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Communications, Social Media, and Technology Are Not Synonyms
May 3, 2012 - 8:34pm

Social media are not technology. Please, for the sake of dialog, think about that statement for a minute or two. Now, think about this: Communications is not just social media. And finally, ruminate on this for a while: Technology assists, enables, and provides a platform for communications.

When I wrote a micro-call-to-action in March about how NASPA may want to consider rolling out a Communications Knowledge Community, I was intrigued by the various comments that seemed solidly stuck on keeping social media within the Technology Knowledge Community. Folks, social media are not technology. Social media channels use technology, but they are not "technology." Social media are communications channels that we use to connect with one another. I doubt that the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community is secretly masquerading around as the home of communications for the members of the association. Communications and Technology work together, but they are not the same. All we do when we perpetuate that they are the same is allow our luddite colleagues an out for when they say that they don't "do technology." Those same folks might very well be some of our best communicators, but we do them a disservice when we label communications channels as technology. Labeling social media as technology creates an unnecessary hurdle for the anti-tech crowd. Social media are communications avenues. Technology is there for an assist, but it's not the end all, be all.

Three of my Student Affairs positions were in marketing or communications. Nowhere in our CAS Standards, functional areas, or knowledge communities/commissions is a professional home for Student Affairs Communications. We engage in marketing and communications all of the time. Technology, and all of its wonderful facets, is an area that most Student Affairs practitioners would acknowledge is something that we all need to learn more about. Communications is as distinct as tech. And this is a good thing. A separate Communications KC would provide focus to something that needs a focus. This wouldn't just be about social media. It would be the home for how Student Affairs communicates with all of its constituencies. Web communications, email marketing, public speaking/presentations, social media, and online-only communications (Skype, Hangouts, etc.) would all be part of this group.

I realize that this idea is not as fully formed as it should be. I don't have all of the answers. However, in 2012, our profession needs to start pushing things a bit more. If we position social media at the core of our technology conversations, we are severely limiting ourselves. We have to be better. We have to be bold. A new KC forms and maybe doesn't pan out right away…so what! The Technology KC has been resurrected and it still doesn't have a clearly defined role…and I think that's okay too. Let's at least give a Communications KC a chance. I predict that it would generate massive amounts of excitement, knowledge generation/exchange, and innovation.

 

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