Linkage Love: Upcoming Trends in Social Media

By Anitra Cottledge

I had a great conversation recently with some colleagues about ways to utilize technology and social media to communicate about your office or department. This is one of my favorite topics, so I had plenty to say. We talked about topics and strategies that have probably been mentioned before: create a social media policy for your office (building upon your institution’s policy if they have one), be strategic about what you post, develop a social media schedule, and track your engagement via social media, i.e., make a monthly note of how many followers, hits, likes you have. Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not working and be willing to evolve. Remember that social media and technology are just new(er) mechanisms of outreach.

The other thing that we talked about was deciding which social media platforms to use and why. I went through our usage of particular platforms (at this point, we are utilizing a lot of social media with the exception of Tumblr, because we don’t have a need for it. This past year, we started using Pinterest, and are playing with some different ways to use it and integrate it with our other communication vehicles.

What came up is that technology moves so quickly, and before you can blink, there’s a new platform on the horizon. Here are a few upcoming trends and/or platforms to watch out for:

  • (The Incredible) Shrinking Videos – Are you using Vine to make short, 6-minute, looping videos that you can share with friends via a mobile app? Wired Mag on how Vine is the next (current?) thing.
  • Embracing the Visual – I don’t know how this is necessarily new, because it seems to me (in an anecdotal way) that people already utilize visual imagery to engage audiences via things like Instagram, Pinterest, infographics, and using more photo and video on Facebook. Nonetheless, if you haven’t given this idea some thought in relation to your social media strategy, now is the time to reframe and rethink.
  • Going Mobile – I am starting to see more mobile versions of websites, and have recently gotten involved in trying to optimize a site’s information for mobile use.  Considering the large amounts of people who access the web via smartphone, considering mobile design or responsive design is important.

These are just a few things that I’m thinking and reading about. What are trends that you’re noticing?

Linkage Love: Upcoming Trends in Social Media

App or Website?

by Kristen Abell

As college campuses continue to assess their websites, they find that more and more of our users are accessing sites through mobile browsers – smartphones, tablets, etc. (duh). What this calls into question, though, is what direction do we go from here? Do we invest our resources in a mobile app, or do we build a website easily accessible on mobile devices? A few thoughts to consider…

The majority of users on mobile devices access their favorite sites through apps (think Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). They are used to the speed and ease of use of these apps. Most of these sites have created apps to be used across a variety of platforms – iOS, Android, etc. They highlight the most important aspects of the site for any user, and they turn them into buttons or easily used functions. This sets a fantastic example for universities in what mobile users are looking for when accessing a site on their device.

Quickly becoming more popular than mobile websites these days are responsive design sites – sites that adjust to fit the device on which they’re being viewed. These have a lot of potential for users to continue to be able to access all parts of the site, and once a responsive site has been implemented, it’s much easier to make changes to than a mobile app. In addition, for those users that are less familiar with using apps (believe me, they’re actually out there), this provides a more friendly interface.

One of the biggest challenges to universities is the breadth of audience and user functions required by their sites. They are providing information for students, future students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and community. They are often large and unwieldy sites branching across a variety of departments and academic units. They also often use tools for registration, data-tracking and other applications that may not have ventured into the realm of mobile-friendliness.

So what is the best path for universities to take? What does your institution do? Do you have other thoughts on the mobile app vs. responsive website debate?

App or Website?