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How Not To Twitter as a Jewish Organization: The Example of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

Hillel's Twitter Feed

Hillel's Twitter Feed


I’m no social media expert, but I’ve been twittering for a moment and have come to understand certain elements of it.
Right now, I’m in day #2 of three days of the Pre-Hillel Institute, being put on by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life for new professionals, which directly precedes its Hillel Institute, for a wider scope of Hillel professionals. Yesterday, my group was addressed by Wayne Firestone, the president of Hillel and he spoke nicely. Included in his talk, he happened to mention that college students these days are tweeting. I got to thinking: Hm, I wonder how much Hillel tweets – especially now that these two institutes are occurring: this would be an excellent opportunity for Hillel to be Tweeting about all of the excellent training going on right now, not to mention later on in the week. After all, we’re not talking about an organization whose primary constituency are in their 60s or 70s and wouldn’t know how to Twitter; this is a group that is rather savvy with social media (especially on Facebook). One would expect that there could be a few tweets a day, some with [inter]national updates, some with RTs from local Hillels, showing off their work, and overall painting a social media (Twitter) picture of who Hillel is and what they do, perhaps even posting available positions (although that’s covered in another Twitter account, that one’s poorly run (even worse than their primary account)). Essentially, Hillel should be able to hire a young social media-savvy recent college graduate to operate, amongst other things, a Twitter account for Hillel to be tweeting multiple times a day, as well as responding (granted, I have no idea if or even how much Hillel’s Twitter account responds to people asking questions or engages in a conversation with those who mention its name (or even just mention Hillel (or even anything Jewish on college campuses))).
With all of this build-up, you can guess where I’m headed with this: Hillel’s Twitter account falls far short of my expectations. Now, you can ask yourself if my expectations are rather lofty for Hillel, but it should be readily apparent that they are fair. Hillel’s Twitter account (as you can see from the screen-capture picture above) is somewhat sparsely updated, forget about mentioning what’s going on this week. The worst part of the Twittering is merely throwing up links with no descriptions – that’s worse than lazy (at least come up with something). I have no idea who, at Hillel, runs the Twitter account – maybe it’s the PR department, communications, or simply interns – but I will, in the next couple of days try to find out who does and what the thought process is. However, this is the week, when there is such a huge gathering of Hillel professionals – people who are clearly invested in Hillel’s success and image – should be in a discourse about Hillel on social media. That is, if Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life values social media for Jewish young adults.

drewlicious

Having begun blogging in the summer of 2005, Drew joined the Jewlicious mega-Jewblog after Jewlicious Festival 6.0 in February 2010.Drew is committed to serving the Jewish people, and is one of a small number of rabbis who were bloggers whilst in rabbinical school.He's thrilled to be a part of Jewlicious: The Blog and aims to spread his views, thoughts, and ideas amongst the masses.

7 Comments

  1. Cheryl

    8/9/2010 at 9:55 pm

    In a similar vein, another Jewish organization set up an event blog -> twitter feed poorly (suspect they didn’t know how to use the plugin) so every tweet said New Blog Post followed by the title of the post. . .but no link at all. Attempts to reach them failed (suspect they weren’t actually looking at twitter). Their Facebook page had about 600 followers for the event, and the last update on the page was the day before the event started. Silent during the week, with fans pleading for updates and photos. #fail

  2. shiny

    8/10/2010 at 5:00 am

    I’m going to respond by looking back to my own experiences with Hillel and technology about fifteen years ago:

    It was the mid-1990s. Although the internet was far from its infancy, it became apparent that organizational websites were not simply a passing fad but were becoming (especially for college students who were among the first to enjoy constant broadband access) a new means for information to be disseminated. A website needed to grab you right away with current information — something not very easy to do without the user-friendly content management systems which came later.

    As I was applying to be a Steinhardt/JCSC Fellow at several college campuses, I made my pitch to the Hillel/FJCL office as well as Hillels on the local level. I did it with a scare tactic: I showed them the current incarnation of the Hillel website compared to those of Jews for Jesus and other similar missionary groups which had much flashier sites at the time. Graphics rich. Pictures of people smiling and doing things rather than a simple repository of links. Simply put — my message was that Hillel was behind the curve and needed to catch up. And they had to throw energy (and likely money and personnel) at the problem.

    Have they caught up through the years? It really has depended on the people tasked to keep up with the latest in social media. I’ve seen several incarnations of the Hillel website — some of them which have been technologically savvy for their times. But I don’t think the “home office” will ever have the same type of pulse as campuses do without a dedicated scout focused on social media and gleaning the Twitter feeds of the hundreds of campuses across the globe. Hillel has made some strides in marketing in the past; I sincerely hope they realize what a priority this is as well.

  3. Larry

    8/10/2010 at 6:15 am

    Maybe they are on a tweeting break for the Summer #Hi2010 I bet you they will hire a social media manager this Fall!

  4. ck

    8/10/2010 at 2:16 pm

    The thing is that very few college students actually use twitter, at least based on the informal surveys I ran at several social media gigs I ran this summer with college students. They ALL used Facebook and only a handful used twitter. Literally. I spoke to about what, 400 kids – only maybe a dozen had twitter accounts prior to the seminars. There’s an argument to be made that Jewish campus organizations ought to have a robust twitter presence in anticipation of greater twitter usage by the kinderlach, but for now, twitter usage is still being driven by an older demographic.

    That having been said, it’s super easy to integrate your twitter, facebook, youtube and the rest of your social media accounts. A strong presence on facebook ought to translate into a strong presence elsewhere. Still, there’s no excuse for the kind of half-assed efforts we’re seeing now. Good post drewlicious!

  5. larry

    8/10/2010 at 5:33 pm

    CK’s anecdotal research on Twitter is correct. I belive the Interactive Advertising Bureau study showed that i, followed by 25-34 and 35-44 yr olds. The college audience eyeballs that are Hillel’s targets are actually 20% less likely than average to be Twitter users.

    But you are also correct that if Hillel, on facebook, where its target is daily and hourly, only has 1400 friends and posts rarely… then they are in need of perhaps a more comprehensive facebook usage strategy

  6. arielle

    8/13/2010 at 10:37 am

    i also was/am at hillel institute – it would have been nice to meet a fellow jewlicious blogger in person!!

  7. Pingback: Relevant Social Media & the Jewish Community Posts on Other Blogs of Mine

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