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Q&A with Lise Harwin introduces Lewis & Clark’s social media policy

October 12, 2012

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    Public Relations Director Lise Harwin

The Office of Public Affairs and Communications recently published a policy to help define Lewis & Clark’s presence on social media sites. In the following Q&A, Public Relations Director Lise Harwin explains the purpose of the new policy, offers some tips for using social media, and shares some of the high points she has experienced as a social media maven.

Why does Lewis & Clark need an official social media policy?

More than anything, we want to ensure we’re doing a good job of engaging people and getting them to fall in love with Lewis & Clark. That means making certain that our presence in social media is consistent with the look and feel of the Lewis & Clark brand, from a page/group’s name to its avatar image. We don’t want audiences to be confused about what is or isn’t an official Lewis & Clark channel.

The social media policy and accompanying strategy questionnaire, list of best practices, and guidelines lay out what it takes to make that happen.

How do you collaborate with other campus communicators on their social media requests?

I often have face-to-face meetings with departments that are considering a jump into social media. We use that time to brainstorm ideas and set expectations.

I also personally like and follow many of the departments that have a Facebook or Twitter presence, and I often “borrow” their updates for use on our institutional channels. If someone uses @lewisandclark or any of our hashtags, I’ll definitely see it!

What advice would you give to departments thinking of implementing their own social media?

Though it doesn’t take long to create an account, social media definitely isn’t easy. You need to be prepared to commit the time and energy it takes to be relevant and engaging all year long. In light of this reality, many departments send me their information to post, rather than establishing their own accounts.

Also, remember there is a difference between a Facebook group and page. If you’re looking to build engagement internally—say, with like-minded students—and want to create dialogue, use a group. Only if you’re trying to engage the general public should you consider a page.

Who are you trying to reach through your Twitter handle and how did you build up your following?

Anyone and everyone! It’s about building community and connections—yes, with students and alumni, but also with local businesses, nonprofits, media, and so on. I’ve seen relationships on Twitter lead to admissions, event attendance, partnerships, donations, and so much more. Being friendly, engaging, and informative on Twitter helps people see the valuable role that Lewis & Clark plays in our community.

Do you respond to every single @-reply or mention?

Absolutely. A big part of Twitter is providing great customer service. If a prospective student asks a question about deadlines, you better believe I’ll answer it. If someone complains about an event, I’ll pass on the constructive criticism. This all helps us become a better and more responsive institution.

What’s the best @-reply or direct message you’ve ever gotten?

My favorite tweet is this one. Here’s the close second.

As you might have guessed, Sarah’s now a part of the Class of 2016!

How do you measure the success of your social media strategies?

We do measure analytics (number of followers, likes, retweets, clicks, shares, and so on), but the best measures are qualitative, not quantitative.

What happened with Boke Bowl (@BokeBowl) is a great example. I found out the owners were alums via a conversation on Twitter. I then gave them shout-outs when they evolved from a pop-up operation to a fixed-location restaurant. Once the connection was established, we followed up by profiling them in the Chronicle. And I’m pleased to say Boke Bowl then hosted one of the 2012 reunion events. What started on Twitter has become a “real” relationship that we have reason to hope will be a long and beneficial one for Lewis & Clark.

What social media trends do you see emerging in the near future?

Photos, photos, and more photos! It’s the most popular type of post on Facebook and more and more schools are starting official Instagram accounts. On a related note, if you take photos on campus, send them to the Photostream or share them with @lewisandclark on Twitter so we can make good use of your images on social media!