"Universities are beginning to explore using a new set of social media apps as students give up on Facebook and Twitter."
That was the sub-head for an article in Times Higher Education (THE) last month that asked the question "Is Snapchat the new Twitter on campus?" As you might expect, the piece generated a lot of social media traffic...on Twitter. However, it's important to read through the entire piece with a critically aware attitude.
Students are using Twitter. Students are using Facebook. Is there an ebb and flow in terms of who is using a certain channel within a certain context? Of course there is. But that does not mean that people are "giving up" on the most popular social sites humanity has ever known.
Marketing has to try new things. It's the constant challenge to try to carve out new ways of reaching people. And, if you say that certain channels are failing and another is rising, well, you're generating hype for your preferred method as a tactical maneuver. It's a classic twist with a digital spin. Hey, look over here, *this* is where the conversation is happening.
Don't give up on established, high-value channels. Add, layer, and scaffold, but don't get caught up in the artificially generated discontentment movement that thrives on your lack of awareness. Use digital channels that 1) match up with the context of your communications and 2) relate to/with your actual audience. Snapchat is great. However, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram are great, too. Every social media channel presents its own unique angle on connection, creation, and community.
I realize that there's a tendency for hyperbole when it comes to articles on social media... However, when an article in THE says that "Having spent years honing strategies to interact with young people on Twitter and Facebook, many universities are finding that students are giving up on these once-essential social media platforms," it's being just (cough) a tad bit (cough) hype-driven (cough).
The print headline of the article differed from the online version as it offered up a lot more nuance in its title: "Should you Snapchat to reach students?" The answer of course is "yes."
One thing that was mentioned in the THE post that I will happily share, was an insightful talk by Alistair Beech, the Senior Digital Communications Officer at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), at the CASE SMC conference last month.
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