Case Studies of How University Can Use Social Media

INTRO. Is social media a fad?

1. Gathering and Sharing

2. Showcasing Student and Faculty Work

3. Providing a Platform to Broadcast Events

4. Emergency Notification

5. Keeping in Touch with People

6. Producing, Not Just Promoting

7. Creating a Dialogue and Communicating to Students & Public

8. Social Media Office Hours

9. Coaching for the Spotlight

10. Getting Wired Via Mobile

11. Raise Spirit and Mood

OUTRO. Money Talk


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Is social media a fad?
Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?

Below are videos showcases as well as several social media facts and figures.

Is social media a fad? Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh) [6]


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1. Gathering and Sharing

Perhaps the most common way, and the way in which most of us use social media, is sharing information about ourselves or things that we find interesting. Because universities are educational institutions, they use social media to highlight their experts, as well as the resources they make available for the public. This includes tweeting and posting news releases to Facebook, but also publicizing news that involve the university appearing in mainstream media sources.[1]

Aalto University Twitter

Aalto University Twitter (@universityaalto)

Many large universities have multiple accounts across various channels that are specific to departments or schools (i.e., Twitter, YouTube and Facebook) and oftentimes the school’s news service or public affairs office will pick out information that could appeal to the broader audience and share it through the general university account. These social media tools are often used to supplement traditional press releases that are being sent out.[1]

Social media is also used in news gathering. Many are applied in social networks when it comes to locating sources, finding supplemental information and learning about items of interest. Social media tools can use real-time searches to find breaking news — and to find comments on the breaking news. For example, Twitter, FriendFeed, Bing Social (at the moment only in USA), Social Search and Google realtime are services that allow searching in real time. [7,8].

Google’s real-time search. [9]

Universities also employ social bookmarking (i.e. Delicious and Diigo) to share, organize, search, and manage bookmarks to multiple users. Additionally, social bookmarking allows to highlight any part of a webpage and attach sticky notes to specific highlights or to a whole page. These marks are usually public, but can be saved privately, shared only with specified people or groups, shared only inside certain networks, or they form another combination of public and private domains. [16]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF2mQ86SzB4

Social Bookmarking in Plain English. [11]

Related to social bookmarking are social recommendation systems (like Stumbleupon) and social citation (like Citeulike, Connotea).  Where the Social Recommender Systems (SRSs) aim to alleviate information overload over social media users by presenting the most attractive and relevant content, and social citation (or academic social bookmarking) aim to promote and to develop the sharing of scientific references amongst researchers.

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2. Showcasing Student and Faculty Work

Aside from sharing news and information, social media is often used in showcasing student and faculty work.[1] The means can be as simple as featuring photos taken by students through a photo album on university’s Facebook page. Or it can take on the form of a series of YouTube videos, like the one that the Aalto University’s exchange student created to promote “Our Overseas Life in Finland”, that was shared by multiple social media channels.

Our Overseas Life in Finland (Part 1) [13]

A more complicated method is build a showcase place in virtual world like Second Life (SL). Regardless of the method at least 300 universities around the world teach courses or conduct research in SL. New educational institutions have also emerged that operate exclusively within SL, taking advantage of the platform to deliver a high quality service to a worldwide audience at low cost.[12]

LabLife3D: A New Concept for Biotechnology
and Chemistry Education at Aalto University
[17]

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3. Providing a Platform to Broadcast Events

Rather than just use social media to promote specific events, some universities employ the tools to provide a place for the university community to engage and participate in the event as it’s happening. And what could be better way to report an event than through a live streaming video, live photos or collecting tweets during a commencement through a common hashtag? [1]

A “Philosophy and Systems Thinking” course (Mat-2.1197@Aalto university) provided a live streaming video on its website for those who could not attend a lecture and another projected video to those who couldn’t found seat to actual lecturing room.

