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Social Media Policy

5 Mar

Before implementing a social media strategy, colleges and universities should first create a social media policy.  A social media policy is important for many reasons:

  • It lays the foundation for how social media should be used in relation to the institution
  • It sets clear guidelines for users
  • It helps to protect the institution from legal issues as well as false or inaccurate information
  • It protects institutional brand and image
  • Once a social media policy is created, it should be shared with all employees within the institution.

Coca Cola, a major brand, has a clear, comprehensive and well-thought-out social media policy.  The company has set important guidelines, and I feel that many of Coca Cola’s social media rules also apply to colleges and universities.

Here are the top principles that stand out for me, taken from Coca Cola:

  • “When in doubt, do not post”
  • “Let the subject matter experts respond to negative posts”
  • “Be conscious when mixing your business and personal lives”
  • “Be mindful that you are representing the Company”
  • “Practice good judgment and common sense”
  • “You are responsible for your actions”

What other elements do you think are important to include in an institutional social media policy?

Allison

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Monitoring Social Media Activity Provides Valuable Insights

27 Feb

One of the biggest advantages I see with social media is that it is a way for organizations, including colleges and universities, to gain insights.

There is a wealth of information that can be gleaned from social media.  From a college’s viewpoint, social media can be monitored to find out such things as:

  •  How people feel about your institution and what they are saying
  •  How people feel about your competitors
  •  How people perceive college in general
  •  What successes and challenges people are facing in regard to higher education
  •  What trends are taking place in the higher education industry
  •  How your competitors are using social media

 The feedback received from monitoring social media can be used by institutions to improve and enhance customer service, marketing, academics and overall operations while also providing new ideas and opportunities to build stronger relationships with students and the public.

There are a variety of tools that colleges and universities can use to monitor the social media activity of students and others in correlation to their institution.  Services range from free all the way to thousands of dollars, depending what information institutions want to receive and how in-depth their social media strategy is.  If you are looking for more information on the various monitoring tools, click here for an extensive list by Pam Dyer from Panorama. 

I want to point out that there are many free tools out there, so if your institution is new to social media, these tools may be a good option to try out before opting for the pay services.  One in particular is SocialMention.com.  Social Mention is like Google Alerts, but for social media.  How it works is you select what key words you want to monitor and the site will send you an email every time these keywords are mentioned on social media sites along with a link to the site.  I recently created an alert for the college I work for and will receive an alert every time it is mentioned on a social site, including blogs.  Social Mention is an excellent and cost-effective way to monitor your institution’s social reputation as well as find out what is being said about institution by the public.  I am eager to see what I find out!

Does your institution conduct social media monitoring?  If so, how does your institution use this information?

Thanks for reading!

Allison

Social Media Management Systems

11 Feb

I have been doing research on various forms of social technologies, trying to determine which ones are the most effective within a college environment.  I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube are all important mediums and can be used in many ways to connect and engage with students.  Facebook started out as a way for college students to socialize online, as shown in the recent film, The Social Network; it has since grown tremendously, and it is now practically a “faux pas” to not have a Facebook page.  In higher education, Facebook can be used by colleges and universities to share information and content as well as receive student feedback.

Twitter is another form of technology that institutions can use to provide quick updates to its community.  When I first heard of Twitter, I honestly didn’t think it would catch on – I thought, “who has the time to constantly post status updates, and who is going to care about this?”  I now believe that Twitter is an important means of communication, a way for colleges to quickly and efficiently share important announcements and updates with students.  Students can sign up to receive “tweets” from the college, and in a matter of minutes, reach hundreds or thousands of students to tell them about an upcoming event, provide an important announcement or simply send a reminder to sign up for classes. 

Blogs and YouTube are both other important social technologies that can be used by institutions to engage with students – videos, photos, stories and the like can all be showcased through these sites.  The opportunities are endless – these technologies present colleges with a real opportunity to be innovative, creative and engaging. 

Although social media is an important component of a college communication strategy, it can also be time consuming.  For social media campaigns to be effective, there needs to be dedicated resources “in-house” – employees within the college who have the ability to provide engaging content and connect with audiences via social media.  I know this is a question that many colleges and universities ponder – how do we manage all of this? 

Four words – Social Media Management Systems (SMMS)

According to Jeremiah Owyang, author of List of Social Media Management Systems, (2010) SMMS is defined as:

A collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a disparate social media environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based and enable the manager to listen, aggregate, publish, and manage multiple social media channels from one tool.

In a nutshell, SMMS enables social media strategists to efficiently manage and publish content across multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to connect with audiences on a deeper level.

In his blog, Owyang identifies multiple SMMS.  There are MANY of them and they all can do various things.

 I was presently surprised to find out that one of the systems listed is Constant Contact.  I am in love with Constant Contact.  I have used it in for several years in a variety of capacities.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, Constant Contact is an efficient, user-friendly, cost-effective email marketing, online survey and event marketing service.  If you have not heard of Constant Contact , I encourage to you to check it out.  It’s well worth it!

Nutshell Mail, Constant Contact’s social media tool, will track your institution’s social media activity and send the results directly to your email inbox.  Have a college or University Facebook page?  Instead of having to check Facebook throughout the day, Nutshell Mail will send you email updates every time someone posts to your page, sends you a message or requests to be your friend/fan.  Have Twitter and/or LinkedIn accounts?  Nutshell Mail will do the same thing for these sites, too. 

There is nothing to download or install because the service sends summaries directly to your email inbox, which you can customize by selecting the content you want to receive. 

