Greek Tech – Twitter Edition

So in my last post, I talked about the dangers of Facebook privacy as it relates to being in a fraternity or sorority. I figured instead of scaring our members any more than I already have, I can provide some useful information on how to utilize technology to improve your chapter.

The first edition of this ongoing Greek Tech series is going to focus on a tool near and dear to my heart. If you know me, then you probably have already made fun of me for my undying commitment to Twitter. I launched the Grand Valley State University ‘GVgreeks’ Twitter account just over a year ago. In that short amount of time, GVgreeks has become the second most followed fraternity and sorority community on Twitter (behind University of Missouri, and ahead of Elon in case you’re wondering).

Over the course of this year I have been able to see the great things that Twitter can do for chapters. Utilized as a communication, marketing, public relations, and promotional tool, a well maintained twitter account has the ability to add an extra element into the machine that is your chapter.

Let’s face it, there are far too many uses for Twitter than I can include in this post. Here are my top three simple things your chapter can do right now to make use of Twitter.

Internal Communication:
Individual chapter members have the ability to follow your chapter, and receive immediate updates. Better yet, they can subscribe to SMS messaging, and receive a text message any time you post a new tweet. Remember that time you changed your meeting from 7pm to 8pm, or forgot to tell everyone this meeting was formal? You probably had to call or text a whole lot of brothers/sisters. Well, imagine your entire chapter is signed up for SMS updates; you would need about fifteen seconds to make one quick tweet, and you just notified the entire chapter.

Networking and Notifications:

Does your college or university have a twitter account? How about your Fraternity and Sorority Life Office? Student Activities Office? Tutoring Center? Student Orgs on campus? Other fraternity and sorority chapters on your campus? Your national organization? Other chapters of your organization on other campuses? These constituents are all opportunities for your chapter to share and receive updates to keep your chapter current.

Here’s an experiment: Go to the Twitter “Find People” page. Now enter the name of your institution, or your organization, and try various iterations (i.e. “Grand Valley” and “GVSU”, “Sigma Phi Epsilon” and “SigEp”). Browse through these lists and identify how these people could be utilized to benefit your chapter.

Generate a Buzz
Do you have a premier on campus event that you do every year? You can create a digital fever for this event through the use of hashtags. Let’s pretend your chapter, Alpha Alpha Alpha, hosts a Four Square tournament. Anytime you tweet about the event, include the hashtag #AAA4Square, and ask your followers to do the same. Boom, you’ve just created an army of micro-bloggers promoting your event!

A word of caution: Twitter is a commitment, if your chapter is not providing current, useful information, and making virtual connections, you will probably not get anything out of it, and you will end up with an account that has six followers and has not been updates since last Christmas. If your VP of PR is not up to the task, find someone in your chapter who is a Twitter-aholic like me, and ask them to develop and maintain your account.

There is a TON that I have not covered in this post (which means there is plenty of room for future posts about Twitter). Consider this to be your chapters kick in the pants to get on Twitter, and start taking it seriously as a resource for the chapter.

For those of you who are already advanced Twitter users, possibly already running your chapters account, check out these tools that I use to bolster my twitter capabilities…

Future Tweets: Schedule your tweets in advance, great for early morning and late night tweets, and for forgetful people like me.

Yoono Firefox Extension: Manage your chapter and your personal social networking accounts through this simple to use tool.

TwitPic and TwitVid : Self Explanatory

TinyUrl: Shorten long links down to a easier to use size (you only get 140 characters after all). Also allows you to create custom urls.

That is all for this edition of Greek Tech! Now off to go tweet this update to my followers!

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Greek Tech – Be a Facebook Ninja

You think your Facebook profile is on lock-down? You think nobody can see those pictures of you acting stupid because you set them to private? Guess what?

You’re probably wrong.

I’m not afraid to admit that when it comes to hiring students, selecting award recipients, choosing student leaders to manage programs, or even simply putting a face to a name, I will look you up on Facebook. This places me in the elite class of tech-savvy individuals such as your professors, campus administrators, your potential employers, and best of all, your mom and dad.

You probably know all of this already, but from my own experience, students are not keeping their exploits out of the public eye. Be it by ignorance or choice, that picture of you taking a keg stand, or blowing out a “mysterious” cloud of smoke can only do damage to you as a student and a professional.

In my brief career as a Fraternity and Sorority Advisor, I have been amazed with what fraternity and sorority members are unknowingly sharing via Facebook, especially in their pictures. What makes it even worse is when they have their fraternity/sorority splashed all over their profile, only to have pictures of themselves posted which would make their founders rise from their graves, zombie walk over to their chapter meeting, and claw the letters off of their chest.

Think I’m wrong?

Do me a favor right now:
Open up Facebook, click on ‘Account’ then ‘Profile Information’. Now click the ‘Preview my Profile’ button and enter in name of one of your Facebook friends who you’d be embarrassed if they saw some of your information, pictures and/or videos (think mom, work colleague, or that cute boy/girl you’ve been talking to).

Surprised? If that’s not enough, people who aren’t even your Facebook friends have access to your pictures and information.

How is this possible?

Back in December of 2009, Facebook rolled out a new privacy policy, which automatically defaulted your photos to be viewable by the public, made you searchable through search indexes (Google, Bing, etc.), and started to use your name and image in various advertisements.

So how do you become a Facebook ninja and only become visible to those who you trust? Well, depending on how many friends you have, this may take a while. But trust me, it’s well worth it, and once you get it in place, managing your information and privacy is simple.

SocialTimes came out with The Facebook Privacy Guide for clearing up your Facebook, and regaining your privacy. I suggest reading it, all of it. Regardless of how private you think your information is, there’s a good chance you’re missing something.

Here’s the basics:
– Create friends lists to control who sees what
– Remove yourself from search indexing
– Watch out for photos/videos other people tag you in
– Set privacy on every single one of your photo albums (including mobile uploads and profile pictures)
– Control who can see your wall posts and updates

A little work now to become a Facebook ninja, will pay off in the long run. Safe profiles, and happy networking.

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