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Where we #FAIL our students

28 May

While shopping at Hollister over the weekend I laughed as every employee tacked on the line, “be sure to follow us on Twitter” as customers turned to walk away with their new denim shorts. It took everything in me to hold back a, “why?”

I pulled up the Hollister Twitter stream to see for myself. I’m often disappointed with brands on Twitter and didn’t expect much, but with every employee spamming departing customers with a “follow us” request, I imagined they’d be running a social media campaign … hardly.

My dislike for cheap requests for retweets aside, after reading their stream I confirmed I’m not their target audience:

RT if you’re shoulders are too cute to cover up! http://bit.ly/Lcoxb0 #SummerStrapless

RT if you’re #TakingItEasy this Summer in the hottest laidback tops!

Just chilling with #HotLifeguards ;) http://bddy.me/JNNHgE @GillyHicks

Remember, everyone buying Hollister gear is hearing the robotic, “be sure to follow us on Twitter”. At least forty percent of the twenty-strong queue were older than me. Soooo it begs the question, why are employees asking forty-year-olds to follow @HollisterCo?

We can do better

I’m facing a somewhat blank page titled “social media strategy for current UBC students”. Catchy, right? I’ll work on that.

Sadly, what I experienced with Hollister isn’t reserved for the retail industry. Many university departments create social media profiles, often without developing a strategy or delivering on a value proposition. Sound familiar?

Why should students follow or like us if this is what we’re pumping out:

Some accounts are student-run, some are managed by staff off the sides of their desks, some are managed by communications staff, and some are created by student staff with their personal email accounts.

Fortunately, the student services integrated plan and the redevelopment of students.ubc.ca brings new life to the discussion around social media.

First, we need to bring order to the chaos. Second, we need to fix what’s broken.

On the operating table we have:

  • Working in silos and missing opportunities to reach the student body
  • Many voices not embracing the UBC place of mind brand
  • The lack of a central social media strategy for student services

What next? Hmmm. Ask me again after my hazelnut latte.

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