Context: Minute paper reflection from MCDM Research Class.
How do we sell “this” (digital and social media) to others who may not get it?
This is a question I’m currently grappling with at work (in higher education). The idea that communication only happens via newsletters (paper and electronic) and website updates doesn’t take into consideration that newer tools are emerging that enable organizations to communicate with constituents in multiple forms, and in ways that constituents prefer.
On one end of the marketing/communication spectrum, we have those who know that digital communication is advancing at a neck-breaking speed and have jumped right in to the digital/social media scene.
They’ve set up camp on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. They’ve blogged, added multimedia to their websites, and have a YouTube presence. Then there’s the other end of this spectrum where folks talk about hearing about SMNs, feel the pressure to set up profiles, but are either a.) too cautious to Listen, Converse and Engage and therefore sit on the fence; or b.) think they know exactly what they’re doing, set up these sites, and then realize they have no clue what digital and social media is all about.
In trying to pitch digital and social media to my colleagues who are still on the fence or are misinformed, I have a few selling points that seem to at least sustain this conversation. The first is to assure them that there are no experts (just early adopters). Things are changing so fast that there are those who may keep up faster than others or who may even predict what will happen next. But all of us are still learning, and that’s a fact. No one has a game book of how this all works, though there sure are enough who have written about it. Second, I address the time suck factor. With budget and staffing cuts affecting the ability of organizations to work at capacity, many administrators are worried about how much time all of this takes. Those of us who use social and digital media are aware of its potential to eat up one’s time, but we also know that maintaining these sites don’t have to be a full time job if we’re strategic and share this responsibility. Third, I use engagement and community building to speak to the potential that SMNs have to open up dialogue and create a space for conversation and engagement. In a place as big as the UW, for example, departments are looking for ways to do more with less. Some departments are getting rid of staff to move to automated answering systems, offices are reducing hours of operation, all the while advancement offices are ramping up efforts to increase their donor base. Social and digital media have provided inexpensive alternatives to branding and student engagement efforts, while empowering students and departments to “sell” the (university) brand.
And, if none of these talking points work, keep in mind that there are those who will never get it because it’s human nature to stick to what we know and what’s comfortable, and shy away from what’s foreign.
In the end, we look to those internal consultants and strategic thinkers to do the legwork to bring our organizations into the digital age, hoping that by example, the digital immigrants in our workplaces can feel at ease in this brave new world.