Organizations are wanting step-by-step approaches to creating social media activities that bring an obvious return on investment. Because often marketing and public relations are looked upon to lead social media strategies, the return on investments are focused on marketing goals.
As educational organizations approach social media, they (admittedly, I have fallen in this trap) have looked at marketing strategies and looked toward corporate and non-profit organizations as models of using social media tools.
One of the problems of using these businesses as models is that their goals are different than educational organizations. As a result, they often do not include collaboration as a component of their online strategy.
Educational organizations (obviously) hope to increase the knowledge of others with a greater goal that more education will improve something. Education, we hope, will develop better management skills, improve health, increase production, improve efficiency, increase profits, improve quality of life, improve communities, strengthen families, or improve the public good, develop research, or invoke innovations.
Cooperative Extension’s mission is to provide working knowledge (with the overall goal to improve the quality of life) through education that is grounded in research, implying that Extension must continuously increase our own knowledge and education to fulfill our mission.
When Jonell Hinsey, Peg Shuffstall, Rhonda Conlon, and I presented Components of Social Media at the National Extension Technology Conference, we did not mention collaboration as a component of a social media strategy. That is an oversight. Thus, I have since added a slide that says “Consider Collaboration Efforts” for the purpose of building knowledge.
Collaborating with others--who are knowledgeable and passionate and who question and stretch our own knowledge--should be a purposeful component of social media strategy. As we collaborate with others, it becomes apparent that social media is not something that is owned by the communications and marketing team—but should be approached as an educational tool and used at every level of the organization, but in particular, used by educators.