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Social Media

Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory set the record for the most related tweets in the UK—placing his Centre Court championship in the ranks of President Obama’s election night speech, the Pope’s inauguration, and—go figure—the Spice Girls reunion at the Olympics.

Now, the Campus Insiders website is using this fascination with social media to lure readers to sports highlights and analysis. It has 37,000 likes on Facebook and 2,400 Twitter followers.

In higher education, we love, hate, and thrive on college rankings. The annual U.S. News and World Report top colleges list—as well as rankings by other news organizations—is anticipated with excitement and trepidation. When it comes to the numbers game of college admissions, it’s important to secure a spot near the top of these lists. Improving your institution’s rank means an automatic increase in general visibility. It also often results in a better chance to convert more college-bound high school students into serious prospects and highly motivated applicants.

North Carolina legislators passed a bill last month that prevents colleges and universities from requiring students to provide their passwords to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. The law was drafted in response to a student-athlete handbook rule forcing athletes to choose an administrator or coach to monitor their social media accounts throughout the academic year.

When the entire city of Boston was on lockdown during the April 19 manhunt for the marathon bombing suspects, institutions such as Boston College and Boston University were posting on Facebook to let admitted students know the status’ of open houses scheduled to occur that weekend.

Can you believe it? I’ve been writing this column about digital marketing in higher education for seven years.

So much has happened since February 2006. Together we’ve witnessed the first blips of Web 2.0, the development—and demise—of many social networking platforms, and the rising tide of new media that later turned into the social media tsunami. Over the past seven years, we’ve also seen the end of the desktop browser compatibility war, the start of the battle for the mobile and responsive web, and growing interest for digital analytics in higher education.

Integrating mobile devices in learning is getting to be old hat in Abilene, Texas.

As early as 2008, Abilene Christian University (ACU) was the first university in the United States to provide each incoming student with an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch. Each of the nearly 4,800 students on the ACU campus located 180 miles west of Dallas can access course calendars, campus maps, receive homework alerts, security alerts, and answer in-class surveys and quizzes, among other ACUdeveloped web applications.

Technology has enabled higher education to extend instruction outside of the traditional classroom. New lecture capture technology such as the McGraw-Hill Tegrity Mobile App allows professors and students to record information on-the-go. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on October 18, 2012, instructors from Laramie County (Wyo.) Community College demonstrated how they use the app to enhance their lab, online, and hybrid classes in the Geosciences department.

While social media is a great way to share news with family and friends, students don’t always realize the implications for their ability to secure jobs in the future. Campus administrators have been trying to educate students, especially seniors, about protecting their “personal brand” online for several years. Recently, they’ve been taking steps to protect the campus brand, as reflected in select student posts, as well.

The search-based filtering techniques used by social media monitoring tools rely on spotting a specific set of keywords, including the name of the school. Since people can make valid threats using words outside that list, monitoring tools could never identify threats comprehensively.

In the wake of the Colorado movie theater shooting and noting the social media clues that appeared beforehand, college and university leaders are taking threats of violence posted to social media very seriously.

Case in point: Kent State University (Ohio) charged 19-year-old student William Koberna with a felony charge of inducing panic and a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing for tweeting, “I’m shooting up your school ASAP” and threats to the college president. Koberna’s tweets came five days after the Colorado massacre.