Just last Saturday, I had the honor of speaking at the conference of the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS), about engaging members of graduate students associations(GSA's) through social media. I covered a variety of tips and suggestions, and it was fantastic to have a discussion within the audience, where students talked about how they incorporated social media into their GSA's, and what were the most successful strategies. If you are, or will be, in a leadership position for your GSA, here are few suggestions for social media experts:
1) Keep content fresh: "Content is king." Experts agree that the most important element of success for a social media site (such as Facebook page, discussion board, website) is to maintain fresh and entertaining content, so your members will be motivated to keep coming back to your site.
2) Add versatility to your site through photos, provocative discussions, videos, surveys and polls.
3) Add an RSS feed from a relevant site to your social media site
4) Use Facebook or other social media to learn what your members would like to get out of your organization, rather than pushing your agenda
5) Draw in alumni, faculty and members of similar GSA's at other universities into your discussions
6) Reach out to other graduate student organizations, exchange links and contribute to each others' sites. This way, you can borrow interesting content from time to time, rather than having to create your own each time.
7) Provide a resource site for your members with links to graduate student and career-related sites. I have graduate student and job-searching related sites on my page at www.phdnet.org/links.html. Feel free to add these to your resources page.
During the discussion, I had the sense that students were comfortable with writing newsletters, blogs, and surveys, but not with putting up videos. It is true that putting a video on your site sounds intimidating at first, but once you do it a few times, it becomes straightforward. In fact, www.benchfly.com (an online community for life scientists) is based on video blogs about laboratory techniques. Benchfly also maintains a very active Facebook community with entertaining content.
For more interesting tips on successful social media sites, visit the following pages:
Wishing you the best,
Dora Farkas, PhD, Founder, PhDNet