building a student social media team? look in social media.

If you work at a college, chances are you have more needs in social media than you have resources. As I’ve said before, building a student team is a great way to bridge the gap: you can build a productive presence, the students can receive hands-on training and you have a key target market involved in the creative process.

Where do you look for students for a social media team? In social media, of course. This sounds like it should be obvious, but even I forget sometimes. Most of my effort to assemble this semester’s team came through social media. I now have two students concentrating on web video, two on community management and one working both areas.

The first video recruit came after I stumbled across this YouTube clip on Riggs Hall:

OK, it’s a bit cheesy, but I enjoyed it and, more importantly, saw that students reacted positively. So I tracked down Ray, who made the video and appears with the Ahnold accent, and talked to him about putting his skills to work. He probably will do more videos in that general flavor, which is great: They are fun, fast-moving and informative. In our Facebook Class of 2016 community, we saw many students taking an interest in staying in Riggs, because the video makes it look awesome.

Then, while I had one social media intern lined up, that doesn’t exactly constitute a team. So I posted that I was looking for team members on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and had eight inquiries within 24 hours. By the end of the week, I had filled up the team.

In the first week, we already have two video projects cooking (not counting Ray’s next project), the start of a special event tied to our big hockey rivalry White Out game vs. Plattsburgh (#ozwhiteout) and the beginning of transitioning in community managers for our main Facebook page, Class of 2016 page and @sunyoswego account. We’ll see how things evolve, but so far I’m pleased they know their way around social media.

The corollary lesson to all this is that if you work in higher education, especially in higher ed social media, you shouldn’t be afraid to connect with students. Yet I (all too) frequently see people who categorically say they will not friend students on Facebook or interact with them via social media. (I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a misguided college out there trying to write that into a social media policy.) If you work in social media and you have no intention on knowing what your students think or do, you simply shouldn’t work in social media. I accept friend requests from students regularly (although I generally don’t initiate requests out of respect for their privacy) and follow them back on Twitter. That alone is educational. And making those connections mean that when I have openings for a social media team, I already have connections and know if they are using this medium well.

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