Author Archives: Amy Loeffler

What’s the best thing you can do in a digital space to promote community? Be Human.

I’ve recently been reading a book by Sarah Robinson called Fierce Loyalty.

In short, it’s a mini tome on how to make people feel connected to your brand, be it Harley Davidson or a group of surfing enthusiasts, through community in a digital space.

Though we work in a public institution, and don’t live and die by the number of widgets or gadgets that are sold, Virginia Tech also relies heavily on brand loyalty just as any institution that sells material goods for survival. And many alumni cultivate a connection to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the university that lasts throughout their entire lives.

Robinson has done a lot of work not only creating communities in a virtual space but also creating the intangible SENSE of community that tends to foster very strong connections to loyalty like those found among Hokie alumni and current students.

One of the themes that re-appears throughout her book and her blog is that there is no substitution for being human, even in a virtual space, to attract members into your community.

She cautions against merely making transactions in a digital space, but really attempting to make connections. And making connections can only be done by investing the one thing that we’ve come to associate exclusively with face-to-face interactions: Time.

Easier said than done?

Here are some tips:

  • Make members feel valued and important.
  • Create something together.
  • Fight a common enemy.
  • Create a culture of “we.”
  • Empower members to make the community their own.
  • Build in exclusivity.
  • Create a barrier to entry.
  • Stand for something bold.
  • Build structure with an eye toward fostering pride, trust, and passion.
  • Initiate opportunities for shared experiences.
  • Love your community.
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Feeding the social media monster

You’ve taken the first step and established a Twitter feed with a catchy handle that speaks to your organization’s mission, a Facebook account that easily expresses your branding, and a slew of other accounts that your audience can access for information. Great!

Now, what most people new to the social media landscape quickly figure out, is that these accounts require constant maintenance and feeding, and that something you had originally blocked out a half an hour for on your Outlook calendar is creeping into most of your morning routine, and your social media monster’s appetite is getting bigger every day.

Tame the monster hunger pangs by employing these simple things: Continue reading

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It’s alive! Socialize-ing communications in real time

Dilou Prospere

Photo from SANREM CRSP Facebook page: Assistant In-country Coordinator Dilou Prospere outside the Caritas offices in Hinche before presenting the conservation agriculture workshop at Maissade.

As communications professionals, the use of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter not only provide us additional tools to tell the stories about the impact of Virginia Tech-led research, but they also give us the capability to tell those stories with an immediacy that is heretofore unprecedented.

Why is this important? Immediacy is significant because social media channels often allow impromptu, up-to-the-minute, and candid opportunities that show our collaborators and faculty in ways that are translatable to the general public in a manner that might not be appropriate in a more formal press release.

Especially for research initiatives funded in far-flung parts of the world, the immediacy of reporting on-location in real time using social media is an excellent way to connect with audience members in the Virginia Tech community and across globe. Continue reading

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