How is Higher Ed Using Social Media to Connect?
Since Social Media Club started this project in 2009, we've seen some change in the way social media is perceived by universities in terms of its usefulness. The conversation has slowly turned from "Why?" to "How?"
With the "re-launch" of #SMEDU, it seems like a good time to assess how various higher education institutions are using social media. While goals vary between different campuses and departments, the same observations of social media's potential for greater engagement, sense of community, and storytelling are recited.
A quick look at social media initiatives at different schools brings up these examples:
- Harvard University has created a dashboard that includes a directory of social media accounts, a feed of updates, and easy access to its blog posts, videos, and podcasts. A one-stop shop, this approach to gathering "all things social" seems to be a good way of both collecting the content from various channels and presenting it in a unified voice.
- MIT's Social Media Group takes a similar approach in creating an index, but theirs includes links to people, projects, papers, classes, and news. I especially appreciate the approach of putting actual people in the forefront, and I feel that it's a major consideration that is sorely lacking in many organizational social media efforts (i.e., organizational accounts vs. people accounts). It seems that by not engaging with actual PEOPLE, much of the engagement of social media is lost (disclaimer: this is a broad, sweeping statement...I know that there are organizational accounts that are very engaging, but I'd much rather communicate with a person than a logo).
- American University has a Center for Social Media that "showcases and analyzes media for public knowledge and action—media made by, for, and with publics to address the problems that they share."
- The University of Wisconsin at Madison has created a social media statement and guidelines. Three years ago, it didn't seem like official policies such as these were easy to find. Today, universities are being pushed to formalize their approach to new media communication.
This is just a sample of how higher ed is using social media. What's happening on your campus?