Best of HESM 20-21

Celebrating the best work in Higher Ed Social Media
and Digital Marketing and Communications

by RJ Thompson, Best of HESM 2021 Competition Chair

Let’s see what you’ve got.

The Best of HESM 2021 Competition isn’t the first social media competition on the internet. It is, however, the first competition for Higher Ed social media (HESM). It was also created by and for HESM practictioners who know what good work looks like and what it takes to make it. Recognizing the intent that went into creating this competition is as important as you submitting to it. This competition is about the practitioners in the community coming together and celebrating the work created in the entire sector. While a select few of our peers initiated the competition, ultimately it is YOU who will make it happen – and make it big.

When you submit your entry to the competition, you of course want to make the best impression. Your work represents you, your institution, and HESM. So how can you submit a great looking entry with minimal graphic design skills and/or resources? That’s why I’m here! Take a look at the list and tips below to learn how to submit the best entry possible.

Entry Submission Criteria

As part of your entry, you can submit the following:

  • A synopsis or brief on your entry.
  • Associated files for your entry.
  • Screenshots.
  • Live URL(s) that link to your posts.

The following content will offer some insight and advice for preparing screen captures.

Format – Screen Captures

In your entries, you want to capture as much of the core content you created while also either obscuring or leaving out any heart, like, share counts as this information may introduce bias. Getting great engagement is all well and good, but it is not something we can necessarily predict and certainly control. What we can control is the content we are creating, so show it off!

The best submissions offer the best impression of the post and that can be captured through your computer’s screen capture tools. I do not recommend screen captures from a phone or tablet unless your posts were intentionally designed for those devices and purposely appear differently than they would on a PC. The screen captures below are from the Katz Graduate School at the University of Pittsburgh, where I work on the marketing team. The image below left is a screen capture from my Twitter timeline. The image below right is a focused screen capture, which is after I clicked on the Tweet to see it in a larger format. The URL is cut off, which is less than ideal, but this is incidental to platform. Additionally, the URL should not influence judging that much if at all. You can submit both of these images if you like, but would advocate for submitting the Focused Screen Capture over the Timeline capture as there is better resolution, clarity, and overall presentation. The key factor between the two is the paragraph width, so mind those details!

Screen Capture from Timeline – Twitter

Focused Screen Capture – Twitter

Focused Screen Capture – Instagram

Unlike Twitter, Instagram makes it slightly more difficult to obscure your engagement data. I do recommend using screen capture on a PC to capture your whole post. Feel free to obscure the engagement data using Photoshop or other image-editor.

Focused Screen Capture – Facebook

Depending on if you are logged in as a page-level administrator, you may see some differences in how a post is rendered. The image to the left is a screen capture that I’ve purposely omitted engagement data and comments from. You can see that it was published by Hootsuite, which is totally fine. The method you use to post is irrelevant to the judges.

Focused on Post Image Screen Capture – Facebook

This presentation, frankly, is less than ideal. Depending on the image you chose, the cropping may not look great. That’s not a criticism of the image used in this example, but the truth of our work is that sometimes we cannot control image dimensions, resolution, and more. More to this point, finding an image that works fluently across all the platforms can also be difficult. I would not recommend submitting a screen capture like this unless you are confident in the presentation.

Video – YouTube/Vimeo/Tik Tok/Snapchat/Instagram

If you are submitting video, you can submit a still frame image from the video either in the context of an embedded video (as seen to the left) or a JPG. You’ll also need to submit the link to your post or video. You cannot submit a video that is not hosted by YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, etc.

We're pleased to share that an undergraduate and graduate team from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and…

Posted by Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Embedded Posts

While we may utilize embedded posts to present some of the entries on our website, we cannot use embedded posts for judging. Please do not submit embedded code from any platform. If you do want to a submit a live link to your posts, just submit the URL(s).

Manufactured Graphics

In some entries, a screen capture just can’t cut it presentation-wise. For whatever reason, a screen-capture does not do your work justice. If you are not a graphic designer (or do not have one on your team), presenting your work in a different way may be a bit more difficult. Let’s start with the easy way.

The image to the left is a graphic built by Media Modifier. This web app is amazing for producing quick mock-ups of nearly anything: social posts, 3D Facebook images, clothing, banners, and so much more.

The image to the left is an example of a Media Modifier-generated image.

Overall, it’s a solid presentation that places a focus on the content. However, there are a few potential concerns you need to be aware of. While a generated image gives you a lot of opportunity to customize and design, you need to keep it honest. Yes, in this generator you can change your publishing dates, times, and even your data engagement. Now I know that none of you will fabricate this data, please know that we are primarly asking for the URLs for your posts so we can see them in a true context. Submitting presentation-level images is for the benefit of sharing the entries across our website and partner websites. We want you to look as good as possible while also knowing what’s real.

Free or premium accounts are available for Media Modifier. If you don’t want to get an account, you can also download osme of their FREE Photoshop mockups.

How you submit your work is really up to you, just make sure that you fit within our guidelines as our technology has its limitations. How you present your work is also up to you, so set the bar high. Endeavor to impress your co-workers, your supervisors, your colleagues, and your parents (who still don’t know what it is exactly that you do.)

All work that is submitted will be featured in online galleries, blogs, and videos on this website, our partner websites, and of course, on social media.

Thank you for your interest in this competition, I’m so excited to see all of your work. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via e-mail or on Twitter @rjtpitt.

RJ Thompson, MFA

RJ Thompson, MFA

Associate Director of Student Engagement, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh

RJ Thompson, MFA is an award-winning marketing and graphic design professional. Currently, RJ is the Associate Director of Student Engagement in the College of Business Administration and the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.