How Educators Can Better Use Social Media to Reach Their Students

Written by  //  2017/06/15  //  Online Instruction  //  Comments Off on How Educators Can Better Use Social Media to Reach Their Students

Just as it has revolutionized personal relationships and business, social media has enormous potential to help college educators reach their students. This ability of social media, however, has gone somewhat underused. As colleges and universities move more into the online space, it becomes more important that they adopt social media as a communication tool. Here are four of the top ways educators can improve their communications with students through social media usage.

Engage More Actively With Students

One of the problems many educators have when using social media is that they create pages, but then fail to actively engage with students. If you want to use social media to its fullest, you should be talking to your students using your presence on various platforms. On Facebook, for example, professors can easily answer simple student questions. This kind of system saves both parties the time and trouble involved in a face-to-face meeting during office hours. Educators should also be posting useful information about classes or relevant topics on a regular basis to keep students engaged.

Advertise Your Social Media Presence

Social media is still somewhat new to many college educators. As a result, they often expect students simply to find them, rather than actively encouraging social media engagement. Professors should tell students about any option to communicate with them via social media in classes, especially at the beginning of the semester. Colleges should also make students aware of their main social media pages, as they can use them to send general messages to students about events and scheduling changes. CollegeAmerica, for example, does this with their Facebook page.

Build up Student Communities on Social Media

One of the best ways to get students involved with their colleges on social media is to encourage the formation of student groups on platforms like Facebook. These groups will give students chances to get to know each other and to talk about life on campus. These groups can be especially useful for incoming freshmen, as they can use them to get a better sense of their classmates and their new college community. Professors can also involve themselves in these groups to let students get to know them before the term begins.
Student groups can also serve important functions of a non-academic nature. Students coming to a new school often have a hard time connecting socially with their peers. These groups can make it easier for students to make new friends, arrange study groups or even coordinate meet-ups for students within a specific department. The more students engage with each other through social media, the tighter the community at your school will become.

Create Department-specific Social Media Channels

In a school with hundreds or even thousands of students across different colleges and departments, there will obviously be specialized information some students will need that not all students will. This is why administrators should encourage different departments to connect with students via proprietary social media channels. The more departments become involved in your school’s social media presence, the more useful that presence actually becomes to students. If every departments at a college or university is participating actively on social media, the students at that school will have much easier access to the specific information they may need.
Though it is one of the few areas in which students are generally more knowledgeable than their educators, social media is a tool that colleges, administrations and individual professors can use to improve the student experience. Using some or all of these tips can help your college communicate more effectively with the students who attend it. If you need help coordinating your school’s social media efforts, you can even turn to students to help, as they will have deep insights into what will most efficiently engage their peers on social media.

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