Over the last year universities across the country have been embracing social media. But social media is really only a part of the way we all do and will communicate with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, potential students and others. Social media is how you get it in their hands. Having 5,00o Twitter followers and 20,000 Facebook fans is only good if you have something valuable to share with them. At SDSU we’ve made great strides and done some really creative things across a variety of new media platforms. There are lots of people on campus who Tweet, blog, create video and more. But we’re always looking to get better and be more creative. I watch what other universities are doing and have come up with a list of my Top 5 Universities Using New Media Effectively. (Note: These are specific uses or projects, not necessarily a holistic look at the universities’ programs)
5. Vanderbilt University: Vanderbilt has developed the best “Social Media Policy” (They call it the Social Media Handbook) that I’ve seen for a university. They encourage everyone on campus to get involved, give tips and examples for its use, best practices and how to’s. Those who work in the space realize that trying to stop people from using social media just doesn’t work. So I commend Vanderbilt for taking the completely opposite approach and fully embracing all it has to offer.
4. Oregon State University: Oregon State’s Powered By Orange campaign is a great example of using a variety of platforms to deliver and share a message. They blog, they encourage user participation with a fun “Map Yourself” application, they have a photo gallery with alumni holding a paper cutout of their mascot in various locations and they get people to share their own “Powered by Orange” stories. All of this works together to demonstrate how OSU students, faculty and alumni are making a positive difference in sustainability.
3. University of Texas at Austin: On it’s main web site, University of Texas has a link to a Social Media directory, where users can find any one of the hundreds of Twitter and Facebook accounts associated with the university, video and the blogs written by faculty, departments and administration. The page is a little overwhelming. But it does underscore how much the entire campus has embraced the many uses of new media. One blog in particular that I think was done really well is the “Longhorn Confidential” blog, written by 8 students, telling the “behind-the-scenes look at college life.” Finding students who are willing to commit to something like this long term can be a challenge. They’ve done a nice job keeping their blogs updated and giving a peak into what it’s like to be a student there.
2. Ohio State University: Ohio State’s president, E. Gordon Gee has a Twitter account and, by all accounts, actually Tweets for himself. That’s pretty cool. But what has really caught most peoples’ attention of late, and what moved OSU toward the top of this list is the video that went viral a couple weeks ago. Ohio State opened a new student union and to celebrate, a flash mob broke out. The video is brilliant and it’s got most of us thinking about how we can make the next big university YouTube sensation. But it also made me look at what else Ohio State is doing. They really have fun with new media. I love the O-H-I-O photo gallery. It can even be shared via an iPhone app. Kudos to the Buckeyes. They really get New Media.
1. Ok, so I had to put SDSU at No. 1. I’m biased. But I’m also really proud of our work. For example: SDSU NewsCenter – which is anything but a traditional approach to providing university news. We act like a real news bureau, reporting on SDSU related news, quoting faculty experts and discussing world issues. We also allow comments on all of our news stories, which is incredibly unique for a university. For SDSU Month this year we had a Fan Page, we had Twibbons all over the Twittersphere, an Aztec for Life video contest and people uploaded pictures of themselves with the Aztec Warrior. Last year at commencement we created a “red carpet show”, SDSU Live, before each commencement ceremony and streamed it live inside the arena, on the internet and on local cable television. A version of SDSU Live will be back this year. We encourage people to Tweet during graduation ceremonies and we regularly engage our students, prospective students and others, creating lasting relationships. More than anything, we have fun. And I think it shows, and that’s one of the most important elements to using all of this new media.
That’s my list. There are lots of others doing great things in higher education with new media. Please feel free to share with us. We’re always looking for great examples.