Just another WordPress weblog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Social Media Leadership at NC State University; Why can’t we be No. 1

Our office has been talking the last couple of days about our Top 40 ranking among North American universities when it comes to the use of social networking.  I think that’s a great accomplishment, but as usual; always asking for more.

Why can’t we be in the Top 10.  Why can’t we be number One.  Well, there are a number of reasons that make sense, but no harm in trying.

The talk has created a great discussion at the office.  Thought I’d share some of that today and ask everyone to comment.  What would it take for NC State to be among the Top 10 in social networking.  What would it take for us to be No. 1?  How can we implement a plan to make it so.  The following comments have been edited so please bare with me.

Matt S.:  we were just named #38, among social media innovators at U.S. universities. They singled out our Twitter feed: http://www.collegesurfing.com/content/web-20-colleges/.  Nothing to scream about, but pretty cool.

Joe H.:  That’s great, but why can’t we be No. 1?

Matt S.: It would be a challenge. (Let’s look at how the rankings were determined.)

The site that assembled the Top 50 list (College Surfing) was looking at overall social media presence: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.

Our Twitter feed is doing remarkably well, and growing at a nice rate. We appear to have made the top 50 based almost solely on the Twitter feed, and I expect that to continue to be a strength.

Our Facebook presence is pretty weak, which means there is a lot of room for improvement. Right now there are dozens of various NC State Facebook pages, which is fine — but there is no central NC State page. Actually there are THREE “North Carolina State University” pages, each with varying numbers of fans/members. The largest of these pages has approximately 20,000 members — but is explicitly “not an official NCSU site.” We need to have a centralized presence there, but we don’t want to (annoy) 20,000 people by taking their site away. Perhaps we talk to the current operator …? Or perhaps we create a new page and get their cooperation in driving members there?

Blogs. At this moment, we do not have any. Mick, Tracey, Caroline and myself are close to unveiling our new research blog. I think it will be successful, but it will be a slow build. We have plenty of good content, and we’ll spend a few months (or longer) building a community there.

All of these elements, working in conjunction with our Newsroom page, should serve to feed off of each other — driving traffic to our site, and ideally generating discussion and enthusiasm among our various stakeholders.


Tim J:    We’re on top of the Facebook stuff, as much as we can be. We’re putting together an official university presence as I type this, and the “unofficial” issue is in the process.

All that said, what we’re thinking about on Facebook is much more than the glorified mailing list + self-promotion spam tool that most organizations use it for. More on that in the next couple of days.

We’re also working on a few ideas right now that could position NC State well beyond anything these other groups listed in the rankings are doing. Add to that, the ranking doesn’t even look at our Twitter aggregation + open source code we distribute, so I don’t think it’s at all far fetched to move us to thought leader status.

However, I’d much rather see NC State influencing adoption and use of social media in Higher Education and beyond than simply making top ten on a list.

And I think Matt’s right that all this needs to work together. But beyond being “in” social media, our efforts there must overlap with, support and advance university business objectives. That’s where we’ll differentiate. I’m not sure that our objectives should be limited to site traffic generation because it can be a pretty shallow metric, particularly if we’re pointing people to sites that don’t deliver anything relevant, useful, helpful, meaningful, poignant etc.

Joe H:  Good point on Facebook.  We should consider how to ramp up the effort and convert the “Unofficial” to official sites.  I know you guys are brainstorming this right now.

I also like the idea of creating a Facebook Fan Page for Randy Woodson.  We want him to be “the most popular university chancellor in the world!” on Facebook. That has to make sense as part of his introduction to campus though and we’re not there yet with a plan.  We could sure have fun with it and project an engaged and energetic personality for the university.  Is it something we should do?  If so, what measurements do we use to determine its value, its success?

As far as blogs go, my only suggestion is to move my www.hiceschool.com blog over to the university (a little self promotion never hurts) and make it more official.  I’m kind of off book right now, but I have more than 80 posts.  At least that’s something.  If I say anything that gets me in trouble so be it.  It might also spur others to get more involved.

We want to be relevant but we’re probably going to have to make people on campus a little uncomfortable or change won’t happen where it needs to happen (web pages for example.)

So, what do you — the readers and followers of the blog — think?  Is this worth the effort or is Social Media just a splash in the pan?  Can we use leadership in the area to tell the story of our technology and computer science expertise? Can we use leadership in the area to tell our stories?  Can we our voice through social media to project a new personality?