What you can gain from Nutshell Mail:

  • It frees up time – no more having to continually check multiple social media sites throughout the day to monitor activity and respond to comments.
  • It enables you to stay on top of content and what is being said by followers/fans/friends.
  • It allows you to track and monitor activity and information that can be used to adjust strategy, improve communication, enhance marketing efforts and find out how audiences feel about your institution.
  • It will strengthen your relationship with students.

The best part about it, it’s FREE!

Click here to watch a video that breaks it all down.

What other Social Media Management Systems have you heard of and/or used within your institution to manage your social media campaigns?

-Allison

Harper College social media interview with The Washington Post

30 Jan

This past week, a colleague of mine forwarded me a link to the blog “Campus Overload,” written by Jenna Johnson for The Washington Post.  In her January 19 post, “Social Media Newbies,” Johnson interviews Erin Brooks, a media relations specialist for Harper College, a community college in Illinois. 

 The interview discusses Harper College’s use of social media and Brooks provides helpful tips for college professionals who are looking to use social technologies as a new way to connect with students.  In the interview with Johnson, Brooks says social media has helped Harper to “land media stories we otherwise wouldn’t have landed, resolve student concerns, reconnect with alumni and successfully promote campus events. More importantly, we’ve had meaningful conversations with our students, community members and alums” (Johnson, 2011).

 In the interview, Brooks also shares some of the ways Harper has used social media to connect with students: live admissions and financial aid chats, YouTube FAQ videos, and using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to specific students, addressing their questions and concerns (Johnson, 2011).

 This is a fascinating article, filled with helpful tips and inspiring ideas.  If you are new to using social media in a college environment and/or are just looking to gain some perspective, I encourage you to read it.

 After reading this interview, I am excited about the possibilities.  Social media presents colleges with a tremendous opportunity to connect with students in new ways. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am taking a social media course and for my final project I will be creating a social media proposal; the focus of my proposal will be to create a social media plan for the community college I work for.  My proposal will explain how social media can be integrated to help the college deliver comprehensive and responsive student services, and increase visibility and outreach to local and regional communities.  This week I will be putting together the outline as well as some of my many ideas.  Once I have it together, I will share it here.  Stay tuned!

 Thanks for reading!

 Allison

Study on social media and its use in college admissions

22 Jan

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research recently conducted a study on how social media is being used by college admissions offices.  The study examined the use of social media between 2007 and 2008 at four-year accredited institutions across the country.  Here are some interesting highlights from the study:

  •  41% of admission offices reported they were blogging, out of these 81% of schools said they felt their blogs were successful.  Of those that didn’t blog, 40% said they planned to create one in the near future.
  •  61% use social networking
  •  36% use message boards, 16% use podcasts, and 10% use wikis
  •  Admissions professionals reported that they were using videos for campus/dorm tours and faculty lectures
  •  49% use RSS feeds, with 48% allowing email subscriptions
  •  In 2007, 53% said they monitored the Internet for “posts, conversations, and news about their institution”; this number rose to 54% in 2008.

The study points out that “colleges and universities are using social media to recruit and research prospective students.”  Although institutions are eager to use social media, many are not using the technology it its full potential. 

 An article by Elizabeth Schiffman, Social Media’s Expanding Role in College Admission, quotes Daniel Grayson, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Tufts, saying, “I think one of the mistakes a lot of universities make is not having a very clear mission for what they’re trying to do with social media.”  I agree.  I think most colleges and universities understand the need to have a social presence, but are quick to “jump on the bandwagon” without a strategy in place.  They realize that their target populations are avid users of social media, so they decide that this is where they need to be – often times without putting a lot of thought into strategy. 

 I am not a social media expert, but I am taking a social media class in the hopes to learn more about how social technologies can be used for marketing and institutional operations. The book we are reading for our class, Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies (2008) by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, says that it is crucial for organizations to identify their target market(s) and clearly define their goals and objectives BEFORE deciding on what social technologies to use (p.67).  This makes a lot of sense.  It is easy to create a profile page or set up an account on popular social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, but it makes even more sense to do it if there is an objective behind it. 

 If your institution is thinking about using, or has already started using social media, what are your goals and objectives?  Do you want to share information about your institution?  Do you want to build awareness?  Do you want to interact with students?  Do you want to provide customer service?  Who is your target market?  What social technologies does your target market use?  Who within your institution is going to be responsible for the social technologies you use – monitoring information, updating sites, responding to users, followers and/or fans?   These are all important questions that I think every college and university should think about before going social.

 I’m interested in hearing from admissions professionals at other institutions.  Did you develop a strategy before going social?  If you are using social technologies, what have you found to be successful for your institution?  What hasn’t worked? 

 Thanks for reading.

 -Allison

References:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J.  (2008).  Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.  Forrester Research.  67.  Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

 Mattson, Eric, and Barnes Gamin, Nora, Ph.D.  (2009).  Social Media and College Admissions:  The First Longitudinal Study.  The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.  Retrieved January 22, 2011 from http://www1.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/mediaandadmissions.cfm

Schiffman, Elizabeth.  (2010).  Social Media’s Expanding Role in College Admissions.  The Cram.  Politics Daily.  Retrieved January 22, 2011 from http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/05/07/social-medias-expanding-role-in-college-admissions/

Welcome to my blog!

12 Jan

Hello and welcome to my blog!  I am an admissions professional, working at a community college in NH.  I work with a wide variety of student populations, and am always looking for new ways to share information and communicate with my students.  In this blog, I will focus on how social media can be used as a tool within a college environment to interact and engage with students.  I will also explore the ways in which social media can be utilized to gain insights and receive student feedback that can help institutions improve student services and academic offerings.

Along the way, I also hope to hear from you – your thoughts, ideas and experiences with social media and how you think it can be implemented within a college setting.