Kirsti Paakkanen, a guest lecture at Aalto university 2010 [14]

To accompany the video webcast of “Technology, the economy and the prospects for sustainable development in the arts” course, Heikki Hallantie (@heikkihallantie) designated a page that gathered commencement tweets that included the #Eri4032 hashtag. This allowed students and others to report on the lecture happenings as they were being attended. Tweets were also projected to a screen in the live situation so the lecturer could react to them in realtime.

#Eri4032 hashtag

#Eri4032 hashtag

Some universities even tweet lesson plans and notes, as well as answers to the questions. Tweets make it easier to keep up with what’s going on and, it helps teachers organize things well. They can also serve as a record of what has been happening in the classroom, which means that students who were absent will get to know what they missed, and will prepare for lessons when they return. [7]

Purdue University’s “hotseat” platform enabling collaborative micro-discussion in and out of the classroom [18]

The official inauguration of Aalto University took place in Finlandia Hall and Kiasma on 8th January 2010. Aalto University was also celebrated in the Aalto Island built in the Second Life virtual world where the guests could follow the events in Finlandia Hall as a direct transmission and participate in the discussions.

Aalto University opening in Second Life 2010 *promo* [19]

Look-a-like avatar in Second Life

Look-a-like avatar in Second Life

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4. Emergency Notification

Emergencies and tragedies do happen. With the growing popularity of social media tools like Twitter, some schools are finding it easier and quicker to spread news during an emergency by complementing their e-mail and text alerts with a Tweet and a Facebook message or post. According to Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA) students check their Facebook more often than their school’s e-mail accounts.[2]

For example, the University of Texas used Twitter to notify the community of the case of H1N1 flu (previously known as swine flu) this past spring as well as directing them to information and resources.

University of Texas emergency notification>

University of Texas emergency notification (@utaustin)

The University of Minnesota has an Emergency Notification group on Facebook that it uses to blast messages to its 2,300 members during a case of an emergency. “It provides another way to reach students that spend a lot of their time there during critical situations”, Dan Wolter, director of the University of Minnesota News Servicer said. Wolter’s team has used Twitter and Facebook to notify university students of bomb threats as well as announce the cancellation of classes during snow storms.[1]

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5. Keeping in Touch with People

The term social media is not a misnomer: it really is quite social. And a lot of connections happen organically, without the universities doing anything intentionally, except providing a place for the community to connect and gather around a similar interest at the institution.[1]

The 227 941 fans of the University of Michigan Page often connect to one another, especially incoming students who are eager to make new friends. Facebook groups made for a specific graduating class and university Twitter accounts have a similar effect.[1]

Sweden has gone even further, they have buid a network called SwedenInTouch that is the network for international students, scholars and professionals who are in Sweden or have been to Sweden. The aim of the network is to bring together the large group of international students and professionals and help them to stay updated and in touch with Sweden.[10]

The network offers its members a personalized membership, the opportunity to find friends and reconnect with old friends or to find new ones who share similar experiences from Sweden. Members and partners can use the calendar and networks to find or post information about Sweden, share experiences and stories from Sweden in the various forums or blogs and upload pictures from Sweden.[10]

Sweden in touch - Sweden’s official community for international students

“Sweden in touch – Sweden’s official community for international students[10]

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6. Producing, Not Just Promoting

Universities are using social media platforms as a way to supplement traditional press releases. However, social media has also helped revolutionize the traditional approach used by public relations offices. In the past universities would only target traditional media outlets, but now they are using social media to better target journalists and nontraditional media, such as blogs. Further, beyond simply relying on a news organization to pick up story, universities are using social media as a publishing tool to connect directly to their audiences.[1]

YouTube is instrumental in the social media production. Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) videos on youtube (HIITTV@Youtube) have been several times embedded blogs and webpage like PhysOrg. [3] Though getting a video like this picked up drives traffic, the YouTube audience contributes views directly as well, for example the HIIT’s video CityWall Hki has been watched 290,481 times. [4]

The same thing can be said of the university Facebook Pages. Stephen Orlando, director of print media at the University of Florida News Bureau (@UFNow), said that their press releases posted to the school’s Facebook Page reach 21,000 people. “So we feel that even if the news media doesn’t pick up a news release, we still have a way to reach our audience,” Orlando stated.[1]

By using the commercially available GigaPan robotic mounts with digital cameras universities has create extremely high-resolution panoramic images of their campus.
These zoomable images can be shared with Internet or Google Earth. Additionally Gigapan can be adapted to brainstorm rooms, where it can create easily sharable and usable photos of post-it walls.