Lots of questions; hard to answer.

Might be a topic, or topics, of discussions at the Web sub-committee meeting.  Probably will be/has been.  What do you think?

Passion Rules!

80 of 100


1 KeAnne H { 02.11.10 at 1:44 pm }

I agree with Tim that instead of focusing only on being #1 or in the top 10 that it would be even better to be known as an influencer and innovator.

When you say we don’t have any blogs, do you mean official, centralized blogs? Because we have one at IES (see link). Note to my subcommittee team: we need to aggregate the blogs just like the Twitter feeds have been aggregated.

I think the web subcommittee can go a long way towards helping us move in the direction of being an influencer with the policies, best practices and guidelines we create.

2 Gray Rinehart { 02.11.10 at 1:45 pm }

When y’all say “we don’t have any” blogs, are you talking about the university as a whole? We haven’t done our job in IES if y’all don’t know about our blog: “NC State of Business.” It’s been up and running since July 2008. http://blogs.ies.ncsu.edu/NCStateofBusiness.php

IES also has a Facebook page for the MESH program, and I put up a Facebook page for the NC Aerospace Initiative.

And, speaking of self-promotion, don’t forget the IES Song on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUYXi8HY0qk.

3 Matt Shipman { 02.11.10 at 1:52 pm }

Just wanted to note a significant oversight on my part. I said we don’t have any NC State blogs (or at least, any blogs focusing on NC State). But I forgot one: Red & White for Life (http://www.alumni.ncsu.edu/blog/). I think they do a great job. The forthcoming research blog will be great too, but fill a different niche. I’m optimistic that they will compliment (and complement) each other.

4 Joe Hice { 02.11.10 at 1:59 pm }

Red & white for LIfe is a great one. Thanks for the edit.

5 Joe Hice { 02.11.10 at 2:00 pm }

Another blog that I wasn’t aware of. Need some kind of aggregator page — like we did for Twitter — to pull it all together. But then I’m sure it’s not as easy as it sounds.

6 Joe Hice { 02.11.10 at 2:04 pm }

I’m thinking that if we were No. 1 it would be a result of our innovation and leadership. We’re already ahead of the pack in the area as evidenced by our Twitter aggregator and other work online. Our challenge is how to package what we’re doing so others can first find out about it, then understand it, and then follow our example, our leadership.

7 Matt Shipman { 02.11.10 at 2:47 pm }

I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of the IES blog. I am aware of a number of other blogs hosted by the university, but they are largely blogs by faculty or grad students. While these blogs are fine (some of them are actually really cool), they aren’t about NC State – they focus on each blogger’s personal interests. I think an aggregator of NC State-centric blogs would be useful, but I don’t think we’d want to incorporate blogs that aren’t about NC State, but are housed at NC State (e.g., many of the Wolfblogs).

8 Caroline Barnhill { 02.11.10 at 2:52 pm }

I believe that social media is definitely here to stay – and it’s great watching things like NC State’s Twitterverse (such a great site) come to fruition.

I think making our Facebook page more dynamic, and adding our new research blog, will help in continuing to build our social media presence – not just in higher ed, but beyond.

9 richard waters { 02.11.10 at 3:00 pm }

not necessarily something that relates to what they used to calculate rankings, but something equally important in terms of academia… we’ve got at least 3 classes on campus teaching social media (I teach “social media and public relations” in dept. of comm, and there’s one in English Dept’s MS in TechComm program and another in the College of Mgmt). and, my students are doing great research examining public relations and communication theory in relation to social media–somehow, theory always gets left out of the conversation. We’ve had one article published already in Public Relations Review (How nonprofits use Facebook), 1 accepted at Journal of Public Relations Research, 2 in revise/resubmit status (Jrl of Religion and Communication and Intl Jrl of Nonprofit & Voluntary sector Marketing), and 8 others being written up for submission now that look at Twitter, YouTube usage; relationship development on Facebook and Web sites; and crisis communication and social media.

Things are happening here at NCSU!

10 Joe Hice { 02.11.10 at 3:42 pm }

Things are happening we just have to figure out how to link people with the things that are happening.

