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“MEETING THEM WHERE THEY’RE AT” UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA IN STUDENT AFFAIRS The University of Rhode Island, College Student Personnel Program Team Leader:

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Presentation on theme: "“MEETING THEM WHERE THEY’RE AT” UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA IN STUDENT AFFAIRS The University of Rhode Island, College Student Personnel Program Team Leader:"— Presentation transcript:

1 “MEETING THEM WHERE THEY’RE AT” UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA IN STUDENT AFFAIRS The University of Rhode Island, College Student Personnel Program Team Leader: Stephanie Grejtak Team Members: John Crisafulli Megan Kielty Daniel Trapani

2 LET’S TALK ABOUT… Institution & Department @ a Glance Social Media @ a Glance The BIG Picture: Linking the strategic plan to social media Dining Services Goal & Social Media Social Media Action Plan The Current State of Affairs Action Plan: Utilizing Facebook Action Plan: Utilizing Twitter Face the Challenges Conclusion

3 Institution & department @ a glance The University of Rhode Island - Kingston, R.I. – Rural New England campus – 16,000 students Dining Services (Division of Student Affairs) – 2 main dining halls – Butterfield & Mainfare – 7 additional retail outlets – Approximately 4,500 resident students on board plans – Customer = students, faculty, & staff “At URI Dining Services, excellence is our mission.”

4 Social Media @ a Glance 500+ million active users People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook 70 translations available 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events & community pages) CONNECTIONS 175 million registered users 95 million tweets are written per day Available in 6 different languages A tweet is 140 characters in length Hashtag = #; the conversations CONVERSATIONS

5 The National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS ) – 2009-2014 Strategic Plan Goal #2: “By 2014, assist institutional members with repositioning and/or elevating dining services on campus. A. Provide resources, such as materials, services, information, referrals and education on key issues and trends (wellness, sustainability, cost control, food, nutrition, et cetera). B. Increase use of technology to deliver products, services, information and education to members ” (The National Association of College & University Food Services, 2011) The University of Rhode Island (URI) Student Affairs – 2010-2015 Strategic Plan Goal #6: “Students utilize technolog y and are well informed of programs, services and events through the Divisions advanced use of technology” (Office of the Provost, 2011) Students want us to meet them on social media platforms – “The final characteristic of the millennial students which guides the discussion on technology use centers around their high expectations and demand for customer service, both of which impact the delivery of traditional student affairs services” (Oblinger, 2003 in Coleman, Little, and Lester, 2006, p. 221) Linking social media technology to NACUFS, URI Student Affairs’ strategic plan, & our students The big picture

6 Dining Services goals Enriching the experiences of the customers in a positive & attentive way - Engage & maintain an open dialogue with customer in “their space” - Provide customers with valuable information in a fast-paced & friendly form - Make the changes elicited by feedback to enrich customer experience - Personal way to connect customer with important operational information - e.g., menu, special events, hours of operation/closings Service-Oriented Team - Platform to elicit customer service feedback - Opportunity for the department to respond to such feedback - Create a fun, dynamic, & creative means to serve customers Meeting the department’s major goals through the use of social media

7 As of 2/2011 only 43 people “Like” Little/no user-generated content Latest photo album is 4 months old No conversation happening Menus & events are out of date Not utilizing full graphic space on the left-hand side Current Facebook Status: Dining Services

8 As of 2/2011 only 61 followers Little/no user-generated content ˉNo “retweets” ˉNo “hashtags” Only 58 tweets Currently not following any other users Current Twitter Status: Dining Services

9 Social Media Action Plan Branded, unified, & committed social media plan Can be implemented across any URI Student Affairs Department Facebook – Educate staff on all of the Facebook tools – Marketing/Branding – Drive user-generated content – Engage students in “their space” Twitter – Partner with URI Branded twitter – Utilize Twitter − Use Places Function − Link to Students Mobile Devices − Make the experience personal − Monitor but avoid censoring − Start the conversation − Participate in the conversation

10 Educate staff on all of the Facebook tools – Analytics: track interactions with your page – Lists: use lists to organize all department connections – Fan page: open to all users – parents, students, staff & faculty Group pages are not as effective at reaching the audience Marketing/Branding – Make social media a part of your brand – Include Facebook “button” on all Dining Services collateral – Advertise Facebook in dining halls & retail outlets Marketing with QR codes – Allows students to access Facebook page instantly with mobile devices Try it! It works! Action Plan: Utilizing facebook Scan the QR code with your smartphone & instantly connect to the URI Dining Services Facebook Page!