Dubai 45,000 Megapixel Photo – World’s Largest Photo [21]

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7. Creating a Dialogue and Communicating to Students & Public

Tuula Teeri's blog

Tuula Teeri’s blog[15]

Social media is all about having a conversation. It is distinguishable from many other Web tools because it provides a two-way dialogue and allows for a real discussion. Most of universities use social media to engage the public, e.g., by means of replying to tweets, Facebook posts, and blog comments. [1]

Blogs are actually a great example of how schools are getting involved into conversation. Though they’re not real-time, blogs provide a format for dialogue via comments. During the school year, the University of Texas hosted student blogs called “Longhorn Confidential” in which two students from each grade level blogged about their experiences at school. The public could respond to each post via comments, and they often did. “It served as not only a story-telling format, but created dialogue as well,” maintained Corley, the school’s public affairs social media manager.[1]

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8. Social Media Office Hours

Yes, you read that right: office hours on social media. Of course, this overlaps a bit with communicating with public, but deserves a category all its own because the practice attracts people from all around the world to the university’s social media channels. [1]

For example Facebook office hours are something of a four-part phases. First, a Facebook note is posted promoting and describing the professor or faculty member hosting the “office hours.” Then a video is posted with the faculty member talking about their research or work (or that of their department). Next, fans then have a chance to ask the hosting member questions. Finally,the faculty member answers the questions through a second video, often addressing those commenting by name. [1]

Standford University Facebook Officehours

Standford University Facebook Officehours

Hsu director of Internet media from Stanford University explained, so far the experiment has been a success, which is evident by how many questions are being asked from the faculty members and by the positive reviews the practice has gotten. “It’s not just about Stanford news, it’s about taking part in the community of social networks,” Hsu added. [1]

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9. Coaching for the Spotlight

Because many universities produce their own video and audio, TV and radio producers get a chance to see what a researcher or expert sounds like on camera or in a sound bite. A journalist can go to the school’s YouTube channel or website and watch an expert in action. That can help get those experts invited to appear on television panels or used as interview sources on TV or radio news shows, which can be very valuable exposure for the university. [1]

Dr. Jonathan Oberlander

Dr. Jonathan Oberlander

Lane health and science editor from the University of North Carolina said their YouTube channel often serves as a coaching tool for their experts and professors to get accustomed to appearing on camera. “When they do go on to do a ‘real interview’, they can be more confident, more capable. They can communicate in a more effective way” Lane noted. [1]

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10. Getting Wired Via Mobile

While some universities are still playing catch-up in getting campuses wired with WiFi, Stanford University has its students connected through a mobile application. Last school year, the school released a free iPhone application called iStanford that allows students to register for classes, look up campus maps and be able view the location of their friends on a map – instant messaging them if need be. [1]

Ian Hsu from Stanford said the development of the application, which was done by two students, was commissioned by the university and has further potential. Abd the campus could be sprinkled with signs that point to visitors with iPhones how they can connect to the application, he asked. “There is a lot of potential there,” Hsu said. [1]

iStanford

iStanford

For those without an iPhone, the school also has a mobile web client that allows students to access their mail, check the calendar, and more all from a mobile device. Other schools have also introduced similar applications (Duke University, Georgia Tech, U Cal at San Diego, etc.). The Chronicle of Higher Education recently did a series on schools introducing
mobile applications
. [1]

More than 95% of Finnish own a mobile phone, so connecting via mobile devices is smart. [20]

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11. Raise Spirit and Mood

Stockholm University (@Stockholm_Uni) in Sweden provides a music channel (last.fm@Stockholm Uni) to find and to recommend music that reflects the mood of openness and the free spirit of Sweden and Stockholm University.

