4 Takeaways from an Awesome AMA Higher Ed Symposium

In a session called “Social Media that Matters,” Melissa Whetzel and Michael Haskins shared their insights from years of experience in promoting the College of Charleston through social media. For its size, the university has caused a real stir in the social media world. With slightly more than 10,000 undergraduates, the school has more than 34,000 fans on Facebook! Below are a few takeaways from their 45-minute session yesterday at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in Chicago.

1) Only do what you can master. So Yoda may not agree with this one, but I think the important concept here is to ramp up your social media mastery one platform/network at a time. If you want to master Twitter, get the hang of Twitter first and then move on to Facebook (or vice versa, depending on your goals).

2) Social media is democratic. Social media is not a talking head like Charlie Brown’s mother; it’s a two-way conversation. It’s tens, hundreds, or thousands of one-on-one relationships. So join a conversation. Ask a question and be engaging with relevant content. Keep your multiple audiences in mind. “Undergrad applications are due this Friday!” can be made much more engaging by addressing another audience: alumni. “Undergrad applications due this Friday! Alumni, do you remember when you applied?”

3) Have objective social media guidelines for your institution. By doing this, you can give objective reasons why requests to post from the official university stream are sometimes denied (i.e. the photo was poor quality, the university was never identified in the post, etc.).

4) You don’t need a huge budget. What you do need is relevant, engaging content. College of Charleston found that some of their most successful campaigns came from student-created footage that the marketing team edited into short videos and put on YouTube. It was relevant and engaging (not to mention honest) because it was what students were talking about with each other. How cool is that?

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