September 1, 2016
The Power of Private Media for Higher Ed Marketing
The other day, I chatted with a T-Rex on Facebook.
To be honest, my main mission was to see just how sensitive he was about his tiny arms. Though he brought up his appearance, after that, let’s just say he was a little evasive.
This Facebook messenger chat bot, created by National Geographic Kids, was designed to engage and teach about the fearsome dinosaur. Facebook messenger bots are one example of a rising platform in the switch from social media to private media for marketing & beyond.
You can message the Commander in Chief himself. Big brands are piling on the messenger bot bandwagon. Others have dipped their toes into Whatsapp campaigns, and even SMS campaigns are showing signs of relevancy.
While I doubt social media isn’t going to become a neglected platform anytime soon, there’s surely a shift in progress toward private media. It’s too soon to say whether it’ll fade quickly like most marketing trends. So what can higher ed marketing do to engage with this potential sea change? Like we did with augmented & virtual reality for higher ed, let’s think “what if…”
What if you built a Facebook messenger bot designed specifically to answer high schooler’s common questions? 50% of teens say they use Messenger on a regular basis, so why not tell them about yourself in a fun, efficient way? Maybe it’s a chat with the school mascot, or with a “typical freshman” persona—there are multiple ways to connect.
What if you extended that messenger capability to parents who want to know what kind of future awaits their kids if they go to your school? What if this bot could focused on career paths, salary, & employment data for each major or program? Parents care, and if they know a degree from your school will put their son or daughter on a solid path, you’re that much closer to welcoming your next successful student.
What if alumni had a similar option at their fingertips, to keep them engaged with school & alumni events, alumni news & updates, and resources to help them with career advancement?
First, a few questions.
Private media is a new frontier, so there’s plenty of questions.
It’s early in the game for messenger bots and the like, so it’s still pretty impersonal. Some are working to build the potential for “human” empathy, but it’ll take time. Are you willing to engage your prospects in a helpful but potentially impersonal way?
Do you have the time & budget to invest in this emerging technology? Like any new wave, there’s always risk. Are you willing to take the leap into private media? If you do, you’ll want to do it right, and the learning curve is likely to be steep.
Are you ready to risk potential gaffes with automated technology like messenger bots and SMS? Precautions can be taken, but the risk is always there, and we all know the painful feeling when an embarrassing screenshot starts to spread across the unfeeling Internet landscape.
What the T-Rex taught me
My chat with the T-Rex reminded me that even though emerging tech like messenger bots is still immature, it’s fun, engaging, and has huge potential for delight. Yep, I know it’s a robot. But, for a moment, I suspend my disbelief and enjoy the conversation. I might even learn something. And there’s the opportunity for your audience to do the same.
Tell us what you think
Are you diving in headfirst to harness private media in your higher ed marketing? Do you think it’s just a fad or a lasting change? We’d love to hear what you think.