How to Usher Social Media Inter-departmental Integration

We work with a variety of schools and with that comes a variety of experience using social media. Some already embrace it. Others must convince whole departments of the platform’s merits and importance as an integrated approach to content and marketing.

Here are some tips for winning over skeptics of this new medium.

1) Develop Internal Support

You’re not the only one interested in integrating online conversations into your department. Look for like-minded faculty and staff who are active on blogs and other social channels. With them on your side, you can bolster your argument that lateral communication occurs organically without the ‘approval’ of official organizations.

2) Show that Command and Control is a Myth

Before you come to the table, do your research. Put together examples of students, alumni and parents mentioning your institution on multiple social platforms. This evidence demonstrates that conversation about your institution occurs with or without approval.

3) Have a Plan

Once you have this data, come up with a plan for responding to the ‘chatter’. Often, traditional communications departments are concerned that anything other than an official response is lacking. Unfortunately, this approach is counter to the distributed nature of social media. Provide a way for the average faculty member to respond to online conversations.

4) Develop Internal Support

You’re not the only one who is interested in integrating online conversations into your department. Look for like-minded faculty and staff who are active on blogs and other social channels. Having them on your side will bolster your argument that lateral communication occurs organically without the ‘approval’ of official organizations.

5) Form a Support Group

Now that you have a cohort of social media mavens within your school, get together regularly to share tools, strategies and best practices. Some institutions call this a Roundtable to encourage discussion. This isn’t a governing body or committee. Once something gets placed into a committee, it often becomes the committee’s problem – other groups lose interest.

6) Get Support from the Top

Despite the grassroots nature of social structures, administrative leaders must drive social innovation from the top. Without top-down goals, resistant organizations will slow down your progress.

Lateral communication among students, institutions and alumni is here to stay. Early adopters need to support each other and administrative leaders in order to embrace an integrated approach to social media communications.

How to Engage your Prospective Students on Twitter

As we all know, it is important to reach out to potential students in a way that is relevant, resonant, and engaging. But, how does Twitter tie in and how do we incorporate it with our institution’s message?

Who Communicates with your Ideal Student Better than your Ideal Student?

Short answer: No one. Just as your current students engage with prospective students for campus tours and orientations, schools need to communicate through their students on Twitter. Students know what appeals to them and what doesn’t.

We must be sure all students representing an institution on Twitter are positive, academically high performing and involved with campus events and activities. Great students will attract more great students.

Even the best and brightest students need clear and straightforward guidelines. For example, if you do not want your students to discuss political affiliation, religion or alcohol consumption, then this needs to be explicitly stated, no matter how obvious. Here are a few examples.

Don’t Yell! talk.

Getting a University Twitter Account and posting updates are simply not enough. Universities must listen to what prospective students are saying and respond accordingly.

Timmothy Smith: “I want to know more about Liberal Arts at #XYZschool!” XYZ school: “Link Liberal Arts Dpt: www.LAXYZ.com Can I answer any questions?”

Laura Stone: “I just sent my application to #XYZschool!” XYZ school: “Thanks for applying! Goodluck!”

Interacting with students makes them feel engaged and connected to your institution. We find that in most cases clients ignore or neglect comments reaching out to the school. Such as this this one:

Every Tweet Counts

Always keep your Twitter messages positive. Like a Direct Mail piece or University website, every aspect of communication reflects upon the school. This is certainly easier said than done. For Saturday’s Football game a simple “Go Cats Beat the Bears” can certainly do the trick, but what if the star quarterback injures his knee? Still stay positive, “@StarQuarterbackBob We wish you a speedy recovery!” In bad or negative circumstances focus on showing support or offering help.

The most important rule is to Get Involved

Initiate conversations with students, potential students, faculty, alumni and parents to get them involved and engaged with your school.

“A quiet personality sure isn’t what you need to attract attention” – Bill Budget.

Twitter is one large conversation with anyone who wants to speak or simply listen. Participating in the conversation really gives schools an advantage.