Students are burdened with a lot of stereotypes and though some of them are most definitely true, many of them are just myths. Aside from the obvious, students are well known for being one of the brightest, most tech-savvy groups in society. Any lecture theatre in the UK will be full of tablets, ultra-thin laptops and, yes, plenty of smartphones all online, almost all connected simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook and multiple e-mail accounts, collectively downloading more information than was being downloaded from the lecturer.
It was surprising, then, to see the results of a survey conducted by a top student forum, The Student Room, that claimed that students don’t find university social media particularly trustworthy or especially useful when compared to emails, meetings or university newsletters. Given that the average university is planning to increase spending on social media by 60%, it’s a worrying thought and it’s a problem for all those looking to attract attention to recruitment by social media.
A part of the difficulty is that undergraduates, as do all of us, consume social media at a remarkable rate. The smartphone allows us to flick through maybe two hundred Twitter updates in less than thirty seconds and there’s almost no possibility of saving or flagging a particular tweet for later: it demands our attention and it wants it now! This ever-changing environment makes it extremely hard to relate what we see and consume online to an actual real-world process.
We also know how easy it is to update a social media account; it takes about ten seconds and one individual. As opposed to a thoughtful, composed email that has most likely been checked by other members of your recruitment department, it’s too easy to assume that information posted on social networking sites is due to be updated and amended at a laster date or, worse, just inaccurate.
Because of this, we struggle to treat important information exclusively posted on social media sites with the seriousness it deserves. Whether that’s a call for applications or the announcement of an office open day, we consume it and we forget about it almost immediately. It’s no surprise that even students, the great experts of social media in our generation, are struggling to trust what goes up on social media sites.
Of course, there’s no need for this to be a limitation to your social media use. So long as your feeds link to permanent, official and accurate corporate web capital with, preferably, an RSS subscription for updates, you can ensure that social media is just another way of getting to the final message, without being a goal in itself. This takes away the content from your transient Twitter feed and confidently sets it in web-based stone, there to be checked, used and revised for as long as it’s needed.