Best Social Media Idea of the Month: Study Abroad Storify

I'm here to crown my favorite social media idea of the month for March, but first order of business is apologizing for being such a ghost lately. Tweets unreplied to, emails unanswered, sporadic posting... I've just been a bit in over my head lately, and it will likely remain so until May 9, that blessed day. I'll try my best to power through April, but it may be more of the same for a while. Apologies to all!

OK, with that out of the way, it's time to give props to some great #hesm ideas that I featured on this blog last month. It was a tough choice, but my favorite of the month goes to MIT for their really neat Study Abroad Storify. (Check out my original article here.)

Honorable mention goes to Florida's admissions awesomeness (and really, this would normally be the winner because of how comprehensive and amazing it is), Union College's #NottShots, Furman College's Furman Moments video, and Green Mountain College's Faculty Selfies.

While this is a great idea on its own merit - collecting awesome user-generated content from students studying abroad through a unique hashtag is a perfect social media use for higher ed - I'm picking it for this month because of how MIT can use both the content and the Storify to further promote its study abroad programs to current and prospective students.

As someone who spent a year studying abroad in college, I think I can definitively say that nothing quite captures (or sells!) the experience the same way that photos can. Reflections, blog posts, and written descriptions are important, sure, but seeing photos of students out there in the world is where the magic happens.

And with the social media explosion over the past few years - especially quick photo-sharing sites like Instagram - students are now generating more photos than ever before. While it used to be difficult to track down photos from students studying abroad (believe me - it sounds easy, but it's NOT), it now can happen immediately with the use of a hashtag to collect and curate.

More and more, user-generated content from students is going to be what sells our schools to prospective students. Glossy brochures featuring pretty girls sitting under trees will never go away, but having places where we showcase the college experience in a more unpolished, "real" way are becoming every more important. And this example from MIT is a perfect example of that... just looking through that makes me want to drop everything, slap on a backpack, and go "chomad" it across Europe. (That is an inside joke term that only the guys who studied abroad with me in Salzburg will understand - shout out to any of those 10 other dudes who might happen to read this blog.)


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