Social Media for Educational Institutes – Why and How

 

One of the biggest Social Networking sites existing today was started for networking in schools/colleges and to allow the students to share content and keep in touch. Now that we have dozens of new social networking sites, Social Media for Educational Institutes is important. Like any other service industry, Educational Sector has lot of hidden potential to realize in making use of Social Media. Let us understand the Why and How of it.

Why?

General Outreach: With majority of student crowd present on Social Media, it provides Schools/Colleges a platform to promote activities, receive feedback and start conversations. It provides a better way to connect with parents and community and keep them up-to-date. This is a very effective tool for Alumni Engagement. Thus, Connecting Students, Teachers, Parents, Alumni and other stakeholders, social media plays an important medium of communication.

Better Community Engagement: A great tool to reach out to potential students through addressing them on micro-blogging sites to giving them 360⁰ virtual tours of campus and facilities will definitely generate more interest groups. Again, by advertising on this medium in specific demographics, it is easy to target the right crowd. Therefore, reaching out to more people/potential students is now easier and faster.

Classroom Sharing: Classroom announcements and discussions can be carried forward to micro-blogging sites, where more interaction can take place. With Lectures being shared on Institutions Blogs and Videos, the sharing across the social media platform will fetch more eye-balls. The students can get connected with the institution and faculty in much better way.

Promoting School/College Pride: Creating a mascot to engage and encourage school spirit, the students would love to talk/tweet/like about things going on in their college which make them proud to be part of it. #AnnualFest2012, #SportsDay or any event can help student to connect to and promote the school spirit.

Professional Development: Again a chance to network with different industry experts and faculty of different institutions, social media can provide a better industry exposure to institutions looking for one.

How?

 1)Develop a Strategy and Set Goals

Before diving head-first into social media, take the time to establish a strategy. What type of content will you deliver? How often will you post your content, and where will it come from? What kind of audience will you aim to engage? Consider resources such as budget and staffing too. Who will be responsible for posting content and engaging the community? How will the internal communication channel work? Define your goals as well. What do you hope to accomplish with your social media activity? Think about developing over-arching goals (e.g. “build stronger connections with alumni”), along with more specific ones (e.g. “increase admissions registration via social media by 50 %”). This way, after a period of time, you will be able to evaluate whether your social media efforts have been effective.

2)Pick and Choose Your Platforms

Just because there are hundreds of social media platforms out there doesn’t mean your school needs a presence on all of them. Go for quality over quantity. What makes sense with your strategy? If you’re planning to grow a close-knit community for a subset of engaged alumni, maybe look at Ning — a platform with the functionality to accomplish these goals. If you’re going to post lots of campus videos, maybe a YouTube or Vimeo channel would be worthwhile. Choose a combination of platforms which complement each other and help you accomplish your goals. Be sure not to overlook niche sites, which are lesser known but might offer exactly what you need. Consider your population, too. Where do they congregate online?

An Ideal set of Social Platforms:

  •  Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • LinkedIn
  • Blogs (Integrated in Website).

3)Individual Departments Identity

Within a university, there are many departments and academic units, all with unique messages and distinct audiences. It doesn’t make sense to have just one social media entity to represent the entire university; departments should be able to establish their own accounts. From the Engineering department to Arts departments, each unit can have its own social media presence (in a way that is coordinated across campus, of course). An individual department account will ensure interaction between particular groups of people. It might be helpful to offer training sessions across the university, educating members of campus about how to use social media effectively for their departments.

4)Put Guidelines in Place

Along with giving departments the ability to create their own social media accounts, there should be some university-wide guidelines in place to ensure consistency and appropriateness of all social media activity. These guidelines will differ for each university, but could include things like account naming conventions, response policies, copyright and legal reminders, and descriptions of the core principles driving the university’s social media strategy, such as authenticity and transparency. There has to be a proper balance and a differentiation between Centralized and Decentralized communication across Social Media.

5)Communicate Across Campus

With so many departments engaging in social media, it becomes extremely important for open lines of communication to exist across campus. Opportunities for collaboration are plentiful, but these collaborations can’t occur if departments operate in solitude. By communicating openly, individuals can share best practices and learn from other people on their own campus.

While most of us already have way too many meetings in our calendars, it might make sense to add one more: a regularly-convened cross-campus social media meeting.

Lastly, allowing student Community to come out with their own methods and ideas to communicate with/about/in Colleges and Schools through social media (with moderation, of-course).

What do you think can be added to this list of points? Do let us know in your feedback. 

Image Source:Robert S. Donovan

 
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