The New Communication Frontier: Social Media for Engagement and Sharing

I had an interesting question from Karen-Michelle Mirko  VP, Marketing, Sales & Meaningful Collisions (Cool Title)  for the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship via Twitter a few weeks ago about engaging faculty on Twitter and LinkedIn.  The question is shown below:

Question from Karen Michelle Mirko

I have this silly day job thing going so I  am just now getting around to jotting down some thoughts on the topic of engaging people with social media.  I hope this is helpful to whoever runs across this post.  As a sporadic tweeter I have tried to determine how and why I would engage social media in the context of my work day and how I should use these tools as conferences and events. I am going to break this down into several parts:

Part 1:  Technology Adoption:  The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same Part 2: Ramping up Your Personal Engagement at Your Conference or Event 140 characters at a time.

Part 3: Ramping up Overall Engagement at Your Conference or Event:  My Observation of how Gamification Impact Social Media usage at a Conference.      

Part 4: Ramping up Overall Engagement at Your Conference or Event:  Drag  Everyone Kicking and Screaming with With You…..with Gamification

Overall this entire discussion is a collision between my interest in social media, gamification, badges, collaboration and peer conversation.  

Technology Adoption

My generic answer any technology push is always to build some sort of structure to guide usage, make the tool available and provide an aggressive professional development program.  Do this and 1/3 will adopt,  1/3 will eventually adopt and 1/3 will waste your time no matter what you do.   This is an oversimplification of the work done by Everett Rogers, a professor of rural sociology.    Rogers popularized his theory in a 1962 book Diffusion of Innovations. He said diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. The origins of the diffusion of innovations theory are varied and span multiple disciplines. Rogers (1962) espoused the theory that there are four main elements that influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system.  My 1/3 1/3 and 1/3 answer is oversimplification as his work actually breaks out innovation diffusion as shown below:  

Diffusion Model

My experience of deploying technology in higher education over the past 20 years tells me this has been pretty accurate as you roll out technologies on a college campus.  I use the 1/3 1/3 and 1/3 oversimplification as it is much more conversational when trying to explain to someone how a technology deployment is likely to be embraced. As crazy as it seems I still to this day have faculty who do not even use email.  It is still possible to have people in  higher ed environment who can still do their job and ignore all forms of technology, but I would suspect this will get harder moving forward.   However, this is the easy way out of the question.  I think you must have an overall map for social media.  It will be some parts personal, some parts institutional and for many of us it will challenge notions that we hold sacred.  For me one of those is that privacy and anonymity are a luxury that very few get to enjoy.  Below are my thoughts for what an institution must do to engage in a social media centric philosophy for communication.  

How to Engage for the Long Haul

  1. Build appropriate structures-  policy
  2. Make the tool available — part policy/part awareness
  3. Build a Framework for Efficient Usage of the Tool
  4. Aggressive professional development –higher ed doesn’t do this well across the board
  5. Give people a reason to use the tool  — Gamify an event/Demo usage in teaching

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