Publications & Products
Volume 5, Issue 9

Social Media Prowess with a Small Team

Across the country, community colleges are experiencing the same priority struggle: how can a small staff with limited time include the ever-evolving world of social media as a part of a communications strategy?

Until a few years ago, it was no different at San Antonio College. When Vanessa Torres joined the communications department as the director of public relations in 2012, the school was still using Foursquare. The small staff was trying to enter the fray as more and more students and alumni used social media as a part of their everyday life.

"When I first joined the staff, we just started using Facebook," Torres says. "It was there, and it wasn't a part of our overall marketing, but everyone was doing it so we had to hop on it."

Since then, Torres has learned a lot about using social media as a vital part of a communications strategy. For instance, the institution's social media plan was that everyone on the team would post to Facebook and Twitter—a lot, she says.

"Instead, now it's very much more strategic, it's more quality over quantity," Torres says. "We also changed from having multiple users, and now it's more of a one on one situation, which makes it easier for us to manage."

San Antonio College has more than 20,000 students enrolled and is one of the largest single-campus community colleges. The campus is also urban, taking up several blocks of downtown San Antonio, providing for unique opportunities for students, Torres says.

"Let's say [a student] only takes classes one day a week, but we have events every day of the week, so they might be missing what's happening on campus," Torres says. "We're trying our best to highlight these events throughout the week because we want our students to stay engaged with campus even if they aren't here."

Torres says the school also uses social media channels for customer service with students and also in the event of an emergency.

Torres and San Antonio College colleague Melissa Aguirre will share their experiences on how to grow social media use during the "Giving Purpose to Your Community College Social Media" webinar from 2 to 3 p.m., Eastern, on April 19.

The webinar will detail some of San Antonio College's best practices that benefit community colleges while looking at lessons learned from colleges and universities, Torres says.

"Ultimately what it comes down to is, how do we connect with students and how do we engage," Torres says. "Companies utilize social media to add to their bottom line, but we don't really track it in that way. We aim and will hopefully achieve recruiting and retention, but first it's an engagement tactic for us."

This article is from the April 2016 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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