Loughborough Students’ Union is notorious for the ridiculous amount of Facebook pages and groups we have, for quite literally everything. Whether you’re an LSU Staff member, a student interested in the goings-on of Action or fancy following the work of your Exec, there’s a Facebook page and Twitter account for all.
In the age of social media, it’s clear that students are likely to engage well with posts they see online, but I’m quite sure that we’d all be grateful of a decent LSU website, yes? Label have been following the developments of and plans for the website, which you can find out more about here. At a meeting about the website last week, I wanted to know more about whether when we upgrade the website, will it be worth it anyway? Are the Exec actually likely to upload their content for promotional purposes there, or still go straight to Facebook where they get instant reach?In my opinion, if this is done properly, then yes, it will be totally worth it. With sufficient training and support for the use of the website, the venture could be successful, especially with decent integration of social media onto the website, and/or automated posts to all social media accounts once a post is made online. An improvement of LSU emails would also be helpful in directing people to the website as opposed to social media.
However, at this stage I am speculating, as the website upgrade isn’t due until Easter. Hypothetically, if we suddenly decided to take away all Facebook pages and Twitter accounts belonging to the Exec as well as their respective section pages, there’d be a serious struggle to promote events, news or content. Every section event is promoted by pages as well as in groups, which requires the “promoter” to use their personal account in order to share, as pages can’t share to groups. The main Loughborough group is used for sharing events, people asking others to do surveys, and of course where you post if you’ve lost a student card, keys and phone on a night out. This makes the group cluttered with posts that are either humorous or boring for whatever reason, and so we might not actually see the events that we want to, hence the pinned posts at the top of the group. With 11 Exec members and 5 DOs fighting for attention on various groups, you can’t help but wonder if they do really spend all day on Facebook – is that part of the job description?
There are so many things to follow online, and yet none of the accounts use a clear strategy. Many are simply retweeting one another, and sometimes the Exec twitter accounts become quite personal anyway. No, no-one is interested in what tie you’re wearing today. Loughborough Students’ Union official social media accounts seem to have more structure than the Exec ones, who essentially tweet and post as they please, some more extensively than others, depending on the nature of their role and section. Some will even write the same tweet out loads of times, just to beg a reply from someone. You wouldn’t see the uni doing that, they’re engaged but sensibly so. Sometimes, the Exec are supposed to post about specific things, to promote an event that has become union wide, or that they’re all involved in – but it’s probably less effective if they all tweet that at the same time…Take all of that away, and suddenly no one knows that there’s a Rag raid to go on or a big Sports game to get to. LSU have become solely reliant on social media in recent years, in fact I have only ever known it to be this way. For an award-winning students’ union, we really should be presenting ourselves in a more professional and accessible manner. Not everyone likes using social media, and it is wrong to assume that they do. Imagine wanting to run a campaign, but you don’t use Facebook or Twitter.
Or, even worse, imagine being on Exec and being asked to change your profile picture to your official Exec one, on your personal account. To me, the two should most definitely be separate, and it is unfair to ask someone to make their personal account part of their job. There comes yet another problem with the pages for Exec members – who can’t post to groups and also have a very small distinction between work and leisure. If we must have so much social media presence (thus spreading ourselves thinly), then why not give the Exec “people” accounts? Or nothing at all… but we’ve established that doing such a thing would result in a severe lack of ways to promote work, Exec reports, events and content.
Maybe no-one would know what events were on, few people would attend big nights in the union, there’d be a struggle to get people on trips and we wouldn’t have hundreds of promotional posters and videos on our news feed. But for now at least, we’ll have to stick with hundreds of groups, pages, Facebook events and inevitable hourly notifications…