Social Media as a Programming Strategy (*free resource handout*)


My Assistant Director, Justin Schiefelbein, (@ResLifeSynergy) and I have decided to use social media as component of our new community programming model with our community assistant staff. While most student affairs departments use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and the like as a means to simply market or communicate departmental announcements, social media can be used as a platform for facilitating and assessing student learning outcomes.

We have decided to think “outside of the box” and incorporate the use of social media as a programming requirement with our community assistants. While the “traditional” programming model still has merit (which will we will continue to use), the opportunity to engage students online to educate and encourage dialogue is ripe with opportunity. This is even more so particularly because we are in charge of a large student apartment community, in which traditional programming can be a challenge.

Our community assistants are each required to develop two social media programs per semester. Each is given access to the community’s WordPress.com account (http://vulcanvillage.wordpress.com) so they can easily write blog posts related to their program. We provide them training so they know how to public using WordPress. Their submissions are first approved by us prior to us actually submitting them (i.e., they do not have direct access to publish). Access to other social media account are coordinated through all of our full-time staff so the CA’s have access.

Here are the guidelines / requirements that we are using for developing a social media program:

  • Utilize social media as a vehicle for the program (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogging, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Thoughtful, focused, and developed
  • Primarily educational in nature
  • Must include interaction in some form
  • Must be planned at least two weeks in advance, including sumission of program proposal
  • Cost = Maximum of $50 for any materials and / or prizes to induce participation and interaction (with prior approval); will be specific to your institution’s budgetary arrangements
  • Marketing: Use all avenues, including social media, email announcements, invitations, signage, etc.

Social media program examples:

  • Participating in Green Practices
  • Online Harassment & Bullying
  • Sex Ed: Are You Being Smart & Safe?
  • Alcohol Use & Abuse: When Enough is Too Much
  • How to Develop a Resume

Suggested tips:

  • Social media programs can be either one time or part of a semester-wide campaign. Example: our “Green Education” programming will continue over the course of the semester with multiple blog posts, Facebook and Twitter advice, YouTube videos, and educational webinars.
  • You can do polling and simple surveying to see what students want to learn at your college or university (“What do you hope to learn while here?” could be a simple Tweet or Facebook comment.)
  • Tie your social media programming to student learning outcomes based upon CAS and Learning Reconsidered Outcomes.
  • Assessment efforts can be utilized by using SurveyMonkey.com or another survey tool to pre-test and / or post-test participants. You can also simply use comments from Facebook and Twitter as qualitative and quantitative assessment data.

Here is a free Social Media Programming handout, which illustrates guidelines, programming examples, modes of interaction, how to encourage participation, and ways to assess.

Please feel free to share this resource with your student affairs colleagues.

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