Everyone is always saying that you, dear reader, should hop on to the social media bandwagon because it is the future of marketing and communication – in fact, some of the more bold dare to say that it is the now and current. But the whole idea greatly complicates itself when approached with the aspect of employment. Ideally one would be able to incorporate the three most commonly known facets of social media – Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. But when the education industry has been so adamant against its usage and determined it to be more of a distraction, as opposed to a practical medium, the search to better understand its application is made that much more difficult. And as one of the largest private universities in the US, how NYU handles social media as a way of communicating and marketing to students is perhaps one of the more interesting cases to examine.
One of the largest problems is determining which departments should be using social media to express and mediate communication. It’s incredibly easy to say that all of them should partake, but to what degree would the manpower required actually make a difference in the interests and reach of students? The more university-wide departments, such as the Wasserman career center and the Study Abroad office, have a larger and broader student body to reach, along with general interests to cater to, which would make them much more relevant to all the social media offerings.
Looking at Wasserman Career Center’s Approach
In less than a year, NYU’s Wasserman career center has completely turned itself around; the once clumsy website has been replaced with one that is much more easy to navigate and associate with. The real charm, though, that the department now holds is in its successful application of several social media outlets – LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. With decent Klout statistics for its Twitter page, both Heather Maffeo and Kevin Grubb have presented the department as more visible and socially engaging by providing relevant news, interaction with students, and more visible job listings through their online voices. Although their Facebook page serves its purpose more-so in content aggregation, pulling news and updates together from various outlets, the team is clear in recognizing its potential by still making efforts to reach out to a community that might not be active on either Twitter (given the demographics) or LinkedIn.
With that said, it is best to note that LinkedIn is perhaps one of the most difficult social media tools to market because of its status as a more professional network. That is not to say that the progress made with the LinkedIn group has been a waste, what with membership standing at over 1700 persons. Finding a way to better promote discussion on the more professionally inclined network may prove to be difficult, though, and perhaps relies on LinkedIn further developing itself and sooner (on a side note, the Twitter linkage has been a big plus within the recent months).
And along with finding networks that carry the message, there have also been instances in which the employed medium may not be best or have yet to be developed by the right person. Given that some of the social media outlets require much more manpower (e.g. YouTube) or more intense concentration (Twitter/blogs), Wasserman may have to continue to spread itself out in its hiring of student works (look to the Wasserman blog). For example, the idea of having video on the website is a great idea, which would pair nicely with the blog, but it serves as an ideal right now, given that Wasserman is only emerging now as one of the university’s leading developers in social media marketing.
Examining NYU’s Study Abroad Department
This is perhaps one of the more clear-cut cases of who should and should not have a social media outreach. With an audience of over 20 000 undergraduates, many of whom wish to study abroad during their junior year, communicating the possibilities that are available is essential. The outreach mediums that the Study Abroad department (or Office of Global Programs, as they are sometimes referred to) currently stand at a Facebook page, Twitter page, and YouTube channel.
In terms of personal (or in this case, department) branding, it’s best to have the same identity. So already, we can see that there is cause for confusion on the Facebook page as it titles itself “NYU Office of Global Programs,” but everywhere else, including its own online handles, refers to the department as NYU Study Abroad. But with that said, this isn’t such a concern in comparison with the the usage and deployment of social media marketing strategy.
The problem isn’t so much that there is no audience, but rather there is little to no communication with them. Let’s put this in perspective – the Facebook page has over 1400 fans; the Twitter page has almost 1000 followers; and the YouTube channel has had over 15 000 views of its videos. However, there is only activity in one of these outlets. Perhaps one of their best moves was holding a contest to garner fans for their Facebook page, but since then, there hasn’t been a sign of a strong strategy. Although some of the questions posted on the page’s wall are answered, some aren’t – there needs to be a consistent and visible communication and interaction between department and students for this type of marketing to be successful.
The Twitter page is perhaps one of the most underestimated elements in this strategy. With over 900 followers, the outreach and networking available is tremendous. And yet, updates are sparse, and mostly consist of recent uploads to Facebook and YouTube. Like Wasserman, the Twitter page can serve as the personal (because having a single representative in the large university provides that touch) voice of the department and central means of communication and feedback.
And similar to how LinkedIn may be difficult to command, YouTube has a lot of potential in it, but gaining a following is extremely difficult. Given that it is perhaps the bane of procrastination, it should be paired with another outlet, and updated more frequently (try maybe once a semester) than its one-time upload (excepting the London video, which was uploaded last month) to provide a freshness.
And the biggest void in this social media strategy? Blogs! Dear reader, go to your friends’ Facebook pages to see how many of them keep blogs while they are abroad to tell you about the cool things that they did. Take a note from the Steinhardt school and have several student bloggers, which can persuade other students to travel and provide them more individualized perspectives than a simple guide ever can.
So There You Have It
I was planning on discussing the success of Steinhardt’s social media strategy (after all, we house the MCC program), along with how some of the departments that are not as visible (such as the Office of International Students and Scholars) are trying to jump on this speeding train, but I’m at over 1000 words with only these two departments.
To note, this entry does not serve as either flattery or condemnation, but rather, as a student perspective of who seems to best understand the nuances of social media marketing, and of who has the potential with a vast network, but is not realizing it.
Images courtesy of Twitter.com