University Taps Students For Social Media Strategy
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 02:10
To gain insight into students’ perspectives on the role of social media at Georgetown, the Office of Communications is creating a Social Media Advisory Committee.
“I really feel that Georgetown students are heavily engaged in social media and the way that social media can be a powerful tool for communication and collaboration,” Communications Officer Rob Mathis (GRD ’14) said. “Georgetown students know that it’s not just something that can be used as a tool within the university, but it has a worldwide impact.”
SMAC, which will be composed of students, will work with both university administrators and student groups to improve their social media strategies. At the administrative level, SMAC will offer insight into how students are using social media and how they want to see the university using it.
“A lot of that is going to the traditional, roundtable feedback, with what’s working well and what isn’t,” Cody Cowan (SFS ’14), who has been working closely with Mathis in developing SMAC, said. “The university has a great social media presence … but I think there’s always ways to improve.”
SMAC will also advise student groups on how to enhance their use of social media in order to best communicate both internally and with the rest of the world.
“I think almost every single student organization has a marketing or PR person that is in charge of social media, but they probably don’t have a lot of tools or help that will allow them to do a better job and to interface with all the other communications people,” Mathis said. “It’s my hope that this group will allow all of them to come together and amplify their collective use of social media for outreach and engagement.”
For example, Hoya Blue does not currently have a cohesive social media strategy. Rather, it primarily concentrates on Twitter, which is now complemented by a new Instagram account and a sporadically updated Facebook page.
“My hope for social media with Hoya Blue is to be able to grow it because that’s where people are getting their news about the athletic teams,” Hoya Blue Communications Officer Eddie Bradley (MSB ’14) said. “Having this committee to help with that would be good; it would definitely be helpful.”
In particular, Bradley suggested an online hub in which students could engage with social media from various campus organizations.
InterHall Vice President of Public Relations Libbi Ethier (COL ’16) agreed and said that InterHall would be open to learning about new techniques to promote events and to facilitate in inter-group interactions.
“I know most students are tired of the usual Facebook events posted on the GAAP groups and tweets about advocacy issues in the works, so I think it would be important for this committee to work on new ways to reach students,” Ethier said. “Also, I would like to see this committee exploring how to increase the use of HoyaLink on campus and how each student group can help make that happen.”
According to Cowan, the committee will focus on issues based on members’ interests, backgrounds and goals, although the details of the committee’s operations are still uncertain and will depend on student feedback. If interest is limited, the committee will likely meet in person, whereas if student interest is very large, the committee may manifest as an online forum.
“I don’t know what the questions are going to be, but it’s incredibly useful for us to have a group that could potentially answer them,” Cowan said.
The student committee is modeled after the Social Media Working Group, a cross-departmental group of staff members tasked with harnessing social media to benefit Georgetown.
The working group organized Georgetown’s 400 disparate social media accounts into a branching “hub-and-spoke” model with the Office of Communications at the center. From this center, each school branches off into departments and initiatives, allowing back-and-forth communication.
“This allows us to take our campaigns to the next level because now we’re interacting with each other and helping each other as opposed to competing for a share of voice with the same number of students and followers,” Mathis said.
The working group proved to be successful when Georgetown was ranked the 18th most influential university in social media by Klout, a social media analytical company, this year. Mathis said that the Office of Communications hopes to further this success through student involvement in SMAC.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of experimentation and working our way through it, some stumbles along the way, but I think that’s what’s exciting about this,” Mathis said. “There are a lot of opportunities for students to create their own think tank on the use of social media and how youth view social media as a communications platform but also a worldwide engagement tool.”