This past week I had the opportunity to attend the CASE-KY Convention in Louisville. During my time there, I heard some great advice during a session led by Jason Falls as he discussed Social Media and its application in University Advancement.
Falls started out his presentation by comparing many people’s thoughts of social media to that of a “magical unicorn” (as evident by this complicated graphic called The Conversation Prism). He admitted there is a lot of mystery surrounding social media because of its relative novelty, but recommended that it be viewed as a tool, not a mysterious cure-all.
With that in mind, he does mention that social media often operates a little differently than your regular media. This relies primarily on the fact that there must be a conversation occurring in social media, something that does not traditionally happen with a brochure or direct mail. People want that human interaction with their social media assets.
If a university or an athletics department interacts with their fans and supporters, they are creating conversations. This is something development officers do everyday through traditional means, such as the telephone, email and face-to-face contact. Social media should be utilized as another way to have a conversation. He commented that when a conversation is made, it becomes a market. That market is full of human beings who are interested in your cause.
Falls went on to say that what people want the most out of social media is relevant, easily-shared content, ability to comment on articles, and the ability to follow their interests on their channels. In doing this, the university can create a community of users who can share the news about the school’s accomplishments. Essentially, it creates a conversation that can then be leveraged to generate revenue.
When asked what would be the largest investment if a university were to start a social media campaign today, Falls quickly responded by saying that it is the people who will run the outlets. In his mind, there needs to be a person who is responsible for connecting the dots between the Universities activities and the conversations they are creating.
In the end, Falls stated that social media does not raise money, people raise money. Regular development avenues will continue to be effective, but adding a social media campaign has the potential to increase the conversation and drive more people in to your market.
Jason Falls can be found online at www.socialmediaexplorer.com. You can also follow him on twitter at @JasonFalls.