Earlier this week, I sat through an excellent presentation on social media. And in terms of my skill set in this area, I consider myself to be an effective communicator. I was a very early adopter of email. I enjoy using PowerPoint. I blog on a regular basis. In addition, I text message regularly; I Google often; and I Iook at various YouTube postings relatively often. I also have a Facebook page that I hardly ever look at and a LinkedIn page that I look at occasionally. After the presentation, I have come to the conclusion that this is not good enough and that I need to upgrade my social media skills. No, I am not about to share my life story on social media nor am I interested in commenting on every place I’ve been to or everyone I’ve met, or everything I’ve eaten. I am not even interested in using social media to brag about my kids or our new family dog (and she is incredibly cute). Instead, I think that any provost or dean or other higher education administrator as well as faculty member should be as up-to-date as possible on the key tools of communication. We all need to know the different ways we can engage in a conversation. And we all need to be part of the conversation on social media.
I have only a limited knowledge regarding Twitter. I don’t “Tweet.” I don’t use “hashtags” and I have seen only one Tweet deck in my life. But I am convinced that Twitter is, within the constraints of 140 characters, a very effective way to communicate quickly. For example, I have heard about an occupant of an elevator that was stuck, Tweeting for help and through that Tweet receiving help very quickly. We have sent Tweets to various groups of students in various situations and the results have been good. I should know more and I should have more Twitter experience.
My knowledge of Zinch, Foursquare, Google +, Pinterest and other forms of social media is extremely limited. Up to this week, I am not sure I have even come across some of these terms previously. My interest in knowing more is to fully understand how to best reach whatever audience I need to reach. My interest in knowing is to help determine how we can best reach out to the vastly increasing number of social media users that almost solely rely on mobile access to the internet.
In summary I need to go back to school (and I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard) so that I am aware of all the best practices in effectively communicating with students and, through effective communicating, enhancing the educational experience and learning of our students and the interest of our potential students. As noted above, I want to be a knowledgeable part of the conversation. So let the conversation continue and my learning continue … but for the immediate future, please send me your comments only via email, a text message, snail mail, or through Inside Higher Education.