A new report from Penn GSE’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions examines how presidents of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) are using social media to interact with students — and what lessons leaders at all colleges could learn from them.
Social media, the report finds, can be an effective way for college leaders to connect with one of their most important, if elusive, audiences: their students.
The report offers recommendations for leaders looking to improve their social media presence. They include:
Presidents benefit from creating social media accounts to communicate with students on campus. Using social media platforms to communicate and engage with students provides a unique avenue to share important updates, spread school spirit, and highlight student achievement all while “humanizing” the president among the student population.
It is not enough for MSI presidents to simply create social media accounts. To engage with students consistently through this medium, presidents must prioritize being active on their accounts and posting or tweeting multiple days each week.
Presidents benefit from posting a range of content on their platforms that allows them to connect with students, the university community, and the larger local community.
While presidents’ social media accounts should be used consistently, busy schedules may prohibit them from being as active as they should. As such, “social media personnel” should share responsibility with presidents for posting information on these platforms.
As students follow presidents on social media, presidents should follow them back! Doing so is a simple way to acknowledge students’ presence and can show that presidents care about seeing their success.
While it is important to keep one’s work and personal life separate, presidents should not be afraid to post moments of living life outside of the “presidential” role. Doing so could help students connect, as a president’s day-to-day activities and interests could align with theirs.