The IF

I am super excited to announce The Innovation Forum For Career Services, an event I’m co-coordinating with my friend and colleague Ray Angle.  The event takes place on August 1 and 2, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It features keynotes, plenary sessions, a panel, plenty of discussion time and the Career Services Innovation Idea Challenge.   You can read more at our site:  the-if.net

If you’re a career services pro interested in innovation, this is the event for you!

You’re just not that interesting

Social media is fun.  Social media is free time.  Social media is hanging out.  It’s for friends and for photos.  It’s for games and goofs.  As Jim Tobin said, social media can be a cocktail party.  So, why on earth would a student want to connect to your office there?

The truth is, most of our offices are not that interesting.   We do important work.  We do serious work.  Academics.  Success. Development.   But, we’re unlikely to compete with the latest meme (barring this).  So, when you post to Facebook or Twitter something like “The deadline for [insert academic policy] is coming up on [insert date], don’t miss it,” it’s not that surprising that the response you receive is silence.

I’m not suggesting we can’t be interesting and fun.  We just haven’t chosen to be most of the time.   And in some cases (like housing/residential education offices it seems), students will actively choose to engage with your work on social media regardless.  But, for most of us, it takes work.  And it takes a willingness to be more open and more human, and in the words of my former colleague Demi Brown, “to show a little leg.”

It goes beyond content.  For example, our tendency, it seems, has been to open social media accounts with names that involve our university and department names, rather than our own names and never mention the person behind the keyboard.  Would you rather talk to a big faceless department or a person?  With which are you more likely to feel comfortable and establish a connection?

So, here are 5 tips for being potentially more interesting to your students:

  • Be human.  I hesitate to use the overused — but, authenticity matters.  Talk like a human, not a university bulletin or a classified advertisement.
  • Tell stories.  If you’re trying to convince someone to come to a program, don’t tell them about the program, tell them a story related to it.
  • “Show a little leg.”  As noted previously, it’s okay to relax and have a little fun.  It’s also okay to talk about things not related to your office.  Talk sports.  Talk music.  Talk whatever is fun for you.
  • Be recognizable.  Put your own name and photos on your accounts.  People care more about talking to a person than a department.
  • Talk smaller.  If you’re talking to everyone, you’re probably not talking to anyone.

Bonus tip:  Recognize that you may never be destined for a large following or hundreds of comments and retweets. And that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time.  Just make sure you’re measuring the right thing!

This is cross-posted on the fabulous SocialAtEdu blog.

Lateral example: digital waitlist

Are many in student affairs/higher education using things like this idea from the Genius Bar at Apple stores?  I could see this being a good fit for academic advising, career counseling, financial aid and other areas that have walk-in services that form a line.  Are any of your offices doing this already?

Pinterest: passing fad or here to stay?

Pinterest has shown tremendous growth over the past six months and is one of the few newer (non-google) social media sites to gain traction. But, is it a fad that will show waning interest, like other recent semi-hits like Quora, or will it have a longer shelf life?

First, my theory on why Pinterest gained traction. I believe the visual nature of the site appeals to us for the same reason that photo sharing is such a primary activity in the social space. So, in this way, it shares the same traction that, say, Instagram does. But, it also initially tapped into an interest area and a target market (females predominately), and it “solved a problem,” in a way that many social media platforms don’t do. Many social media platforms fail to gain a core audience beyond the typical techie/early adopter set. Pinterest gave itself a leg up by avoiding that trap.

Obviously now that it does have that traction, it’s being leveraged by others beyond that initial audience. Brands from General Electric (fairly thin page) to Whole Foods (much more robust) are experimenting.  In the higher education space, University of Pennsylvania’s Career Services (and the great work of Shannon Kelly) is setting a standard with their page.  Others like Skidmore College’s D-Hall and University of Minnesota’s Student Union, along with many others, are dabbling.  It will be interesting to see where other student affairs pros take it.

So, to my original question:  is it a passing fad or here to stay.  Obviously we don’t know the full answer yet.  But, my feeling is that it has taken root and fills a gap and thus will be with us at least for a little while.  It’s a fun site and while it will probably continue to be a primary place for individuals to share, it will be intersting to watch brands continue to experiment and develop.

What do you think about Pinterest for student affairs departments?

Cross posted on The Student Affairs Collaborative Blog

It’s called a Poken

While the company name has thusfar resulted primarily in workplace-inappropriate jokes from my colleagues, I was quite excited to received a Poken Pulse for xmas this year.  If you’re not famliar with the Poken, it’s basically a USB-driven electronic business card.  But, it’s more dynamic than it sounds, and once you see the “poken hub” which provides the timeline of your contacts in addition to their information and links to their social media sites, you’ll be hooked.  Here’s a snapshot of that hub:

Here are some resources to read up on this neat little device:

Gadget Guy: Poken review

Swiss Poken Lights Up Social Networking in the Triangle

The Wall Street Journal did a video on the Poken that’s worth watching.

Here’s a video by RTP Poken advocate, Martin Brossman (Martin is also owner of the RTP Poken Owners facebook group: