Getting to know the particular context of our participants is crucial to understanding their needs and challenges. Our program meetings are excellent occasions to meet and exchange ideas but it simply does not replace sitting down for a long discussion with all relevant stakeholders. Our visits took us from Luzern to Basel, then to Lugano, Zurich, Bern, Chur, Lausanne, and even Liechtenstein!
After visiting so many institutions and learning about questions and challenges that kept coming up during our visits, I thought it would be worth sharing some of them.
Integrating social media into your Site
This was one of the most common questions that schools concerned with leveraging some of the content produced and shared on social media and their digital properties. We found that there are no magic integrations of social media with sophisticated automation. Instead the best examples showed that simple is best.
The videos above are integrated harmoniously on Vanderbilt University’s website.
Another simple but great example of how you can leverage some of the beautiful images you share on social media for your website.
Using social media feeds to populate some stale pages with is a great way to keep these pages relevant and fresh. We have seen this done on Student Housing pages for example, where most of the questions and answers happen on Facebook rather than on the website. By incorporating the social media feed from Facebook, useful information is also shared with website visitors.
Welcoming New Students
Getting students engaged before they arrive on campus can be a wonderful opportunity to get them to support you later on while they are students.
Examples vary from using Instagram to welcome the new entering class and giving away free goodies in exchange for likes. The best example came from Stanford University, which keeps helps the university keep in touch over the summer with new students through a weekly newsletter “Approaching Stanford,” centered around student life and useful information and also reminded incoming students of upcoming deadlines.
Coordinating with other content providers
Many universities find challenging effectively coordinating with other content providers in their own institutions. Our research shows that for the most part, that despite the plethora of technology tools available, the most coordinated teams meet face-to-face periodically.
If you are struggling to get started and motivate others, the best thing to do is lead by example. This means sharing your plans so that others are informed and perhaps can support you or get ideas for their communication. It can be as simple as using a Google Doc or Google Calendar.
Read Georgy Cohen’s great post on editorial calendars.
Social Media Directories
Presenting your school’s social media accounts is a challenge to keep updated and even accurate. Not only it serves as an excellent internal resource but it’s helpful to outside visitors, students, press, and more. Find different approaches below:
- Curated, uber-sophisticated! http://connect.mit.edu/
- Simple yet comprehensive: https://www.hamilton.edu/social/index
- Searchable: http://www.harvard.edu/social-media
- Presented by audience: https://www.hamilton.edu/thescroll/index.cfm
- Official accounts, non-official accounts, and the in-between: http://social.wm.edu/index.php
Do you face any other challenges that you would like for us to tackle and share good examples? Let us know below. In the meantime, we wish you the best for the end of the year and a great, energetic start to 2013.