For better or worse, social media is entrenched in the routine lives of our students, our colleagues, and the communities in which we participate. With over 70% of American Internet users engaging its pages, Facebook still dominates as the most popular social media site. Close behind, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest fall somewhere in the top 5-10 of the most trafficked social media platforms.
I’ve long been convinced that social media can help academic departments and centers further their various objectives through the semester. In anthropology, my home department, such objectives include forging and sustaining meaningful connections with current students and alumni as well as community partners, project collaborators, and other stakeholders. These connections ultimately depend on visibility or transparency in the various activities, curricula, and ideas constituting our department. Given our hyper-busy everyday lives, in-person connections are limited, and social media provides a solution to reaching wide audiences in a timely and effective manner.
- Student Research – highlighting the research accomplishments of our talented majors and minors, including conference presentations and publications with faculty.
- Programming – maximizing awareness of lectures, workshops, and other programming, in our department, other departments with whom we collaborate, and in our surrounding communities;
- Curricula – showcasing anthropology courses that push pedagogical boundaries and are part of reciprocal and collaborative partnerships in local communities;
- Study Abroad – featuring the reflections and experiences of our majors and minors who are currently studying abroad;
- Faculty Research – presenting the research accomplishments of our faculty, especially when such research involves students and has relevance to communities beyond our own.
All said, we’re not “power” users of social media, but we think it important to regularly photo-document our events and departmental antics. And we’re working toward a craftier use of social media to bring the experiences of our numerous majors and minors currently studying abroad back into our campus community.