Who “owns” Social Media?

I’m Greg and I Tweet.

But I’m certainly not alone, not by a long shot. And as you can see by the list of Tweeters at SDSU there’s no shortage of Twitter users here on campus. So who’s in charge? Or, a better question might be, who should be in charge?

I’m asked those questions a lot. And the answer, simply, is no one, and everyone. Most of those on our campus who use Twitter and other social media, are doing it for their personal use, for use within a classroom setting, or as a representative of a certain division or service of the university. Who am I to tell a faculty member how to use a Facebook group in their classroom? As the self-anointed ring leader of social media at SDSU, I encourage its use whenever possible. I believe it’s an incredibly powerful way to share messages, news and information and to engage our many audiences. And I also watch how people are using it and offer suggestions and advice, where appropriate. I do believe it’s up to the individual department heads to know what their staff are doing on line and to ensure their social media representatives are using it in an appropriate manner. And fortunately, I’ve only had one incident where I had to tell someone his subordinate had crossed a line. And it was handled immediately.

My personal rule: Behave in your virtual life the same way you would in your real life. Represent the university on line the same way you would at a networking event.

But we have, to date, no formal policy for social media. There’s no 25 page manual on how to write a 140 character Tweet. There is, however, common sense. Coupled with the university’s guidelines for using email and internet services, is enough, many of us believe.

At a smaller organization, having one or two people “control” the social media efforts might make sense. But we have a lot of people here doing a lot of different things, with different audiences, and different bottom lines. So we recently convened a committee of social media users on campus to better coordinate our efforts and share best practices. I believe this is a much better way of getting people to participate in social media the “right” way (if there is such a thing), than drafting a policy around it.

There may eventually be a protocol developed for best practices. But in my view it shouldn’t be something that limits the use of social media. Because a year or two from now Twitter and Facebook may be replaced by some new tool or application, but the concept of social media, of communicating in a two-way, personal dialog, is here to stay. And the more people that are doing it, the more people that act as ambassadors for the university, in my book, the better.

What do you think?

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Filed under Admissions, Alumni, Athletics, College Community, New Media, Prospective Students

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