Managing Student Staff and Contributions to Social Media - Academic Impressions, March 2013


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Managing Student Staff and Contributions to Social Media was a presentation done at Academic Impressions' Social Media Strategy For Higher Education: Beyond the Basics conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

This presentation covers three case studies of student staffing models at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), University of Michigan at Flint (UM-Flint), and Ithaca College, and an in-depth look at the creation and sustainability of the Oberlin blogs.

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  • Social media ambassadors are hired and trained as admissions ambassadors. Team of 8 students. Managed by #RITStudents captain and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions
  • Students @ UM Flint Pilot blogging and social media team Hand-picked team of 4 volunteer students Managed by Social Media Strategist in University Relations
  • #ICSocial Volunteer student content contributors for official Ithaca College channels Team of 16 students Managed by Multimedia Content Specialist in Marketing Communications office
  • Started as a blogger program. Front facing students-to-student piece. Research saw: no one understood community, that was really missing from what we were doing. Combat with: student content! Housed out of admissions. All students also work as admissions ambassadors (tour guide trained) More university wide perspective, rather than just own niche. Have brand background, same messaging as a tour guide and understanding of what the audience might want. Same delivery online.   A few bloggers wanted to do more video, which spawned with the social team. How can we add video into blogs? Stand alone videos! On social media! Making it official (SM ambassadors). The social ambassadors (Twitter, videos, most front-facing, also blog). Also bloggers that aren't social media ambassadors. Blogs = open to everyone. On camera/social is paid. Focus is important. The bloggers are also paid, part of their tour guide/admissions work. SM ambassadors are application based, and they are required to blog as well.
  • I started the team in January of 2012 by soliciting applicants through IC's social media channels. I received about 15 applicants and picked 7. For the fall of 2012, I received 25 applicants and expanded the team to 18 people. This spring, I received about 30 applicants but shrunk the team back down to 16. That number fluctuates due to students studying abroad and such. I've only fired one student, and the rest chose to leave the group or graduated.  
  • The Students@UM-Flint project is in its first year. We’re looking at this as a pilot phase with a small group of students, and I’m hoping the students can help me improve the structure before we move into the next academic year. The goal of the project is to provide an avenue for prospective students to connect with current students, and for those current students to help tell the story of the university. The voice for this really needed to be a student voice. The bonus is that students are a part of much more on campus than staff members. I can’t leave my desk to attend every event on campus (most of the time I don’t hear about an event until it’s too late!). Students can provide us content from the “inside” without the huge coordination efforts that would be required to get staff coverage.  
  • Names on everything!
  • TOO MANY IDEAS. We’re overcommitted but there are no restraints because the ideas are too good.
  • I try to pick a group of students that have a broad range of ideas about what social media means and what purpose it holds. That way we can have informed discussions where there are actually different opinions instead of one hivemind. I also try to select students with a broad range of experience, so there are seniors all the way down to freshmen. It helps get them thinking about what's important for the different age groups on campus, and also ensures that the team can continue without a complete turnover semester to semester.  
  • Facebook is the best way to communicate. Official means paper trail, like hours. All students are social media users. LOVE Twitter/text communication with Ashley. In person meeting: required one per week. Captain is always available. Can come in during open office hours to work.
  • Me! Part time (and at an advantage, because more time to think and integrate). Con, athletics, museum, development, alumni association all have social media roles.
  • #makecontentmoresocial
  • Oberlin “Fearless” debacle. Oberlin blogs. Oberlin stories project.
  • Enter... The Oberlin blogs. Started in 2008 by VP of Communications Ben Jones, after coming to Oberlin from MIT (where he launched their first blogging program)   Goals: unfiltered experiences, different take on storytelling, content that was relevant and sharable everywhere, marked portfolio experience for students (at least ¼ of the staff have worked for student pubs/left Oberlin to do journalism/writing elsewhere).   
  • Approached by Ben to start blogging as a junior as a photo blogger, but once I got the space, I started writing lots with a number of pictures involved. Written 126 posts and counting. Started managing the blogs following graduation. Blogging mentor to 40 student bloggers in the past three years.
  • Applications are posted on the blogs every fall (sometimes in the spring), hire late September and up by October.  
  • Group of recruited (volunteer) students who help with the transition from admitted student to current student.  
