Presidents and Social Media
In the past month, I’ve published eight posts related to an article I wrote for CASE Currents on how college and university leaders use social media. That article, “Hail to the Tweeps,” will appear in the November-December issue. CASE members will be able to read it online through the CASE website.
Here are transcripts of the interviews I did with some forward-looking college and university presidents — and an independent school head — who use a variety of social tools in their roles as institutional leaders. They share their observations of strengths, benefits, and weaknesses of the channels they use — and what they’ve learned about communicating through social media:
- Anne Kress, Monroe Community College
- Paul Leblanc, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)
- Dan Porterfield, Franklin & Marshall
- Cheryl Schrader, Missouri Science & Technology
- Beth Stroble, Webster University
- Antonio Viva, head, Walnut Hill School for the Arts
- Robert L. Wyatt, Coker College
I also spoke with two recruiters, Dennis Barden from Witt/Kiefer and Jamie Ferrare from AGB, who head searches for presidents and other senior leaders for higher education. In general, they say that in five years, every president will use social media and, because it will be common, no one will even ask a candidate about it.
Finally, in putting together this article and a series of presentations on how presidents use social media, I looked at some research that had been done with CEOs of various kinds of businesses. One recent find is “140 Characters of Risk: Some CEOs Fear Twitter,” which looks at how corporate leaders do — and don’t — use Twitter and what they do instead (Tony Hsieh of Zappos has apparently “moved on” to Instagram).
Here’s some advice that applies to many college and university leaders, not just corporate CEOs:
CEOs who do mind their own accounts have to steer clear of bashing competitors, disparaging customers or opining on polarizing topics like religion and politics. When she trains executives on social media, Amy Jo Martin, CEO and founder of social-media agency Digital Royalty Inc., says clients are “fearful of sharing too much versus not sharing enough.” She advises executives to give followers a glimpse, not a guided tour, of their lives.