Leveraging Social Media in Education


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Slide deck for a presentation on social media given at the 2012 Haas Technical Education Center Americas Network - 6th Annual CNC Educators Training Conference

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  • Having started over from step one of the social media life cycle – the life cycle that will be the focus of our discussion today – I feel as if Haas may be in an position to impart some information that will be beneficial to you in your social media programs, whether rebooting a program, starting one from scratch, or just looking for tips to maximize the success of your current program
  • Our discussion today will center around this, the social media life cycle. This is the same process we at Haas have been working within for the last 10 months. To me, this covers the general principles, the basic steps to help ensure a successful social media program. For the sake of time I am not going to cover detailed topics like setting up profiles, logging on, how to post, etc. The internet is filled with tutorials and helpful information for this. Before we start with the life cycle, please feel free to ask questions during this presentation. Time permitting, I will do my best to answer your questions while they are still fresh in your mind – don’t be shy.
  • Like with many things, planning is a crucial step in a process. It’s important to start with a thought-out plan, to build a strategy to help guide your social media program and ensure its success. Accordingly, a significant emphasis will be placed on the planning portion of the social media life cycle today.
  • Why social media? Before any other planning or activities are engaged in, this is a question that needs to be asked, and one that in my opinion is unfortunately not asked enough. While it may sound like an odd question initially, it is relevant to understand why you are going to devote resources to this thing called social media. At Haas, it is a question that management had to ask when reevaluating our social media program and making the decision to expand the program by brining it in-house: why social media? This is usually the part in social media presentations when the presenter bombards the audience with overwhelming facts and statistics about social media – number of people engaged, the reach, the growth, etc.
  • I’m going to spare and not bore you with the details. If you were to perform an internet search for “why is social media important,” you would get your fill of facts. Know that it is really important. Know that social media is no more a fad than the internet itself, one that is not going anywhere and only expanding. It’s important because your audience, your communities are online and involved in social media. Potential students. Current students. Alumni. Faculty. Etc. It’s important because to engage with said audience, said communities, you must be where must be where they are. It’s important because social media has the potential to affect: Recruitment/future enrollment School/program awareness Brand recognition Charitable giving to institution/program Alumni donations And so much more
  • Now that you have an idea of why you are entering the realm of social media, it’s time to set your goals and expectations. Everyone is going to have slightly (if not widely) varying goals and expectations. I cannot say what yours should be, but whatever they are, they must be REALISTIC & MEASURABLE.
  • When you create unattainable and immeasurable goals, you set your program up for failure. Have realistic expectations. For example, at Haas we understand that we do not sell a consumer product, we do not have wide demographic appeal, and that our community is small: CNC machining. It is unrealistic for us to expect 10,000 views, likes, comments, 10k of anything. I would love to have the goal of selling even one machine through social media per year, but attribution is non-existent, it is an immeasurable goal for us. We attempt to stay well rooted in realism about what to expect and what goals we should have and I recommend the same for you in your social media programs.
  • Now that you have an idea of why you are going to participate in social media and what to expect, the next step in planning is deciding the types of content you are going to publish or “ share. ”
  • While there are more, I think these are the basic types of content you can choose to share. Video Photo News Events
  • What about specific types of technical education, CNC machining, content from your programs that fit into these categories? I typed in one for each, but I am sure you have a lot more to add.
  • Now that you have an idea of the types of content you will be publishing, you can select the social media platforms to use which facilitate sharing of said information. Make a list of the content types you will be publishing then research which platforms best fit your program. The choices are many and it can be overwhelming – just take the time to make an informed decision and one that will be most beneficial.
  • The plan is almost finished, you know why social media, what to expect, your content types, and platforms to use… but who is going to be responsible for implementing the program?
  • It has to be someone invested. To help ensure a quality social media program, the person coordinating it, doing the day-to-day really needs to be someone who cares about the subject behind the program. It is this kind of person who will best champion your social media program. At the education institution level, I am not sure how you go about that. It might be by appoint someone, a senior student, an involved faculty member, one student representative per course. A big thing we have learned at Haas is that internal is better.
