21: Making Higher Ed Leaders Digitally Savvy at Florida State University w/ Josie Ahlquist

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Josie Ahlquist, Research Associate & Instructor at Florida State University, talks about how important it is for higher ed leaders to be digitally savvy and how they can get there at your institution.

Attracting today's new post traditional learners meansadopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, andHelix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percentbrand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges.Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You're listening to enrollmentgrowth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaderslooking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for freshenrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the rightplace. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university.I'm AERICLESON AVP of marketing at Helix Education and we're here today with Josie Alquist, speaker, author and research associate and instructor in the Leadership Learning Research Centerat Florida State University. Josie, welcome to the show. Thanks for havingme. We're going to have a great conversation today about how important it isfor hired leaders to be digitally savvy. But before we get too deep intothat, Josie, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding ofboth Florida state and your roll there? So I am based in Los Angeles, so, which I know is confusing because Florida State is definitely in TallahasseeFlorida. So I do my work with them remote and I teach and researchonline and through the Leadership Learning Research Center I I've developed a course called leadershipin the digital age, where I equipped students to be leaders in this verydigitally connected world using leadership theories as well as leadership capacity skills that fit indigital context. And then we're doing just some really cool research to answer questionsabout how to help students, as well as faculty staff, not just survivetech but maybe how we could actually thrive with things like social media. Andit's just a really cool opportunity to be able to blend the two things Ilove the most, and that's leadership and social media. Love it and let'sdive right into their Josie. Why do you think it is so important forhired leaders today to be digitally savvy. So I think there's a variety oflevels and what you've called digitally savvy, because especially is you look at veryexecutive roles, there is probably some skills gaps as well as comfortability with toolsor just not having the time. If you think about campus president and theother priorities of their day, it may not be snapchat and that's okay.So what I kind of see it as a scale. So digitally savvy couldactually look much differently based upon your position...

...and even your personality. I thinkall of us that work in education, that are serving students, need toat least be aware of and knowledgeable of tools, especially the ones that areused the most by students or incoming students, because if you look at the highestusers of especially mobile and social the highest users are are incoming, somiddle school and high school students, as well as traditional edge college students.And so, just like anything else, if they were all, almost allof them were doing X Y Z behavior, we would want to understand and knowabout it, even if we're not physically on snapchat or on instagram oreven on dating applications. But the usages are very high. So I'm nottelling people you need to be on these APPs, but we at least needto know the tools and trends. The second level to that I call theexperimenters and the explorers. So these are the professionals within education that are willingto get their hands dirty and exploring new tools as they come out, they'rehaving a physical presence themselves. And then finally, kind of that top levelis educators who are advancing and influencing how we're using the tools in both applicationand conversation, and that's where I really see the power were of, especiallyexecutives on campus or within even at tech companies, being able to push thatconversation even further. And role modeling, because when you have a campus presidentor a senior vice president on something like snapchat or Instagram, that kind ofsets a tone for the entire campus of what that could look like for others, or even the accessibility that I find students just crave and enjoy. Ireally love that idea of having digital role models at your institution. If youare working with a new institution, how do they go about creating those rolemodels on campus? Well, first just look around. You may already havesome professionals or faculty or even digital influencer students that are already highly engaged andwe're some campuses, some professionals may actually feel like they're not supported in beingactive and creating content and being a digital leader. So I think it's importantto actually acknowledge them and say, like, learn from them. You already haveyour own influencers and educators on your campus. I love to go tocampuses and and to help educate everyone, but a lot of times there's peopleright on that campus that could be that role model and that educator for them. And then the next piece is look for those that already kind of havea personality that might align with certain platforms. So, for example, on snapchator on Stagram, what is highly engaged with is something that's quite timelyand almost playful, whereas you may have...

...another leader on campus where something liketwitter or facebook or it might be more fueled with knowledge based or, youknow, where you can feature research or practice that might align a little bitbetter with them. So we had to both look at what we have andthen earmark people that we think their personalities and whatever they're doing as far aslike producing services on the campus, match the platform and definitely don't push peopleand shame people on two platforms, because I don't find, you know,like we might get a college president on to twitter, but if I don'tsee them a year later using it, even though you developed that full strategyfor them, if it just really didn't fit, but maybe it was actuallyfacebook was a better match for them, or maybe even blogging or podcasting.So even if it's just one platform, I think that's something to strategize aroundand even to celebrate. Really love that idea of maybe suggesting to these leadersgo and explore these channels and see which one's just you enjoy in general beforedeciding you wanted to be this very strategic part of your presence and personality oncampus. Really love that. Can you give us some examples of high redleaders doing social or digital well and the kinds of things that they're doing?Absolutely so, a couple resources in case you just want to be able tolook through a lot of individuals that I found out there is this fall Iwrote two blogs. One is twenty five presidents to follow on twitter and there'sdefinitely way more. So this was a difficult list security and many individuals gaveyou their opinions about that. But the one that was harder to curate wastwenty and I had to made it, make it less because they were harderto find. Twenty presidents follow on Instagram because if you look at the demographicsand if you want to connect with students or incoming, instagram is your platformactually way over twitter or even facebook. And so I'm I found, though, some presidents that were really doing some engaging interactive things. So like Ericaback, she's a president at Cal State University Channel Islands, and even herpresence on all the platforms. They make sure that it's there's accessibility behind it. So you'll see, you know, like not on the transcripts, butthey'll they'll write out like in any video, like and and basically you can readthe words and not just hear them, because we take in information that wayin digital platforms. To Michael Benson, he's from Eastern Kentucky University and allhis platforms, from twitter to Instagram, you'll see him and his family likeon the weekends, but you'll also see him celebrating people on his campusand you can just tell like he just absolutely loves that campus community. Andso you can really tell that's like his true, authentic, genuine self.The other one that most people of her of especially they've done some looking intoas far as presidents goes as hip hop pres wilter Kimborough from Dillard University,who was on my podcast and you know,...

