Posted by: Tom Krieglstein, Swift Kick
StudentAffairsOnline hosts an annual Virtual Case Study Competition on hot topics related to campus life. 40 graduate teams submitted research on this year’s topic of technology on campus. Institutional spam was a major issue reported by all the top winners.
Institutional spam is defined as mass communication by the institution to students and/or faculty/staff through any communication channel including email, IM, texting or smoke signal.
The University of Central Arkansas did two studies of freshman and faculty and the percentage of spam email they received. 68% of freshman reported receiving over 6 institutional spam emails per day. 71% of faculty reported receiving over 6 institutional spam emails per day. These are emails sent out by someone at the instituiton that the end user has no desire for.
On the flip side 61% of freshman reported they receive 1-5 useful institutional emails a day and 64% of faculty reported they receive 1-5 useful institutional emails a day.
So we have a situation where students and faculty at UCA are receiving more institutional spam they don’t want then do. The repercussions from burning this channel with spam can include:
- Students checking thier email less
- Students moving to an outside email or another form of communication (i.e. Facebook)
Institutions are also concerned because the amount of spam is filling up the university servers which costs money.
Creating a policy for institutional spam is important in today’s digital world. Florida State University, winners of the competition, offer several policy suggestions in their study. Here are some of the highlights:
- Similar guidelines should be followed by faculty, staff and student groups.
- Spam is reduced by a combination of spam filters and communication channel training. (i.e. survey, segment and deliver)
- Guidelines should follow the institutional mission and not work against it.
- Look to outside tools to assist in spam reduction.
- Review other university policies when crafting your own.
The end goal of an institution is to communicate with its users and the digital world provides many options to do so. However with each communication channel comes the challenge to not burn it with too much spam. Institutions need better tools and ongoing training for effective use of each new communication channel.