People are saying horrible things about us - let's shut our eyes and put our fingers in our ears.
That seems to be the official line on social media taken by a lot of Further Education colleges. It is not, I hasten to add, the view of those who work in communications and marketing but does seem to be the prevailing attitude of those further up the foodchain.
I am analysing some useful feedback from delegates who will attend the Association of Colleges Communications Conference on Thursday. With Sunderland colleague Chris Rushton, I will be talking about Modern Media Trends and College Communications. To get us started, we did a survey, seeking to discover how college communicators used social media; the results were, let's say, ... challenging.
From the outset, I failed to anticipate that many, many colleges ban access to social media sites. One respondent tells us:
"We have a constant battle with IT over access to social media sites - in fact I had to send a staff member home to work on it - which I was then told was unacceptable in itself..."
The central theme of most replies focuses on 'policing' and 'control' - we are frightened that people will post negative comments etc. My response will be along the lines of "Live with it - they will say and are saying these things whether or not you engage with social media...."
Which is easy for me to say...
I would be very grateful for any practical advice I can hand on to communicators who are keen to contribute to social media conversations but need to persuade administrators, executives and... (heaven help us!) their IT departments that the possibility of hearing negative comments is not a good reason for missing out on a range of media channels that will go on being hugely popular - whatever FE College policy decrees.