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Twitter and Facebook Navigate Underserved Students Through the College Process

Social media is creating opportunities for students who did not have access to higher education to become more aware of the possibilities. In addition, the article below illustrates some creative ways that social media is used in classrooms, which could provide some ideas for outside of the classroom.

Twitter and Facebook Navigate Underserved Students Through the College Process

by Cherise Lesesne

Social media formula

Universities are working to exact a social media formula that makes the college process easier for students, staff and faculty alike.

Facebook and Twitter were initially used at higher education institutions mainly to connect students to one another. The presence of social media soon grew to become a part of institutions’ business strategies. Through tailored marketing, recruitment and public relations strategies, social networks advertised a school’s presence. Now, each site’s ability to lure social interaction between prospective students and administration has begun the process of enabling a rather effortless transition for college students, particularly underrepresented students.

For underserved students, one of the most plaguing issues is affording and accessing college, as the lack of resources has been a perpetual struggle. Social networking, society’s most transformative and interactive tool, hosts applications that bring complex and inaccessible resources to all students. Founded on the campuses of higher education institutions, social media sites are incorporating a mixture of entertainment, interaction and guidance to the college admissions and completion processes.

“In using Facebook, there are no costs to students for using it, and, as a platform, Facebook is something that students are already using, so schools are beginning to — but [they] also strive to further leverage the technology to deliver key messages and information that they want students to have,” says Alexandra Bernadotte, founder and CEO of Beyond 12, an organization that uses technology to bridge communication between secondary and higher education administration in order to graduate more underserved college students.

The technologically-based organization has relied heavily on Facebook and other tools to offer informative resources, especially for low-income, first-generation and minority students. For such students, who oftentimes fall under the umbrella of underserved students, the challenge has been inadequate academic preparation, but, most important, it has been a lack of financial literacy in the financial aid process.

“Students are really having a difficult time trying to navigate through the rather complicated financial aid maze,” Bernadotte says.

As a result, Bernadotte created an interactive tool, used on the Facebook platform, to explain complex financial processes into simple, layman’s terms. The tool, referred to as the Student Engagement Site, utilizes Facebook’s discussion forum to communicate the financial aid process by allowing dialogue between students and professionals in regard to the college aid process. The site also provides sample copies of financial aid appeal letters. Not only are students exposed to easier financial literature, but also, the interactive tool analyzes a student’s two- to four-year budget so students can better manage “course-taking patterns.”

“Oftentimes, we find that underserved students are typically [bogged] down with managing their time at jobs, schools and applying for more financial aid, so this feature allows them to assess which set of courses they can afford and better manage the time and money that they spend on college,” Bernadotte says.

Newer applications and features of interactive sites have eliminated costly fees for textbooks and tuition. At best, the social platforms have surfaced information regarding higher education success, which oftentimes is buried in complex content. Perhaps that’s why colleges and universities have increased their reliance on social media to more than 90 percent, according to a study conducted by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Used as the hub for higher education guidance, College Board also uses a Facebook application that communicates the college process for students, specifically targeting first-generation students. The application, titled “You Can Go,” uses an interactive navigation system, explaining why students should consider college, and provides success stories of college graduates. Once a student has filled out the appropriate information regarding his/her circumstance, that student can opt to post his/her “pledge” to fellow social media sites Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. The premise of sharing the pledge allows for student users to interact with similar experiences, providing a network for those unfamiliar with the college process to better navigate it.

College Summit, a veteran organization that helps close the gap for low-income students in higher education, played a significant role in helping organizations like College Board and Beyond 12 develop Facebook applications for prospective underrepresented students. Beginning with a “Hackathon,” supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, education leaders gathered and were challenged to build an application, available on the Facebook platform, that would help low-income students navigate more easily through the college process. Student representatives from College Summit assessed each organization’s and leader’s application by testing the tools on the user end at the actual Facebook site.

CEO Keith Frome says, “Our insight in using technology and the power of social networking was to uphold this peer-to-peer communication and use colleges as a platform to do that. So it made perfect sense to translate this in a systematic way to enact our purpose of easing the college process within social networking.”

“The technology and the applications that we [education organizations] are building now will be a way to unburden the high school counselors so they can become more of a clearinghouse, so that instead, students can go on these ‘apps’ and spend 30 minutes learning about the financial aid process,” Frome adds.

