Last week’s eduWeb conference was great. Social media and branding dominated the official presentations, while social media, content management, and mobile dominated the individual conversations taking place. Between the track presentations and talking to other web marketers and developers I picked up several new tips and got a better understanding of the trends that are taking place in the online world. I’ll pass along several of those over the next few days. I’ll start with the most important observations, ones that I think we as a university need to address and improve upon.
- Our social media effort is still siloed, with each medium remaining separate and distinct from the others. We should create a mashup social media aggregation site that brings in elements of all of our social media elements into a single page view, and gives an anchor point from which we can market all of our social media efforts. Interest in one then gives exposure to the others. As well as physically combining the social media outlets, we should also unify the message being presented rather than “broadcasting noise.”
- Similarly, we need to create one overall online strategy that includes social media rather than treating it as a separate effort. Social media is not a strategy unto itself, it must exist as part of a comprehensive online effort. A few relevant quotes that condense the thought:
- Your .edu site is the foundation for ALL of your online activity
- You should make your .edu address as ubiquitous as your university logo
- Your website is the belly of the starfish, social media is the legs – social media should feed the website, not be the heart of your strategy
- An integrated online strategy also implies the unification of branding across all sites. That is something we arent necessarily doing well. As we develop each site we need to not only take into account the needs of the project itself but also how it fits into our overall online efforts.
- We have lots of events on campus that feature prominent people. Make events more than just an entry in your campus calendar. We know about them ahead of time, so we should prime the pump on Twitter conversation even before the event takes place. Regularly announce Twitter hashtags before major events to set the stage for online conversation.
- Changes in the mobile have been occurring faster than in any previous technology on the internet, and the adoption rates are still accelerating. What we have in place must be constantly re-evaluated to make sure it does not become obsolete as trends pass us by.
- As smart phones have become widely owned and used, native apps as a method of delivering mobile content are being left behind as web shops aggressively pursues mobile web sites. If we want to remain leaders in the field we need to constantly re-evaluate our mobile strategy, and in particular shift our focus away from the app vs. web delivery medium issue and onto improved content and user experience no matter how it is provided. App development still has a place, but it should be focused on the high-profile features that cannot be replicated by web apps (i.e. things that leverage the phones hardware such as GPS, camera, etc.) rather than being used to deliver basic content.
- We should investigate and start aggressively using QR codes to give a pop to our print marketing. These are nice shortcuts that allow us to extend print ads by adding an online element.
- While making a mobile website is not the same as making a website mobile-capable, the proliferation of smart phones means that we must begin including mobile views in all future websites we create.
Tomorrow we will be launching a new Texas A&M News and Information site. We will be moving away from an antiqutied article manager to a site build on the latest version of WordPress. There will be many new features build into the site, many leveraging the power of RSS feeds to bring in information from outside sources.
We anticipate that there will be a little downtime with the transition but will strive to make it as minimal as possible.
One thing that webmasters around campus should be aware of – if you are currently subscribing to the “recent articles” feed from the old system you should update your links to either http://feeds.feedburner.com/tamuNewsFull or http://tamunews.tamu.edu/feed/. If you already subscribe to the full version of the feed you won’t need to change anything (but might have a lag as Feedburner updates their links.)