  • How I make it work with 18 student employees that, in many cases, I've never met beyond the internet. (Fitting, perhaps, but a challenge.)  
  • How I make it work with 18 student employees that, in many cases, I've never met beyond the internet. (Fitting, perhaps, but a challenge.)  
  • Scheduling with students = difficult. Their academics and personal schedule are always going to be first. Question for the group: how do we help our students?
  • Breaks are killer. How do you provide content and encourage posting when your campus is quiet? Question for the group: how can we provide more content when there’s a dry spell?
  • Be yourself, sound off, but know your grandma might be reading. Approve bloggers, not blog posts. Question for the group: how do you keep a handle on created content while letting it stay authentic?
  • You invest time to get programs going and continuing to run. Worth the energy you put in when it comes to student output? What if your students leave? Ideal = stick through whole experience, develop accordingly, but you win some, you lose some. Question for the group: how do you streamline training? Workflow?
  • You can only be in one place. Your student team means more people on the ground, more perspectives, and more
  • Your students will be living, breathing, awesome brand ambassadors, even after they leave the school. They leave with a hefty portfolio of things they’ve created, which if you want to work in social media, is the best example of knowing about the tools: using them constantly.
  • We can see through marketing-speak, real means some imperfections but overall, a more complete perspective.
  • Student created content is a a part of our content strategy. A thousand blog posts? That’s A LOT OF STORIES.
  • Explanation of Dan’s role
  • Managing Student Staff and Contributions to Social Media - Academic Impressions, March 2013

    2. 2. Managing Student Staff andContributions to Social MediaMa’ayan PlautSocial Media CoordinatorOberlin CollegeWednesday, March 27, 20131:30 – 4:30pm 2
    3. 3. AGENDA • Student Staffing: An overview • Benefits of Student Staffing – Why a student team? – Account Management – Ideas & Decisions – Finding Students • Managing Social at Oberlin • Oberlin blogs • Training and accountability • Management • Pitfalls • Rewards 3
    4. 4. LEARNING OUTCOMEAfter participating……you will understand how to hire, train, and manage studentstaff to ensure the highest-quality contributions whileminimizing mistakes to your social media efforts. 4
    5. 5. #AIsmcStudent Staffing: An Overview 5
    7. 7. STUDENTSTAFFING Students @ UM-FlintMODELS 7
    9. 9. #AIsmcBenefits of student staff 9
    10. 10. WHY ASTUDENTTEAM On #RITstudents: “No one understood our community and student-to-student connections were missing from what we were doing.” Ashley Hennigan (@ashleyhenn), Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions | Rochester Institute of Technology 10
    11. 11. WHY ASTUDENTTEAM On #ICSocial: “Students generally live, eat, and do everything else on campus, so they have a much better sense of place than staffers do.” Rob Engelsman (@rcengelsman), Multimedia Content Specialist | Ithaca College 11
    12. 12. WHY ASTUDENTTEAM On Students @ UM-Flint: “Student voices are vital. They’re the avenues of connection between prospective and current students.” Alaina Wiens (@alainawiens), New Media Communication Specialist at University of Michigan-Flint 12
    13. 13. TAKEAWAYSLEARNING OUTCOMEWhy a student team?•Authentic•Closer peer to peer connection•Professional experience•Encourage content creation•Affordable 13
    14. 14. STARTINGTHE TEAM #RITstudents •Spinoff of the admissions ambassadors blogging program •Blogs began in 2005 •#RITstudents launched in 2011 •Students are hired by admissions and trained in full •Team of 8 students •Paid positions as ambassadors 14
    15. 15. STARTINGTHE TEAM #ICSocial •Launched January 2012 •Applications via Ithaca College’s social media channels •Team of 16 students •Volunteer positions, though some funding is available for projects 15
    16. 16. STARTINGTHE TEAM Students @ UM-Flint •Launched August 2012 •Personal recruitment •Volunteer positions; supplied with an iPod touch for easy on-the-go updating •Hoping for structural improvements based on pilot for 2013-14 academic year 16
