Think of social media users and the imageImage that most likely comes to mind is a college-aged person on a smartphone. We are right there with you. As the first, and for awhile the exclusive, users of Facebook, college students and social media are a likely pairing. Social media use is highly associated with college students and others in the Millennial generation, because they grew up in a connected world. Sharing information and their lives over the Internet is a familiar daily activity. However, just because college students have big social media habits, doesn’t mean they all know how to take full advantage of the opportunities these platforms can offer.

College student leaders are particularly well-poised to use social media to enhance their campus experiences. For these students, social media can be both an effective tool in their leadership roles, as well as a way to further develop their own leadership skills. You’ll leave your student leaders speechless when you, an adult, share the following purposeful ways they can use social media.

Social media as an effective tool for student leaders:

1.   #AdvertisingEvents - Social media offers an effective way for students to advertise their group’s events and meetings. Rather than tweeting into the abyss, student leaders can attract followers for their social media accounts through the use of a campus online social calendar like Localist. If college administrators have done their jobs and promoted the calendar, students will recognize it as the one-stop shop for campus events.

2.  #IntragroupCommunication #GroupManagement #Trainings - You know how students say they don’t read their emails? They’re often telling the truth. Student leaders, who are often tasked with communicating important information to group members, should know this and act accordingly. Getting creative on social media can make managing a group a whole lot easier. Student leaders can use twitter hashtags to conduct trainings or live tweet meetings and have members follow along. Quick announcements can be made over YouTube and members can RSVP to meetings and sign-up for events on the online Facebook-integrated calendar.

3.  #SocialMediaAsProgramming - Who says event programming has to consist of a student RA and their residents in a common room sharing pizza? Why not have student leaders connect with other students through non-traditional social media programming? First year students can bond over orientation mishaps through 140 character haikus on Twitter or participate in a geotagged foursquare scavenger hunt. There’s no limit to what creative college students can do with a smartphone in hand.

4.  #ProgramAssessment #Feedback - Any strong student leader knows the importance of assessing the impact of their group’s event or work. Soliciting feedback from the campus body doesn’t need to happen in the form of a boring paper and pen survey. Students can use an online social calendar like Localist to access a list of event attendees and they can collect suggestions and data for evaluation through the calendar itself, or through Facebook comments or polls. Conducting a quick search on any social media site will connect student leaders to the Internet buzz about their group or event.

Social media as a leadership development tool:

1.  #SocialMediaAmbassadors #CommunityBuilders - Social media can also offer an opportunity for student leaders to learn how to connect with others and function as community builders on their campus. An education blog on technology leadership introduced the idea of student leaders functioning as social media ambassadors. Orientation leaders, group officers, and students in other campus leadership roles can lead conversations about campus engagement and other important issues through social media. Localist customer, Johns Hopkins University, has current students connect with the campus community and prospective students through Hopkins Interactive, a social media hub, that features student blogs, tweets, photos and videos.   

2.  #Professionalism #InternetBranding #Responsibility - While the ease and familiarity with which college students share over social media can be beneficial, it can also develop into a liability for their career prospects. It’s old news that employers and college administrators (we’re looking at you in admissions!) sometimes check out prospective students and employees online before making a decision. The social media decisions of an eighteen-year-old can sometimes be questionable. If student leaders have the opportunity to use social media to build an Internet brand for their campus group, they’ll soon learn the importance of professionalism online.

Making the jump from active user to social media guru won’t be difficult for your Millennial student leaders. It’s all about defining the line between fun toy and effective tool. Student leaders can get started by using an online social calendar like Localist that makes integrating social media and campus events #simple and #successful.