Tag Archives: community management

stop begging, start creating (cont.): a very short story

I’ve talked before about how social media accounts should stop begging for users and instead find and post quality content. Saw a very stark example of that with our campus this weekend. At about the same time on Saturday, the following two posts went out, the first from an affiliate site, the other from our main site.

The “please, please like us to reach an arbitrary figure” post goes against the very currency of social media — creating content people want to see, interact with and share. It makes everything about the account itself, and not about the user (and it should be about the user). As you can see, this post scared up 5 likes, no comments, no shares and — surprise! — as of Monday morning, the account still needed 7 likes to reach 2,000. It’s unfortunate because this account is run by smart, creative and very likable people capable of producing outstanding content.

Contrast that with the above image of the mind-bending 3-D chalk art from Art for After Hours, part of our Family and Friends Weekend. By Monday morning, it had 192 likes, 7 comments, 7 shares. While those are a good number of likes, the shares are what I consider the highest level of user engagement — they like it enough to take some kind of ownership and share it with friends. While this was far from our most-shared image, it had more shares than the begging post had likes. Plus this scene was available for any member of the campus community to capture and share.

As my friend Georgy Cohen of Meet Content has pointed out, the most-shared stories are ones to which the initial reaction of users is “wow!” or “whoa!” That was my actual reaction upon seeing the chalk art, and others seeing it in a photo (which honestly didn’t do it justice) felt the same way. No one says “wow!” or “whoa!” over an account begging for more users. Sadly in part because it’s so commonplace.

Consider this cocktail party example: You walk into the party and one person is asking people to like him, while the other is telling interesting stories. Where would you gravitate? Exactly.

I can’t say it enough: If you run a social media account, stop begging and start creating. Look around you for interesting content. It’s quite possibly everywhere. Then share it. It really is that simple.

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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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hearing voices: doing a 180 on how we use 140.

When we launched the @sunyoswego Twitter account a few years ago, we weren’t using it in an ideal manner. But some evolution in Twitter itself and a change of our philosophy has led to a 180-degree change in how we use our 140 or less characters.

Going in, I knew Twitter was about interacting. But it began as One More Thing To Do, so the initial efforts were more push than interaction, and I didn’t do a great job budgeting time to responding to tweets mentioning our school. Of course, we had all those misleading polls and articles alleging Teens Don’t Tweet, although we discovered that was a fallacy fairly quickly.

So, with the help of great social media interns, we went more interactive, provided more live-tweeting, posted more photos in addition to answering questions. And it was good. But I realized that, while this painted a pretty good portrait of the campus, something was missing: Other voices.

Starting a few months ago, I placed greater emphasis on putting other voices into our stream, generally through retweets. Some thought-provoking #highedweb11 presentations provided inspiration, as did the idea from roller derby (and, before it, yes, professional wrestling) of “putting over” skaters, or helping audiences care and/or understand more about the players. I set up Tweetdeck columns for “sunyoswego” “suny oswego” and “oswego state” which keep us apprised of our mentions. Our goal: Weave in the stories of other accounts on campus and our supporters already tweeting our praises on social media — alumni, current students and incoming students.

The stream now features retweets of various organizations and offices on campus doing awesome events and programs. It provides value and validation to those accounts and their activities — growing not only their followers and participants but providing a better cross-section of what happens on campus. We’ve had accounts on campus ask for us to retweet them which we will do when they are providing value. A few times we’ll have someone ask to tweet their account’s existence, check to find they’ve posted no content and suggested they include @sunyoswego in a tweet of something they’re doing when they want a retweet. Saying “hey, check out this account that isn’t posting any content of value” lessens the value or our validations.

For the past week, we’ve had all kinds of students happily tweeting about their acceptance into SUNY Oswego. Here I stick with the awesome advice of Scott Stratten, aka @unmarketing: “I don’t know the ROI (return on investment) of tweeting back when a student says they’ve been accepted. And I don’t care. Just do it! It’s the right thing to do.” We usually retweet with a congratulations and/or welcome and/or something related to their tweet. A straight-up retweet seems lame and self-promotional, while adding some greeting or congratulations is more engaging and special to the recipient.

As a result of all this, we’ve seen a flood of new followers (the people we retweet will follow us, and often retweet our retweet, which leads to more followers), and a higher level of interaction than ever. We’ve been able to show those followers a wider swath of campus life. And most importantly we’re building a larger, more engaged and richer community experience … which is, as Stratten says, the right thing to do.

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