26. September 2011

"They all cook with water" - Day 1 of Social Media Study Tour

The Campanile at the UCB Campus
After a nice dinner at Kuleto’s on Sunday night today the Social Media Study Tour (the group) was kicked off at Swissnex. At the introduction to Swissnex (what we do) Christian Simm gave us the first important advice: They all cook with water!

The first highlight of the day was the presentation by Chuck Darrah. As a cultural anthropologist having neither a cell phone nor any social media presence he discussed the question what is Silicon Valley all about? And he’s convinced: “It’s a place not only for technological but also for social and cultural innovation.
He came up with three main characteristics of the Silicon Valley:

1. Prevalence of high tech industry, spirit of innovation, creation of high tech jobs, culture of risk taking, big sense of optimism, 2. Complex cultural diversity, and 3. being an area of management with deeply connected networks which are constantly evolving: “networks are sometimes more real than companies”.

In the afternoon we met several Social Media responsible persons from UC Berkeley, among many others, Christina Sponselli (@sponselli), the Director of Social Media at UCB. In the end it got obvious that also UCB cooks only with water

Although UCB’s Facebook activities started in 2005, it got lively and interactive only since Feb. 2011 under a new organizational regime. The goal of UCB’s Facebook page is student’s engagement: Likes are nice, but comments are much better. Therefore one strategy is to phrase entries on the wall as a question. Reactions are being analyzed on an individual basis. Negative postings only will be deleted when they violate the general Facebook rules for content, UCB has no special guidelines. 
Furthermore, the Social Media team believes in self correcting mechanisms, and it was stated that leaving bad comments up would gives credibility in favor of free speech as a basic right of students. 

Overall, UCB pursues a relatively relaxed thus Social Media like approach to Facebook in the sense of Learning by Doing..

For the homecoming event in Oct. 2011 UCB will utilize Foursquare intensely. In general, Foursquare has been considered as a good engagement tool that leverages existing content. 

The Berkeley Blog is open to all faculty members and selected graduate students. Posts by faculty members get not moderated.

Dan Mugulof, Executive Director at Public Affairs, discussed why he applies Social Media: Besides conveying information they shall support his task of generation of understanding in the public. He mentioned especially the ongoing financial crisis and changing perceptions of UCB in the public: “There’s no understanding without engagement”. Therefore Facebook is seen as a platform for engagement with the public.

A new Facebook application called Sproul Plaza will be launched soon: This virtual conversational space shall engage students in a dialogue with UCB staff members: Instead of sending out long emails staff members will have the opportunity to raise issues in a 1.5 minute video statement. Students then will be able to post questions on which can be voted. A reply will be made by video as well, reactions will be monitored accordingly. Once an issue has been closed the data will be archived and made searchable for interested students.

The discussions at UCB gave interesting insights and confirmed the advice given in the morning “They all cook with water”. 

Further informations about the Study Tour are available on Twitter (@fallstudytour) and on the corresponding Blog on .

Photos are available on flickr here and here .

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