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12. Money talk

Below are video showcases and several Social Media ROI (Return On Investment) examples along with other effective Social Media Strategies. [5]

Social Media ROI[5]

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Comments

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References

[1] Lavrusik, Vadim. 2009. 10 Ways Universities Share Information Using Social Media. [WWW].< http://mashable.com/2009/07/15/social-media-public-affairs/>.(Read 9.1.2009)

[2]Viestintävirasto. 2009. Yhteydenpito tärkein syy nuorten internetin käytölle. [WWW]. <http://www.ficora.fi/index/viestintavirasto/lehdistotiedotteet/2009/P_40.html>.(Read 9.1.2009)

[3]PhysOrg.com. 2008. Helsinki Urban/Nature Interactive Invites World-Wide Visitors Via Flickr. [WWW]. <http://www.physorg.com/news143197340.html>.(Read 9.1.2009)

[4]HIITTV. Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT. [WWW]. <http://www.youtube.com/user/HIITTV>.(Read 9.1.2009)

[5]Socialnomics – Social Media Blog. Social Media ROI [Video]. <http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypmfs3z8esI>.(Watched 18.1.2009)

[6]Socialnomics – Social Media Blog. Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh): Is social media a fad? [Video]. <http://vimeo.com/11551721>. (Watched 11.1.2011)

[7]Edu-tastic– The best in learning resources and more. 2009. 13 Enlightening Case Studies of Social Media in the Classroom [WWW]. <http://bestonlineuniversities.com/2009/13-enlightening-case-studies-of-social-media-in-the-classroom/>.(Read 10.1.2009)

[8]Mashable – The Social Media Guide. 2009. Google Launches Real-Time Search [WWW].<http://mashable.com/2009/12/07/google-real-time-search/>.(Read 10.1.2009)

[9]Google. 2009. Real Time Search [Video]. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRkYmx4A9Do>.(Watched 10.1.2009)

[10]SwedenInTouch. 2009. About SwedenInTouch [WWW]. <http://www.swedenintouch.se/About-In-Touch/>.(Read 10.1.2009)

[11]Commoncraft. Social Bookmarking in Plain English [Video]. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF2mQ86SzB4>.(Watched 16.1.2009)

[12]Wikipedia. Second Life [WWW]. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life>.(Read 16.1.2009)

[13]macpin83. Our overseas life in finland (part 1) [Video]. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7H4AU9v73k>. (Watched 16.1.2009)

[14]ECMediaTeam. Kirsti Paakkanen luennoi unelmista 3.3.2010 Esa Saarisen luentosarjalla [Video]. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWg45JqQF2E>.(Watched 17.1.2011)

[15]Tuula Teeri. Rehtorin blogi [WWW]. <http://aaltoblogi.blogspot.com/>.(Read 18.1.2009)

[16]Wikipedia. Diigo [WWW]. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diigo>. (Read 16.1.2011)

[17]Aaltouniversity. LabLife3D: A New Concept for Biotechnology and Chemistry Education at Aalto University. [Video]. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWg45JqQF2E>. (Watched 17.1.2011)

[18]Purdueitap. LabLife3D: Hotseat at Purdue University. [Video]. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz6TUhcGf6s>. (Watched 17.1.2011)

[19]Aalto University opening in Second Life 2010 *promo*. [Video]. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i60TUK8AHzc>. (Read 17.1.2011)

[20]Statistics Finland. Percent of respondents who have a mobile phone in their own personal use by gender and age group in spring 2006. [Video]. <http://tilastokeskus.fi/til/sutivi/2006/sutivi_2006_2006-12-11_kuv_007_en.html>. (Read 18.1.2011)

[21]Sk8er1113. Dubai 45,000 Megapixel Photo – World’s Largest Photo . [Video]. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r6z21aEJJ0>. (Watched 18.1.2011)