11 Drive user-generated content – Use status updates to ask questions & poll students Poll about services, new products, menu changes, specials, & events – Start a conversation – avoid replicating existing departmental website Engage students in “their space” – Create photo albums where students can tag themselves & their friends – Host competitions & events that encourage student engagement Potential competitions: URI Iron Chef, Creative Concoctions Action Plan: utilizing facebook

12 Encourage users to check-in to dining halls using “Places” function – Students can utilize the check in tool to: Notify friends which dining hall there are Notify students of lines at specific locations Provide up-to-date menu information so students can access quickly from mobile device Make the Facebook experience personal – Respond to student questions, concerns & complaints – Make a public show of customer service Monitor for misinformation but avoid censoring Action Plan: utilizing facebook

13 High number of “Likes” User generated content Conversation & customer service This is great! Case Study

14 Action Plan: Utilizing Twitter Partner with URI Branded twitter accounts to drive followers –@URINews (2,359 followers), @Rhodytweets (769 followers), & @gorhodyrams (1,334 Followers) –Follow all the people following the above users to maximize exposure Utilize twitter’s capabilities – Lists – strategic way to organize who you are following & maximize ease of use – e.g. competitors, partners, etc. – Search & follow #hashtags & “hot topics” – Each morning search Twitter for each retail outlet - “listen” & join the conversation!

15 Action Plan: Utilizing Twitter Start the conversation! – Utilize the success of the other URI twitter accounts Example: If @URINews has 2,359 followers join their conversation! – Create hashtags (e.g. #Dinnerathope, #dinneratthebutt) Participate in the conversation! – Retweet all user generated content centered around dining experience, nutrition, & food – make information accessible – Respond to any customer questions or concern Personalize the Twitter experience Try it! It works! Scan the QR code with your smartphone & instantly connect to the URI Dining Services Facebook Page!

16 There is a “conversation” happening via Retweets & Hashtags User-generated content Clear branding Following others Case Study

17 POTENTIAL DIFFICULTIES Anxiety around starting social media campaign? –Be inventive – find unique ways to get customer’s attention –Be patient – real engagement won’t happen instantly & without effort –Be proactive – find & start the conversations, talk with the customers, & continue to stay educated on tools –Be a part of the conversation – do not fear negative talk, respond to it Perceived lack of resources? –Be realistic – it does not have to be a full time position, staff in a way that makes sense for your department –Be resourceful – utilize the social media gurus that you have (e.g., student workers) Lack of education around social media tools? –Be committed – educate your staff on the unique tools associated with each platform –Be your own teacher – take the time to use the tools before you write them off

18 Conclusion “Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we think.” (Socialnomics09) Participate – Social Media is changing the way we communicate & higher education must be a part of the conversation Adapt – There have been shifts & developments in technology & communication throughout history & higher education has been able to adapt to those changes Commit – Higher education must commit to both understanding the trends & the proper use of the technology Involvement – Increased involvement equals increased learning (Astin, 1984) – Utilizing social media platforms creates a new opportunity for student affairs departments to involve students & increase learning

19 References Astin, A. W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25, 297-308. BU Dining Services (n.d.). In Twitter. [Profile]. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from!/BUDiningService Cabellon, E. (2010, February, 22) The power of Facebook and Twitter Lists (Blog Posts). Retrieved from Coleman, J. K., Little, S. D., & Lester, A. (2006). Connecting services to students: New technology and implications for student affairs. The College Student Affairs journal, 25 (2), 220-227. Facebook. (2011). Press room. Retrieved from Office of the Provost. (2011). URI strategic plans. Retrieved from

20 Pomerantz, N. E. (2006). Student engagement: A new paradigm for student affairs. College Student Affairs Journal, 25 (2), 176-185. University of Rhode Island Dining Services (n.d.). In Facebook. [Facebook]. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from Services/155772934444613 UNH Dining (n.d.). In Facebook. [Fan Page]. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from URI Dining Services (n.d.) In Twitter. [Profile]. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from!/uridining The National Association of College & University Food Services. (2011). Strategic plan. Retrieved from Twitter. (2011). About twitter. Retrieved from htatp:// References

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