Social Media: The haze is lifting and the landscape is coming into focus.

Today, I have a guest post on the CASE Social Media blog. I’m cross posting it here.From @ThreeShipsMedia

I think things are starting to clear up on the social media front:

  • Experimentation? Check.
  • Senior administrators understanding what a hashtag is? Check.
  • Facebook and Twitter icons on your home page? And, check again.

Let me offer a bit more evidence about my assertion that, at most educational institutions, there is a sharper focus for how social media is used. Here are some ideas:

Most of us are using the right tool for the right job.
Perhaps you saw the Social Media Explained photo I’m including in this post. I saw it first on @ThreeShipsMedia. Let’s face it, for a while social media channels were generic. The only goal—the simple intent—was to have a conversation. While it’s still about conversation, the Twitter post is not the Facebook update is not the Pinterest pin. And, there seems to be less reliance on an approach that simultaneously publishes the same content to all social channels. Most of us are packaging content differently depending on the channel, or we are using certain channels for certain types of communication.

Thanks to mobile, social media is now a push technology.
The first time I suggested social media as an official communication channel, many resisted it because they preferred to “get it in their email.” There was a fear that if we didn’t use a push technology, the audience simply would not bother to come to us for a message. Mobile changes all that. For a while, I’ve characterized mobile as social. And, the proliferation of mobile devices (some claim that 50% of undergraduates have smart phones) and apps means we can be almost certain that our social media content streams are being regularly pushed to the audiences we want to reach. Nowadays, our audiences always have their small screens with them.

People, not brands, use social media.
There is social media noise but we’ve learned that the authentic voices are more likely to be heard by sophisticated audiences. Why explain this further when Lori Packer’s recent post provides an excellent summary? Enough said.

Bring the campus life section to life with social media.
These days, integration of the official web presence with social media content streams is default; it’s expected. Back in the day, the light-hearted content of a college or university website was contained in the Campus Life section. Do you think you could crowdsource the campus life section of your website? Do you think official, higher education websites have improved because of the “external pressure” from the looming social media content on the periphery?

Humble, anyone?
Many social media strategists recommend that content produced for your social channels should not be all about you. Instead your institution should use social media to contribute to the broader conversation. Enter tools like Pinterest where according to CASE Social Media blogger Ma’ayan Plaut, recommendations to the community of users suggests “avoiding self-promotion.” Take Ma’ayan’s advice, “Use social media to help you tell your story.”

If your view is still hazy, sharpen your focus by consuming the best of what’s out there. Luckily, using social media, we can use social media more effectively. Blogs like the CASE Social Media Blog and conferences like CASE Social Media and Community are #tremendousresources for sharing ideas and keeping your communication strategy rich and relevant. Hope to see many of you in Chicago for #casesmc.

Progress? Check.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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