A comprehensive social media plan should identify the target audience(s), define goals, strategies, and technologies to use. A social strategy framework that addresses all the components I mentioned is the POST method introduced by Charlene Li in her book Groundswell. POST is an acronym for People, Objectives, Strategies, Technology. I find this framework to be a very sensible and practical when assisting organizations and colleagues with their social media plans.
Whether your goals are to engage with your external customers for marketing or to use social media as part of your external and internal business processes, this framework is applicable.
Below are some considerations using the POST method. The content of this post is a compilation of ideas I have read and have found to make sense.
Summer orientation programs for many universities have either started or about to start. These orientation programs introduce incoming students and their families to the university through a series of events and activities. Universities can take advantage of mobile and social media to enhance the orientation experience of these new students.
The research organization comScore estimates that 30% of mobile users, with almost 40 million in the US, access social networking sites daily
on their mobile phones. Orientation programs can also benefit by using these technologies to gather attendee feedback as well as for their staff to document their experience.
Listed below are a few ideas to start with and I would love to hear your ideas as well.
- “Listen” to conversations on social networks related to your program. Use Google Alerts to be notified either via email or to an rss reader when keywords you define appear on the web. Another site to use is SocialMention.
- Answer questions on a facebook page or create an account/ hashtag on twitter for attendees to follow and use.
- Provide real-time information such as change of venues/schedules.
- Provide guides to attendees such as schedules and map for mobile devices. An example is Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) use of Guidebook.
- Use groups or facebook apps like Inigral Schools App to provide attendees the forum to connect based on interests and demographics. Providing new students the opportunity to connect even before they attend orientation makes their experience more comfortable as they already know other students.
- Software like OrgSync provide universities to build communities amongst incoming students as well. In addition, orientation staff can communicate with the students via email and text messages as well as collect feedback from orientation leaders and students alike.
- Utilizing student leaders as social media ambassadors is a good way to welcome and introduce incoming students to the campus.
- Staff and attendees can use twitter backchannels to ask/share additional information related to the topic discussed at the events. Through the backchannels, Orientation staff can also get some feedback on how the attendees perceived the events.
- Orientation staff (including students) can document their experience, lessons learned for assessments and future staff using blogs and wikis.
- Curate attendees’ comments/feedback/experience provided on various social networks using Storify. Christopher Conzen (@clconzen) uses Storify to document his NASPA Region II MidManager’s Institute experience.
General Campus Info/Other Uses
- Provide campus mobile websites to campus services, maps, academic information (schedule of classes, course catalog) so attendees can browse while they are waiting for events and while they are registering for courses. Browse through a higher ed mobile directory by Dave Olsen (@dmolsen) to get an idea of how universities are using mobile.
- Provide staff with mobile devices and mobile applications to conduct business away from their desks. These could include: check-in/check-out, access student information, communicate with other staff (via text, email, twitter, etc), access to schedules and other program info.
Orientation programs are where new students get introduced to their upcoming university lives and academic careers. Campuses should use this opportunity to educate the students with the concept of digital identity and how their activities online can have both negative and positive impacts on their careers, rather than waiting until they are about to graduate from their universities. Eric Stoller (@ericstoller) introduces this idea on his blog post Digital Identity Development: Orientation and Career Services.
While I offer some suggestions on using social media and mobile for Orientation use, I am cognizant of the fact that not all students have access nor the resources and familiarity to utilize these technologies. Orientation programs should use these technologies appropriately and not severely disadvantage some students by not providing the essential services to all.
What other ideas can you suggest?
I attended the Pilipino Graduation Ceremony at UC Santa Barbara last Friday. It was an intimate ceremony which provided the 21 graduating seniors, both Filipino-Americans and students involved with the Filipino-American community at UCSB, opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to recognize the contributions of their families. Even those who are stoic in nature would have been moved by the tributes and gratitude expressed by the students. Listening to the heartfelt speeches and watching the pride by their families were exactly what I needed to remind myself of why I chose to come back to higher education. It was also a reminder of what really gets me excited and passionate about my job, which is supporting students. In my 16 years since turning professional, I have been able to develop relationships as a mentor to several students. These relationships have lasted even after they graduated.
I have experienced two major technology shifts in my career: the web in the late 1990′s and social media, cloud and mobile in the last few years. In both periods, I have been fortunate to have been given opportunities in my organization to be an early adopter/implementer of these technologies. Along the way, I learned some lessons I carry along with me and I share with my team in how to have some success when it comes to leading change.
- You need champions/advocates and adopters. You need allies.
- Distribute the work AND accolades.
- Recognition should be the byproduct, not the goal.
- Don’t ignore detractors, but don’t let them stop you either.
- Turn your detractors into your allies and you may have your strongest advocates.
- Learn to know when to ask for forgiveness and/or permission.
- You’ll need a plan, but don’t let the plan stifle progress.
- Better to make mistake moving forward than stagnate and do nothing.
- Embrace ambiguity.
- Know that you will make mistakes from time to time. Don’t dwell on them.
- Learn. Always Learn.
- Politics do matter.
- Develop thick skin. You will be criticized.
- Speak in the language of those you’re trying to convince.
- Ask why would folks want to invest time and resources.
- “No” is not permanent.
- Have fun. Hard to sustain energy for a long time if you’re not having fun.
- Anticipate tomorrow’s needs and build solutions for them.
- Look outside your organization/industry to gain perspective, inspirations.
- It’s more than technology. It’s about people and culture.
In your experience, what else would you add?
It is during this time of the year when front line colleagues who truly deserve the accolades for their student service will receive awards in front of a cheering crowd. I have personally received one myself for my work with student organizations as an advisor and so this post is not from a place of sour grapes. Oftentimes, I personally receive praises that should be reserved for the work my IT colleagues just because I am the one talking to the customers. I do make sure to correct those giving me recognition and emphasize that for every application and service we provide, it requires team effort.
For every front line customer service professional, there is a layer of support behind them that makes their ability to provide service possible. In these days when most, if not all, business processes depend on technology, the IT staff is often involved at some point in the customer service process. There are many roles within an IT organization, including operations support positions such as help desk, server, and network admins. They often work after everyone’s gone home and during weekends to maintain and upgrade our systems. In my opinion, these are some of the hardest jobs and these are the positions that receive the least recognitions. When our systems and networks are running well, they are invisible and only when the email system or the network goes down do people even know they exist.
I know that the colleagues I mentioned above are driven by their desire to be of service to others and not by accolades. Appreciation of their work and their value to the organization does go a long way. Next time you have the opportunity to thank your IT staff, please do so.