We work with a variety of schools and with that comes a variety of experience using social media. Some already embrace it. Others must convince whole departments of the platform’s merits and importance as an integrated approach to content and marketing.
Here are some tips for winning over skeptics of this new medium.
1) Develop Internal Support
You’re not the only one interested in integrating online conversations into your department. Look for like-minded faculty and staff who are active on blogs and other social channels. With them on your side, you can bolster your argument that lateral communication occurs organically without the ‘approval’ of official organizations.
2) Show that Command and Control is a Myth
Before you come to the table, do your research. Put together examples of students, alumni and parents mentioning your institution on multiple social platforms. This evidence demonstrates that conversation about your institution occurs with or without approval.
3) Have a Plan
Once you have this data, come up with a plan for responding to the ‘chatter’. Often, traditional communications departments are concerned that anything other than an official response is lacking. Unfortunately, this approach is counter to the distributed nature of social media. Provide a way for the average faculty member to respond to online conversations.
4) Develop Internal Support
You’re not the only one who is interested in integrating online conversations into your department. Look for like-minded faculty and staff who are active on blogs and other social channels. Having them on your side will bolster your argument that lateral communication occurs organically without the ‘approval’ of official organizations.
5) Form a Support Group
Now that you have a cohort of social media mavens within your school, get together regularly to share tools, strategies and best practices. Some institutions call this a Roundtable to encourage discussion. This isn’t a governing body or committee. Once something gets placed into a committee, it often becomes the committee’s problem – other groups lose interest.
6) Get Support from the Top
Despite the grassroots nature of social structures, administrative leaders must drive social innovation from the top. Without top-down goals, resistant organizations will slow down your progress.
Lateral communication among students, institutions and alumni is here to stay. Early adopters need to support each other and administrative leaders in order to embrace an integrated approach to social media communications.