I can remember when I first started tweeting, a cold November day in Canton, NY while I was sitting in my college dorm contemplating adopting this new social media platform. I was enrolled in an education class and the professor required everyone to communicate and participate in the course work via Twitter. She was onto something there; a trend that would become more popular by the day across the world.

But what are the advantages of having a more social university?  A few highlights include access to campus events, news, and, for the co-eds, the ability to hook up their social profiles to the online dating apps that have become so wildly popular in the last few years.  On the surface, the university campus is an ideal social community that is thriving due to the nature (and age) of the members contributing.

The “social media wave” has continued to seep into the curriculum at universities nationwide since my course in 2010. Working at a social media firm, you would be shocked at the amount of professors, education professionals, and students that are downloading our content in order to use in the classroom. However, I truly believe that social media can have a greater impact on higher education that just an educational topic, or a way to score a date at the annual SpringFest.

Businesses today are using social media to engage a community, market their services, and provide service to customers. Universities are already engaging the community and marketing the services that they have to offer, but an even bigger opportunity lurks from a service side. The biggest advantage that a university has over any other business is an already engaged community on social. So, why not take that community and put it to work?

Peer-to-peer support on social media is the new direction for companies with an engaged community of consumers, experts, and administrators. Not only is this method cost-effective for the organization, but just overall more effective. An organized peer support group provides an environment of credibility for people looking for service; they are getting answers with people who can empathize with their situations without the guise of “the corporation”.

Imagine this set up in a university. Give special access to social media conversations to the faculty, administration, or campus leaders to provide insight and support to the students talking about the happenings on campus. The “experts” wouldn’t need to be following the students, but they could be there to provide support and service in a unique, public forum (AKA social media). Universities already have a reputation of self-service, so it’s almost a no-brainer for these organizations to consider moving that reputation to social media.

Social media is more than communication, it’s about a sense of community and belonging with like minded people sharing moments as they happen. Having the proper strategies in place to remain innovative on social media will truly make any company #SocialFirst. Peer-to-peer service and support already exists on social media, but you must first enable it.