This past week I had the great opportunity to present during the Texas A&M Resident Adviser Training on Social Media and the RA Role. It was a session at 8:30 in the morning after three full days of training. On top of that, the power for all of campus went off that morning, so a lot of the RAs in the session had been attending to broken fire panels, showering in the dark, and all sorts of other protocol things surrounding a campus wide power outage. I wasn’t sure how effective it would be, but I was hopeful that this would at least get people thinking about how social media could help them build community in their building.
Then one of my favorite things happened; students surprised me. Not only were they great listeners, but they also were great participants. They asked great questions, and really wanted to know how to use social media to better the experience of their residents.
Due to time restraints, we couldn’t get into full detail on a lot of the mediums, but were able to discuss some of the basics. I had planned on sending out a note giving them a few of the more “beyond the basics” tools, but decided that others may want to read as well, so it turned into a blog post. This one will focus on social media dashboards, but I hope to add more.
So you have your Twitter account. Your hall has its own Facebook page. You are ready to engage and promote events as soon as residents arrive. All of your links on your bulletin board were made with bit.ly so you can track who is looking and when. Now what?
The first thing I would recommend to you is to set yourself up with a Social Media Dashboard. These websites or programs combine all of your accounts into one place. You can manage your Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn, everything all in one place. Instead of copy and pasting your status updates from facebook.com to twitter.com, you can do it all together. These sites come in all shapes and sizes, and they all offer different things. I personally like either www.hootsuite.com, or if you are using Google Chrome as your main browser, get TweetDeck as an app from the App Store. All of these let you put your multiple accounts up there, and you can also save searches on specific hashtags (I recommend starting with #TAMUResEd and #AggieRAs). Hootsuite limits you to four accounts unless you pay for it, but the TweetDeck application for Google Chrome doesn’t have that limitation. You can also post as a Facebook Page if you are set up as the administrator on your hall page. TweetDeck has a program for Mac users as well that you can use on your MacBook which runs in the same way.
If you are interested in posting on the go, and taking pictures from you smart phone at events and posting them, you can use social media dashboards as well. I use HootSuite on my iPhone and it works great. It allows you to take pictures and post them right away to your Twitter and Facebook pages. I also find that it is very easy to follow hashtags in this app. If you liked TweetDeck for your computer, you can download that for iPhone as well. Seemic tends to work pretty well for posting to Facebook pages as well, I have been using that mostly to post for the Department of Residence Life page.
Try a few, most of them are free in the Apple Store or Android Marketplace. Download a few, use them for a few days, and see if you like them. There are still times that I will use one over the other, and if you ask ten different people, they will give you different reasons why they like or don’t like each one.
Again, I will offer my services if you have questions. You can comment below, message me on Facebook, or find me on Twitter (@tomLfritz).
If you have an idea for a future exploration that could help you in your role, please let me know.