Authenticity as Opportunity

be-authenticAs it always does, #heweb13 got me thinking. During several presentations questions regarding user generated content arose from the audience:

“What if someone says something negative? Do you post it? Delete it? Respond to it?”


“How do you deal with questionable topics?”

In an industry still primarily stuck in brick and mortar (for now), ‘fit’ is a huge piece of retaining students. Spending thousands of dollars in recruitment is for nothing if we are not true in our advertising, students find out and then end up leaving. This seems like an opportunity to me.

Often, we’re looking for ways to have our audience elevate our buzz in social media. Maybe we give them a task (send us a pic of you in your XX wear!). Maybe we support a contest (make a video telling us how much you love us!). But how much time and effort do we put into amplifying the content that they already create about us? About their experiences, thoughts, dislikes and tribulations? Can’t we argue this is the true college experience? The one we’ll most likely lose when we all go MOOC-style? Is this a hidden, too obvious opportunity?

What about our profiles in social media? The personal ones we use to interact with students? Are they truly us? Our professional persona? Our institutional ‘brand’? Is there value in building relationships with a talking logo over an actual personal connection?

What if we just started holding up a mirror to our students and alumni as our communication strategy? If we took off our masks and just were people, not advisors or counselors, communicators or marketers?

Are we scared of getting in trouble or of what people would say? Both of these are problematic but especially the latter.

If we assume our students will bad mouth us or act out of accordance with our standards, did we do our job?


2 thoughts on “Authenticity as Opportunity

  1. The crazy aha moment in this is a simple one: we spend a lot of money driving people to our school for a tour. “If they take a tour, we got ’em”, we all say. If that’s the case, why do we then send them off with a student? We allow the student to frame the selling pitch with almost no oversight. Unlike letting the tell stories in video or words, we can’t revisit the tour. Each one is lost. How did they describe life in the dorm or the food in the dining hall? We don’t know.

    I’m not suggesting we try to monitor this, I’m saying that we already let students be students. We can let it happen in a bigger way.

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