Social Media in an IMC world

A student interviewed me today for his Emerging Media class on the subject of social media in organizations. He asked great questions about how we use social media, how we know it’s effective and if it has replaced traditional communication methods. It gave me a chance to talk about my favorite subject: integrated marketing communications (IMC).

I think many on this campus only know this term as the name of our department. It is so much more. It’s a model of communication this campus adopted and subsequently dubbed our department. This model or practice of communication is essentially looking holistically at all communication methods. Traditionally in organizations, and I worked in a few that operated this way, all communications were not housed in the same department. Public relations professionals were separate from marketing, and web was separate from both and social media didn’t exist. By having all these communication channels operating together we can concentrate on the message and goal of communication then decide on the appropriate channels to get the message out. The practice of IMC has had a tremendous impact on the University and has been instrumental in building our brand.

Questions on social media turn into a discussion of IMC because you can’t look at social media alone. It needs to be a piece of the larger communication whole. I can confidently say that social media is a core tool in our communication strategy and has, without a doubt, broadened our reach, but it has not replaced traditional methods of communication. When a press release is written, for example, it is sent out to campus and the media, published online and also distributed on social media platforms. Our reach is broader because of Twitter and Facebook and complimentary videos placed on YouTube, but there is still a time and place for the press release. We certainly do fewer press releases than we did five years ago, but we have not entirely replaced them with new media.

IMC on the UW Oshkosh campus encompasses online and offline communication for both internal and external audiences. Social media has become a core tool in our organizational communication strategy.

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