in regular

Social media isn’t medicine

It’s not going to make you better. I’m not the first person the bring this up, but it’s frustrating when you hear people talk about “getting on Facebook” as if it’s the end all, be all solution to all of their web marketing problems. Web strategy, especially in higher education isn’t going to work when you have thousands of people using the web site as a Triton, rather than a tool to advance the institutional message.

I’ve seen this everywhere and it’s obvious to me that we, as web strategists, just aren’t doing a very good job of getting the word out. Or perhaps we’re talking and the people who need to hear us aren’t listening. There has to be an integrated strategy that combines the salesmanship of admission, the “get out the message” evangelism of public relations and envelope it within a wrap of the institutional message and marketing strategy.

The complex relationship between academics and the web is also troubling, but more because a lot of institutions still haven’t figured out what the role of their web site is. Most view their web sites as a tool to recruit new students and perhaps to reach out to alumni and the public at large.

What they’ve not be able to understand, is how to communicate to these very different audiences using all of the mediums at their disposal, without compromising their message. The web is nimble and other mediums are not.

The web is immediate, it’s fast and yet, if you’re not clear about who you’re trying to reach and target the message to that audience, it can be even more ineffective than anything else you do (print, radio, TV, etc.) and it’ll reach them and turn them off faster than ever. I could go on another rant about the need for web divisions, better education to help people understand how better to visualize their role and to adapt to the new media marketplace.

But the folks who get it are going to run circles around those who don’t and eventually, it’ll roll down hill. Social media isn’t a cure-all, it won’t solve your ills or fix structural problems within your organization, no matter how powerful a tool it may be. Understanding this can save you time, money and lots of headaches.