Social Media in Higher Ed: Take the activity out of the social channel and be a community facilitator

by Kate Brodock on 8 July 2011

Posted in: Higher ed,social media

Colleague Dan Klamm, Marketing & Communications Coordinater for Syracuse University’s Career Center,  had an insightful article today in Mashable about 4 Ways Colleges Can Take Their Social Media Presence to the Next Level.  As part of our work with Syracuse University on their social media this summer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dan, and his ideas in this article are well-thought out and  worth the read.


The first point Dan makes, Coordination Across Campus, is one of particular interest to me:

“While social media roles are often housed in a central marketing or communications office, it’s imperative that social media managers have strong relationships with departments across campus and that they keep up constant communication.”

This comes down to good customer service and community management (which doesn’t happen every day….ask the awesome - and smart - folks over at The Community Roundtable, there are plenty of bad community managers out there!).

It’s not just about responding to tweets or Facebook posts, and making sure the platforms are running smoothly.  It’s much more, which is exactly what Dan was alluding to.

One of the key jobs of a community manager is to facilitate the connections between tweets/comments/posts/etc and their solutions.  It doesn’t make sense to have someone throw out a question on Facebook just to have Facebook spit back the answer (or not spit back the answer!)…does it? No, that’s not doing a good job of nurturing your community and giving them value (we all know I’m a value nut).

This is exceptionally important in institutions like colleges and universities that have decades, sometimes centuries, of very well-established “traditional” services, teams and resources already in place to solve a lot of the issues that pop up online.  These resources are, in the end, the best places to be directing people for certain things.

A few tactical ways you can think about this (and there are, oh, a billion more where these came from):

  • [Note: this is really a "must-have"] Develop a list of campus resources, contacts etc, so that your social media team can easily facilitate connections between community members and, well, the answers!  This list should not only include people and phone numbers, but also twitter handles, facebook page URLs and any other applicable information that will make that connection as easy and seamless as possible. This is particularly helpful in a “crisis” situation, where speed is necessary.
  • Have a system in place to input information from your community back into the community. This could be cross posting, RTing, blogging, etc, but don’t let things hang out and disappear. That’s value out the door.
  • Create a community-generated “FAQs”-of-sorts that would become a resource for any number of departments, schools, student services…. you name it.  While we have a few limitations on us over the summer, we were Storify to quickly capture answers to a simple tweet that someone had about pondering the reason he chose to go to SU. Imagine the potential with a vibrant community to aggregate responses that would have otherwise had the lifespan of a normal tweet - by the way, it’s an hour or less - and quickly disappeared into oblivion.  How many questions could you get answered with a base of loyal followers who love your brand?

Any more ideas out there?

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