I started the school year taking an inventory of my school’s social media needs and from that inventory, connected with various departments on campus, encouraging each to pursue different social media goals for the school year. In most cases this meant taking my web 2.0 lunches on the road to different departments where based on specific needs, I would demonstrate how to use various social media tools like Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages. It was a busy September as our social media presence began to grown.
By early November, I didn’t have a lot of questions coming in. So sit back and let everyone do their thing, right? Wrong! When people ask what a social media manager does, I tell them that I train and mentor faculty and staff on the uses of social media and the technology that integrates with it, to promote a better understanding of tools and best practices across departments. I was feeling like I shouldn’t offer anymore web 2.0 lunches. We had covered all the major topics; LinkedIn, Facebook, Youtube, etc. What else could I really share with them that I hadn’t already covered?
As it approached Thanksgiving I took another inventory. How were my “internal customers” using their new social media tools and how comfortable were they? I decided it was time for another visit to each department but this time, instead of saying, I’d like to come by and give a demo, I asked if I could stop by and chat about how everyone was feeling using the new tools.
I stopped into one department that I had given a twitter demo to, two months before. They were doing a great job using hashtags and posting regularly but their content was starting to get a bit repetitive. Instead of telling them what they should be tweeting, we sat down and began chatting. What unfolded was a lively discussion about social media, education and their own personal interests. Part way through, one member of the department said, “wait, we could be tweeting about all these topics, couldn’t we.” Since our conversation, their Twitter presence has become far more dynamic. About a week later a member of the department emailed me saying “I am having fun with this, and I hope to stretch my imagination to get even more creative.”
When you are comfortable using social media, it is easy to feel like one demo is enough. This is not often the case for your customers. Assuming that they will contact you for more information is not enough. If you want a dynamic social media presence at your school, it can’t come from one person reporting on the school’s events – it takes the whole community. You have to engage the many departments at your school, and that involves teaching your colleagues how to use these tools and then checking back in with them. Don’t write people off because of age, discipline or even tech savy. Do engage your colleagues often and think about these tools from their perspective. They won’t know all the questions to ask, so have conversations and talk to them about what they are interested in and how they can share this with the rest of the community. Let them run free but plan to check in every month to help them progress in their adoption of the social media tools. As they get more comfortable, slowly add more tools to their repertoire. You will find your internal customers are engaged, and eager to use these tools in unique, authentic, and dynamic ways.
Image Source: “Early Settlers Web Quest Process” – http://www.durgana.com/webquest/process.html