  • You have a plan and now it is time to post you content.
  • There are really only two points I want to cover when it comes to posting.
  • The first is that the content you post must be relevant and it must be quality. It needs to be relevant to your community, something that you would want to watch, look at, read, and learn about yourself. This is where your choice of person responsible for your social media program shines. If the person responsible has a solid understanding of what the audience will find relevant, then he or she will post content which fits. It also needs to be of quality – regardless of relevance, most people will not respond well to poor quality content. This includes well shot video, clear photos, well written articles, etc.
  • The second point of importance when posting is frequency. Consistency is paramount, social media is a machine that needs to be constantly fed content because people want NEW. So, infrequently posting runs the risk of your community not following you or visiting because they don’t expect new content. That doesn’t mean content needs to be posted multiple times a day either. Too much posting of content and you run the risk of over saturating your followers and turning them off via information overload.
  • A common mistake in social media is people thinking that once they post their information, they are done. This is not the case.
  • Social media is a form of two-way communication, not one-way. Posting content is really just sharing and that act of sharing is an offer to communicate. Not monitoring your community is like starting a conversation and then walking away. One of the most interesting parts of my jobs is monitoring the Haas social media channels for comments, questions, responses to posts, learning what people value, their opinions of Haas.
  • If monitoring is the most interesting part of my job, then engaging is the most rewarding. You have spent time and energy crafting then posting content, listening for feedback, and now you get you engage your community. To me, there is something exciting about this.
  • This, engaging, is what social media is all about. Take advantage of the opportunity to engage with someone who has responded to your content, someone who is clearly interested and who’s attention you have. At Haas we have found most of our success in the listening and engaging portion of the cycle. We attempt to capitalize on every opportunity to engage, both positive and negative. We have be able to quickly answer application, service, and sales questions. And we have Learned that the more we engage, the more people are willing to take the time to interact with our content. We respond, community recognizes this, they engage more, we respond in-kind, and engagement builds upon itself.
  • Measuring your social media program. Now this is a tough one, for anyone to claim otherwise is wrong.
  • One of the most contentious points with regard to social media has been measurement. For many, ROI – return on investment, monetary measurement is the only measurement acceptable.
  • The success of our social media program at Haas is not dependent on ROI. If it were, Haas’ social media program would be a failure, but so would a majority of social media programs. For educational institutions, forgoing ROI should be slightly easier since your success is not based in measurable sales, nor in monetary terms. Schools are looking for enrollment and external sources of funding, and these are not found in a sale but in pr, brand awareness, support, etc.
  • Instead, at Haas we measure the number of followers, interactions, shares, views, comments to name a few. We also measure what type of content our community responds to the best, and on which days, and at what times. It is these metrics Haas uses to show social media growth, not as proof of positive ROI.
  • In addition to showing growth, the information gained through measurement can be used to make adjustments to your social media program.
  • The driving principle behind adjustment is continual improvement. You have listened and measured feedback from your channels, not you can put this information to work for you by using it to make adjustments to your social media program. Earlier, I mentioned some of the social media metrics we at take at Haas. Using this gathered information, we make adjustments to our social media program, tailoring content, posting frequency, platform use, tone, etc. to better engage our community.
  • After making adjustments, it is time to do it all over again. We continue to post. When posting, keep the following in-mind: post relevant content of quality. post consistently, finding the right balance of frequency. After you post, ensure you listen. Remember, social media is a form of 2-way communication. Listening is great but only pays-off if you engage your community. It is a golden opportunity that should be taken advantage of. While I do not recommend ROI as a measurement tool, measuring your social media program is important to show the program’s success, growth, health. And lastly, ensure you put your captured metrics to work for your social media program. And that is the social media life cycle.
  • In addition to this presentation and this conference, I want to make myself available to help anyone with their program in my capacity as Haas’ social media coordinator. Everyone will have access to this slide once published, so feel free to connect with Haas and me. Thank you.
  • Leveraging Social Media in Education

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