...just such a cool story. Andembracing branding is actually a really good thing. You don't have to loseyour humanity by having a strategy. Is Social Media, and so you're goingto see him something unique that I find that he's blogging more often on mediumin addition to having a presence and a lot of different places. And thenyou've got can I don't know if I'm going to says last name right.Can't fouch Florida. Yeah. So I mean serious like strategy, but alsoyou'll see an instagram video of him doing the cinnamon challenge or him grilling,and so I give all these personal examples as that's where I find I don'tneed to tell even a dean of students or, I don't know, aresident director that or a faculty member like put out content and strategy and marketingabout your campus or what what you're doing. Those are actually easy things to do. I find what leaders are not as comfortable doing is giving a smallpeak into them, and them is people, and that's where I find students especiallywant. They don't want to connect with department pages or logos. Peoplewant to connect with people and especially for youth and young adults that have grownup with accessibility, from Kim Kardashian to Justin Bieber, they want to knowtheir college president. And I'm not saying like open up your entire life andlike you know, are all your dirt, but there's some really simple ways youcan do that from you know, maybe it's a photo with your family, or the Internet loves animals. If you have a dog or cat orit's a gold fish, your community could actually like really get behind that.And then the last two is like personality and and even your hobbies or somethingthat you can share about such a handful of people, as well as ideasfor you to connect. kind of that advanced skill really good stuff, andI think it is the authenticity portion of that the folks find trouble straddling.You written about how important it is for higher leaders to have this values basedpersonal digital media strategy. Can you explain exactly what you mean by that?So I think, especially, as I just challenge to think about how youaren't just this professional presence and brand of whatever position you have, but therehas to be some heart and soul behind it, and and including sharing thatpersonal but heart and soul, when you think about the heart of education,start to think about what brought you into this field and what continues to keepyou here, because I know we're a millionaires and education. I know there'sgot to be some deeper things behind your intention to be in this field.And how could that live out on facebook or on instagram? How could youmove that goal further along based on how...

...you use these tools and building strategybehind that, and so that could be not even for your job, likewhat are your ambitions for your life and for your career? The question thatI end every podcast episode with. Well, actually know it's the second one nowbecause it's a little bit of a Downer, but it's real, likewhat do you what do you want your very last social media post to belike? If you knew this last tweet was it, what would you wantthat message to be? Because you know you may choose to close your facebookaccount at any minute or keep it open forever, and these it might beweird to say, but we go back and we member memorialize individuals, weremember them and it's not just what is on facebook or on twitter. IsHow you remembered, but it's a piece of it and you have a choiceand what you want to put out there. And so how could you already fuelyour strategy with your values, like what you value in your life andwhy you're working in in education? So that's why I believe it's got tobe holistic. It can't be just your professional goals. It can be youas a real person, and that's where I think you're you'll start to findmore meaning behind it and not just marketing. You can look for deeper metrics sets, not just the number of people that follow you, but maybe likethe relationships and the difference that you can make that aligns both on and offline. Josie, any advice to hired leaders who are concerned, that concerned abouthaving a public social media profile in general because of the potential PR consequences they'veseen take place with their colleagues, with colleagues within higher education, or thosewho had this idea that they can maintain and manage separate public and private facingprofiles. Absolutely so it's easy and I'm pretty much free to sign up formost social media platforms, even from departmental pages, and there's really no accountabilityif all of a sudden you decide you're not going to do that anymore ordeleted or whatnot. And we do see plenty of examples in the field andin society of those that are stumbling, and that's honestly why I teach thecourse I do at Florida state and offer the education I do for executives andfaculty and staff, is we're not really having the real conversations about how tonavigate social media as human beings. Because I don't know if you all experiencethis through the election in the US, but you could have a really meaningfuldialog with those of you that like on facebook that maybe saw the same politicalbeliefs that you did, but in that same conversation you could have people backin your high school or your hometown or your your intended family that don't havethose same views that all of a sudden your posts explodes and you've got theseintersecting communities that you're all of a sudden managing. So it's not just marketingthat's happening on social especially for us as...

