Media has gotten social. I don’t think that was its intent, but Media has gotten social anyway.
(Since this blog is primarily read by career college executives, I’ll clarify my terminology from the outset: Media in this blog post does not refer to television, radio or print advertising placement. Rather, for our purposes here, we’ll be discussing media as collected communication mediums.)
Media started out on cave walls thousands of years ago. Symbols and signs were carved into rock by torch light in worship of certain gods and to communicate. But it wasn’t too convenient. Cave walls, after all, couldn’t be wound up, tied with rubber bands and thrown onto doorsteps – and it was hard to sell Victoria’s Secret lingerie that way, with all the cave men huddled so closely together. Also, doorsteps hadn’t been invented yet.
So began the long procession of Media, an evolution that went from single-printed manuscripts, to massive print paperbacks and images on fuzzy television screens and radio waves, to what we have today, the Internet. Media was almost always one-sided. You sat, you read. You sat, you watched. You sat (or maybe worked in the yard or drove or exercised), and you listened.
Now, Media is used for interaction. Facebook, LinkedIn and especially Twitter are the new ways by which people are engaging one another. We should know. Career College Central now has it own presences on each of those sites. We are attempting to be social. Luckily, it’s not a stretch for us. We are naturally very appealing.
All these people who would rather you not knock on their door or acknowledge them on their walk from their cars to their houses when they get home from work … are talking to one another … when they want to … on their terms. Me included.
But while it might seem like a superficial medium where people play around, it can also have serious applications, too. For our business, for example, aside from the Career College Association’s convention and the same organization’s Hill Day event, there isn’t a place where career colleges come together. Those are both annual events. The big discussions, so to speak, and even some of the little ones, are often put off until these big events. Schools often have to decide independently how to react to new trends in the field and often make important decisions on their own without the insight of other college leaders who might have a better solution or a helpful suggestion.
Social networks are one way we can create a community throughout the career college sector by providing a place to network and have a voice on current issues. In at least one instance, we’ve helped bring career education professionals to take a stand against one derogatory blog post on The Chronicle of Higher Education by showing our readers where to comment on the piece. Before social media, the blogger’s opinions would have gone unchallenged.
We, as a publication, are also in the game for self promotion. If you think we decided to start social media pages to increase our readership, you are right. But we also did it to increase discussion about issues important to the sector. On LinkedIn, for example, you can post any question you like to online forum and anyone belonging to the group can comment. I post a news story everyday that I think is worth reading (and not, in some cases).
Twitter is a bit more minute by minute or, in our case, hour by hour. We make a few updates there everyday to let you know what we’re working on and, sometimes, how you can contribute. You might keep an eye on our Twitter to see how you might be able to publicize something that’s going on at your school or be a part of a cover article.
Facebook intermixes the two. You get the status updates ala Twitter and you can make professional connections, like Linked In. But there’ s more personal information out there, too. You can get to know someone outside of the professional realm. Did you know Jonathan Liebman of Specs Howard School of Broadcasting is the web master of For Bass Players Only and that he’s written some textbooks on bass playing? Now you know. Now you are being social.
We all know camaraderie hasn’t been lacking in our business. Infrequent is probably a better way to characterize the issue. All the knowledge and information you might have once waited to gain at annual banquets can be yours by setting up profiles on these sites. Yeah, it might be impossible now to think you might gain something to benefit your school by “tweeting,” but it’s true. You can. Anything less would be anti-social.