Prolific web strategist and social tech blogger Jeremiah Owyang once again summarized the online community manager's world in a simple table (or "matrix," as he calls his ubiquitous charts). This one is called Challenges of the Social Technology Industry, July 2010 Edition. He calls the matrix an "opportunity list" for those of us using social technology to improve our business.
Look at the full matrix and at least read through the challenges Jeremiah identifies. I've listed them below (with my own comments on how they might apply in educational advancement).
Print out the chart, and highlight the challenges that you face.
Then work with your organization's leadership, staff and volunteers, and draft a plan to address who in your organization will lead the effort of solving these challenges – assuming you don't already have a roadmap.
- Noise overwhelms signal:
Filter alums' tweets, blog posts and status updates so that quality and relevance prevail. Limit your organizations's output to conversational, relevant posts, with lots of question and a few fun polls.
- Amateurism threatens expertise:
Invest in training dedicated staff whose job description includes social media monitoring. Reach out to alumni, students or donors who have created their own social network groups in your institution's name, and partner with them to increase quality of group activity.
- Power shift to participants:
Don't talk all the time. Remember what a community manager looks like: small mouth, big eyes, big ears. Online communities are listening stations for organizations.
- Fast moving industry creates confusion:
Once you assign responsibility for social media management in your organization, schedule an update and reassess your progress within 60 days. The space is moving that fast.
- Risk of overhype:
Don't sign up for every site or service that gets "hot." Watch trends, and try to anticipate, but remember: deploy social media tools to help you achieve your organization's pre-existing business goals. Merely seeming "up to date" doesn't help you.
- Lack of qualified talent:
Don't have an expert in house? Create one. Invest in training and professional education so you can promote from within, or hire someone who understand how students and alumni are using social technology (see #2 above).
- Measurement elusive:
It's possible to measure return on investment, return on attention, and lots of other payoffs from attending to social channels. Start with this article from the Journal of Interactive Advertising or this post on Mashable about "measuring social media health."
- Disparate data and irregular standards:
Don't worry so much about benchmarking against other institutions. Start measuring outcomes and impact and track changes internally over time. Your data, benchmarks and standards will differ from your institutional competitors'.
- Culture shift creates an internal rift inside institutions:
Institutional leaders are concerned about being criticized by bloggers, tweeters and Facebookers. Social media-crazed staff members worry about falling behind the social media curve. Seek a compromise (and give your boss a copy of Open Leadership by Charlene Li).
- Privacy woes scare companies and consumers:
Advancement shops are pretty good at protecting the privacy of the donor database. This is no different. Learn what information is private and what is public in the platforms your organization uses, and respect absolutely the privacy and shared data of your stakeholders. Their loyalty will remain intact.
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