Social Website Bloggers

When I was down in San Fransisco a couple of years ago, I dropped into one of the first meetings of the Social Media Club.

While chatting with a group of strangers about social media, I mentioned how Stumble Upon had recently added a video section. One of the ladies was really enthralled and wanted to know just what you had to do to get her politically motivated video featured there.

My “clueless Internet marketing guru” radar was going off and I had to explain to her that videos don’t get put on there by work or money, they get put on there because Stumble Upon has an algorithm that calculates whether or not this video is something I’d like to see.

I explained that if you want your video to show up for me it would have to be something that is interesting enough for people with like-minded interests as me to give it a thumbs-up click. It’s an organic process that can’t be forced unless you are able to create a compelling video. I’m not sure I got through to her, and this saddens me, because I feel like I know tons more about how social media actually works and yet I see many of these self marketed Internet gurus that seem to know next to nothing.

My first thought when I heard that the University of Lethbridge has decided to jump on the social media marketing bandwagon is that hey, I’d be great at that job.

From the job listing as found on the U of L Notice Board:

Social Website Bloggers
5-10 hours per week starting in May
The successful candidates should be passionate about the UofL and eager to share their experiences, opinions and observations. They will maintain and update electronic social networking sites including, but not limited to, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They will be expected, on a regular basis, to constructively comment on many of the happenings and experiences within the UofL and the City of Lethbridge.

My next thought when I read, “constructively comment” was that this is a bad idea. I wonder how tight the reins will be held on the winning applicant. In my mind, there’s really only a couple of ways this can turn out.

On the one hand, a paid blogger extolling the virtues of the perfect world existing at the U of L is going to come off as contrived, institutional in flavour, and won’t express the kind of unique ideas that will get the kind of attention the University is looking for in the first place. They might as well just save their money and keep pushing the kind of media they already publish.

On the other hand, if the new U of L blogger is free to present ideas about how they see the University run, unfavourable opinions may germinate and it could turn out to be a PR nightmare.

I still wish they had something like that when I went there because it sounds like a fun job. But if I were the person in charge of this position I would keep in mind this post from Matt Haughey, This is how Social Media really works. It’s not about paying someone to get on twitter, facebook, and blogger, it’s about putting together a quality product (in this case higher education) and letting the social network do its own thing.

And for the record, it’s U of L not UofL — that’s a total pet peeve of mine.