Have you checked your foundation lately?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Facebook, Higher Education, Integration Week, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Web | Posted on 03-09-2009

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This great post by Ron Bronson wanted me to talk a little more about a slide I use in several presentations, dealing with your .edu website vs. social media. One line in particular that stood out to me in Ron’s post is:

But using social networks can’t be viewed as a panacea, instead, we need to establish why we’re using them and adhere to that purpose.

Before you establish why you’re using social networks, I’d encourage you to first take a look at your foundation.

As a homeowner, you want to make sure your house has a solid foundation.  If you build on a bad one, you might be alright in the short run but you’re as good as done over time. No one wants to build on a bad foundation, and your social media efforts should be no different.

FoundationI always use this slide in presentations before diving into the ‘fun stuff’. Why?  Because without a solid website, you’re like the homeowner who’s building on sand.  Schools are using social media to essentially have new avenues to reach out to people, connect with them, be a part of the conversation, and build that relationship. But are they applying to your school there? Are they asking for more information? Are they giving a donation?  For most schools, no (and I would say… not yet, but soon). For most colleges and universities, you are using these tools, but the end goal is to get them to take action on your website.

Here’s the point: You can do the coolest stuff on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, but if the student gets to your site and can’t figure out how to apply or get more information, you have failed. Make sure your .edu website is solid. In most cases, it is… but a little usability testing can go a long way. (PS – you can do it with $10 and 10 minutes.) Do the little things now and you’ll succeed in the long run.

How’s your foundation?

Comments posted (8)

This is soooo true! We want to go down the social media path. In fact so does our senior leadership. But our existing site is dire straights. We are currently working on a plan to improve our site and at the same time leverage social media. Some departments are already using social media in silos, but there hasn’t been a institutional wide focus yet on social media. Do you think that the foundation can be corrected almost in parallel to the add-ons (social media)???

Great post. Thanks!

I love the slide, Brad. A great, succinct message that reveals a very important point that institutions need to keep in their minds as they extend themselves on the web.

@Ron – Thanks again for your post this AM!

@Michael – That’s another point I should bring up. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing social media while looking at your redesign, and it’s good to do them both at the same time so you can integrate. A few of BlueFuego’s clients are in this position of bumping up social media efforts while redesigning the web at the same time, and we’re able to make it fit together.

A great point. It’s the first thing I am always saying to my clients. You can have the best marketing plan in the world…but have you examined what you are driving them to? I think a solid review of the usability of your EDU site and a check to make sure you are providing your audiences with what they want is a good first step. Few people want to talk about usability–it’s not exciting to discuss. Many people want to talk about working on social networking or driving traffic through viral marketing, but not start at the beginning, the foundation.

[...] This great post by Ron Bronson wanted me to talk a little more about a slide I use in several presen… [...]

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But our existing site is dire straights. We are currently working on a plan to improve our site and at the same time leverage social media

great stuff my friend i will add that into my blog, well done.

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