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A Study of Best Practices in Social Media Use by University and College Presidents in Canada and the United States

Dan Zaiontz

on 16 December 2014

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Transcript of #FollowTheLeader

Profiles and Best Practices of University and College Presidents on Social Media

Presentation Agenda
Guide to the
Navigate the study highlights here.
Guiding Questions
Best Practices
Ask Yourself:
Are You Sir William Preece?
Today's Agenda
What is #FollowTheLeader?
Guiding Questions
Conditions and Context
Research Design and Participants
The Findings
Next Steps
Q and A
Guiding Questions

How are university and college presidents using social media tools to positively impact their personal, professional and institutional reputations?

What are the personal, professional, and institutional opportunities and risks resulting from their social media activities?

What are the best practices employed by university and college presidents who are considered active users of social media tools?

How can strategic advisers optimally support university and college presidents in their social media activities and engagement?

#FollowTheLeader Best Practices Checklist

A President's Choice
Don't Knock It Until You Try It
Assess Personal Aversion to Risk
Understand Amplification
More than one way to approach this
Find Your Role Models
Develop Your Rules of Engagement
Choose Your Needles
Put A Ring On It
Take Stock and Pivot

How History Remembers
Sir William Preece...
Research Findings
About the study
#FollowTheLeader was major research study conducted in spring-summer 2013 by Dan Zaiontz, MCM, a Toronto-based professional communicator and social media consultant. Zaiontz also works in strategic planning and public affairs at Toronto’s Seneca College. Defended by Zaiontz in October 2013, the study was the culminating capstone project of the researcher’s tenure in the MCM program, informed by an exhaustive review of academic, industry and media sources; observation of relevant social media activity and more than 20 confidential interviews with Canadian and American university and college presidents. The study explored a number of emerging themes including: best practices in social media engagement by higher education leaders, the unique and perceived risks and opportunities of these activities, current conditions for university and college presidents on social media and recommendations for strategic advisers in assisting leaders to optimally and effectively employ these tools.

About Dan Zaiontz
Dan Zaiontz, MCM is a Toronto native and professional communicator with more than eight years of diverse experience representing some of Canada's largest media brands. Including stints at Rogers Sportsnet and Canada's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, Dan has helped to share the stories of a number of major events and properties from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games to the Toronto Blue Jays. In recent years, Zaiontz has pursued new opportunities in the postsecondary education sector, joining the communications and strategic planning team at Seneca College, serving previously as the college's Sports Information and Promotions Coordinator and currently as Special Projects Coordinator. Specializing in social media strategy, speechwriting, and public relations, he has completed a Master of Communications Management from McMaster University-Syracuse University. Dan loves to talk leadership, politics, the frustrations of being a Toronto sports fan, health foods, running, motivation, great TV and film (see: Aaron Sorkin), rock music (see: Foo Fighters) and ethical shopping (see: bleeding heart). He, his wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Samantha, reside just north of Toronto. He can be reached on Twitter: @danzaiontz.
Jeremy Piven as Dean Pritchard,
head of fictional Harrison University
in 2003's "Old School".
Source: (Pollock & Reitman, 2003)
Logos for popular social networks used by Canadian and American higher education leaders including: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Source: (Forbes.com, 2013)
By: Dan Zaiontz, MCM, Social Media Researcher and Strategic Adviser
What is #FollowTheLeader?
Conditions and Context

“Although the attention being paid to the new digital media may be the latest fad in public relations, these new media have the potential to make the profession more global, strategic, two-way and interactive, symmetrical or dialogical, and socially responsible.” (Grunig, 2009, p. 1).

Conditions and Context

“You can’t be a university president and be anti-social. In a president’s ceremonial role, she’ll have to attend luncheons, dinners, meetings, cocktail hours, fundraisers, all kinds of athletic contests.” (Stoner, 2012, para. 3)
Conditions and Context

“The current presidents have had to deal with this era’s financial constraints by becoming fluent in the language of money, from fundraising with alumni and private donors, to defending the sector against competing public priorities.” (Bradshaw, 2012, para. 3)
Conditions and Context

“Being a university president is a pretty complex job. It is part diplomat, part fundraiser, part cheerleader, part civil service administrator, part strategic visionary, part financial planner and part fire fighter given the tendency for assorted crises to flare up. The main tasks are really forging community relationships (both internal and external to the university), fundraising for the university as its front man, and general strategic vision and direction...The buck does eventually stop at the president as she or he is ultimately accountable to the board” (Di Matteo, 2012, para. 3).
Conditions and Context

“Colleges today are serving the most mobile and social customers in the world, many of whom are using multiple mobile devices to network and collaborate. Today, social networking is the most popular use of the web. A 2012 study noted that students are choosing colleges with social media clout. A survey of 7,000 high school students revealed that university social media accounts influenced their selections” (Afshar, 2013, para. 1).
Conditions and Context

“Yet if using Twitter makes college presidents more personable, it also makes them easier to impersonate. As in the case of @PrezHuddleston, the plausibility of a bona fide Twitter president has given rise to phony ones. And Mark Huddleston is not the only college figurehead with a doppelgänger. In the last two years, fake presidential Twitter accounts have cropped up at Columbia University, Wesleyan University, Georgetown University, Brown University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vassar College” (Kolowich, 2011, para. 8).

Conditions and Context

“College presidents who make their forays into social media can serve to further personalize their institutions through online engagement and foster connection with a vast digital audience interested in the workings of an educational institution. Twitter provides a viable platform on which to connect with students, colleagues, alumni, student-run publications and groups, college offices and even prospective attendees” (Walgrove, 2012, para. 3).
Conditions and Context

“The solution is to stop looking at social media as another platform you have to learn—yet another responsibility—and start seeing it for what it can be instead: a personal toolbox for improving your practice of leadership” (Samuel, 2012, para. 5).

Research Design
Recruit Canadian and American university and college presidents for one-on-one interviews
Twitter-based recruitment approach
Ensured confidentiality
Skype, Telephone and in-person interviews
Share findings on social media
Research Participants
22 interview participants
11 Canadian and 11 American presidents
Social media active higher ed leaders

Research Findings
First experiences with social media
Common barriers to entry
Is social media a necessity?
Current Tools Employed
Common Stakeholder Interactions
Risks and Opportunities
Social media approaches
Social Tools Employed (2013)
Common Stakeholder Interactions
Risks and Opportunities

Major Risks:
personal security, reputational damage, account security, alienating key stakeholders, and negatively impacting institutional interests.

Major Opportunities:
intelligence gathering, thought leadership, strengthened reputation, new and enhanced strategic relationships and a positive impact on institutional interests.
Common Approaches

The Customer Servant
The Institutional Promoter
The Socially Inconsistent President
The Oversharing Non-Strategist
The Socially Active Strategist

Recos for Strategic and Trusted Advisers

Honestly Assess Your President
Scout the field
Develop a Game Plan
Provide Support
Measure Success Beyond 'Likes'

All participants were active social media users
Small Sample Size
Can data be replicated?

The decision is personal
Higher ed president's are more social-media-active than any other sector's senior leaders
The future may demand social media literacy
Next Steps

Have a conversation with your senior leadership team
Professional development and counsel for higher education presidents
#FollowTheLeader: Best Practices in Social Media for Higher Education CEOs
coming this December in partnership with
; )
for more information.


Tweet your questions using #CASEV
Full transcript