The part of digital engagement Zuckerberg doesn’t own

Are you using social media for engaging with alumni and friends? Sorry, no. It’s using you.

Funny thing. I’ve noticed Twitter withholds notifications about people’s likes and comments on my tweets. It seems I get a batch of them only every few days. Social media platforms have been doing this lately. Some say it’s to deepen our addiction, others say it’s for the mental health of users.

Either way, it’s damned annoying, and inconvenient for engaging professionally in real time with people in my field.

It’s a reminder that social media is the largest experiment on human subjects in the history of the planet, controlled by corporations recognizing few ethical obligations to users and with zero transparency. Your university is just another way to connect users in order to increase engagement with the platform itself.

Avoid social? Hardly. That’s where our constituents live. These platforms put powerful tools at our disposal.

I’m skeptical, though, that social is a trove of engagement data. Operations should not try to build a lot of infrastructure around social platforms we don’t control. I’m also skeptical that broadcasting finely crafted messages alone will lead to engagement. Engagement is a conversation.

That’s what’s most important, isn’t it? Conversation is the piece that Jack and Zuck don’t own. A digital strategy should be readily transferable from Facebook to Instagram to TikTok to IRL. Rather than invest in a platform we don’t own we should invest in the relationships that we do.

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