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 means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand 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 enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. 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 Center at Florida State University. Josie, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. We're going to have a great conversation today about how important it is for hired leaders to be digitally savvy. But before we get too deep into that, Josie, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both 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 Tallahassee Florida. So I do my work with them remote and I teach and research online and through the Leadership Learning Research Center I I've developed a course called leadership in the digital age, where I equipped students to be leaders in this very digitally connected world using leadership theories as well as leadership capacity skills that fit in digital context. And then we're doing just some really cool research to answer questions about how to help students, as well as faculty staff, not just survive tech but maybe how we could actually thrive with things like social media. And it's just a really cool opportunity to be able to blend the two things I love the most, and that's leadership and social media. Love it and let's dive right into their Josie. Why do you think it is so important for hired leaders today to be digitally savvy. So I think there's a variety of levels and what you've called digitally savvy, because especially is you look at very executive roles, there is probably some skills gaps as well as comfortability with tools or just not having the time. If you think about campus president and the other 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 could actually look much differently based upon your position...

...and even your personality. I think all of us that work in education, that are serving students, need to at least be aware of and knowledgeable of tools, especially the ones that are used the most by students or incoming students, because if you look at the highest users of especially mobile and social the highest users are are incoming, so middle school and high school students, as well as traditional edge college students. And so, just like anything else, if they were all, almost all of them were doing X Y Z behavior, we would want to understand and know about it, even if we're not physically on snapchat or on instagram or even on dating applications. But the usages are very high. So I'm not telling people you need to be on these APPs, but we at least need to know the tools and trends. The second level to that I call the experimenters and the explorers. So these are the professionals within education that are willing to get their hands dirty and exploring new tools as they come out, they're having a physical presence themselves. And then finally, kind of that top level is educators who are advancing and influencing how we're using the tools in both application and conversation, and that's where I really see the power were of, especially executives on campus or within even at tech companies, being able to push that conversation even further. And role modeling, because when you have a campus president or a senior vice president on something like snapchat or Instagram, that kind of sets 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. I really love that idea of having digital role models at your institution. If you are working with a new institution, how do they go about creating those role models on campus? Well, first just look around. You may already have some professionals or faculty or even digital influencer students that are already highly engaged and we're some campuses, some professionals may actually feel like they're not supported in being active and creating content and being a digital leader. So I think it's important to actually acknowledge them and say, like, learn from them. You already have your own influencers and educators on your campus. I love to go to campuses and and to help educate everyone, but a lot of times there's people right 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 have a personality that might align with certain platforms. So, for example, on snapchat or on Stagram, what is highly engaged with is something that's quite timely and almost playful, whereas you may have...

...another leader on campus where something like twitter or facebook or it might be more fueled with knowledge based or, you know, where you can feature research or practice that might align a little bit better with them. So we had to both look at what we have and then earmark people that we think their personalities and whatever they're doing as far as like producing services on the campus, match the platform and definitely don't push people and 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't see them a year later using it, even though you developed that full strategy for them, if it just really didn't fit, but maybe it was actually facebook 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 around and even to celebrate. Really love that idea of maybe suggesting to these leaders go and explore these channels and see which one's just you enjoy in general before deciding you wanted to be this very strategic part of your presence and personality on campus. Really love that. Can you give us some examples of high red leaders 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 to look through a lot of individuals that I found out there is this fall I wrote two blogs. One is twenty five presidents to follow on twitter and there's definitely way more. So this was a difficult list security and many individuals gave you their opinions about that. But the one that was harder to curate was twenty and I had to made it, make it less because they were harder to find. Twenty presidents follow on Instagram because if you look at the demographics and if you want to connect with students or incoming, instagram is your platform actually 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 Erica back, she's a president at Cal State University Channel Islands, and even her presence 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, but they'll they'll write out like in any video, like and and basically you can read the words and not just hear them, because we take in information that way in digital platforms. To Michael Benson, he's from Eastern Kentucky University and all his platforms, from twitter to Instagram, you'll see him and his family like on the weekends, but you'll also see him celebrating people on his campus and you can just tell like he just absolutely loves that campus community. And so 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 into as 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. And embracing branding is actually a really good thing. You don't have to lose your humanity by having a strategy. Is Social Media, and so you're going to see him something unique that I find that he's blogging more often on medium in addition to having a presence and a lot of different places. And then you'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 also you'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't need to tell even a dean of students or, I don't know, a resident director that or a faculty member like put out content and strategy and marketing about 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 small peak into them, and them is people, and that's where I find students especially want. They don't want to connect with department pages or logos. People want to connect with people and especially for youth and young adults that have grown up with accessibility, from Kim Kardashian to Justin Bieber, they want to know their college president. And I'm not saying like open up your entire life and like you know, are all your dirt, but there's some really simple ways you can 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 or it'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 something that you can share about such a handful of people, as well as ideas for you to connect. kind of that advanced skill really good stuff, and I 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 based personal digital media strategy. Can you explain exactly what you mean by that? So I think, especially, as I just challenge to think about how you aren't just this professional presence and brand of whatever position you have, but there has to be some heart and soul behind it, and and including sharing that personal 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 keep you here, because I know we're a millionaires and education. I know there's got 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 you move that goal further along based on how...

