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I need some advice. Parking Services wants to survey students to learn more about the problems they face and hopefully find ways to improve.

Right now our University does not have a social media presence. But, I’m thinking this may be an opportunity to start.

Any ideas on how to go about this?


- Start a Facebook discussion thread on the U of R students’ site?

- Ask the officers of popular U of R Facebook student sites to post a note about the survey?

- Be brave and create an open Twitter profile for people to leave their comments?

- Create a Facebook Fan Page for Parking Services?

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Replies to This Discussion

I like #s 1 & 2.

#3 is cool, but who will follow it?

#4, well, who IS really a fan of Parking Services?!
I would just do a surveymonkey survey
#1 & #2 could be effective, but are there a majority of students on FB such that you would get truly relevant results? I second Carolyn's idea of using Survey Monkey, linking to the survey from your school website as well as your Facebook (or other social media) pages.
Just to clarify . . . we wouldn't just use social media. It would be part of a greater communications plan.
As big of a fan as I am for using social media in the right circumstances, I don't know if this is the best application for that. Social media is about building communities and relationships. While the parking office may want to seem more approachable and open to discussions, I'm not convinced social media is the right tool to implement this strategy for that type of service. I may be wrong, though!

Does your campus have a portal? I'd think an online survey in a portal that they already use might be more used.

Is this an actual survey they want to do, or just truly have open-ended comments?
They have a company that is developing survey questions for them. I think what they are hoping social media can do is drive students to that survey. . . . which I'm assuming will be available through the Parking Services website.

The University is in the middle of consultations with both the internal and external community to develop a five year plan (for the Uni as a whole). The issue of parking surfaced again and again during these consultation sessions. So, Parking Services is seeing an opportunity here to gain specific information/input to improve the services it provides.
Rachel, you bring up a good point. Dialogue isn’t one-way.

I’m meeting with the people in charge of parking later in the week. So, I’m going to see if there is potential to take this beyond simply garnering input for a survey. (A great first step. But, it could be so much more). I know they are always looking for ways to give students information (about green initiatives, the city’s express bus service to the University, bike rentals, etc. etc) A Facebook fan page/group could help them do that.

LOL I know no one is a “fan” of parking. But a fan page lets you email all of your members directly. As far as I know there is still a limit with groups.
I would probably advise you to go with the Facebook on this one. You are not gathering info for your own purposes - it's to improve the lives of your students. They should embrace this altruistic engagement. You can also throw together a quick survey of your own. I believe there are some FB widgets or you can use Survey Money and just link to it.

If there are pre-existing channels, such as the U of R student site, I suggest going through that. This is a one-time hit. You will not have success creating a twitter account for this, much less a fan page for parking.

Hope this helps.
Based on what you wrote about the University's current use of social media, I would suggest something narrow but dedicated to parking services so a Facebook U of R Parking Services fan page sounds like a good idea to me. Then you can still "Ask the officers of popular U of R Facebook student sites to post a note about the survey" and fan page so people who have an interest in parking services will learn about it.
I just got out of my parking meeting and wanted to update the group . . . .

It went REALLY well. They are interested in creating a more involved, long-term dialogue with the campus community. They want to hear peoples’ ideas, answer their questions, etc. etc. etc.

This weekend I’m going to look around for examples of Facebook sites to show them, draft a Facebook 101 type doc, etc. etc.

Thanks again. I really appreciate the time everyone took to answer my questions. If you have any more suggestions please pass them on.
UPDATE:

-Parking Services wants to start a Facebook group.

-The internal relations manager wants some kind of guarantee that the university won't be liable for comments made on the site.

My understanding is since its a Facebook site and not a University site that isn't an issue. I also suggested posting something like this on the site:

We are listening! We want to hear your concerns and your ideas to make parking services better. With that in mind we encourage readers to post civil and respectful comments. Please be aware that all content and posts are bound by Facebook’s Terms of Use and Code of Conduct The U of R reserves the right to block the content of any post that violates campus policy, including but not limited to the use of abusive language to create a hostile and intimidating environment.


Thoughts?
Shanan-

There is an app built by a third party in FB called polldaddy that you can use on a fan page. You could create a fan page for the overall school and then poll student or all involved through the fan page and keep the parking group as a discussion area.

And the disclaimer above will serve as a good advisory for those who post to the board.

Good luck

cliff

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