You’ve been trying to convince the powers that be that, at bare minimum, your college site needs RSS feeds. Perhaps you’re institution is considering using YouTube but is still on the fence. Asking for comments seems like a good idea, but what if those comments are bad? What do you do then?

Well, if these all seem like scary new tactics, take that fear to the highest level: to the incoming president of the United States. Wonder where he really stands on issues like rural America  or disabilities? Need RSS feeds of news or the blog? Want to share your ideas about what change in American society means to you? A stop over to President Barack Obama’s website can do all this and then some. You can even apply for a job in the Obama-Biden administration.

Obama’s new site is a case study in integrated social media at a highly visible level. Users not only can view, send, and comment on YouTube videos (a weekly address, no less) but can keep up to date on the white house transition. See new cabinet members as they get added. Endless possibilities. Once this content is created, its easy to share and post over other networks, such as Twitter, adding infinite extensions of what could have been a static web site.

What your university should learn from this is that technology is finally highly embraceable. The Obama weekly video address on YouTube already has over 736,000 views. Its been emailed, bookmarked, Facebooked and MySpaced. You cant buy that kind of bottom up publicity. Its something thats taken on life from the people, not the press. In the end, thats the entire purpose of social media.

The comments, not to mention videos and photos, that he’s receiving in the American Moment: Share Your Story/Vision area of the site are groundbreaking pulse takers on American society. Imagine if these tools were implemented – comparatively on a much smaller scale – at your university. What would you learn and then change? How would your audience create a living virtual space and identity for your college? Think of how that powerful catalyst for change could make  your product even better.

Whats irrelevant now?

6 Comments

  1. Great post!

    I wrote something similar a couple weeks ago about what higher ed can learn from the obama campaign, mostly directed at donor relations and continued communication. (http://sethodell.blogspot.com/2008/11/what-higher-education-can-learn-from.html)

    New media played an integral role in the Obama campaign and, in many ways, can be directly linked to the campaign’s success. Efforts by the likes of David Axelrod have shown us that big organizations can, and must, allow our audience to interact with our message and make it their own. Will it mean letting go of some of the control? Sure, but look at the success of the Obama campaign and tell me it’s not worth it.

  2. The weekly YouTube vid is awesome. Can’t wait until university chancellors/presidents are demanding this stuff now that THE president is doing it!

  3. flipgonzo says:

    I am a CIO at a college in MD. I take the ‘al dente spaghetti’ approach. Throw it at the wall and see what sticks. I am an avid user of and an advocate for SM.
    There are numerous advantages for universities and colleges to implement and encourage a variety of SM tools for the benefit of the institution and the students. Hey, the students and some progressive faculty will use them regardless. So let’s forge ahead. How to do that?
    You need to participate in leadership activities: get promoted into decision making positions, start or join committees (remember higher ed is herding cats), engage the students to start formal user groups to address, establish emerging technology groups among faculty – use the very SM tools you want to promote as a vehicle for these groups to organize, etc. etc. etc. Most of all: be creative and daring.

    I recognize I am some colleagues are currently in the minority of SM users in the executive ranks. I want that to change. Even among my fellow VPs there is a lack of understanding and valued use for SM.

    There are a few caveats. As an advocate for use I am also an advocate for responsible use. This carries the burden of educator and sometimes ‘social’ guardian. Training for all users (students, faculty, staff) in the proper etiquette, laws and school policy must be necessary.

    Enjoy the ride.

  4. Great post – and you are correct Todd our chancellors/presidents will be demanding this in the future! or at least they should be.

  5. when i talked to the folks at AMA08 over lunch, I kept on hearing “Our University President pulled me aside and said ‘I want you to do what Obama did using the internet for our campus'” So, I think Obama has inspired many organizations to go out and “throw spaghetti against the wall.”

    The silly thing is, and always is from my perspective, the amount of consensus and clearance people need to do anything in higher ed. Just give somebody a task and empower them to do it! Asking people in higher ed to get on Facebook gets them excited but sometimes they act as if I’ve asked them the legal equivalent of sponsoring and underage keg party. Luckily, more and more are saying, “let’s get this going as soon as possible.”

  6. Hi Jessica,

    [Note: we haven’t met before…this is my first time here.]

    Anyway, I’ve reached out to some Graduate Student Associations at UCLA. Most of them were stand-offish about meeting with me to discuss social media. I think they thought I was selling them something. But two groups gladly met up with me. I agreed to build a blog and integrate various social media tools into it… Overall build a brand and web presence around their organization using a blog.

    i have to tell ya, it wasn’t an easy accomplishment. It’s been ten weeks and I’ve been hit with much resistance! Like A Lot! I agreed to do it for free in return for access to all events and free membership. And I still received resistance.

    Some people won’t get it as readily as others. It took building the site and launching it and saying: “See! Look. Check it out!” A lot of people liked it, and then the resistance still came up. The site ranks #1 on Google and still, resistance.

    I’ll continue to promote the use of blogs and other social media tools to student groups as I think that there’s a major benefit there. But it’s going to be a challenge. I mean, I’m up for it of course! Which is good. But I know I’m going to have my work cut out for me too.

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