Categories
The University

reminder: you can’t force the brand – in class or out

RideDigital natives, aka Millenials, are defined along marketing lines, an approach which may serve university PR and recruitment (to an extent – as long as you don’t push student expectations beyond classroom realities) but is inappropriate for teaching and learning. Never mind the limited sample that is the basis of characterizing Millennials; and never mind the clear stereotyping of the group. The Chronicle covered all that back in October, 2009. And never mind the mid-20th century Mad Ave mindset behind characterizing a homogenous audience in a time of fragmentation: Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus takes that down a notch. (And see also a marketing perspective on the implications of Shirky’s thesis from Jason Falls.)

Instead, consider this: The Millennial group rates their computer expertise higher than they perform.

Second, consider the argument I’ve heard more than once: “Students don’t need courses that deal with computers or the internet. They’ve grown up with that. They know all that.” The fallacy in that argument should be obvious to those of us who grew up with television.

Third, consider that a university’s marketing perspective often drives administrative decisions on programs and courses, in part directly, and in part through local PR, and by defining The One True Story the university is supposed to tell the world.

Well, it does at my university, anyway.

So, here’s The Read Write Web on So-Called “Digital Natives” Not Media Savvy

Having been born into a world where personal computers were not a revolution, but merely existed alongside air conditioning, microwaves and other appliances, there has been (a perhaps misguided) perception that the young are more digitally in-tune with the ways of the Web than others.

A new study coming out of Northwestern University, discovered that college students have a decided lack of Web savvy, especially when it comes to search engines and the ability to determine the credibility of search results. Apparently, the students favor search engine rankings above all other factors. The only thing that matters is that something is the top search result, not that it’s legit.

The article mentioned is from The International Journal of Communication: “Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content,” by Hargittai, Fullerton, Menchen-Trevino, and Yates Tomas. Here’s the abstract, and the link:

We find that the process by which users arrive at a site is an important component of how they judge the final destination. In particular, search context, branding and routines, and a reliance on those in one’s networks play important roles in online information-seeking and evaluation. We also discuss that users differ considerably in their skills when it comes to judging online content credibility.

This is the kind of information faculty and administrators need when designing programs and courses – and even the direction of the university – not the marketing orientation. This is the kind of information that drives course design, class and online interaction, knowledge making, and all the other high-minded features we ascribe to our decisions.

Night in PhilidelphiaAnd, finally, a reminder from Falls – not just for Communications and Marketing but for faculty thinking that Social is this Season’s Black (yeah, including me).

The bad news for marketers is that Shirky’s examples quietly illustrate that we can’t force meaningful social activities. They happen organically, if not accidentally. So instead of trying to build branded communities and produce “viral” videos, our best bet is to just be hanging around when something cool happens and be there, not conducting the train.

Faculty can’t force the social, either. Have some more sushi. I’ll be in the corner, reading.

Categories
Pinboard Bookmarks

bookmarks for September 26th, 2009 through October 8th, 2009

  • Writing Spaces | Readings on Writing – Writing wants to be free. A significant project, but the anti-wiki spin isn't really necessary: "An Alternative to Wiki Textbooks. Some teachers might have thought about participating in other open access textbook projects like Wikibooks, but have not for fear that such work would go unrewarded in tenure and promotion. Writing Spaces' individually authored texts and more traditional proposal and peer review process gives you a line on your CV with direct publication credit for your work.An Alternative to Wiki Textbooks

    Some teachers might have thought about participating in other open access textbook projects like Wikibooks, but have not for fear that such work would go unrewarded in tenure and promotion. Writing Spaces' individually authored texts and more traditional proposal and peer review process gives you a line on your CV with direct publication credit for your work." Seems the project is heavily embedded in traditional writing spaces. – (publishing writing wikibooks pedagogy literature book )

  • if:book: a clean well-lighted place for books – "The purpose of this new set of notes is to expand the thinking beyond how a specific text is presented or interacted with. Reading (and writing) do not happen only at the level of the individual work. There is a broad ecology of behaviors, activities and micro-environments that surround each work and our relationship to it — how things come to be written, how we choose what to read, how we make the purchase, how we share our experience with others. Currently (i.e. toward the end of age of print), that ecology is defined by agent/editor mechanisms of acquisition, sharp delineation between authors and readers, top-down marketing, heavy reliance on big mainstream media to get the word out, the bookshelves that make our books part of our daily life, bookstores and — yes — Amazon." – (books ebook publishing reading marketing ebooks library2.0 )
Categories
Pinboard Bookmarks

bookmarks for August 7th, 2009

Categories
General New Media

and we couldn’t be prouder

chinaonpetcharts.jpg

Last week, a picture of one of our cats that I posted to Flickr was selected by Purina PetCharts as one of their top 10 of the day.

We couldn’t be prouder of China, pictured left, who is a year old this month. The title of the image when Purina spotted it was “Cat on lounge.”  I changed it later to “Odalisque.”  I don’t know if the title would have made a difference in their selection.

It’s an interesting marketing strategy: Crawl picture- and video-sharing sites for images that suit the brand and incorporate the images in a daily popularity contest. I trust the images are either for open use (mine are), or the owners are contacted for permission. Purina left a comment on Flickr, which pointed me, and anyone else finding it, to the image – and to their site, of course.

It’s flattering if handled right, and Purina seems to be handling it right. Your pet (and you must be proud of it to have images posted to share) is discovered, like Norma Jean, and brought into the club, along with similar images of dogs and cats.

The trick is in the selection of images. They can’t be too serious, but they can be as cute as anything from Hallmark. Purina uses the original poster’s title, and not altering the images, just selecting them. The idea is to construct the same happy-go-lucky, insider ethos as the aggregated posters, to become one of the group.

And the real trick is to tone down the marketing on the Pet Charts site and cast the sales in the same spirit of sharing as the image sites it crawls. So they cast the site as “the definitive guide to the best pet stuff online,” and you can almost hear the verbal pause, the hedge in that informal “stuff.” It’s not “information.” It’s not advertising or products; wouldn’t want to say that. It’s “stories, videos and photos.” That’s the “stuff.” The same informal term social aggregators like to use then they are being miscellaneous. Stuff. (There are links to products, ringtones, widgets, and coupons from the Pet Charts site, but they are tucked away in the footer, another smart move in underselling.)

petchartbanner.jpg

This makes Purina (if not Nestle, who owns the site) one of us, a pet owner, not a pet food producer.

And it really does, too. That’s why this is an interesting marketing strategy. Purina has to live up to the ethos it’s defining on Pet Charts. By taking on the public role of an altruistic social pet aggregator, by providing a free Facebook for kitty and puppy, by using their web resources and expertise, Purina is committing themselves to continue to perform good deeds in public.