The work-blog connection, part 2

In my previous post marking this blog’s third anniversary, I finally responded to Kyle James’ challenge to post something about how blogging has changed my work. But I didn’t get a chanceI also wanted to talk in broader terms about how blogging — and more broadly, social media — has changed work and the workplace.

The communications office in which I work seems to have embraced social media about as extensively as any higher ed office or organization I’m familiar with. Almost all of our staff members are on Facebook, at varying levels of activity. Our assistant director and two of our three managers use Twitter. We share calendars and schedules, using various software, from Outlook (not necessarily “social” media) to Yahoo pipes. We contribute to several of the blogs I mentioned in my earlier post. At least one other staff member blogs on a regular basis at a non-work site.

It should come as no surprise to any reader of this blog that I am an advocate of experimenting with social networking technology. If we in higher education aren’t dipping our toes into the water of the technology being embraced by the students, alumni and others we claim to serve, then we are going to become more and more out of touch with those audiences. I’m not saying we have to plunge into the deep waters of social media. But we could at least wade in.

Unfortunately I don’t see too many people in higher education embracing social media. I don’t see many managers or leaders in higher ed encouraging their staff or co-workers to use sites like Facebook. That’s too bad. Through Facebook I can stay in touch with current students and alumni as well as old pals from high school and connections I’ve made in higher education. The same goes for Twitter.

The other unfortunate thing I see is that too many of the “A list” higher ed social media people are limiting their use of social media to their personal blogs, Twitter streams and Facebook accounts. I wish more of them were involved in making inroads in the use of social media on their campuses. This is not to discount the Brad Wards and Kyle Jameses and others who are doing terrific work at their institutions. We just need more inroads. It’s 2008, after all.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

8 thoughts on “The work-blog connection, part 2”

  1. Extremely flattered by your compliment. Seriously. I’m just using the tools available and trying to do my part to add to the collective knowledge of the community.

    Really appreciate everything you’ve done in the past 3 years to help people understand so much about PR and social media in higher ed. And yes, we’ve got a long way to go.

    Here’s to 3 more years of blogging and many more! :)

  2. I’ve said it again and again in my AMA workshop about blogging, Missouri S&T has been doing a great job using blogs and other social media tools.

    Well, Colgate University with Tim O’Keeffe (not sure about his last name) and Charlie Melichar is also doing a great job.

    Then, I was actually surprised to see the type of higher ed com/marketing executives who have Twitter accounts at the AMA conference. It’s going beyond the web squad. That’s what I tried to explain to Michael Stoner today, Twitter is what you’re going to make it and it seems that some executives (including women who are foolishly said to be less tech savvy) have caught on the Twitter bandwagon.

  3. Hum… to answer your last paragraph it’s really tricky to push that social media influence beyond a personal brand… for a few reasons.

    First of all I’m not going to do something in social media for the college unless I’ve tested and tried it on a personal level. Yes I just said it .eduGuru is a testing pad that I use for testing social media before I try anything for Wofford.

    Secondly because of the nature of Social Media and the individual trust associated with the tools it’s really hard to pull off the same interactions from a brand or institution that you can an individual account. Please tell me how a Wofford account works on Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx, etc? It’s enough of a challenge to get the buy-in and support to make Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube to work.

    So yeah you have to test all the services and platforms then figure out which ones will stick and continue to embrace and use those for institutional purposes.

    So there you go. Man this response could so be a worthy blog post… but then again seems like I feel like that about every comment. :] There just aren’t enough hours in day.

  4. Good comments and feedback.

    Brad – I’m game for another three years. Any guesses as to what will be the big new toy in social media by November 2011? Will Twitter be “so 2008” by then?

    Karine – Charlie, Tim and their team at Colgate are doing some very good work with blogging and social media platforms. Thanks for making a note of that. And thanks for continuing to plug S&T’s work when applicable.

    Kyle – Very good, thoughtful points. I agree that we should experiment, float trial balloons, etc., with our personal blogs and social media spaces. I’m all for experimentation. But what’s wrong with a little bit of experimentation with our institutions’ social media presences? Aren’t our colleges and universities supposed to be hotbeds of experimentation, incubators of ideas, forums for testing and experimentation? I think there’s a lot of untapped potential in using social media in higher education, but many of us (myself included) fear losing control of the message or the medium. As for trying to replicate the same personal brand on an institutional blog as on a personal blog, I agree that that’s tricky. I think that’s more a symptom of our universities’ lacking strong personalities or brands. But if the personalities of the people at our institutions were allowed to shine through, then I think things could be different. Even with our group blogging efforts at S&T, we’ve tried to let some personality leak through. Anyway, I’m going on too long and turning a comments into a blog post. (Sound familiar?) :)

    Happy blogging to you all.

  5. You really need to get some sort of comment subscription so I know when you leave a comment.

    Hum… I think we just started a great conversation that is worth continuing. Blog post worth and now it’s on my mind. hmmm…

  6. Kyle – There are a lot of things I need to do in my life, and getting some sort of comment subscription is pretty low on my list. LOL.

    HOW ABOUT IF I SHOUT IT AT YOU? CAN YOU HEAR ME BETTER?

    Or I could just leave a comment on your blog notifying you that I left a comment on my blog.

    Or I could tweet it, or DM it.

  7. It doesn’t occur to me how many of us are truly “early adopters” of so much of this integration of new media tools into our institutions until I go places where this isn’t the case. There is mostly definitely a ton of gridlock for much of the middle of the pack institutions who simply don’t have the expertise on staff to pull off some of the tricks that so many of the cooler folks in our industry have.

    This is a great post. I might need to join in this conversation as well. Having the unique experience of working at more than one institution in a year, will give you a lot of insight into how different schools go about their business and how philosophically these tools are being used at various levels and types of schools.

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