However, the surge of applications available for underrepresented students is not limited to usage on the Facebook platform. The social media site Twitter has also been active in creating college accessibility for its students, according to Frome.

A recent study, released by college education professors Christine Greenhow and Benjamin Gleason at Michigan State University, reported that Twitter helped students better engage in the classroom and complete college courses successfully. Greenhow explains that students use Twitter as microblogs, a form of social media that allows individuals to create online content. The benefit in microblogging, according to Greenhow, is its ability to engage communication between other users and conduct real-time searching. For professor Greenhow, students found that Twitter and its ability to perform “real-time searching” enhanced the literacy of her students.

“Popular media frequently emphasizes the importance of “literacy” and “basic literacy” as a skill set related to the decoding and encoding of printed texts,” Greenhow says. “The students get more engaged because they feel it is connected to something real, that it’s not just learning for the sake of learning; it feels authentic.”

Mainly, students learned because of their ability to stay abreast of current research, including the entire college process, according to Greenhow. In fact, Johns Hopkins University uses Twitter to publicize the unique experiences of each student. Students are set up with blogs and microblogs, referred to as “Hopkins Interactive,” where they keep an online journal of their campus lives and, oftentimes, post their difficulties in their own college processes.

Recently, the Johns Hopkins Class of 2016 created and tweeted a blog that offered advice to high school seniors on how to best navigate the college admissions process. Like the College Board’s “You Can Go” app, the Hopkins Interactive tool offered a support system for prospective students, particularly those underserved students who often require more guidance in order to better transition through the collegiate experience.

According to Frome, the support system, available in newer technological tools and social media apps, has largely impacted underserved students.

“We all know that the social component for achievement is profound. Social networks that appear supportive are going to be really important so that students can find a like-minded cohort,” Frome says.

Short and Sweet Twitter Tips

Lots of other universities are utilizing social media to engage students. The majority of LMU social media profiles are in Facebook, but some offices are utilizing Twitter. Here are some tips from North Carolina State University on how to utilize Twitter more effectively.

Short and Sweet Twitter Tips

Who tweets for work? Hands up! Here in News Services we do also—that’s why the Bulletin attended a session last week hosted by the Office of Information Technology on how to tweet on behalf of the university.

The OIT workshop attracted 30 communicators, staff and professors from various departments and colleges. John Martin, technical communicator, says Twitter allows us to share real-time information on what people see as important. He says often people tweet on mundane topics—such as what they had for breakfast. But if you engage your audience by tweeting on intelligent and important topics, you can gain some real traction. Here are some other gems offered:

Consider your audience, context and purpose

Before tweeting, determine your purpose—is it attracting event attendees, highlighting industry news or your department’s achievements? Having a purpose helps scope your tweets and set your subscribers’ expectations. Martin suggests using your purposes as a checklist. Don’t tweet about the weather, for example, but do tweet about relevant industry news and our upcoming workshops. “If the tweet does not fall within your purposes, don’t tweet it,” he says.

Tweet often

Martin suggests tweeting daily throughout the week, several times a day. Also, respond to people who reply, follow you or make you a favorite. Retweet in different ways and at different times. One attendee asked whether this was spamming but Martin doesn’t think so. “If information is presented differently, then it’s OK.”

Have metrics

Measure on how well Twitter is performing as a stand-alone method, and as part of a larger communication plan. OIT uses Tweetstats.com as its data source. Also, keep track of the number of followers, mentions, retweets, replies and whether your tweet has been selected as a favorite.

Always be civil

If a tweet appears antagonistic, write a civil exchange then, if the exchange deteriorates, try taking it offline.

Governance

Determine who is already tweeting for your department or organization so there is no overlap. Adhere to the university brand guidelines and editorial guidelines. (Note: These are NC State’s guidelines)

Be responsive

If someone asks a question via Twitter, respond. If you post something incorrect, then remove the tweet and/or admit the mistake. For example, “Update. I misspoke. Here’s the correct announcement.”

Read up on Twitter

Wonderful resources exist online on how to tweet succinctly, clearly and well.  For instance, experts suggest keeping hashtags to a minimum, one or two per tweet. Seven hashtags per tweet can be read as a desperate marketing ploy. And tweet as you would speak normally. Experts from Mashable, the popular social media news website, say the best executives on Twitter use a conversational tone. Occasionally share personal victories, challenges or failures. Your followers will relate more.

