We’ve had a page in Facebook for a while and it’s doing well. It would do better if we had dedicated staff for interacting with our community online, but we do the best we can with the co-administrators of the page. As Google+ joins the social media scene I am curious how it will play out for the college.
The Vassar community is very broad, as it is for other higher education institutions. It is a group of past, present, and future students, employees, and friends. There is so much our departments and offices wish to share. To avoid overwhelming any one sub-group of our community with the messages of all the groups we limit what we share. That isn’t right – we end up with a news feed with little interaction for the “main page” and then a bunch of pages for individual offices.
That being said, I like that it gives the option to members of the community to select which parts of the college they are most interested in. We can do a better job to help people find the pages run by college offices, departments, and organizations.
Just as we get to know Facebook we have a new tool to explore: Google+. It’s just getting started in a demo or beta version. We have a few people exploring its potential from the viewpoint of an individual as well as potential uses for presenting information from the college and interacting with the college community. While a “brand” page isn’t yet available (vs. an individual’s profile) we have applied for a brand account when it’s available.
At first glance I see the potential for managing messages to different groups of our community. We could share a story about a current student with all students – past, present and future students. We could share a new library resource to faculty and current students. There is great potential for messages.
However, I keep thinking back to the idea of a walled garden – an idea I loathe. I prefer transparency. A walled garden is a site that requires a password and only shows me things designated for me. Well, who is deciding what I should see? As an employee at the college wouldn’t I also want to see a story about a cool thing a current student is doing? At the same time, I know I’m not interested in the admission cycle of deadlines and application tips, but a future student and his family could be — who’s to decide? I prefer that the power to chose is in the individual, not the “brand.”
At first I was very excited at the Google+ circles – the groups of people you can create and send status updates to only the circles you chose. As an individual I know who my “friends” are and can group them according to my needs. However, managing “friends” of a brand is different – I don’t know specific people (other than my personal knowledge) so I wouldn’t know which people should be in which circle. Do we ask each time?
“Hello! These are the circles we use: friend, student, alum, faculty…. In which circles do you want to be included?”
I’m interested to see how the Google+ page will differ from a Facebook Page. Unless the power is in the hands of the individuals I’m not sure how we can send messages to groups as a brand.
Megg Brown is the assistant director of web development for Vassar College and coordinates social media endeavors for the office of communications.