Robots are invading your web presence.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Research, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 08-05-2009

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Robots by Dan CoulterI’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently across many campuses.  Social web presences for colleges and universities are being operated by robots… or so it seems.

As schools grapple with more, more, more and even more places on the social web to interact/update/moderate/maintain/upgrade, they are quickly losing the personal touch with their audience.  Tools are available to make it easy to spread information out to multiple platforms, but every website is different. Every community is different.  And, with a few exceptions, every update you post should be different.

Your audience on Facebook is different than LinkedIn. And that crowd is different than Twitter. 1 message does not fit all. A ‘Social Media Marketing Checklist‘ is not going to make you do things better, but it is going to inundate you with endless tasks that make you lose sight of what’s important in your marketing strategy.

Keep it simple: Be human, interact with others, and keep your institution on their mind. Don’t get stuck in the rut of ‘I have to do this on Monday, this on Wednesday, this twice on Thursday….” Be flexible and be a part of the community.  Our research is proving it, being human wins every time.

Start by taking an honest look at your audience and how they want to get your information, and serve that audience first. (Alumni, Young Alumni, Current and Prospective students might all differ.) Ask them, like the FGCU Alumni Office did.  Take a look at this response. And the same with University of Miami when they asked “Facebook or Twitter?” Then build your presence from there, adding in what you can manage.

Comments posted (10)

Did Miami ask the “Facebook or Twitter?” question just on Facebook? Similar to walking into Lambeau Field on a Sunday and asking “Packers or Bears?” Just askin.

re: Robots
I think 2 years ago there was a grassroots effort to grow social media on campuses across the country. A challenge to make it work, to see it succeed, to prove the naysayers wrong. This was done under the radar, much of the time spent growing/nurturing such initiatives was off-the-clock, at home, on the weekends, during reruns of Ghost Whisperer.

Fast forward 2yrs and social media has been Obamaed/Oprahed (read: gone mainstream, and proven useful) those who birthed the accounts have had to give their babies up for adoption. The new parents don’t yet understand children or the time commitment it takes to raise them. They want things to work on their schedules, they want a hands off experience, they want… OK, I’ll stop the rant, perhaps to be continued in a blog post of my own. :)

But clearly the higher ed social media landscape is changing as it becomes widely adopted. Marketing speak and broadcasting are entering the room. Conversation is being replaced by scheduled shouts. The challenge now is in helping the new parents realize that it is more important to do what is best for the baby than for themselves.

Todd makes a good point about where Miami asked its question. I also have a concern about the how of the question. It would have been preferable to use a survey instrument through which fans/followers could respond anonymously. I think Miami may have gotten a more valid response. Posing the question in that public space, and the responses that result, adds an element of joining the herd or peer pressure.

But I shouldn’t throw stones. At least Miami and FGCU are asking the questions.

As far as the robotweeting goes, our campus is guilty of that. We feed RSS news into our twitter account (but we also post tweets from real live humans from time to time). Those posts also then feed into our FB site. The funny thing about the FB site, though, is that people are interacting and commenting on those stories. We’re also joining the conversation there. Maybe people are starting to learn to live with the robots.

It bugs me when I respond to someone’s message on FB and then I don’t get a response because it was really a tweet.

Marketing and Communications departments are going to have to decide whether they are going to get serious about integrating social media into web/print/etc and stop treating it like the “mutant adopted step-child.”

[...] Gah! Robots! They’re in Twitter! They’re on Facebook! Gahhh! [...]

[...] a serial contributor to the decline of social media — i.e., the disturbing trend of pushing RSS feeds of news releases to our university’s Twitter and Facebook sites — [...]

Jennifer Love Hewitt of Ghost Whisperer is very pretty.`,*

sometimes, ghost whisperer is very scary specially when she see those ghots.*;`

sometimes the episode of Ghost Whisperer gets a bit boring*:”

i like Ghost Whisperer and also Supernatural, both of these TV Series gives me creeps*.`

my sister loves the tv series Ghost Whisperer but i do find it a bit distracting sometimes ,~’

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