Social media have been a frequent topic  on this blog. With ample angles to cover, social media provide an endless supply of questions, ideas, and conversations. Recently, while consulting with a school about their Student Affairs social media strategy, I wrote down a list of words that popped up during our conversations. Here are some concepts/thoughts regarding social media:
- Challenges - oftentimes the biggest challenges to social media success can stem from organizational issues pertaining to innovation as well as change management. Social media are tools that add layers to our overall communications strategies.
- Fears - If it's perceived as being "new," odds are that someone will fear it. Social media gets easier to understand through use (and healthy doses of skepticism).
- Concerns - Social media are evolving faster than our profession. E.g. the CAS standards makes mention of fax machines, but not social media. Concerns are healthy. Ask questions and be prepared to experiment.
- Strategies - Everywhere I consult, I always ask about strategy. Strategic communications plans are must for Student Affairs divisions. Strategy drives your social media endeavors.
- Goals / Outcomes - In conjunction with your strategic plan, it's crucial that you determine what you are trying to accomplish via social media. If you can't answer why you are using social media, you probably should figure that out before you start. Engagement is far easier when you have focus.
- Curation - Social media can be tremendous channels for knowledge/resource curation. While I haven't seen it in practice, the potential for Student Affairs to use social media as curation locations/destinations is fairly rich.
- Storytelling - Social media are the perfect locations for storytelling. Broadcast messages and promotions via social media aren't as compelling (or educational) as stories.
- Connection - Vulnerability is something that social media allows in short bursts. Making connections with students is often a fundamental part of retention, engagement, and leadership initiatives.
- Speed - Social media are mobile outlets for making connections, creating conversations, and they tend to be faster for information exchange.
- Feedback - Customer service via social media is such a fantastic way of transmitting critical/concise information between practitioners and students.
- Conversation - Engagement opportunities abound with social media. Conversations build community and social media provides the avenues for exchange.
- Education - Sometimes a functional area within Student Affairs would like to use social media but isn't sure how to do it. My question: How can social media provide a channel for education. Every area, in some way, is part of the educational mission of an institution.
- Opportunity - Social media, like any other communications tools, are only as useful as we make them. With strategic communications becoming an emphasis within Student Affairs, it is vital that practitioners think critically about how they will use social media and then act on their strategic plans.
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