Building Relationships through Social Media

Scylla Lopez (@S_lo22) is the social media coordinator for San Jacinto College, a community college that serves approximately 30,000 students across three campuses in the Houston, Texas area.

As a social media coordinator in higher education, I love that I get to experience the different facets of student life on and off campus. I know when students are happy or sad. I share their excitement when they get an “A” on an exam or when they receive their diplomas. But when I accepted this job almost two years ago, I never imagined actually becoming friends with students. My experience shows how easily you can build strong, relevant relationships as a result of a few social media interactions.

Meet Minh Lam

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I met Minh through the college’s Facebook page. She commented on a post about our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. I saw the opportunity to interview her about her experience with the program. She was very active on our Facebook page and I would occasionally see her on campus. We kept in touch through social media and email. When I learned she was graduating in May and transferring to the University of Texas, Austin, I interviewed her one more time.

You could tell how proud Minh was of her accomplishments at San Jacinto College. She loved being a student here and she took advantage of any and all opportunities. She is the kind of student you want to know.

Meet Zahra Shihabuddin.

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I met Zahra through our private Facebook community, Schools App. She was a very active user on all of our social sites, often sharing advice to her classmates. I noticed she was part of many student organizations and offered her the opportunity to share her story. After the interview, we continued to keep in touch. She wrote several blog posts for our Tumblr account and I would often see her around campus and at events. She’s even part of our “San Jac Certified” advertising campaign.

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I cheered loudly and proudly when she graduated in May. I know how dedicated she was to her studies and how much work she put into making her experience at San Jacinto College a good one. She will be attending West Texas A&M in the fall.

Both students worked hard and it shows. I’m so fortunate to have this job and the opportunity to get to know students like Minh and Zahra. And to think, it all started with a few Facebook comments and “likes.” My advice: find opportunities to get to know students and their stories. Take notice of those students who are your most active users on social media and turn that initial online interaction into a relationship.

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