    17. 17. TAKEAWAYSLEARNING OUTCOMEStarting the team:•Some sort of incentive to be involved (money,iPod touch, information)•Takes some time to get traction•Training is necessary•Spawns from a direct need 17
    18. 18. ACCOUNTMANAGEMENT #RITstudents •Access to Facebook, Youtube and Twitter accounts. •All accounts individually branded as #RITstudents. 18
    19. 19. ACCOUNTMANAGEMENT #ICSocial •Students are the content creators •Photo, videos at events, sent to Multimedia Content Specialist •Specialist posts to official channels 19
    20. 20. ACCOUNTMANAGEMENT Students @ UM-Flint •Blog posts under student names •All posts reviewed by Social Media Strategist •UM-Flint branded Twitter accounts •Shared access to UM-Flint Instagram 20
    21. 21. TAKEAWAYSLEARNING OUTCOMEAccount Management:•Own it•Students are living the brand•Depending on content, individual or studentaccounts might be relevant 21
    22. 22. IDEAS ANDDECISIONMAKING #RITstudents •Students provide content and ideas •Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions helps provide context and tech help •Student captain in charge •Too. Many. Ideas. 22
    23. 23. IDEAS ANDDECISIONMAKING #ICSocial •Bring strategy to the table •Students offer ideas for improvement •Broad ideas from students, honed with Multimedia Content Specialist •Creative briefs for all projects; student initiatives included 23
    24. 24. IDEAS ANDDECISIONMAKING Students @ UM-Flint •Suggestions from Social Media Strategist for blog posts •Many overlapping ideas from students (very involved) •All posts go through strategist before publishing 24
    25. 25. TAKEAWAYSLEARNING OUTCOMEIdeas and Decision Making:•Students are a part of your team•Ideas are everywhere•Write it out 25
    26. 26. FINDINGSTUDENTS #RITstudents •Hired through admissions •Half expressed interest, half referrals •Care for university first, social media second 26
    27. 27. FINDINGSTUDENTS #ICSocial •Application via a Google Form •Only shared on social channels at the end of the semester •Range of experience and ideas about what social media means 27
    28. 28. FINDINGSTUDENTS Students @ UM-Flint •Hand-picked •Active on social media •Leaders on campus •Deeply care about the university •Able to give feedback on projects 28
    29. 29. TAKEAWAYSLEARNING OUTCOMETakeaways:•Passion always shines through•Love for university is key 29
    30. 30. INTERNALCOMMUNICATIONS #RITstudents •Facebook group for students •Email •Text/tweets •Google Docs for scheduling •Trello for task management •In person meeting twice a week 30
    31. 31. INTERNALCOMMUNICATIONS #ICSocial •4 student leaders meet once a week •Whole team meets once a week •Facebook group for leaders, whole team •Asana for task management •#ICSocial chat 31
    32. 32. INTERNALCOMMUNICATIONS Students @ UM-Flint •Blog interface •Facebook group 32
    33. 33. TAKEAWAYSLEARNING OUTCOMEInternal Communication:•Use social tools to enhance teamcommunication•In person is sometimes necessary•Find happy communications medium forstudents/managers 33
    34. 34. #RITstudents 34
    35. 35. #RITstudents 35
    36. 36. #RITstudents 36
    37. 37. #IHeartIC 37
    38. 38. #ICLife 38
    39. 39. #ICLife 39
    40. 40. Students @ UM-Flint 40
    41. 41. Students @ UM-Flint 41
    42. 42. Students @ UM-Flint 42
    44. 44. CHAT LEARNING OUTCOME• Where do students fit into the ethos of your school?• How can social media be incorporated into current structures? 44
    45. 45. #AIsmcManaging social at Oberlin 45
    46. 46. OBERLIN:LIMITEDTIME ANDSTAFF • One full-time social media role • Five other part- time social managers around campus 46
    47. 47. MANAGINGSOCIAL ATOBERLIN • An opportunity to peek into complex Oberlin environment. • Not many students actively engaging with us. • Prospective students chatting about us are at a minimum. 47
    48. 48. MANAGINGSOCIAL ATOBERLIN • Make content worth sharing. • Give people something good to talk about. 48
    49. 49. MANAGINGSOCIAL ATOBERLIN • No two Oberlin experiences are the same • Generalizations don’t go far • Strength in sharing is through storytelling. 49
    50. 50. #AIsmcThe story of the Oberlin blogs 50
    51. 51. OBERLINBLOGS 51
