The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

3 Ways to Hone Your Digital Leadership Skills

social mediaWhat’s your social media capacity? Are you a whiz? A novice? A work in progress? A not-for-me?

Are you the first to try out a new platform, or does the thought of yet another social media app make you want to bury your head in the sand?

No doubt, social media can be overwhelming … especially for those of us who grew up without it (remember when AOL Instant Messenger was the game changer?!). But it’s the norm for the students we serve, and for those who are currently entering our workforce.

Today’s young adults have grown up in the age of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. They’re on kik and Pinterest and GroupMe and Snapchat. They’re socially connected and globally aware. And if you’re not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to connect and engage with them.

In the CUPA-HR webinar “Digital Leadership in Higher Education” (which you can now view on demand), digital leadership educator Dr. Josie Ahlquist shared results from her research on how college students and higher ed leaders use social media and offered three tips for strengthening your digital leadership skills so you can make an impact and lead by example.

  • Be adaptable and know the trends. Ahlquist stresses the importance of being able to adapt in the face of fast-paced technological change. “While you don’t necessarily need to adopt all of the latest and greatest technology,” she says, “you do need to be aware of what’s coming out and how that might impact those we serve.”
  • Understand your digital identity/digital footprint. What exactly is this? According to Ahlquist, it’s what you post, what others post about you, and what others’ perceptions are of you based on what they see about you or from you on social media. Says Ahlquist, “Today’s higher ed professionals must demonstrate an awareness of their digital identity and engage students in learning activities related to responsible digital communications and virtual community engagement.” Remember, you are what you type!
  • Seek out personal learning networks. Ahlquist suggests engaging in personal and professional digital learning communities and networks at the local, national and/or global level. Joining LinkedIn groups (CUPA-HR has one! – another good one is The Denovati Group’s Social Media and Digital Technology); following higher ed leaders on social media (especially your own if he or she is active); following certain hashtags on Twitter (did you know there’s a #higheredHR? – other good ones for staying in the know on the use of digital technology in education are #edusocmedia, #digitaled and #edtech); and reading or contributing to industry or higher ed-related blogs are all easy ways to expand your network and keep learning, says Ahlquist. And if you don’t yet feel comfortable contributing, it’s perfectly OK to just lurk and listen in.

To hear more from Dr. Ahlquist, view the free CUPA-HR webinar “Digital Leadership in Higher Education.”

To learn how HR can use social media in recruitment, branding, employee communication, organizational development and more, view the free CUPA-HR webinar “Social Media … So What?”

Other Resources:
The Higher Ed Workplace Blog | Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy 
The Higher Ed Workplace Blog | Social Media: The New Recruiting Tool?
Knowledge Center | Sample Social Media Policies
Knowledge Center | “Coping With Social Media” Podcast