Editor's Note (The View From Here)
- By Shannon O'Connor
- November 1st, 2017
As of August 2017, two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media — with two-in-ten doing so often, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.
I know I do. I scan Facebook throughout the day and, if I see mention of a news story that interests me, I will then click over to a news site (or two) to read more about it.
And then there’s Twitter, Instagram (I’ve dabbled there), LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat… Who can keep up?
Students can. And do. Today’s college-age students are digital natives. They’ve grown up with social media at their fingertips. Facebook was launched in 2004. Just before that, MySpace was big. Twitter was founded in 2006, Tumblr in 2007, Instagram in 2010, Snapchat in 2011.
The way we communicate continues to evolve. We’re plugged in everywhere we go; billions of us, 24/7. For good or otherwise, we interact with the world on social media; for younger generations, it’s the primary connection. Therefore, colleges and universities are employing social media to recruit, retain, inform, fundraise, secure and otherwise do business with potential and current students, faculty, staff and peers.
To support recruitment efforts, schools share their values and cultures in contemporaneous posts on campus activities. Research institutions utilize social media to help elevate awareness about their research innovations. Setting aside phone and direct-mail drives, live-streamed fundraising campaigns have found success. And up-to-the-minute crisis communications on social media sites keep all stakeholders, as well as the news media, informed of developments during emergencies.
The benefits of using social media are many. Unfortunately, the problems it can cause are numerous as well. Students (and others) have been stalked and bullied online. Misinformation on emergent events has been posted and shared or retweeted, blurring the lines of truth. The boundaries of professional conduct can be distorted when personal communications and opinions are put out there for the world to see. We must remember, to paraphrase an old adage, that although we can easily post in haste, we then may repent in leisure.
Your institution should develop a social media policy to ensure that there is oversight of online communications and social media efforts. What goes out over the Internet is forever; it can affect your standing, your branding and your bottom line. Harness it, and use it to your benefit.
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.