In #highered there are predictable events that are perfect opportunities to connect with people online, to follow and be followed by colleagues. I took some time this month to use Twitter search to add to my 'following' and 'follower' counts. Looking at Twitter stats I can see it paid off, with @NERCOMP finally hitting and passing the 300 mark this week.
It’s commencement season. Faculty dust off their regalia for the ceremony. Big name speakers fly in to give speeches and receive honorary degrees. Graduates and their families hustle from one gathering to the next, taking note of every detail about this milestone. For college Twitter users, there is much to share.
Students move out of the dorm. Seniors say goodbye to friends and professors and distribute their contact information, asking for reference letters. Families infiltrate area hotels and wander aimlessly around campus, taking photos of each other in front of buildings, statues, iron gates. Facilities workers scramble to keep up with spring rains, subsequent floods and sudden, urgent needs for tents and canopies over outdoor events. There is much to see and do, and even though school is now over, there is much to discover.
While Twitter still isn’t widely used among Americans aged 12-22, it is used by college and university departments. A simple Twitter search for #commencement yields valuable data. It’s an easy way to data mine for college Twitter accounts. I have been taking time to run this simple search to add to my ‘nehighered’ Twitter list (north east, that is, not New England), a list that helps me keep tabs on news and info in my field.
The #commencement tweets also make good RT’s for @NERCOMP. Sharing updates from a variety of campus ceremonies is a fun way to help area #highered Twitter users connect with each other. If I (via @NERCOMP) RT something from @TuftsLive maybe someone from @BryantUniv will start following them, and someone from VT Law School might follow as well, creating a minor surge in #highered community building. Twitter is still new and there is much to learn in using Twitter for marketing and communications, so tapping into the #highered Twitter community knowledge base is helpful. If the @NERCOMP account can facilitate those connections, it's #awesome #winning.
And by searching for #commencement tweets, not only did I find the ‘official’ Twitter accounts for several NE colleges, I also found more tweeting faculty and staff which I added to my list. I look forward to their regular work-day tweets after commencement season has closed, and to engage and develop professional relationships with them. There is no telling when I would have come across those folks - finding their #commencement tweets was an unexpected reward in this endeavor.
What other types of campus events are good opportunities for engaging social networks?