cost benefit analysis who is minding the web …


It is an interesting time in higher education web communications. The economy is down, endowments have taken a hit, operating budgets are being looked at closer than ever. In the January issue of Campus Technology the lead article is about how to keep your “IT” job.

While all this is happening I have found myself in the interesting dilemma of spending more and more time on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I am spending less time on our insitutional site at a time where we need to make sure our messages are sharp, focused on value, and consistent with our brand? Of course increasing my institutions visibility on these third party sites is important but what is the trade off?

While we are all out trying to figure out how to best take advantage of social media who is at home minding our institutions website? What is the “perfect” balance of time between the .edu site and Facebook?

I am not sure I have figured it out. We are trying to make sure that our insitutional site is on message while promoting and prompting conversation about that message with social media tools. What thoughts do other web professionals have?

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9 Responses to cost benefit analysis who is minding the web …

  1. First thought — social media is a major time suck.

    With that said, it’s critical, but it’s just another tool in our marketing mix, and isn’t a replacement for anything. That’s exactly what you’re referring to & is the killer. We need help. We need to share the social media love. We can’t do it all by ourselves – manage the main sites, manage micro sites, manage all of the various social media sites. We have to form strong partnerships with others on campus who have the KSAs to jump in and help out, or at least monitor and ask for help when absolutely needed. To me, that is the big secret, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day otherwise. It’s also important to not have social media ADD — pick a few key tools that your demographics seem to be really involved with — don’t try to be on *every single* network imaginable.

  2. mikeyames says:

    A simple strategy, with basic, task-oriented tactics, can be effective in the early going. If your goal is eventually to get to donors and dollars, social media needs to be embraced as the cultivation line item of the development cycle.

    The tactic you choose can vary widely…but if it is an alumni association that you are cultivating, it had better be a simple strategy the serves the alumni community. Staying away from treating social media like another direct marketing distribution channel is a key fundamental first step.

    Good questions.

  3. Jake Daniel says:

    I agree with Rachel about that last bit — half of what I do seems to involve dissuading clients on campus from adopting the latest buzz tool currently being discussed in the in-flight magazines. I’m fairly certain our recruitment efforts for jazz studies majors will not be bolstered by approaching them in Second Life.

    Sharing the load across campus offices (as opposed to simply bringing in student workers) will only work if the core messages are nailed down. If there are disparate views on what your institutional voice is — and what messages it should deliver — decentralizing delivery will get very messy very fast.

    I find staying abreast of social media trends consumes way more time than the actual updates. Our core content remains on the College’s site; we have a lot of dynamic content already in place across the various schools and departments, and social media provides additional pathways to that.

    Mind you, I tend to work a lot of nights and weekends, so I might be deluding myself about the efficiency of it all. 🙂

  4. jesskry says:

    Great post and question.

    With the web being a major tug of war (who gets more prominence, which school, division or activities are ‘scheduled’ to be front and center) the third party sites become the easiest way to promote different objectives.

    I agree with Rachel, we need to make people understand that we need their help: not to further our agenda, but to build on the overall agenda. That our combined effort serves everyone. I think thats the hardest sell. Calming the ‘whats in it for me?’.

  5. Nancy Pricer says:

    I agree with Rachel. Social media is a major time suck. I should be working on my budget right now!

    The tricky thing about social media is that I’m not sure that it can be “controlled” by a webmaster. I like to call social networking, word-of-mouth on steroids. You can’t control conversations and that is what social networking is–a series of conversations.

    I’m thinking about starting a social media club on our campus (not a committee!) to educate people on the various social networks and how to use them to help them achieve their goals. Education is key. So many people on our campus still don’t know what Twitter is, have heard of Facebook, but never been there, etc. Each college or department should have a communication plan and integrate social media into it.
    They could become our conversation soldiers!

  6. Drew Dillon says:

    These are some great questions. Social media offers a lot of opportunities during a time like now. Monitoring would be the most important component during times when your strained… you won’t be able to be in every discussion, but you can watch for the ones that justify the time of being involved.

    I like to think of your edu site as the backbone of your social media messages… where the social media should leads to, and continue to answer the visitors questions… If your backbone is weak you can’t be very effective in the social media realm..

    This is a huge opportunity to have student involvement in promoting the message… i hope you have experimented with this, and let your current students do some promotion for you. Huge for their resume… huge for your time management.

  7. Isaacson says:

    just to be contrarian; I say outsource parts of your site to social media. You don’t need a photo gallery on your site and on flickr, use flickr and reference it.You don’t need student blogs on your admission page if you have an active facebook group with students involved. Instead of making a micro-site for a school’s honors program, set them up with a ning acount.

    I think social media is here to take the burden off of higher ed websites which really can’t keep up with the changing demand anyway.

  8. Paul Redfern says:

    I think Rachel makes a really good point here “We need to share the social media love and don’t try to be on *every single* network imaginable” I think we constantly have to look at what we can execute well. I have found a great collaborative partner with admissions.

    Nancy I don’t think we can control it but rather I like to use the words “we need to join the conversation.” If we are not defining ourselves in these spaces people will do it for us.

    I also really liked what Drew mentions about the “backbone”

  9. […] By Paul Redfern Last week Mikey Ames made a comment on a post I made about cost benefit analysis who is minding the web “A simple strategy, with basic, task-oriented tactics, can be effective in the early going. […]

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