On October 3, 2010, Ice Miller attorneys Mike Wukmer and Eileen Moore presented “Social Media Best Practices: Promoting and Protecting Your Institution” at the 2010 Central Association of College and University Business Officers (CACUBO) annual meeting. A panel of representatives from various educational institutions joined Ice Miller in a discussion on how colleges and universities are using social media, related risk management issues and best practices related to social media. Panelists included:
- Kathleen Donohoe, Associate Director, HR Strategy, Planning and Policy at the University of Michigan
- Jeff Fanter, Vice President of Communications and Marketing at Ivy Tech College
- Bob Golobish, Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Marian University
- Tom Taylor, Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing and Communications at Ball State University
- Todd Wilson, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications and the University of Southern Indiana.
The panelists shared their experiences and advice on using social media to promote their schools. According to Donohoe, the University of Michigan has found ways to use social media as an effective tool for prospective students. Fanter discussed Ivy Tech’s recent “Why Ivy Tech” scholarship contest, which encouraged students to post YouTube videos on why they should receive a scholarship. The student whose video received the most views received a $5,000.00 scholarship – roughly the equivalent of a semester at Ivy Tech.
One common theme throughout the panelists’ experience was the need to monitor social media used by and on behalf of the university or college, and the effect on the school’s budget. As Wilson explained, social media has raised questions of the most effective way to allocate both time and staff resources in addition to strictly financial resources. Some schools, like Ball State University and Ivy Tech College, have used student interns to create and monitor content as well as increase the school’s social media presence. For example, using summer interns, Marian University was able to increase its number of Facebook fans three-fold in less than two years.
The panelists also focused on their schools’ guidelines of the uses of social media. The University of Michigan has both guidelines for staff members using social media as well as a separate policy for student athletes blogging for mgoblue.com, a site dedicated to Michigan athletics. Ball State University, which recently hosted a conversation with David Letterman and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, also has social media guidelines which set forth the school’s institutional policy on the use of social media by students and faculty. Other schools, like Marian University, have an overarching student code of student rights and responsibilities that covers all kinds of activities and communications while not specifying or limiting to guidelines to social media. While facing ongoing concerns regarding privacy and other legal issues, each panelist agreed that social media was an effective tool for correcting misinformation, responding to criticisms, or communicating in a time of crisis.
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