What is the value of having a twitter account for your institution?

April 23, 2009

At the CASE Communications Marketing and Technology conference last week we talked a lot about twitter. Some of the attendees really questioned the value and some had to go back and make presentations on the the value. So I decided to tackle that question here.

What is the value of having a twitter account for your institution?

It’s Free
In today’s economy and the budget impact that will be felt by higher education “free” is the right price. Of course nothing is free it might take some staff time but the “cost” to get in is low impact even on staff time.

You can grow incrementally
There is no rule that states you have to tweet live for your institution or how many tweets you need to make a day. There are best practices but to get started you can start small and grow.  Push you RSS feed to your twitter account. Try to tweet one event live like commencement and see how it goes.

You can engage people
It offers a chance to engage people you might otherwise be missing. Maybe you have some alumni who have gotten hooked on twitter and are following the college account – but don’t want to get the e-newsletter. It offers people one more chance to be engaged and connected to your institution.

It’s not just about twitter
With the chance to pull tweets to your webpage I think maybe the largest opportunities with Twitter will be embedding live up to the minute content onto a webpage. Maybe the news article about commencement wasn’t so interesting but the chance to read about it live via a twitter feed to your site might pull someone in. Maybe that trip a student is taking and “tweeting” about is more interesting when a prospective student can read live what the experience is like?

Are there others to add to the list? Let me know.

Sustaining a social media program

March 27, 2009

Social Media is a hot topic. I just got back from the CASE District II conference in Baltimore and every session dealing with Social Media was packed. Some colleges were just trying to figure it out. In my session on Obama most colleges (by a show of hands) had facebook pages. But for those of us that have truly invested time, staff, resources into social media how do sustain the program past a student intern or staff members with an interest? How do we integrate social media into our communications and marketing strategy for the future. Here are a few thoughts please add your own…

Institutional Commitment
People outside the web office need to see the value and start using the tools. If social media is only a web office project you will have a tough time. You need to find buy-in from enrollment, development, career planning, communications and others.

YOU need to take on the role as the social media expert and educate your campus community. You need to encourage others to be courageous and try social media. How can you talk about it and advocate for it if you are not involved with it? Education includes sessions for your vice president, the president’s cabinet, and the board. All of these groups need to learn how important a role social media is playing in your web strategy.

To truly sustain a program you need to integrate your tactical strategies into everyday business processes. Social media can’t be a communications afterthought but instead a key part to your planning efforts.

Chris Brogan

March 16, 2009

If you don’t read it then you should. It’s Chris Brogan’s blog.

He wrote 2 posts that I thought were particularly interesting and wanted to share with you:

Connecting social media to strategic communications

March 5, 2009

Charlie Melichar who is the VP for Communications at Colgate wrote a blog post the other day that got me thinking. He titled it Social media sustainability and starts to ask some good questions about how you sustain a really good social media program. How do you incorporate that program into an overall strategic communication plan?

For many people just getting up a Facebook page or loading some videos to YouTube might be enough. Your Vice President may not interested in social media and that’s ok because you don’t have the time or the staff for it. I would make an argument to that group that you are really missing opportunities.

But for those of us that have truly invested time, staff, resources into social media Charlie asks some really great questions. How do sustain the program past a student intern or staff members with an interest? I think there is another blog post on that topic but I am interested if people have opionions on the topic? Thoughts, comments, suggestions…

New baby 2.0

February 19, 2009

Last night at 6:31 pm I became a dad for the second time. 

Of course that’s big news for the Redfern family but not necessarily interesting for readers of this blog looking for some type of higher ed web insight.  (Read on the next section is how I tie it back together.)

I was actually quite amazed at how people found out about Kaitlyn. Of course I made some phone calls to my wife’s parents, my parents, and brothers. But that was all I had time for so I posted the news on Twitter which also updates my facebook status. Within minutes hundreds of people from cousins to high school buddies had access to the news. The comments and congratulations started to roll in. I was amazed at how fast the news spread.

My Aunt didn’t hear the news with a phone call from her sister but rather from one of her children (my cousin) who saw it on Facebook. How amazing. I didn’t have to wait and send out an email almost certainly forgetting one or more friends. I could post updates and pictures throughout the evening and the rest of the week.

Clearly I had great content of high interest to my audience. Those two things put together and delivered via social networks made for a fun evening.


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