Guest post: A student’s view, Social Media at Stanford University

Corinna Wallace, a student at Stanford University, for an internship with Swimfish. While I am not yet sure if we will be able to work with Corinna I wanted to share with you a great post that she wrote about Stanford University and Social Media. If you like what you read, or are looking for an intern, you should send her an email.

“Located in Silicon Valley, it is no wonder that Stanford University consistently holds a position as one of the leaders of new technologies. Stanford students and faculty alike pride themselves on being involved in the world’s most cutting edge technological advancements. With that being said, it is impossible to ignore the current surge in use of social media all over the world, and Stanford has shown no hesitation in becoming involved.

To begin, students, with their tendency to be the most technologically savvy, use social media to the greatest extent. With about 90% of the Stanford student body having Facebook accounts and about 50% of the population using iPhones, these are the two most popular social media outlets on campus. However, any college has students that use Facebook or iPhone apps (or any social media for that matter). What really sets Stanford apart, however, is the way that students not only use social media, but they create social media. I can think of at least 5 of my peers who have interned at various companies, from Twitter, to Facebook, associated with social media. In such internships they do everything from coding to helping companies revamp their policies. More notable, however, are the students who create social media themselves. Stanford is known for having students with drive and creativity (think: the founders of Google), and as a current student it is hard not to recognize the talent of my peers. As social media gains popularity many of my fellow students are creating new forms, from iPhone and Facebook apps to their own independent social media networks. Just last year, the RA in my dorm created a program that linked the iPhone to Google Earth. With this program users could take and upload pictures that would be linked to their exact location. Additionally, some Stanford students created ZimRide, a Facebook app where students who need rides can link up and organize car pools. Though I have yet to experience the designs of students on other campuses, I find it hard to believe that there are many campuses, that can match the technological innovation of Stanford students, or who show as much promise in the world of social media.

Similar to students, various institutional departments at Stanford utilize many of the social media outlets available. Various Stanford departments uses social media to keep people updated on new events, as well as to showcase the work of students and faculty alike. Again, however, anyone can use social media. What sets Stanford, as an institution, apart from other universities is the way it promotes the creation of social media. The method I find most impressive is a class offered by the CS department that teaches students how to make basic iPhone applications. Here Stanford is giving its students the tools needed to develop applications in a field that is constantly increasing in popularity. Additionally, this class was formerly about making Facebook applications and was only recently changed. Not only is Stanford helping students gain skills, it is also recognizing what the most prominent and profitable social media outlets are, ensuring that its students are prepared to tackle them. In addition to actual training in the world of computer science, Stanford also offers support of research in the form of grants, as well as alumni and faculty connections. Students, especially poor college students, are hardly ever capable of scrounging up the type of money and networking necessary for really launching their own inventions, so without the faculty, alumni, and monetary support that Stanford provides, many of these inventions would never be more than just ideas.

While Stanford is clearly on the forefront of social media technology there are always ways to improve. From a student’s point of view, I would argue that Stanford lacks most in marketing and promotion, particularly in the inventions of its own students. Though Stanford does provide students with the ability to network with various companies and alumni, it lacks a means to market products to the general public. This goes for both student created applications as well as Stanford’s own social media creations. Until recently, I had little idea of what the iStanford iPhone application did. I had originally thought it was just a phonebook of all of the Stanford community until a friend of mine told me that it could be used for everything from grade checking to schedule making. If Stanford is that poor in marketing its own products, one can only imagine how poorly it markets the products of its students. It is too much to ask of students to do school work, invent applications, and somehow find the time to market them. There are various ways that Stanford could help, even slightly. Something like an online listing of all of the current projects, or recent inventions, of Stanford students would be a start. Additionally, different departments could send out monthly newsletters highlighting the recent accomplishments and inventions of students. Departments could even reserve funding specifically for creating advertisements for student creations. Imagine what a difference it would make if every month the CS department bought a Facebook ad space and advertised one of its student’s programs. The audience that would see such an advertisement would be immense, exposing these Stanford inventions not only to potential users, but also to potential investors or companies who could help to get such inventions out of the beginning stages.

Overall, it is evident that both Stanford students and the University itself understand the uses and influences of social media. What sets Stanford apart, however, is the way that the University and its students not only use social media to their benefit, but also create social media that will one day benefit and entertain others. While it seems that Stanford has the technological skills required to create successfully, it is lacking significantly in the marketing of such creations. An improved marketing scheme would give Stanford and its students immeasurable exposure and power in the community of new technologies, showcasing for the rest of the world the intelligence and ingenuity of the Stanford population.”

Filed under: Random thoughts
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