Martin recommends the following resources for more information:

http://mashable.com/2012/09/09/twitter-hashtags-small-business/

http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/

http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/01/how-to-write-better-tweets.html

Job Networking Through Social Media

As we prepare our students for life beyond the bluff, social media is becoming utilized for more than just connecting individuals. Businesses have been using social media sites like LinkedIn to recruit. According to the article below, “Many top search firms and recruiters also depend on LinkedIn to gather information on prospective employees. In fact, in a 2012 Jobvite social recruiting survey, 93 percent of respondents — comprised of more than 1,000 human resources and recruitment professionals — said LinkedIn is a primary recruiting network, and 89 percent have hired from the site.”  We stress the importance of educating our students on how to be congruent with their identity between social circles; however, we also need to bridge the conversation to include social media as well. 

Job Networking Through Social Media: The Advantages of LinkedIn for College Students

We live in a digital age, with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter dominating web traffic. And with the growth of LinkedIn — “the world’s largest professional network,” as its slogan proclaims — many of us as college students are not only interacting online with friends but also networking with colleagues, classmates and employers as we pursue our career goals.

Since creating a LinkedIn page last year, I’ve found it a valuable tool in reaching out professionally to those I’ve worked with in the past. It’s a modern and innovative concept, combining the realm of social media with the job market: post your experience, education information and skills just as you would on a résumé or curriculum vitae, but also include a profile photo and request “connections” — the near equivalent of Facebook friends — in a professional setting.

Image

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 200 million members in 200 countries and territories around the globe with the goal to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.

A California-based company that launched in 2003, LinkedIn announced this month that the site has attracted more than 200 million users, but only 43 percent of college students use the site. Still, the company has worked to appeal to college students specifically, adding options for users to list campus organizations they’ve joined and honors and awards they’ve received, along with relevant coursework and test scores.

But how important is it to have a LinkedIn page?

After seeing some of my own classmates and peers launch their own online profiles last year, I decided to create a page of my own. The question of whether having a LinkedIn page is necessary at all — and whether it really can aid in the job search — has since come up in conversation with friends.

Job experts told me in interviews that having LinkedIn profile in an age of technology is absolutely crucial for college students. Allison Cheston, an adjunct instructor at New York University and a career connector for executives and young adults, says LinkedIn permits users to do what they can’t do on their resume: “showcase your personality and everything else you do in your life.” Whether you’re pursuing journalism or investment banking, Cheston says, as a student, you should maintain a LinkedIn presence.

“What I recommend is that you look at more senior people in that field and look at cues at how to best share your information,” Cheston says.

Many top search firms and recruiters also depend on LinkedIn to gather information on prospective employees. In fact, in a 2012 Jobvite social recruiting survey, 93 percent of respondents — comprised of more than 1,000 human resources and recruitment professionals — said LinkedIn is a primary recruiting network, and 89 percent have hired from the site.

“I go to LinkedIn as a first step whenever I begin recruiting for a new position,” Stacy Zapar, who is currently the most connected woman on LinkedIn and is also a recruiter and social media trainer who has blogged extensively on the best ways to use LinkedIn, told me in an interview.

How students can use LinkedIn to their full advantage

Miriam Salpeter, the author of Social Networking for Career Success and the owner and founder of coaching and consulting firm Keppie Careers, advises students to create complete profiles and include “keywords” that describe their skills and experiences. This way, recruiters and hiring managers can find you when they plug your name into a search engine.

And, Salpeter explains, asking for recommendations from professors and supervisors as well as skill endorsements from colleagues can only make your profile stronger. Take advantage of the categories geared toward students specifically, Salpeter adds, and engage in active groups.

Cheston says to make sure you have a professional-looking profile photo and an “upbeat summary.” Don’t simply say that you’re looking for a job. Use the opportunity to state your interests and experience, and make it clear what you’re looking for.

And finally, connect, connect, connect — to everyone they know, from friends and coworkers to clients, professors and recruiters. You never know who your friend or professor might know, and a connection could help you land a job someday. “Ask them who they know, which companies might be hiring, any recommendations for breaking into their desired career,” Zapar says.

