Educating the Educated: Conversations on Social Media

Ma’ayan Plaut is the social media coordinator at Oberlin College.

Within the past month, I have transitioned into my new position as social media coordinator. With a year’s worth of hands-on social media experience under my belt, plus ever-important audience observation, I’ve been a part of several conversations in the past few weeks about best practices and using social media around campus. In some cases, I was a consultant and brainstormer, in others, a mediator for conversations. But overall, I was a happy sponge: absorbing as much information to learn what is working and what we can improve around campus.

As a campus, we have been subscribing to the megaphone theory of social media: We use most of our platforms as the soapbox we stand upon to broadcast our messages. The next step, for many of our offices and departments, is engagement toward online conversation.

Using what we have

Bonner Center for Service and Learning. An incredibly dedicated summer intern set the Bonner Center up with a dream combination of social media platforms, way ahead of the current social media curve. The accompanying guide to new media strategy did an excellent job in delivering a comprehensive crash course on the different platforms. Slowly but surely, the Bonner Center has been embracing social media. After several individual and team meetings, the center will be regularly updating its Tumblr with photographs, videos and profiles of different community service sites and its Facebook page with service opportunities in Oberlin and Lorain County.

Allen Memorial Art Museum. A past intern at the museum set up a Tumblr blog and Facebook page two years ago and began populating with event updates, podcasts and collection features, making the museum one of the media-savviest places on campus at the time. The Allen has been undergoing renovations for the past year and a half, and its online presence has been an incredible asset while the museum was closed: video updates of the renovations, podcasts by docents and professors on pieces from the collection and photos from the increased outreach efforts were posted several times a month.

With only weeks before the museum reopens, there are sneak previews of the installations going up and of the new sustainable features in the renovated galleries. There will be a soft opening during orientation, and the grand opening the first day of classes. In gearing up for the big day, the museum is planning for a huge social media kickoff the week before everyone arrives back on campus.

Timing: How do we get things out there?

The Conservatory of Music. Conservatory communications, a subset of the office of communications in charge of the Conservatory of Music’s internal and external communications, is new to the social media sphere with fledging Facebook and Twitter presences. Together, we created a schedule to keep the conservatory’s online presence constantly updated with new and compelling media and worked on ways to make each entry engaging with more user contributions. Brainstorming with some student workers and the director and assistant director of communications led to strategizing special features for its Facebook page, including a weekend concert schedule and related polls, discussion questions and photo features.

Day of Service. An enormous service kickoff event for incoming first years, the Day of Service usually manages to enroll more than half of our incoming class in a day of civic engagement and community service in Oberlin and around Lorain County. After a few hiccups, the coordinator managed to effectively recruit students via our Oberlin 2015 Facebook group, and to date, we have enrolled more than 400 students to lend a hand at my favorite orientation activity. Additionally, this year’s coordinator had set up a wiki to collect yearly contact information, service site progress and post-service reflection, to better explain the goals and products of service in the community from year to year.

Taking the next step

College Lanes. Our campus bowling alley, College Lanes, began leaping and bounding through the social media world midway through the summer. I responded to one of its tweets regarding its location on Foursquare, and promptly ended up setting up a meeting with the assistant manager. In addition to daily updates to its Twitter and Facebook accounts, College Lanes has added daily blogging to its regime, with topics ranging from visual content to updates as the bowling team goes to tournaments. It is planning on recruiting student lane attendants to post updates from behind the desk and on the lanes once the school year begins.

Summer has a good time for me to catch up with social media efforts and progress around campus at a time that people have to meet, talk, discuss and strategize for the upcoming academic year, and our returning students, faculty and staff will be pleasantly surprised.

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