Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Social Media in CiCS

Had a good meeting today discussing how we as a department use social media, and how we might use it to engage more with students and staff.  Blogging is something some individual members of the department do. Some, like me, use commercial products like Blogger or Wordpress and have them hosted off-site, some use our in-house blogging software, uSpace, based on a Jive product. Some blog regularly, some less often.  What we haven't had before is a departmental blog, so we've changed what used to be a static news page on our web pages into a blog. So much better - it's easy to update, we can include pictures, links and videos, and, more importantly we can collect feedback in the comments field.

We've been using Twitter in the department for a few years, and have learned a lot of lessons. We've gone from just posting status updates, to being much more interactive - asking questions, looking for feedback and responding to comments. We're now considering whether we should have a separate feed for the status updates or not. Our intention is to make the main CiCS account much more interactive. 

Whilst Twitter is extremely popular, the main social network used by students is still Facebook, and we've finally taken the plunge and set up a page. Early days, and we haven't formally launched or advertised it yet, but are optimistic that this will prove to be another good channel to interact with students. A few years ago we felt that students were quite protective of their social space and didn't want us to invade it, but the evidence now is that if it is carefully handled and targeted - and the change to "liking" pages rather than having to be "friends" or in a group has made a big difference here - then students will engage. The University made a lot of use of Facebook for our new intake of students this year, and it was very successful - it was good to see a peer network developing as students helped each other, and that's what we want to encourage.

Of course, I'm really supportive of all of this and think it's definitely the way to go, but there are issues we'll have to deal with -  how do we log and collect feedback, especially if faults etc are raised with us,  how do we link it to our problem analysis, and how do we resource it? We also have to be acutely aware that everything we post is available to the world. None of this is insurmountable, especially with the good teamwork we have here.

And then of course there's Google + on the horizon.....

1 comment:

pj said...

So how many of Facebook's users are bots?