    52. 52. OBERLINBLOGS 52
    53. 53. OBERLINBLOGS 53
    54. 54. OBERLINBLOGS Excellent storytelling through… •Writing •Video •Photography •Audio •Illustration/Art/Comics/Graphic Novel 54
    55. 55. OBERLINBLOGS Desired qualities: •Natural storyteller •Consistent (already producing, not just for app) •Desire to share •Range of class years, majors, interests, housing •Diversity 55
    56. 56. OBERLINBLOGS Blogger selection: •Committee from communications, admissions, current student bloggers •Average applicant pool is 45 •18 student bloggers on the roll •Currently: not all media types represented 56
    57. 57. OBERLINBLOGS Sustainability: •Program launched fall 2008 •63 students, faculty, and staff contributing over 4+ years •1358 posts (and counting!) •3500 visits a week 57
    58. 58. #AIsmcTraininG AND accountability 58
    59. 59. SQUIRRELBRIGADE 59
    60. 60. SQUIRRELBRIGADE The Squirrel Brigade is here to excite people; to be an easily accessible resource for information and directors for "the next step" in the information- gathering process; to connect students with each other, on and offline; and to be a megaphone for the campus community. 60
    61. 61. SQUIRRELBRIGADE • Six students: three recruited, three selected • Connections to admissions, communications, and student body • Posting access to Facebook group, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, shared email account 61
    62. 62. SQUIRRELBRIGADE 62
    63. 63. TRAINING • Hold passwords and posting access to Squirrel Brigade social accounts • Dedicated email account for internal and external communication • Facebook is most used for communications with and between Squirrel Brigade 63
    64. 64. ACCOUNTABILITY The Rules of the Internet •Use common sense. •Post things you find exciting. •If you’re acting under the group name, sign your name/initials. •Reread everything. •Don’t delete things. Own your mistakes. •Be a human. 64
    65. 65. WHERE AREWE NOW? • A year or so in… • Presence is strong • In person interactions are key • Time is not on our side • Desire to include more of the student body 65
    66. 66. WHERE DOWE WANTTO GO? Next year: •Add 3-4 new students •Spend fall creating content, outreach to student body •Spend spring doing outreach with new class •Bulk up FAQ, blog, Youtube channel •Forge connections with student affairs 66
    67. 67. #AIsmcmanagement 67
    68. 68. MANAGINGSTUDENTCONTENTCREATORS • We hire people, not blog posts. • If we can’t trust our students to tell the story of our school, who should we trust? • Provide the tools, framework, and support. • Get out of the way and let creativity take charge. 68
    69. 69. MANAGINGSTUDENTCONTENTCREATORS • Contract • Weekly email check ins/prompts • Individual communications • Monthly BlogNFeeds 69
    70. 70. WHERE I FITIN: • Cheerleader • Editor • Agent • Troubleshooter 70
    71. 71. WHERE I FITIN: Behind the scenes: •Prompts •Analytics •Individual emails/meetings •Blogging parties •Content master for all sorts of additional outreach (print and web) 71
    72. 72. #AIsmcPitfalls 72
    73. 73. PITFALLS Students are students first. 73
    74. 74. PITFALLS Academic dead time = social media dead time 74
    75. 75. PITFALLS Questionable content? 75
    76. 76. PITFALLS Investment in training time 76
    77. 77. #AIsmcrewards 77
    78. 78. REWARDS More eyes (and ears, and minds) in more places. 78
    79. 79. REWARDS A leg up on student digital identity development and empowerment. 79
    80. 80. REWARDS • Authentic awesomeness • Enthusiastic • Excellence 80
    81. 81. REWARDS Wealth of creative content to be shared and repurposed. 81
    82. 82. TAKEAWAYSLEARNING OUTCOME• Decide what you want to get out of social media, and whether a student can help you accomplish your goals• Consider the pros and cons of a student team, and whether you can support that• Understand the management requirements and determine if they can be met by your staff 82
    83. 83. QUESTIONSLEARNING OUTCOME Ma’ayan Plaut •@plautmaayan • 83
    84. 84. EVALUATION LEARNING OUTCOMEThank you!Please remember to complete the event evaluation.Your comments will help us continually improve thequality of our programs.© Copyright 2013 Academic Impressions Follow us: 84