...people and not like offices. Andso how are we navigating? How we making decisions that we can feel empoweredby? How can we not be silenced by these tools? How can we, you know, be empowered to even unplug when we need to? Because, if anything, we're giving guidelines and policies about tech and social media,but we're not giving this skills to be well, to thrive again, thrivewith them, from students all the way up to executive. So what Isuggest individuals do is to look out into the landscape of those that are areat your current level. So from if you are a graduate student, toa faculty member to, you know, provosts. Look out into the landscape. Who else is active on social media? What are they doing? Because whatyou can do is you can lurk, you don't even have to know thesepeople and and and pay attention to how these twitter or if they're blogging, and and even learning maybe things they do that you definitely would not do. Yeah, and learning if a platform is even going to work for you, because you can take a pause to decide if you do want to investthe time into a platform because we're all very busy people and time and technologyis a real issue do that. It's easy to say yes to a platform, but it's a little bit harder to actually make a pretty long term impact. So look at you, your peers. Also look above you, like whereyou want in your career to be going. So if you're already thinkingabout okay, in a couple years I plan to do a search for thisnext level up. Well, you probably should already get a sense of whatis almost the norms and the examples out there of individuals at that level asit relates to social but I also want you to really invest in almost somereverse mentoring, because if you want to learn and really know about platforms,most likefully it's going to be those that are younger or newer into the field, and that means current students. So students love to talk about social media. You just get them going asking about what snapchat or tinder or instagram storiesand and they'll mote. Not all of them, but a lot of themwould love to give you insight about that and even asking the question like,Oh, well, as the dean of students or, you know, Idon't know, the vice pres and enrollment management. Would you want to like, what would you want me or my office to be creating on these platformsthat use a student would value? Because I don't know if we're asking thatquestion enough, even though we're going out and creating all these platforms. Sohave some people that you're looking out at, out into the field and then also, just like anything else, skills were learning to build. Reach outto some of those mentors to ask those questions about how we're all navigating,because it might look a little bit different to each Josie, such good stuff. What are some next steps for hired...

...leaders who want to embrace technology?They want to be more digitally savvy, but they honestly just feel intimidated byall the new tools and channels out there and just aren't sure where to startfirst? I mean, honestly, the that just what I was talking aboutis starting to pay attention to the landscape of those that are active and andlurking and learning from them and taking note. And you know, you can setup a twitter account that's not even your name if that means that atleast you're on there and starting to observe and and pay attention and then figuringout what is it that really drives me right now in my life, inthe work that I'm doing, and seeing how you could connect the dots,based on also your personality and your time, that might fit onto certain platforms.So I don't want you to feel like, well, all the collegepresidents are, all the deans that I'm seeing, they're all on these XYZplatforms, because, well, maybe for you actually, youtube is going tobe the perfect place for you based upon, you know, answering those strategy questionsof X Y Z and that, and that's okay too. Actually Ithink that would be really exciting. It would, but I mean at minimumwhat I would love to see is getting on just one platform, getting comfortablehaving consistent in quality content and even if it's just one, and exploring it, experiment with it and to feel empowered to share your real voice. Andagain, that's not to say your real voice is saying you know the horribleday you had that day, or how you know the horrible this other departmentis on campus like we, we do represent our institutions or organizations. Youhave to carry that over into digital platforms, that that real voice that you wouldhave on campus. It connects onto your twitter account is to but youcan't hide behind hardware and software. If your if your outcomes, or thatyou want to connect with students or alumni or faculty or even donors, becausewe want to see those personalities. And I call the relationships behind social mediathe intent for heartwear, so that you're putting in heart behind it, likethere's meaning, there's realness, there's genuineness, and maybe this in effort to humanizetech, and that's not to glorify it to say it can replace allthese other things in physical spaces we do really well, but these are toolsthat are available for us to try to make them better, because who better, what other industry better to improve tools that may are definitely not perfect?who better to just try to turn the dial slightly to make something like facebookand twitter and instagram just a little bit of a better place to log onto? Because that, again, is where where our students are. And ofcourse I can be your advocate. I want to be able to help andsupport individuals through their journeys. Sometimes you...

...just need an extra pair of eyesor insights or encouragement, so you can always reach out to me. Ido some coaching and then just some cheerleading on the side. That I thatI find we really need right now that you don't have to figure out allon your own. So find who that advocate alley is for you, Josie, the absolute best. What is the best place for listeners to connect withyou if they have any followup questions or do need that advocate? Yeah,so my blog is Josie quiscom. I also have a podcast Josie. Inthe podcast you can eat his name, oh my goodness, and you canemail me at Josie at Josie aquastcom. You can always fot me on twitterat Josie Auquist, and then, of course, I love these some instagramat Josia quist. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today,Josie. Welcome. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education.To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes oryour favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until nexttime,.

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