...you use these tools and building strategy behind that, and so that could be not even for your job, like what are your ambitions for your life and for your career? The question that I end every podcast episode with. Well, actually know it's the second one now because it's a little bit of a Downer, but it's real, like what do you what do you want your very last social media post to be like? If you knew this last tweet was it, what would you want that message to be? Because you know you may choose to close your facebook account at any minute or keep it open forever, and these it might be weird to say, but we go back and we member memorialize individuals, we remember them and it's not just what is on facebook or on twitter. Is How you remembered, but it's a piece of it and you have a choice and what you want to put out there. And so how could you already fuel your strategy with your values, like what you value in your life and why you're working in in education? So that's why I believe it's got to be holistic. It can't be just your professional goals. It can be you as a real person, and that's where I think you're you'll start to find more 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 like the 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 about having a public social media profile in general because of the potential PR consequences they've seen take place with their colleagues, with colleagues within higher education, or those who had this idea that they can maintain and manage separate public and private facing profiles. Absolutely so it's easy and I'm pretty much free to sign up for most social media platforms, even from departmental pages, and there's really no accountability if all of a sudden you decide you're not going to do that anymore or deleted or whatnot. And we do see plenty of examples in the field and in society of those that are stumbling, and that's honestly why I teach the course I do at Florida state and offer the education I do for executives and faculty and staff, is we're not really having the real conversations about how to navigate social media as human beings. Because I don't know if you all experience this through the election in the US, but you could have a really meaningful dialog with those of you that like on facebook that maybe saw the same political beliefs that you did, but in that same conversation you could have people back in your high school or your hometown or your your intended family that don't have those same views that all of a sudden your posts explodes and you've got these intersecting communities that you're all of a sudden managing. So it's not just marketing that's happening on social especially for us as...

...people and not like offices. And so how are we navigating? How we making decisions that we can feel empowered by? 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, thrive with them, from students all the way up to executive. So what I suggest individuals do is to look out into the landscape of those that are are at your current level. So from if you are a graduate student, to a faculty member to, you know, provosts. Look out into the landscape. Who else is active on social media? What are they doing? Because what you can do is you can lurk, you don't even have to know these people 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 invest the time into a platform because we're all very busy people and time and technology is 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 where you want in your career to be going. So if you're already thinking about okay, in a couple years I plan to do a search for this next level up. Well, you probably should already get a sense of what is almost the norms and the examples out there of individuals at that level as it relates to social but I also want you to really invest in almost some reverse 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 stories and and they'll mote. Not all of them, but a lot of them would love to give you insight about that and even asking the question like, Oh, well, as the dean of students or, you know, I don'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 platforms that use a student would value? Because I don't know if we're asking that question enough, even though we're going out and creating all these platforms. So have 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 out to 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 by all the new tools and channels out there and just aren't sure where to start first? I mean, honestly, the that just what I was talking about is starting to pay attention to the landscape of those that are active and and lurking and learning from them and taking note. And you know, you can set up a twitter account that's not even your name if that means that at least you're on there and starting to observe and and pay attention and then figuring out what is it that really drives me right now in my life, in the 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 college presidents are, all the deans that I'm seeing, they're all on these XYZ platforms, because, well, maybe for you actually, youtube is going to be the perfect place for you based upon, you know, answering those strategy questions of X Y Z and that, and that's okay too. Actually I think that would be really exciting. It would, but I mean at minimum what I would love to see is getting on just one platform, getting comfortable having 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. And again, that's not to say your real voice is saying you know the horrible day you had that day, or how you know the horrible this other department is on campus like we, we do represent our institutions or organizations. You have to carry that over into digital platforms, that that real voice that you would have on campus. It connects onto your twitter account is to but you can't hide behind hardware and software. If your if your outcomes, or that you want to connect with students or alumni or faculty or even donors, because we want to see those personalities. And I call the relationships behind social media the intent for heartwear, so that you're putting in heart behind it, like there's meaning, there's realness, there's genuineness, and maybe this in effort to humanize tech, and that's not to glorify it to say it can replace all these other things in physical spaces we do really well, but these are tools that 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 facebook and twitter and instagram just a little bit of a better place to log onto? Because that, again, is where where our students are. And of course I can be your advocate. I want to be able to help and support individuals through their journeys. Sometimes you...

...just need an extra pair of eyes or insights or encouragement, so you can always reach out to me. I do some coaching and then just some cheerleading on the side. That I that I find we really need right now that you don't have to figure out all on your own. So find who that advocate alley is for you, Josie, the absolute best. What is the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any followup questions or do need that advocate? Yeah, so my blog is Josie quiscom. I also have a podcast Josie. In the podcast you can eat his name, oh my goodness, and you can email me at Josie at Josie aquastcom. You can always fot me on twitter at Josie Auquist, and then, of course, I love these some instagram at 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 or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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