Facebook? Just say NO!

We had a close call yesterday. We almost signed up to use Facebook as a tool to communicate with students. Almost.

Some of you will be clapping uproariously.

Others (like Ken Steele) will probably be shaking their heads saying, “Grant, Grant, Grant, you just don’t understand the power of Facebook.”

Actually, I do. Or at least, I think I do. And that’s why we said no.

Here’s how it went down yesterday. One of our managers was frustrated because a student who owed the university a lot of money went AWOL – disconnected phone, emails bounced back, mail returned, etc. But a quick Google search produced a Facebook profile, new contact info, photo, and all for him. Our manager said, “Yep, that’s him. He was in my office and I recognize his photo.” Oh this would be so much easier if we used Facebook, we thought. But then we thought again.

What makes Facebook useful? It’s a social media platform, with an emphasis on social. In order for it to be really useful, you need to use it regularly, interacting with people, etc. We toyed with the idea of creating a profile, but we learned that Facebook doesn’t allow aliases (do you hear that, Fred?) or things like TWURegistrar profiles. They actually want you to be a real person (imagine that). And if we were allowed to do that, we’d need to create friends out of students. While we like students we’re not sure we’re supposed to be their friend.

Another option would be to create a fan page, but then we can’t really communicate with students – there’s no messaging capabilities. We’re left with creating a wall post or news feed or a Discussion Page. Can you see it now? “Would John Smith please contact the Registrar’s Office as there’s an outstanding balance on your account.” Uhhhh, no, that’s not going work.

But my real issue with creating a Facebook page is that our systems are not built for it. We’re not designed to be a very social office – unfortunately, students don’t come to TWU because the Registrar is a wonderful guy (and he is, if I do say so myself); they come for the programs and the faculty. I don’t have time and none of my staff have time to sit there on Facebook chatting it up with students. We’re already set up with official email addresses and official ways of communicating that are more to-the-point, goal-oriented, and purpose-driven. If Chris Brogan has taught me anything, it’s “Start with the goal.”

So what was our goal again? Oh yeah, the student who went AWOL. Well, we have our old draconian methods of squeezing money out of delinquent accounts, and you know, those methods still work remarkably well (evil grin). A Facebook account might solve an issue or two, but it would introduce a whole new set of problems and would change our work lives in ways we’re not prepared for.

So, Facebook, I know you want to take over Google and the rest of the world, but this Registrar is standing up to you and saying, “NO!”

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.


11 thoughts on “Facebook? Just say NO!

  1. Excellent post Grant. VIU has a “Fan page”, but we don’t use it for any official notification to students. I’ve used your exact line to students, “I like you, but I don’t wan to be your friend”. Keep business relationships out of Facebook! Incidently, the reason I do have an alter-ego on Facebook is that I don’t want students sending me friend requests or somehow gaining access to my profile. It’s virtually a dead account anyway. Maybe I don’t want them to know how boring my Facebook account is???


    1. Yeah, TWU has a Fan Page too, but like VIU, it’s mostly for Admissions and promotional stuff. I must have a less friendly persona than you do – I have an active Facebook account but have never had a current student request to be my friend.


  2. Nice post Grant. At King’s, I have thought about a Registry Facebook Fan page for routine announcements — “Today is the last day to withdraw from courses” — but the odds of students clicking “Like” on that seemed pretty low! If there was a “Tolerate because I need the information” button it might work.


      1. You are so right Grant. The registrar at Trinity IS a wonderful guy, however encouraging people to take up pipe smoking is NOT a good suggestion.


      2. By now the rest of you must have figured out that this is my mother talking. What you may not know is that she is the one who taught me that phrase when I was a youngun. Freud was right – you can always blame your mother 🙂

        Sorry Mom!


  3. Hi Grant! Good post. I would like to offer my services as a collection agent for you. I can still break legs, twist arms, glare and speak in a tone of voice that gets the point across. 🙂 Do feel sorry for your accounts manager. Sadly, this is something that never goes away – it shouldn’t be an issue but…..

    And, I like the smell of a good pipe tobacco but by the lack of them around – not too many are following up on your suggestion. Joan


    1. Hi Joan! I was just talking about working with you and some of our “Guido & Vinny routine” we used to pull together. I miss working with you. And yes, sadly, it is something we’re stuck dealing with.
      I used to work with a guy who smoked a pipe and I loved the smell, but his rotten teeth and eventual death from throat cancer kinda turned me off of ever trying a pipe. But you could smoke one near me and I’d enjoy the smell 🙂


  4. Well, I’ve got a collection of about 15 pipes if you ever get a hankering . . . all antique, passed down by my Grandfather via my mom. Of course she would echo the same sentiments as your mother, Grant.


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