Friday, January 28, 2011

SMCSTL: Higher Education

For those of you who don't know, SMCSTL stands for Social Media Club - St. Louis (@SMCSTL). They've been around in St. Louis for almost two years now, and they meet on the third Thursday of every month. Their mission, according to their Facebook page, is to "foster a community in St. Louis that serves as a resource for learning about emerging trends, tools, technologies, strategies and opportunities."

I've attended several of their meetings, and last night they had the perfect topic for me: higher education. When I saw that I think my head almost exploded from pure joy. The only way they could have made me happier is if they had Tony LaRussa show up. (Cardinals, social media AND higher education?!?! Mind blowing, I know.) Plus it wasn't entirely out of the question, I learned last night from Chris Reimer (@RizzoTees) that Gio's, where SMCSTL was hosted, has a Tony LaRussa room where he can come, sit and eat in privacy after games. There's your fun #stlcards fact of the day.

I also took my good friend and fellow education marketer Kelly Albright (@RosatiKain) to her very first SMCSTL meeting - so it was an exciting night to say the least!

Me, Kelly and Nick Sargent of Standing Partnership at the SMCSTL meeting, photo courtesy of Josh Kocurek and Social Media Club - St. Louis.

The SMCSTL panel consisted of the following:
Brian Schwartz (@creativereason), Interactive Director/Partner/Founder at Spoke Marketing and SMCSTL board member, served as a great moderator and asked all of the right questions.

The panel discussed so many different topics related to using social media in higher education, including recruitment, social media in the classroom, student use and more.

Here are just a few of the helpful tidbits I picked up:

  • College students use Facebook more than any other platform of social media, however, Foursquare might be the next up and coming thing. Twitter hasn't really seemed to catch on yet among students, and it's used more by parents and alumni.
  • If college students are using Twitter, they typically follow people that are entertaining/funny, not because they provide relevant/important information.
  • Students should do a "brand audit" of themselves. Google yourself.
  • Webster University uses Facebook for recruitment purposes. They know that students are typically looking for three types of information: academic programming, financial aid, and how to apply. So Webster's welcome page/landing tab has all three of those topics linked back to their website.

  • If you're tweeting/Facebooking from a university account, be authentic and be conversational. Avoid the "professional" voice. Or according to Allison, let the "16-year-old dude voice" come out every once in a while.
  • Using Twitter in the classroom can be a great tool to help students expand their knowledge.
  • Colby agrees and thinks all professors should be on Twitter and interacting with their students. It allows them to be more readily available to their students. In fact, he even said there were some professors who he never had, but with whom he interacted on Twitter and found them to be more supportive than the professors he actually had in class!
  • To friend or not to friend (on Facebook)... that is the question. Jill Falk's answer? Not until after the semester is over, just to be safe.
  • Some faculty fear that by being on Facebook/Twitter and interacting with their students via that media can be undermining to their authority. Colby said that you can command as much authority in social media as you do in the classroom, it's up to the professor.
  • Most students will avoid asking questions or disagreeing directly with the professor in class, and would rather vent on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Encouraging PROPER social media use builds trust with your students/employees. ALLOW IT! (via @MarisaLather)
To find all of the tweets from last night's SMCSTL Higher Ed Panel, search #smcstl on Twitter. Erin Eschen (@ErinE) also wrote a great recap of the panel on her blog, Digital Strategy and B2B Social Media.

And here are some questions I still have:
  • Should universities have two separate Twitter accounts? One that is more professional and used for business and community outreach, and another that is more "fun" and focused on reaching out to students? What do you think?
  • What are some good resources and tools used to train faculty and staff at colleges/universities about proper Facebook etiquette as well as how to manage their own Facebook pages/Twitter accounts?
One of the panelists, Patrick Powers, went ahead and answered one of my questions, and a few others that I tweeted during the panel. Check them out on his blog. Thanks, Patrick!

After last night's meeting, I decided that a St. Louis #highered tweetup is in order... so we're hoping to get one organized toward the end of February if anyone is interested... let me know! Also I'd love to hear your comments and questions... and answers to my questions if you have them!

Updated 3:56 p.m. 2/3/11


  1. Hum I wish that when I saw a meeting about Higher Edu my head would explode for pure joy.

    Thanks for the recap .. maybe I'll try and catch the next one!

  2. Thanks for the info. It's remind me always.I will attempt this to be with us.