By Kate Sonka
Social media is one of those buzz words that I think many of us hear, understand it has some sort of significance (if not in our own life than certainly our students’ lives), but are not really sure how to meaningfully participate in it.
It is with this same attitude I approached Social Media Week 2011. This was a week long global platform that intended to connect people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media. It is a fairly young consortium first held in 2009 in New York City, but has since grown significantly from that first meeting. This past week 12 cities (in North America, South America, Europe, and the Middle East) hosted events related to social media. Chicago was one of the host cities and had dozens of events ranging in topic from small business to senior citizens to Chicago sports teams to foodies and restaurateurs. While I would have loved to attend all of them to find out how social media works in those situations, I sadly did not have enough time in my schedule. However, I was able to attend the Social Media in Higher Education talk with Calley O’Neil down at DePaul Center in the Loop.
There were about 40 people in attendance from all walks of educational life. Depaul University was well represented, and there were also folks from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the City Colleges of Chicago, Harper College, and some private educational firms. They were from offices of public relations, marketing, dean’s offices, alumni offices, and admissions and were using Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, and LinkedIn to stay connected to past, current, and future students, faculty, and staff.
Kris Gallagher in the DePaul Marketing Communications department spent quite a bit of time sharing the ups and downs her office had experienced with their forays into higher education social media. The discussion got pretty lively and there were some really fantastic ideas surrounding social media in higher education. While I could go on for quite some time about what was said, I decided to instead create this handy takeaway list of the concepts I found most interesting:
- When considering how to incorporate social media into higher education, one must be mindful of the notions of policy versus guidelines versus strategy and the interplay between the three.
- With the continued proliferation of social media, there is a blurring of the converging lines between our personal and professional lives. We must be mindful of what our students are doing with social media and what we ourselves are doing.
- Although all of us can participate in social media at any point, and with any level of involvement, when using social media for a larger platform (i.e. admissions office, colleges, alumni group, etc.) it is imperative to choose someone to manage the accounts who understands the subtleties of what is real and/or appropriate to be posted.
- Social media helps undergraduate students understand what daily life is really like at an institution, and often helps prospective students make the decision to enroll.
- Social media should always be a part of a larger communications strategy and should never stand alone.
If you are interested to see how DePaul University is using social media already, check out these links:
DePaul Career Center @depaulcareerctr
Office for Academic Advising Support @oaasdepaul
DePaul Library @dpulibrarian
The DePaulia @TheDePaulia
To see how other universities are using social media, check out this list of the Top 100 Social Media colleges: http://www.studentadvisor.com/top-100-social-media-colleges.
If you have questions about social media and how to incorporate it into your classroom please feel free to stop by the CET office in SAC 304 and chat with us and don’t forget that Social Media Week 2012 is February 13-17.