After applying for a job, students should reach out to hiring managers on LinkedIn to reiterate their interest in the position, Zapar says, adding that this way, you can “stand out from the pack.”

Mistakes to avoid

Be careful, though. Experts say students should worry about spelling and grammatical errors on their LinkedIn pages just as they would worry about posting provocative photos to their Facebook pages. The Jobvite survey indicated that 54 percent of respondents reacted negatively to such errors.

Additionally, don’t forget the “social” element of social media. Many student profiles look alike, Zapar says, because a lot of students don’t have much experience yet. Building that network and seeking recommendations are two key ways to cast a wide net and reemphasize your strengths.

 
 
 

 

Follow Jordan Friedman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@jmfriedman

#ACPA2013

Last week ACPA had another successful conference in Las Vegas for student affairs professionals from across the country. With approximately 4,000 delegates in attendance, ACPA utilized various forms of social media to navigate the interstices between time and locations as individuals prepared for the conference and while at the conference. After creating a thorough social media plan, ACPA’s Chair of Technology and Social Media found success with Twitter & Guidebook although Facebook absconded conference goers’ interests as a medium to keep individuals abreast of updates or to connect delegates. The article below gives insights on how to create a social media communication plan and ways to assess its success.

2013 Social Media and Other Tech Data

Now that the 2013 ACPA Convention has come and gone, I’m left reflecting on my experience as Chair of Technology and Social Media. My main role was to focus on how Social Media would impact our Convention delegates before and during convention, using it for marketing, communication, and community building. Our goals were simple:

  • Engage the membership online (both in Las Vegas and away) about all aspects of the ACPA Convention
  • Push out important information, related to Convention, in a timely manner.
  • Create buzz and connections for ACPA Delegates at Convention to connect in person

This post will cover what we focused on, statistics, and what we learned for next year.

1. The ACPA 2013 Social Media Plan

socialmediaplan_small

After serving on the ACUI 2012 Convention Team as Host Chair and Social Media Coordinator, I’m proud of the plan we put together and how much we were able to accomplish. I took what we did in Boston for ACUI 2012 and reframed our Social Media plan (working closely with our friends in Marketing and Communication, along with the International Office) to engage Association members intentionally and with purpose. As you can see from the yellow checkmarks, we were able to complete many of our goals with the help of some amazing convention volunteers and the Social Media Advisory Committee.

2. The #ACPA13 Hashtag

Overview

There was a plethora of Tweets from the ACPA Convention 2013 hashtag (#ACPA13) and our friends at Hashtracking helped us break down some of the data. Some of the overall numbers included:
– 12, 262 total tweets
– 1,621 Unique Twitter Accounts
– 7.35 million Timeline Deliveries (in other words, how many times during Convention a Tweet with #ACPA13 came across someone’s device) If you are interested in looking at the entire Hashtracking Report, feel free to see it here. The data in this report, especially the 491 page transcript of all the tweets will help ACPA focus its attention on how best to use Twitter at Convention and throughout the year.

3. Facebook

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 10.26.02 PMFacebook turned out to be our least engaging social media area. Perhaps it was due to the lack of consistent and engaging content on our part or maybe its that Twitter is where most folks focus to get their Convention information? While not staggering:

– We had 648 folks who “liked” our page.
– We had an average of “reach” of 2,082 and an average number of 137 “engaged users”
– The most popular content involved pictures and videos

4. Convention Blog

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 10.08.58 PMThis year, we added a new Convention blog to help share stories leading up to and at Convention, complimenting the official communication that came from ACPA. It was a great start for the blog with decent numbers:

– 3,367 Unique Visitors with 6,515 visits
– Top posts were: “The Social Media Adventure” (1,405 Views), “The 2013 Tweetup” (1,339 Views), and “Last Minute Tips” (400 Views)

5. YouTube

youtube-logoWe used videos on YouTube as marketing and educational resources for the membership and was proud of our efforts, which included using the Google Plus “On Air” Hangout feature to broadcast webinars live in an exciting new format. Our list of Convention Videos included:

Welcome from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (628 Views/CAPTIONED)
ACPA 2013 Marketing Video (1,368 Views / CAPTIONED)
Program Proposal Advice (39 Views)
Google Hangout: Behind the Neon Lights (56 views)
Google Hangout: Getting the Most Out of Convention (131 Views)

6. Programs: Social Media Adventure and The Annual Tweetup

APCA-Social-Media-AdventureWe had a lot of fun putting these two programs together for the 2013 ACPA Convention! While participation was overall low (under 100 people) for the “Adventure,” we did get folks sharing how they used social media on their campuses and hopefully gave folks ideas on how to do programs like this when they returned. We also focused on three levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) to start seeing where folks were comfortable and highlight what they did not know.

