With over a decade of social media and marketing experience, Sonja Likness is a seasoned expert who brings humor, knowledge and enthusiasm to the stage.

Sonja is available both live and virtually as a speaker and educator. Whether you need an inspiring keynote speech or a hands-on, in-depth workshop or seminar, Sonja has the skills and experience to deliver what you need.

Interested in having Sonja speak at your next event? Contact us!

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Check back soon!

Past Talks

How to Go From a Regular Brand YouTuber to a COOL Brand YouTuber​

If you’re like most brands, you’re using YouTube as a bucket to hold all of your video content. You can do better. Hear from Duke University about how we’ve pivoted the way we use YouTube to capitalize on it as a social media channel, rather than just a video hosting platform.

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Use YouTube’s social media functionality to boost the efficacy of your video content
  • Curate your YouTube channel to take advantage of the subscription model
  • Reach a YouTube-native audience

This session is for experienced video producers and marketers who want to improve how they use YouTube to reach a wider audience.

Presented for:

  • Digital Summit Series, December 2021
  • Digital Summit Series, September 2021
  • ContentEd, February 2021
  • Digital Summit at Home, December 2020
  • Digital Summit at Home, November 2020
  • Digital Summit at Home, August 2020
  • Higher Ed Social Media Conference, December 2019
  • Internet Summit, November 2019
  • Digital Summit Series – Everything: Content & Social, October 2019

“LOVED this session. Left with actionable items and Sonja actually walked us through how to implement new strategies — which I feel like is hard to find at some conferences.”

“Great job. Came away with useful steps and ideas.”

“Content was new and fresh.”

“I really enjoyed listening to this presentation. The content was very interesting and definitely all of the tips can be applied right away.”

Adapting Quickly in a Wild World: Social Media for the New Roaring ’20s

2020 came screaming in with brand new social media platforms (hi, TikTok!), algorithm changes (shakes fist at Facebook), and a news cycle that could make even the crustiest journalist shed a tear or two. How do we adapt to all of this as we navigate our social media plans and programs for 2021 and beyond?

After this session, you’ll be able to:

  • Plan your big campaigns while leaving room for upheaval
  • React quickly to crisis situations
  • Ride the waves of new features, algorithm changes, new platforms, and audience shifts

Who should attend? This session is for social media professionals who need to adapt to the ever-changing models in social media, digital marketing, brand journalism, and beyond.

Digital Summit logo

Presented for:

  • Digital Summit Series, November 2021
  • Digital Summit Series, September 2021
  • ACC Alumni Outreach Conference, July 2021
  • Digital Summit at Home: Content & Social, February 2021

“Sonja, I feel like we would be friends IRL. Great content!”

“This is immensely refreshing to hear. Felt so alone in 2020 with a lot of these struggles.”

“Super relatable, easy to digest information, and a good pace.”

“Enjoyed Sonja’s style of presenting. Very organized. Very engaging. Very valuable. Great personality for this!”

Video in Social Media: Everything You Need to Know

Video in social media is so ubiquitous now that it’s basically required to engage your audience. Your bosses are probably already asking for it, and your audiences are waiting for you to get on the ball—but don’t worry. You already have the equipment and skills you need, and I’ll show you what to do. You’ll learn how to incorporate live video and produced video into your social media strategy on a shoestring budget.

After this session you’ll be able to:

  • Explain to your coworkers and supervisors why video is essential in today’s social media world
  • Use live video functionality from Facebook and YouTube
  • Talk about YouTube strategy and content types
  • Take home a list of inexpensive equipment to make your video much higher quality

    Presented for:

    • NC Live Distinguished Speakers’ Series, March 2021
    • Internet Summit, November 2017

    Social Media Presence and Marketing for Health Coaches

    Do you want to learn how to establish an engaging social media presence for your coaching business? Join us for this 6-session webinar series where you will learn about tactics and strategies for managing a social media presence. Through examples and best practices, you will learn about strategies for managing a social media presence including selecting channels, voice/tone, and approach as part of an integrated marketing plan for your health coaching services. During the course, you will develop an individualized social media strategy through weekly assignments and gain an improved understanding of the available tools and online applications.

    At the conclusion of the course, learners should be able to identify and apply techniques and strategies to effectively manage various social media platforms to build community, engage audiences, and maximize the exposure for their coaching business.

