Andy DeSoto has a great post up titled “Social media for colleges and universities”. DeSoto talks about students and alumni that set up university pages and how he feels that it’s something the universities should be doing, not the students. I couldn’t agree more! He also brings up a good point about universities and their brands:
If colleges and universities wish to employ any social media leverage whatsoever, and I highly recommend it, it’s essential for them to establish or gain control of their brand on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and Digg. More is better, but the aforementioned services will provide the biggest bang for the buck. If administrators are unwilling to go digital or are uncertain how to proceed, it’s highly likely that several to many students have the technical know-how to do what’s necessary. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to reach your students, faculty, and staff.
University Brands In The Hands Of The Students
Right now, there’s no doubt that most university brands are largely controlled by students when it comes to social media. Prospective students may go to the university’s website for general information, but they head to Facebook, Myspace, and even Youtube for the low down dirty details about any school. I feel this is extremely important for universities simply because of damage control.
Damage Control Is Out Of Your Control
With the online brand being controlled by their students, university reputations are at a serious risk and also at the disposal of the students. As much as students may post ridiculous things on Facebook, they’re posting just as many ridiculous things about their schools (I’ve done it plenty of times). The students now POWN you and own your online brand. They have the authority (though maybe not legally) to do whatever they wish to do with your brand.
For example, on Facebook my friends and I trash our school all the time. Freshmen come on every year and ask us questions and look through our walls to see what we’ve said about the school and I used to have photo albums dedicated to the worst of my school for freshmen to browse through. They also check out the groups on Facebook that only students of a particular school can join. This is bery bad for universities who aren’t exercising some amount of control over their brand image. There are plenty of dirty details in these groups about students and university authorities are clueless to it all.
Social Networks and Social Media May Be Evil For Universities
This is obviously a really big deal. Facebook is the #1 source for students to find out more about potential colleges and universities. It’s kind of funny to me how Facebook can have more persuasion and clout than a university’s website or campus visit. You get the real deal on Facebook. You don’t get the perfect pictures of the campus and the fake dorm rooms. No, Facebook allows you to see the leaks, the bleak, and the very shallowness of some schools. You can practically experience a school through connections on Facebook.
Current students are not completely concerned with protecting their school’s reputation. They are more interested in protecting the futures of their peers and those to come. So, universities and colleges had better pay attention. Not taking control of your brand online can be a devastating blow and could be costing you thousands!
In a later post, I’ll talk about whether or not I think Twitter will be the next evil for universities.