"FWIW, I've told many a colleague to not do Twitter. Here's what I say: Twitter is a marketing tool...As for student affairs professionals, they will mostly engage with the school. So I can funnel their requests, thoughts, etc to the appropriate person. If they get on as individuals (as our dean of first year students once did) then they have to be there, all the time."
I wasn't planning on writing about anything to do with Twitter this week. There were several comments on my previous "Getting Twitter" post and it's been shared all over the social web.
Generally speaking, I tend to agree with a lot of what Hames posts on the web. His LinkedIn posts are always full of insights and carefully constructed arguments. While I may not agree with his thoughts on centralized control of communication channels, I do understand his reasons.
In this instance, I have to strongly disagree with him. Now, in fairness, I think his comment comes from a specific functional area within a focused institutional context...for his school and for his job, he might be almost right. But for the rest of higher education, Twitter is so much more than a marketing tool. It's a communications conduit.
If you work for a university (or anywhere for that matter), you should always be willing, eager, and ready to learn new things.— Eric Stoller (@EricStoller) July 20, 2016
If you work in student services, you're a strategic communicator. Don't know how, that's okay. You can learn. It's essential for engagement.— Eric Stoller (@EricStoller) July 27, 2016
Apathy is the obstacle. If students engage with you on social media, if they seek you or your dept out, make sure you answer & engage back.— Eric Stoller (@EricStoller) July 20, 2016
There should always be an intentional handoff for student engagement on social media between marketing/recruitment and student services.— Eric Stoller (@EricStoller) August 10, 2016
The aspect that really perplexed me from Hames' comment was the part about student affairs (departments and professionals) and Twitter.
Student affairs (departments and professionals) has been on Twitter for almost as long as there has been a Twitter.
And, student engagement (even at a small, selective, private institution) should not be solely within the purview of marketing. Everyone at an institution is part of the overall communication/engagement mix. Colgate University, where Hames works, used to be home to one of the most active student affairs professionals on social media. At all levels of student affairs work there are practitioners who are using Twitter to connect with students, build community, and enhance the student experience.
Finally, pigeonholing Twitter into the realm of marketing is such a limiting viewpoint. That's like saying that email, Facebook, and the telephone are only for marketing. Yes, they are used by marketers, but that's not the end all be all of those forms of communication.
University communications are distributed. For better or for worse, that's where things are right now. If people within an organization aren't using social media like Twitter in worthwhile ways, the first reaction shouldn't be about minimizing use, it should be to engage in focused professional development to increase their digital capabilities.
Twitter is a highly valued channel for learning, engagement, marketing, teaching, and more. The communities that ebb and flow on Twitter are endless. Okay, that's enough on Twitter...at least for this week.
Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.
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