The Tweetup was quite a gathering, with almost 100 people crowding the Cabo Wabo Cantina by Planet Hollywood! Reports had it that folks were actually turned away (special note to our 2014 team to connect with Ancillary folks to find us a bigger venue for next year!) It was great meeting folks in-person from the online connections we shared. As Chris Conzen shared, “I don’t always hug random people, but when I do, it’s at a tweetup #ACPA13

7. Guidebook

guidebookI was thrilled when ACPA decided to purchase the full version of Guidebook and utilize its functionality for Convention attendees. The numbers associated with its use are encouraging:

– 3,538 Unique Downloads: This could mean that some folks downloaded it to two of their devices (e.g. iPhone and iPad). But with almost 4,000 delegates, its clear that we can start having the broader conversation about the need for a printed Program Book and what that cost could save the Association.
– Mobile Download Breakdown: iOS (2,662), Android (612), Mobile Web Sessions (263) Apparently, ACPA loves its Apple products! My favorite stats breakdown of the Mobile Web Guidebook usage included the fact that there were 7 Blackberry mobile views and 9 Windows Phone mobile views!

I’m grateful to ACPA and the entire ACPA 2013 Convention Planning Team for giving me this opportunity and to the 2014 Team for bringing me back to focus on all our Technology needs for Convention. I’m excited to work closely with Marlena Love, the 2014 ACPA Social Media Coordinator and Tony Doody, the 2014 ACPA Innovation Director! We all have some exciting ideas that Indianapolis will be the perfect location for and will expand on those ideas on this blog throughout the year. I am committed to helping ACPA and our planning team achieve all the innovative goals we set forward, including:

  • Wireless Access for all throughout the Convention Center
  • An Educational Session room equipped to “Livestream” sessions delivered in this space
  • A Social Technology “Command Center”, located in a centralized location, where anyone can volunteer, learn about, and grow their technology and social media acumen. (I envision a lot of couches, screens, technology gear, and coffee!)

and many other ideas! Stay tuned!

What social media effort did you engage with the most and why? What are some of your technology needs for next year’s ACPA Convention in Indianapolis?

ed_smallEd Cabellon is Director of the Rondileau Campus Center at Bridgewater State University (MA) and an administrative leader in technology and social media communication in Higher Education and Student Affairs. He has served ACPA has 2013 Convention Technology and Social Media Chair and will be the ACPA 2014 Technology Chair. He shares his thoughts on technology, social media, and other topics on his blog. Connect with him there or on Twitter!

What Happens When You Like a Facebook Page

Facebook’s new algorithms and Facebook ads are changing the makeup of your newsfeed. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not so much. Food for thought. And of course Facebook Ads give us more relatively affordable options to communicate with our target audience: LMU students, but the jury is still out on how people feel about being marketed and marketed to in this way.

What Happens When You Like a Facebook Page

 

University of Phoenix and Facebook Advertisements

On January 16th at 9:06 AM, I liked the University of Phoenix Facebook Page. Because of my consulting practice, it makes sense for me to like a wide variety of higher-education-related pages on Facebook. Universities and colleges that I have worked with are in my list of likes as well as several other well-known schools and programs. I like seeing what they’re up to on Facebook. When I liked Phoenix, I was doing it as a way to keep up on how they run their Facebook presence. Little did I realize at the time that my innocent “like” was going to be put to a use that I didn’t expect.

In one of my Facebook status updates, a friend informed me in a comment that there was an advertisement at the top of her newsfeed. The sponsored ad, like the image at the top of this post, showed that I had liked the Phoenix Facebook page. I didn’t see the ad until another friend sent me a screencap from their phone. Now, I like a lot of things on Facebook and for the most part, I don’t care if a company’s ad includes my name/activity. After all, I have agreed to Facebook’s Terms of Service. I suppose I could leverage Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings to limit what can be done with my activity on the site. However, I’ve always had my Facebook presence set to “wide open” and I don’t really want to change it.

