Quicken Loans graciously offers tours of their headquarters in Detroit. It’s an amazing place, which certainly lines up with their slogan, “Engineered to Amaze.” They’ve created a unique culture that promotes openness and transparency. However, when we stopped to visit with the folks at their Social Media Command Center, I was both intrigued and impressed. The impression was more like an indelible mark, as I continually think about how their command center can help my business and others.
Recently, I attended great events supported by Educause and Campus Technology that focus on IT solutions for higher education. As many know, this sector is under incredible pressure to show value in the face of escalating tuition costs. By the time students reach college age, their lives are completely integrated with technology, therefore, when college professors do not incorporate it into their lesson plans and lectures, they risk student despondency, which may have unfortunate effects on student outcomes.
A way that universities can be sensitive to the needs of their student body, incorporate technology into learning and also prepare students for real world jobs in the digital economy is to set up a Social Media Command Center on campus, like the one at Quicken Loans. Here is where all of the university’s social media accounts would be managed and monitored. Students would learn to use tools to listen, filter and engage in the same professional way that Quicken Loans does when it serve millions of customers.
The lessons in marketing and communications are obvious, however, math and science students working in the command center would be asked to organize, analyze, segment and classify data sets so as to reap the benefits of social analytics, which turns information into actionable business intelligence and helps identify competitive advantages. Social analytics increase administration responsiveness. It also provides college administrators with the heartbeat of the university as well as a conduit of knowledge leading to enhanced student experiences, positive student outcomes and greater overall value.
But there are even more practical skills that any student working at the command center can learn as a result of building a Social Media Command Center. And that is, learning how to create exciting and compelling content. With the different types of social media channels at the students’ disposal, the opportunities to generate and post awesome content are unlimited: editorials, articles, news reports, photography, videos, e-books, infographics, white papers, case studies…
This is real world stuff and it would provide students with a social, digital, hands-on learning experience as they create original, meaningful content out of their college experiences. The content serves a useful purpose because it is in response to the needs of the students and faculty, as gathered through the communication channels of the Social Media Command Center and uncovered by social media analytics. Feedback and success are easily tracked and measured with software that demonstrates reach and level of engagement for the content created. The monitoring, publishing and analytics skills acquired by students make them valuable resources in the marketplace upon graduation, like in the marketing or IT departments of large, successful organizations, such as Quicken Loans.
The students and faculty running the Social Media Command Center clearly have a huge responsibility because they represent the brand of the institution to the entire world. The incentive to be honest and to cast the proper tone on behalf of the university comes from student pride and school spirit. In time, the command center replaces the student newspaper, bookstore and radio station (if not replaced already) and will become the official media hub of the university offering a real-time superhighway of student-faculty-admin communication. While it’s true that most institutions own and use all of the digital accounts required to set up a Social Media Command Center, it is likely that the efforts to use them effectively are highly fragmented and lacking clear purpose or strategy.
When students, faculty and administrators coalesce around a strategy, everything changes, as it does in any business. Social media is the public relations arm of the university, therefore, should be managed seriously. These new media tools are also instruments of organic learning. In addition, when we help students master them, it brings real value to both the student and the university. It has the potential to transform the college campus into a digital community learning center and offer students an educational experience they are more inclined to expect when they walk on to a college campus. If you haven’t been to Detroit lately, I invite you to check it out. Quicken Loans is making a lot of improvements downtown…perhaps as a results of engaging the community through their Social Media Command Center.
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