Publications & Products
Volume 5, Issue 11

Leveraging Social Media to Build Relationships

Long gone are the days when institutions experimented with their presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.

Instead, communications and marketing departments in community colleges throughout North America and beyond have designated social media mavens who are increasingly strategic about incorporating social media and technology into their marketing and communications plans.

For technology marketing strategist and consultant Crystal Washington, though, social media can help everyone—whether they are "responsible" for social media or not—build relationships.

"Most people may not be in a role of managing social media, but they are in the relationship business," Washington says. "Community colleges have limited resources and social media is a great way to stay connected with people."

Washington has witnessed the evolution of social media and, in turn, become an expert in how to use platforms effectively.

Washington says she's a "millennial with a baby boomer sensibility," which has helped her work with organizations that want to use technology to become more successful in their mission. Individuals use social media in order to maintain relationships with family and friends and share experiences. The same is true for community colleges, Washington says.

The number one problem organizations face when using social media? Not having a clear-cut strategy, Washington says.

"Without [social media] strategies... you don't know if you're effective. You're just posting things on a Facebook page or posting things on Twitter," Washington says.

Also, approaching social media like traditional media outlets can be ineffectual. There is a different audience on each social media channel, Washington says, and content should be geared toward each.

"You have to think about exactly who that target market is... and make sure you're going where they already are," Washington says.

Additionally, chasing the newest social media can be a waste of time and energy, especially for smaller communications teams whose resources are already limited.

"There is not a best social network. It depends on what that network can help you accomplish within your goal and it may be different from another institution based on population and student body," she says.

Washington will share her expertise during the upcoming Conference for Community College Advancement, Oct. 5-7, in San Diego, California. She will explore how to use social media and apps to build powerful relationships and share tactics to help institutions reach more potential donors and students.

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

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Conference for Community College Advancement
Oct. 12 - 14, 2017
Anaheim, CA

Opportunity Knocking: How Community College Presidents Can Lead a New Era of Advancement
Available in print and e-book

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