Facebook is quite clear how advertising and sponsored stories work on the site. Of course, I’m sure that most people have never read either the terms of service or any other FAQs on the site about privacy/advertising. According to Facebook, “when an advertiser creates an ad, they are given the opportunity to choose their audience by location, demographics, likes, keywords, and any other information we receive or can tell about you and other users.” It’s kind of creepy, but it’s also Facebook’s source of income, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that my liking of Phoenix’s page was turned into a sponsored ad.

Here’s my main issue with this particular ad and how it was received: I work in higher education and this ad is selling something that is related to higher education. It’s not like it’s Starbucks and they are telling the world of Facebook that I like coffee. I could care less about that…and you should too. But, the connection to what I do for a living with this ad is a little bit troubling. While I’d rather not “unlike” the Phoenix page, I may end up doing that…and I’ve also liked other schools to see if my name shows up in their ads. Capella University and Southern New Hampshire University, I like you, I really do.

-Eric Stoller

Social Media: The Swiss Army Knife of Higher Education

“The game has completely changed…The traditional way seems like a Flat Earth Society to me. I will post this blog as soon as I am done, and it will have the potential to reach millions of readers. Today…Operating out of a fear base is almost never a good idea. Social media, with its unprecedented immediacy and transparency, is not a place we can go successfully, as an individual or as an institution of higher education, if we travel in fear.” This article gives some insight about how to move forward in the foggy world of social media to advance institutions of higher education and learning along the way.

Social Media: The Swiss Army Knife of Higher Education

If Social Media were a person, I would have to make her the highest paid employee at Southwestern College. Her job description would be five pages long. Maybe ten.

As it is, I am the president of a graduate school, I am in my fifties, and Social Media has become my Swiss Army Knife for doing business in higher education. I am a digital immigrant, and am embarrassed to say I have more often than not gone kicking and screaming into each new social media platform that comes along.

Initially, I thought they were all, each for their own special reason, stupid. I wish I were exaggerating or being cute. At some point, I read a book about each one, or get some mentoring,  and ultimately I end up breathing each one in deeply, letting it teach me its value.

ImageSo, about Social Media in higher education…

Southwestern College is a small, spiritually-sourced (non-denominational, “Consciousness-centered”) and fully accredited graduate institution.  I have developed a deep and compelling appreciation of social media as an enormously powerful, relevant, and serious tool for success in higher education. (I sometimes have to skip pipe ceremonies and Kirtans to read Tony Hsieh, Mari Smith or Mashable or Social Media Today, or attend a webinar, but that’s OK…) 

Over the past two to three years, social media has become a primary tool and strategy for recruitment, for marketing, for development, for public relations, for alumni relations and for moving our unique school toward a “thought leadership” position. I do not have a development officer, a grant writer, a PR or a marketing person. Or perhaps I could say, I am all of those guys, and I farm a lot of the work out to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Scoop.It, Hootsuite, Google Plus, You Tube and the online newswires.

As is the case with many small schools (we have approximately eight hundred alumni), tuition has always been our primary (75% to 92%) source of college income. Our former development function performed valued activities, but lost money for eight straight years. The last two years I had a grant writer (2009-10), we threw buckets of cash after once-philanthropic organizations which were now hunkered down under the bed waiting for the world economy storm to blow over. We wrote thirty-five grants and got none of them. I am a very positive guy, but the likelihood of raising a sustainable income for the College from eight hundred alumni in the counseling and art therapy field is simply not good. Not happening. And when grant writing starts to feel like playing bunco, I have to revisit my responsibility to my institution and its mission, and make hard decisions.

So in the midst of this fiscal murk, a light bulb went off, and I wrote a white paper explaining why “Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions Are (and always have been) Our Only Successful Development Initiative.” The board “got it” and I shifted significant budget money to implement that new vision. It just made sense. One additional student at the school represents $45,000 in tuition over two years. Eleven new students about a half million dollars over two years. On a total budget of a little over two million per year. The divining rod was bending like crazy. We had been reading the industry’s theoretical map instead of looking at the actual terrain upon which we had been walking for the 30 years of the College’s history.

