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Social Media, Student Affairs, and Influence
January 18, 2011 - 8:45pm

The secret to being an avid student affairs techie is very simple. Whenever/wherever you notice a new technology solution, thought piece, or tech-based recommendation, always ask a question: Is this relevant to the work that I do in student affairs? I engage in this activity on a regular basis. In fact, most of my post ideas come from outside of the higher education technology sphere. I recently read an eBook from Radian6 entitled "Defining and Measuring Influence." Radian6 is one of the industry leaders in social media monitoring. As I was reading the eBook, I started thinking about how the content could be relevant to this blog and to student affairs professionals who use social media to engage with students. The eBook is full of a lot of worthwhile information. The concept of influence instantly grabbed my attention.

Influence in the eBook is made up of 4 elements:

  • Trust: When we utilize social media channels, we do so with the realization that our students have to trust both the practitioner and the message. Without trust, social media is just a bulletin board. Sometimes you have to establish trust within a community before you can start engaging with it.
  • Authority: Student Affairs practitioners are by default in positions of authority. However, we cannot take our positions for granted. Authority, like trust, has to be earned. New cohorts of students enter our campuses each year. How do we influence them via our communication channels? Authority can only take us so far.
  • Value: Students are bombarded by emails, text messages, print media, and a myriad of messages on a daily basis. How do our social media endeavors add value to a student's experience? Do we clearly identify how our messages benefit our students? It's important to be proactive about providing quality content that is instantly perceived as important.
  • Connection: I tend to listen to people who I have a connection with. Students are much more apt to pay attention to our social media channels when they know us and have made a connection. The power of social media is the ability of student affairs practitioners to engage and connect with students.

According to the eBook authors:"To influence anyone, you must build trust, establish authority, deliver value, and form a mutual connection with them. Those who have become influential within specific networks have fostered all these things with all those networks, and all of it is tailored to each network."

How are you defining and measuring influence in your student affairs department? Does it impact how you use social media to engage with students?

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