Thoughts on social media interactions from conversations at JISCexpo

I’ve just come back from the JISCexpo end-of-programme meeting in Manchester — I’d attended as a developer on the Open Citations Project. While there I met some of the University of Lincoln‘s web team, and it was interesting to see how they were using the web to interact with current and prospective students.

Take a look at their main Twitter account:

Screenshot of the University of Lincoln’s Twitter page.

They’re being a lot more interactive than I’ve seen elsewhere within HE. They’re actually responding to queries and pointing people in the right direction for further information. On the other hand, most of what we do is regurgitate RSS feeds.

This got me wondering whether we should strive to be using social media in a more bi-directional fashion. I’m not saying that it should be to the detriment of publishing news articles — one could mix them on the same account or have both news and conversational accounts.

Looking as though one would respond to tweets would give a “beneficial air of friendliness”, which could translate into “conversions” and new opportunities. The people that manage these accounts have a lot of knowledge about their University, department or college that they’re likely not going to think to share until asked, but which would be useful to a lot of people on the Internet.

Relatedly, one of their students had put together three videos[1, 2, 3] which he placed on YouTube and labelled as “banned adverts”². These have racked up about 2 million news between them.

Seeing these, their press people commissioned him to produce a clearing advert, which has garnered them even more (positive) publicity. It’s great to see them innovating in finding ways to generate interest among potential students and the wider Internet.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on social media interactions from conversations at JISCexpo”

  1. Andy Turner says:

    For the recent Open Days for prospective students at the University of Leeds, there was a play for interactivity using Twitter orchestrated by http://twitter.com/#!/leedsopendays. The University of Leeds has used/is using Quora (http://www.quora.com/University-of-Leeds) generally, but the amount of communication seems quite modest… Facebook is currently being pushed as a general networking tool for people that have been part of the university. There is a lot of internal communication using digital social media tools. There is probably more use of University of Leeds run email lists than blogs and wiki’s that allow outsiders to post.

  2. Alex Bilbie says:

    Thanks for your kind words Alex.

    As you’ve said, our approach for @unilincoln is to engage with anyone inside and outside the University to answer the questions and give them swift resolutions to problems.

    We also make use of Get Satisfaction (http://wwh.lincoln.ac.uk) as an open “comment box” for staff and students (and soon potential students) to ask questions, report problems, give praise and suggest ideas.

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