The “social media bubble” and what it means for higher education marketing
Doug Miller describes himself as a “social curator, content creator and digital media educator.” He’s currently New Media Manager at DePaul University.
At this year’s eduWeb conference Doug is leading a workshop on “Bursting the Social Media Bubble: How to Leverage Social Media Before it Leverages You.” You can find his workshop details on the eduWeb conference site.
I sent Doug four questions about the impending burst of the bubble and what people in higher education might do to take best advantage of it. Here are his answers to the first two questions. The other two will follow tomorrow.
1. Tell us more about
the “social media bubble” and how much further it has to go before it
- Change is a constant when it comes to technology. Technologists are so
acclimated to this evolution that many believe its progress to be predictable
along a consistent line, as in the case of Moore’s Law. In looking at the current
state of the use of social digital platforms in higher education, it is
certainly change that has brought us to where we are as an industry, but change
as a tactical response to a strategic problem. We are now aware of the
undeniability of the impact of social digital tools on the way so many of our
myriad facets do business, yet we are often still struggling to think of them
strategically rather than tactically.
- From advertising and
brand recognition to admissions, enrollment, customer service, retention,
pedagogy, alumni services, advancement and fundraising – every aspect of our
diverse vertical has felt the seismic shift precipitated by the promises of
these digital tools, techniques and trends. Yet, as quickly as much of our
industry has been moved to action, we take no solace in such regular,
predictable phenomenon as Moore’s Law because we often find our strategy mired
in the search to predict which platform will be the destination for the next
great social media migration. These are the beginnings of the bubble that must
(and will) burst.
- There are those for whom
this tactical search has yielded success. Certainly, we love our case studies
and to lift them up as benchmarks rather than outliers – such and such school
experiences success on such and such platform – and then we make efforts to
replicate such efforts across the industry. But not every tool or tactical
response is appropriate for every school or strategic scenario.
- That is the bubble that
will burst – not that tools and platforms will no longer be social, not that
users won’t gravitate toward digital social objects and be curators and
generators of them – but rather that the search to find the next most popular
tactical tool will prove itself unsustainable as a strategic approach. The
social media bubble is about how we respond as an industry to these trends, not
about the lifespan of a particular set of tools or tactics.
2. How about an example
of “data gathering tools” that the “big brands” use that
will also work for universities?
- What digital social tools provide more than connectivity is data about
users. There is no shortage of references of businesses, brands or governments
using these new lenses to make predictive assumptions about consumers and set
strategic initiatives for how to engage them.
- Higher education is no
exception, except that our methods for gathering data often exist in siloed
environments or legacy systems that routinely don’t provide the same bigger
picture perspective. A good example of this is what we call “social CRM” or
constituent relationship management inclusive of data from digital social media
- Even schools with
departments and divisions active inside social media platforms don’t always tie
that data back to institutional knowledge or outcomes in a constructive and
meaningful way. Could you imagine if Target’s pharmacy did not easily share
data with the children’s clothing department about consumer sentiment as
expressed through social digital platforms? How good would they be at
predicting that their shoppers are pregnant then?
- Many schools are
beginning to see the value of integrating data from the social graph into
larger strategic discussions, not just as a bullhorn for broadcasting the same
old messages, but as a prism through which user behavior is better understood.
Social media management tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social allow for
greater perspective about the behaviors of users in aggregate, but it takes
social plugins and data tracking on an individual level from systems like
Salesforce, NationBuilder, or other “Social CRM” platforms to take higher
education where it needs to go to approach these issueshttp://www.salesforce.com strategically.
That’s all for now.
August 4-6, Baltimore, MD, CA: Review the conference program and register.