    Duke Health logo

    Presented for:

    • Duke Integrative Medicine, June 2020
    • Duke Integrative Medicine, June 2019
    • Duke Integrative Medicine, March 2018

    Using Video Effectively in Recruitment Marketing

    Co-presented with Lindsay Nyquist, Fort Lewis College

    Video is an essential recruitment marketing tool in higher education. However, with video now embedded into social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram (as well as conventional options like YouTube), you may struggle in deciding which channels you should use to reach prospective students – and how you should use them.

    Join us for a webcast that will teach you how to integrate more video content into your recruitment marketing efforts with best practices for:

    • Facebook/Live
    • Instagram/Live/Stories/IGTV
    • YouTube
    • Snapchat
    • TikTok

    Throughout this online training, you will hear success stories and see examples of how our experts are using video in recruitment marketing at their own institutions.

    Academic Impressions logo

    Presented for:

    • Academic Impressions, April 2020
    • Academic Impressions, January 2019
    • Academic Impressions, March 2018
    • Academic Impressions, June 2017

    Deep Dive: YouTube for Higher Education

    Be where your prospective students are. Learn how to maximize your institution’s presence on the top social media platforms.

    Academic Impressions logo

    Presented for:

    Academic Impressions Conference: Leveraging Social Media in the Admissions Process, March 2020

    Student Run Social Media: The Good (lots), the Bad (a little), the Ugly (yeah)

    If you want to leverage the help of students, but you’re a little bit nervous about it, you’re not alone. While student help can get you a lot of bang for your small amount of bucks, it also comes with some risk. Hear from Duke University about what works and what doesn’t, the pitfalls you can avoid, and how the Duke University team has created a suite of student-run @DukeStudents channels completely operated by student editors.

    Presented for:

    • NCICU Development and Communications & Marketing Annual Conference, January 2020
    • CASE Social Media and Community, April 2019

    “This session was definitely one of the highlights of the conference for me. I felt Sonja provided a plethora of takeaways.”

    “One of the best presentations of the conference.”

    How to Source and Target the Right Content to the Right Audience

    A university is a complicated institution with widely varied audiences of students, stakeholders, fans and more. Learn how Duke University decides which content type works best for each audience, how they create and collect that content, and how they measure the impact of their content strategy across channels and audiences.

    Presented for:

    • CASE Social Media and Community, April 2019
    • Social Fresh, December 2018
    • Higher Ed Content Conference, April 2018

    “Sonja is a great presenter – I love her style of presenting and how she engages with the audience.”

    Best Practices in Prioritizing Creativity, Innovation, and Executing on Big Ideas with a Small Team

    Your social media team (all two of you) need to be on the cutting edge of… well, basically everything. Says your boss. And your dean. And your chancellor. Oh, but you don’t get any more hires, and your budget is already set. Hear from Duke’s social media director about what Duke’s (small) social media team does to stay on top of trends, be innovative, and make the most of their resources to create content for the Duke University and Duke Students social media channels.

    You’ll learn:

    • How to stay relevant on social, like the youths.
    • How to convince your bosses to let you try new stuff all the time.
    • How to streamline your processes and produce massive amounts of pretty stuff faster.
    • How to use the people and resources you already have to beef up your entire social media presence.

    Presented for:

    • HighEdWeb 2019 Regional Conference: Southeast, March 2019
    • Social Media Strategies Summit: Higher Education, November 2017

    Workshop: Reaching Your Audiences Where They Already Are

    Join Sonja Likness, Duke’s director of social media & content strategy, for an insider workshop on social media content planning, distribution and analysis. We’ll talk about creating content that will do well on the channels where your audience interacts (backed up with analytics data), and we’ll create a social media distribution plan for an example Duke story.

    Social Media: Behind the Scenes logo

    Presented for:

    Social Media: Behind the Scenes, Duke Markets & Management Studies, March 2018


    • How to Measure Social Media Success, Designhill, August 2021
    • Solutions to the Major Challenges in Social Media Marketing in 2021, ICS MAX Social Media, April 2021
    • The Present and Future of Social Media Marketing, NMX (National Marketing Exchange), December 2020
    • Higher Education Social Media Marketing Panel, AMA Triangle Signature Speaker Series, January 2020
    • The Reinvented Video Strategy, Social Fresh X, June 2020
    • Fresh Perspectives on Social Media Strategies (moderator), North Carolina Marketing Summit, May 2019