Appendix B
Episode 023 -

What good is Threads to University Marketing?

Appendix B Episode 23, text is present that reads, "What good is Threads to Higher Ed Marketing?"

Carl and Joel chat about the emergence of Threads, and what its potential impact on higher education marketing might be. Should institutions embrace it? And if so, for which audience?
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Carl Gratiot:
From Bravery Media, this is Appendix B. On this week’s episode, we talk about Threads and try to unpack how Higher Ed marketers should feel about it. And now here are your hosts, Joel Goodman and me for this week.

Joel Goodman:
Social media media’s just been weird, social media hasn’t felt, super social to me, and you know, lately, recently we saw Meta, the parent company of Facebook starting a new Twitter-ish, Twitter-esque platform on top of Instagram called Threads.

People have been questioning is Threads gonna stick around? And yes, it’s gonna stick around. I mean, they had over 50 million people register for it. They may have to change some of their privacy laws in order to get the EU on board. They may have to, sorry, privacy policies, to get the EU on board and adhere to those laws there.

They may have to stop gathering as much information about their users as they do, but I don’t see Threads going anywhere. This isn’t a niche sort of thing, like Twitter originally was billed as micro blogging. In 2006 when it first came out, 2007 when I joined, it was micro blogging, and I mean, Threads is the same way, but, there’s been a lot of talk around the community. Is community gonna happen? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, for Higher Ed? What good is Threads to university marketing?

Carl Gratiot:
It’s a new platform. It had everybody stressed out and also excited all at once last week.

Well, to your first, to your point, is it going to stick? I think when a hundred million people join a new social platform in a week, I think it’s gonna stick. The pasta’s not coming off the wall. That’s hardened. It’s dried. It’s gonna be part of your home furnishings from now on, but, what do we do with it and what’s it for and who’s it for, I think is the most important thing we’re gonna all figure out over the next couple of weeks.

Joel Goodman:
Threads is so much like Twitter, from a structural standpoint in terms of like how you interact with it, that I kind of think it’s almost irrelevant, at least for university marketing purposes.

We know that the youth demographic, you know, the high school senior, high school junior demographic, the people that universities and colleges are trying to attract to their institutions, were NOT on Twitter. I mean, like, the percentage is so, so, so, so low, they’re not even on Facebook anymore.

These were the original, original social networks, that gained popularity. I mean, you know, you could say Friendster or MySpace and blah, blah, blah, but these are the ones that stuck and have been around for ever and ever, Instagram, honestly, not all that popular with the kids either. And the problem is that in Higher Ed, a lot of times it’s become harder for us to adapt to that because, you know, all the social media managers that started out talking about how low their pay was and that they did the job of six people, are now like up into the higher echelons of their jobs and getting older.

And we’re all aging.

You know, we’re all feeling the weight of time. We’re all feeling the weight of time on us, and it can be really difficult to even understand how that younger demographic, especially with how fast culture changes, how fast technology changes, and how fast these sorts of products change, it’s hard to adapt and figure out where to go for those people, and so it’s, it’s very safe.

In an industry that likes safety and likes to de-risk, to just stay on Twitter or go to the thing that’s going to replace Twitter or Facebook, you know, or whatever, and treat it in the same way, but the problem is that you oftentimes end up spending time and effort, and that equals money trying to market to people that aren’t even on that platform, when you could be moving to something better.

So, like, on the Threads side of it, I feel like the opportunities are maybe in the alumni engagement sector, probably mostly, it’s probably more gonna be for fundraising and for, you know, that brand extension that prospective students don’t really care about, but your alumni do.

Maybe their parents do, but I doubt even their parents are gonna be on there, our friend Jon-Stephen Stansel, when he worked at Texas State, they were a very Twitter heavy campus and they had a really strong community of students that were on Twitter. But this was five, six years ago.

Like, are they still there? And I don’t know, maybe they are, but that’s still not a marketing effort, right? And so, it comes back around to like, these aren’t, I don’t think anyone that’s using social media these days is just wanting advertisement blasted at them. They’re not just looking for a simple message that’s being yelled at them whether they want it or not, and that’s the antithesis of what social media as a construct is.

It’s supposed to be participatory, it’s supposed to be, we’re all having conversation and working into the brand narrative that we’re having with each other, not just yelling.

Carl Gratiot:
It really goes back to yet again, knowing who your students are and what they prefer to use when they wanna communicate back with you and what they’re already using.

Because I feel, along with you, it’s most likely that you’re gonna be using Threads on a college campus to promote the 5k on the alumni weekend because those folks that are out in the workplace, or the parents of current students, are the ones that are probably Instagram heavy or Twitter expats that are looking for the new place.

So if you’re thinking this is a new platform, it’s super shiny. Yes. Maybe there are current students or future students that might check it out, but if we know anything about our demographic research and our audience, it’s unlikely that that’s what they’re gonna be using to replace, you know, a TikTok or anything like that.

Joel Goodman:
So like I was on, I was on Twitter before it was a marketing vehicle for Higher Ed and that was when I liked it the most because it was where I met a lot of my current Higher Education friends across the industry, it was how I found out about the original HighEdWeb that I went to.

It was a place where we talked about what we were doing and shared how we were working on stuff, and that was really super valuable. And then eventually it got more brandy, you know, that sort of thing. I wouldn’t mind Threads going the direction of a bunch of Higher Ed web and marketing practitioners on there talking about how we do stuff and talking about how we further the industry.

I’m hoping that we can get to a point as a society where we can just step back from always promoting something.

It doesn’t have to always be self-promotion, it doesn’t always have to be about marketing your institution or, you know, whatever else. Like where do we have conversations anymore online?

I don’t think it’s really on social media that often, it has been with some of these, you know, with some of these, these alt networks, but, when a multi-billion dollar corporation spins up a new platform that’s based on a different, older platform and lets all the brands on to yell at you, the intention is obviously not to have conversations.

Carl Gratiot:
Well, I wanna answer that question, but in the spirit of what you just said, I wanna take the time to promote Bravery’s new account on Threads. I haven’t really logged into Threads myself on the Bravery end, but I have seen it. Apparently, it’s just a sentient program thinking for itself.

You must have programmed or something?

Joel Goodman:
Oh, you didn’t do that?

Carl Gratiot:
Oh no, I don’t have the password.

Joel Goodman:
I was wondering. No, I didn’t do it either… I didn’t know that bots could just, spontaneously do that. Oh. Maybe it’s all the new coding stuff that all these AIs can do, huh?

Carl Gratiot:
Oh, I guess. I don’t, I’ve never really understood computers.

Joel Goodman:

Carl Gratiot:
So I think to summarize what we’ve discussed here today, Threads, it’s chaos, it’s seeing what sticks on the wall, and not putting all your eggs in this new platform’s basket because that would be a misstep.

We don’t know what’s gonna happen, but if you wanna promote a 5K to your alumni, it’s probably a damn good place to start.

Joel Goodman:
Could be. Could be.

Carl Gratiot:
Thank you so much for listening to Appendix B. If you’ve got your own thoughts or opinions on the state of social media in Higher Ed, we’d love to hear them. Please reach out to Enrollment Cliff, the sentient being that runs Bravery’s Threads account. We appreciate you and we’ll talk to you next week.