The several years prior to our social media launch were disheartening. We could not go toe to toe with our bigger, sister schools, writing checks for hard copy ads in the American Airlines magazine, inMother Jones, in Counseling Today, in the Shaman’s Drum. But now, in the social media era, it is more a matter of how much time and energy you are willing and able to pour into your social media empire.

So that’s what we are doing. I spend roughly a million hours a week at social media, and in the fall, for the first time, we are hiring graduate assistants who will work ten hours per week apiece on social media projects and developments. And of course, I am trying to do my best Tom Sawyer, getting more folks at the College on-board, blogging, pinning, posting photographs. I have to say, Tom was much better at it than I am. I’m not sure why this is. Given an opportunity to post a blog on our authority site web page, you ought to do it. That’s a piece of advice.

So with social media as an enormously powerful ally, we broke all enrollment records this past year, for each quarter, and overall, and our credit hour production was great as well. (That record will be broken next year. I can see that already…) Prospective students now show up routinely, saying “I feel like I know you guys already from your videos and blogs and Facebook page … I’ve been following you for months…”  It is gratifying, and it is good business, and it is authentic.

That last is probably the most gratifying of all. The new business sensibility, which has been completely transformed by social media, calls for building relationships, connectivity, collaboration, transparency. It is all over the new business book titles at the airport. It is what Counselors and Art Therapists do, naturally.

LinkedIn is also one of our professional anchors. Pinterest is a huge tool for our Art Therapy program, and it is but a mere babe in the social media world. Southwestern College is pretty much all over the social media map. Facebook is huge for us. We Tweet a number of times a day, post on Google Plus, and I have my eye on Scoop.It. My Klout rating is around 57.

Of course a truly unique curriculum and amazing faculty will always be our greatest draw at Southwestern College (your institution has its special draw), but virtually every interface between Southwestern College and the world is now impacted, or driven by social media.

There are always doubters — goes without saying. But for me, social media seems self-evidently valuable in an enormous way. I happen to think it will be the biggest paradigm shift I see in my lifetime, or second, behind the internet itself. Of course you can use it like a knucklehead, but you can also knock somebody in the head with a hard copy of the Bhagavad Gita. I mean, come on.

The traditional world of stuffy, self-important journal publications with its high rejection rates and long, drawn out time lines has become virtually irrelevant for us in terms of sharing professional content, thoughts, art images and so on. While my beloved alma mater Ohio State will continue to require you to publish regularly  in over-referee-ed journals, we all know by now (or should) that we are now our own publishers. The game has completely changed. My journal article may come out in 18 months, but to be thought leaders, we want to post tonight. Get feedback tomorrow. The traditional way seems like a Flat Earth Society to me. I will post this blog as soon as I am done, and it will have the potential to reach millions of readers. Today.

That, my friends, is powerful, and it is cool.

And I haven’t even written about how social media can be incorporated into courses and curricula, but that too, is another post.

Not that I have any delusion that I am on any leading edge, but I actually had a brief doubt about whether I should share what I am doing in social media with (potentially) other schools, “competing” schools. But that doubt lifted quickly. We are all in this together. In this Aquarian Age, the opportunity to shift consciousness will be through collaboration, not against-ness. Operating out of a fear base is almost never a good idea. Social media, with its unprecedented immediacy and transparency, is not a place we can go successfully, as an individual or as an institution of higher education, if we travel in fear.

Will Vine Grow Into a Thriving Social Media Property

Vine might not something that we would necessarily use en masse in Higher Education, there could definitely be some fun applications in the Student Affairs space. Since Vine is essentially Instagram with Video and is backed by Twitter it may be a fad but it has the potential to develop into something with staying power.

Will Vine Grow Into A Thriving Social Media Property

Take a moment to check out Vine, the new social network from Twitter. Then, take a look at what the media is saying about it. Simply put, Vine is Instagram with video. Users can record five second, looping videos and post them online. Much like Instagram, followers can like or comment on posted videos.

This new social network has already had it’s share of controversy (users uploading porn? oh no!) but is still growing quickly. In my opinion, the new platform suffers from lack of purpose, ie: why should I use this? But I felt the same way about Twitter, the iPad and Facebook.

Whether you are doing digital marketingpublic relations or web design it’s important to stay current with evolving technologies. My question to you is two fold,

  1. How do you plan on staying current with technology after you graduate?

  2. What do you think of the vine app?