Friday, February 25, 2011

Got Social Media? Get Some!

Today I took part in a "social media for faculty" workshop on campus, sponsored by the Charlotte Research Institute, Division for Academic Affairs and the Division for University Advancement. More than 50 folks showed up -- staff and faculty, many novices in blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking. Several were experienced, prolific users. All were interested -- and interesting.

On Twitter see #unccfsm11.

The subject at hand was if and how social media can be better utilized by university faculty (and staffers like me who work in communications). Some of the assertions by heavy users of social media who participated:

* Facebook may be jim dandy for fun and games, but Twitter and Blogging is the better vehicles for broadening personal knowledge, interacting with colleagues, engaging in debates on professional issues, promoting one's work product and opinions, finding support groups and staying connected with one's profession. (FB lovers, of which I am one: don't shoot the messenger!).

* Blogging is a writing laboratory for faculty and staff who publish regularly; blogging is good practice and opportunity for experimentation.

* All of social media is an intrusion into the pastoral pursuits of our already-harried professional and personal lives. Some folks just don't accept social media yet. But by sitting through four hours of workshop and engaging in debate, they showed that they recognize SM as a major force.

* For those who partake, social media should be engaged consistently, however periodic. Only by consistent use can you learn -- and actually gain insight into the people you engage with.

(Key word: engage?).

* Some people are threatened by social media, perhaps concerned about being washed to sea on the strong tide or worried to be left isolated on the beach.

One concerned participant approached me later and asserted that I should not have mentioned the amount of advertising dollars that are flowing into blogs. Seemed an innocent bit of data to me, but he received it as an ominous portent of ... corporate greed and potential pollution of faculty blogs. Hmm.

The workshop was a good thing. We shared. I learned.

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