11 Sherry { 02.12.10 at 4:03 am }

Obviously the key is that university communications is “notified” of blogs, twitter presence, LinkedIn (which is important for alumni to network and connect with each other!). If the new chancellor tweets, many of us will retweet! FWIW, the social network media policy should address how to make official sites. More than 18 months ago when the College of Design started its FB presence, there was already a group of grad students who had a group for their specific interests. Just like you all did with Twitterverse (which rocks, btw), having people connect all the pages into a big list might make “owners” want to stop duplicating efforts and merge forces. Not sure if that would happen, but perhaps people will realize there is strength in numbers…..People who love NC State have the passion to get the word out! Congrats on your ranking (since that was not to point of the new media efforts), but Tim is spot on with being recognized for how well we do something instead of being consumed by increasing rankings! Howl on, dudes!

12 Cody Williams { 02.12.10 at 10:33 am }

I agree that we do a great job with Twitter, even though I worry how long its going to be around. I still hear that it is a dying media but until then we might as well ride it out.

With Facebook I think there is a lot that we can do besides just merging groups or starting one central one. There are some really neat companies out there these days that are creating some cool applications that takes Facebook to the next level and in some cases even merge what we are already doing into one place.

They already let you link facebook and twitter to so many things and now it is becoming even more popular to use Facebook Connect as a single login for many sites and programs.

I have been working with a company for a while that has a SnapCMS platform on which they intergrate our current databases into Facebook and allow for some pretty cool stuff. If you have seen the Pink Ribbon application on FB, these are the same guys.

I think we really have to start thinking out of the box on how to take social media to the next level and capitalize on what is next to come. I think we are just getting started as more and more companies are moving to Web 2.0 technology.

13 Joe Hice { 02.12.10 at 10:36 am }

I think Facebook is where we want to be. Google Buzz will try to knock them off so we’ll see. i’m starting to see Google in the same way I see Microsoft. In this case, big is not beautiful.

14 Cody Williams { 02.12.10 at 10:50 am }

Google Buzz just weirds me out right now. It will be interesting to see how they implement Google Wave on a large scale and what that means to how people communicate.

15 Mike Vysocka { 02.12.10 at 11:16 am }

Often times I see businesses rush to jump on board the social media train and they haven’t really thought about why they are doing it or what they are trying to accomplish by doing so…

We need to ask ourselves some pretty pointed questions. What are our goals for the Facebook page? What benefit are we providing to the end user who visits the page? What incentive do they have to return? Can they already get this information somewhere else? Why should they come here for it? What sort of return are we hoping to gain for ourselves by creating this presence?

I think the most successful social media implementations are one’s that leverage the technology to create a two-way conversation with their end users. I would love to see Facebook leveraged as a way to gather students feedback. If the page comes across as ‘official’ and they know we are listening, they will talk.
Imagine if we gave them the opportunity to post suggestions for improvements to their everyday gripes (the my pack portal, parking, etc)…
Just imagine the kind of innovation that could come from it.

16 Jen Riehle { 02.12.10 at 12:06 pm }

I wholeheartedly agree with Mike’s comments above. Social media is at its best when it is building relationships. At NC State, the relationship between the university administration and its students has not been notoriously strong.

I’m actually in one of the three Social Media classes being taught on campus this semester (for the Tech Comm MS program) and though I’m proud we made the list i wish we could do more. I certainly don’t think social media is going anywhere but in the end that almost doesn’t matter. Can we find a tool that will provide information, collect feedback and facilitate positive change? Whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, email or postcard- if we demonstrate that this is an open channel, folks will use it. To that end we better also make sure someone is on the other end of that channel, listening. Or all we’re going to do is alienate folks.

As others have said here, we can certainly aggregate campus blogs but we may have a hard time finding people willing to go “on the record”. The penalty for “bad” postings can be harsh. We also have to balance the sharing of timely information with appropriate or “approved” information, which can be especially difficult with so many people contributing to the conversation. Situations like the early announcement of the chancellors confirmation show how volatile, and powerful, social networking can be.

17 Anita Clark { 03.02.10 at 2:19 pm }

I appreciate your desire to improve your social media use and development and recieve recognition but Numbers don’t make you No 1 – qualitative content over quantitative is more important. How do you harness all the noise? Can you imagine the value of owning and controlling both existing public social media site content and aggreate campus blogs, connecting all virally pulling new members into your world with the ability to analyze, report and have a dashboard view of the most important ideas to help you multiple communities and projects? A public/private partnership that would provide your University with a custom cloud that each division/department could build on might be the answer.

Leave a Comment