Great Social Media Idea: Engaging Parents

You know, it's funny... for all the bells and whistles of social media, the videos and vines and contests and content... it can be easy to forget the fact that, in the end, social media is at its core about community. OK - maybe that's not exactly true for everyone, but it's definitely the case for those of us lucky enough to manage social media in higher ed.

Which is why I love this really sweet and (bonus points for all the readers!) easily replicated post from Western Washington University, which was sent to me via the suggestion box by Matthew Anderson, whom I consider one of the most thoughtful and insightful people in the #hesm galaxy.

Be sure to click through to the original post and read all the really lovely comments from parents and students. And the timing is pretty much perfect... students have been away from home for a few months now, and the holidays are coming up - family is definitely on the mind.

Take it away, Matthew!

This isn’t what I would call a clever or time-consuming idea, but I love it for its simplicity. I’m a firm believer in the drip, drip, drip value of social media — that our brand image comprises not several major campaigns but rather the culmination of many small interactions and responses with our communities — and this, at least to me, is in line with that.

See what I mean about Matthew being really thoughtful and insightful? I am 100% on board with what he says about the power of the small, regular, everyday community building that can and does mean so much more than one or two big flashy campaigns. 

I think we all know that some of the most "engaged" users of higher ed social media are current parents, and while I'm sure they do appreciate the clever content we all post, at the end of the day what they really care about is the well-being of their children. And what better way to help foster some goodwill among parents - who, remember, help pay all our salaries - than by giving them an opportunity to share some love and support?

Matthew did also pass along a word of caution, which is definitely important to keep in mind if you're thinking about doing something like this.

P.S. I should also point out that there’s potentially a small FERPA quagmire in here, as you’re essentially asking parents to out their kids as students of your school. If that student had a privacy hold, it could be tricky. Probably not legally, but at least humanly (yes, I’m to lazy to look up an actual word that means what I’m trying to say). However, we have only two students with confidential holds, so it’s not a huge worry. The situation might be similar elsewhere.

Great stuff, Matthew and Western Washington!


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