a learning curve, for us all.

I’m still learning a lot of things in this social media game, like anyone else, including figuring out how to manage nine student bloggers. The project started out exceedingly well, but deep into spring I was concerned because only two were updating regularly. I’d asked my intern to serve as conversation manager, giving them encouragement and suggesting possible topics, but even that wasn’t working. So finally last Friday, I sent them all a gentle yet direct email:

Not to be a pain (why does every email that starts that way seem to be the opposite?), but wanted to touch base about the blogs. We’re still seeing nearly 100 visits to the blogging suite per day and I’m hoping those visitors will have some fresh content. This is a HUGE time for prospective students accepted by Oswego and other colleges making their final decisions, and we believe many of them are going to the blogs to learn more about life at Oswego.

As you’ve heard before, we’re not looking for ‘War and Peace’ here, but a paragraph or two or a few on what you’re doing lately. Cool stuff, or even just studying. Classes you’re enjoying. Feelings about spring (knock on wood). If you have plans this summer. Or what you’re looking into doing after graduation. Or just personal tidbits about plays, movies, concerts or anything else — so people know a little bit more about who goes to Oswego. … If you have any questions or any other concerns, please let me know. Many thanks!

Within a couple hours, one updated. Then another. And another. By Tuesday, seven of them had fresh updates (including one who blogged just before the email). The eighth had been a good blogger but now has a full-time internship atop his already-busy schedule. The ninth one is, well, a lesson on how some things don’t work out no matter what you try. Seven of nine is a great average in just about any sport, so I’ll take it.

It’s possible that the bloggers wondered (rightfully) whether I still found the project important, since I hadn’t talked to most of them about it in months. For a professional communicator, sometimes I forget how to communicate. But they all also have individual concerns as well. Two bloggers sometimes held back because they wanted to create the perfect blog entry; I had to let them know it’s OK to just do their best. Another had a computer die and didn’t want to bug me yet again for the login address. They all have many things going on their lives, and I was too lax in reinforcing how important this is to the college and prospective students. These students are always teaching me something.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “a learning curve, for us all.

  1. Glad to hear your email had a positive outcome. Managing bloggers — even staff — can be a challenge at times. But you’re right: communication is the key.

  2. Tim, your blog is incredibly on-point.

    Many times I will see people jump into a social media technology and forget about the “social” part…the human part that needs to function for you to be successful. Your blog brings the humanity of the technology to light. Free blog apps can be appealing, but workflow can be challenging! 🙂 Thx for the great post.

  3. I’m having the same concerns (and conversations)with my student bloggers here at a two-year community college in upstate NY. We have the shining stars who post regularly and then others who are sporadic at best.
    As community college students, they are diverse and unusually busy, many with families and full-time jobs, so it’s hard for me to nag. I have found that they respond to consistent communication. yesterday, I sent my very own “encouragement” email, similar to yours, Tim. Hopefully, it works as well as yours.
    Hard to balance being a “nice boss” and the guy who says, “Post something, now!”

  4. Great article, Tim! Seems like we all struggle with the same things when it comes to this project. Thanks for your take on it.

  5. insidetimshead

    Thanks, everyone! Glad to know we’re all learning as we go. But I’d rather go through the minor stresses and pick up the lessons to improve than not try at all.

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