Clearing is my favorite time of the year within UK higher education for creative social media content/engagement. Universities break out a flurry of gifs, student-generated content, takeovers, captivating stories, and generally engage in a much freer sense of social media communications.
However, when the University of Essex quote-tweeted a post from Leeds Beckett University, things took a sassy, snarky, and snide turn:
Whilst the tweet from Essex was clearly creative and really quite honest, it definitely didn't resonate with the UK HE community.
There's a sense with Clearing that universities have to be edgy. That new, emerging, or trendy technologies should be used to try to attract prospective students. It's a gamble that can work well or it can sputter due to complexity.
At first glance, using Alexa via an Amazon Echo sounds kind of cool. But, when you read the tweet from Leeds Beckett, it sounds a bit clunky in its execution.
Take a quick spin through some of the other tweets on Essex's Twitter account and you can see that they are trying to "be sassy" and the Leeds Beckett tweet made for an easy target. Essex's tweet could be read as funny and brutally honest.
However, when you take into account the fact that UK universities are all feeling the pressure of enrollment management, it's just not nice to take shots at another university. Whoever runs the Essex account could have easily posted their take on the Alexa/Clearing tweet without firing it off from the official university Twitter account. It was creative, but it was also quite harsh.
Absolutely no good fun in that one. Cheap tricks, lacking respect and a big old distraction tactic to hide the lack of any reasonable campaign of their own. A reputational own goal that left a bad taste.— Emma Leech (@EmmaJ70) August 19, 2018
Kudos to the University of Leeds for sticking up for their fellow Leeds-based university. Their response via gif was one of the best gifs I've seen used during this Clearing cycle.
Leeds Beckett tried their best to be classy (as Essex attempted to be sassy) by bragging about their innovative use of a chatbot for recruitment/admissions:
The University of Essex should apologize to Leeds Beckett University. In a sector where community matters more than selling, getting a laugh at someone else's expense is just poor form.
One more final thought about Clearing in general: There's creative and then there's complex. If your university attempts something new using technology, always make sure that it actually helps with recruitment and doesn't make for an arduous process.
Update 1: The University of Essex has apologized on Twitter to the University of Suffolk, the University of East Anglia, and Leeds Beckett University:
Update 2: The University of Essex has deleted their original quote tweet as seen in the graphic at the top of this post.
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