Web editor Shumi Chimombe is responsible for the editorial and content management of UCT's corporate website, as well as for the strategic planning and development of the website as a marketing tool.
What is the name of your unit and who works in it?
I am part of the Online Communications Unit in the Communication and Marketing Department. Rethea Deetlefs and her team are the technical architects and constructors of the corporate website, and I am the interior decorator, making sure that the content is enriched, relevant and interactive. I also work very closely with the marketing and communications manager, Murray Steyn, and the Publications and Information unit.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I publish the daily news (in html), which is produced by the newsroom, on the website. I also monitor the content on the corporate website to ensure that it is up-to-date. If it isn't, I either update the information myself or I chase after the content managers of the UCT departments to remind them to update their sections. I regularly put together photo-albums and podcasts. In terms of web marketing, I identify appropriate external websites on which we can advertise the university, and I produce the creative content. As of this year, I am also driving the university's overall social media communications strategy.
Tell us more about the social media strategy
There is a world-wide trend among universities to use social media to engage directly with their constituents and with the community. There are a lot of active UCT groups on social media platforms like Facebook which are run mostly by students and alumni. But we realised that UCT didn't have an official corporate presence that can connect with people and keep them informed on the latest campus news and developments. Not everyone consciously sets out to go to the website unless they are looking for specific information, but we can go into their social media spaces and lure them onto our website. There is a popular term in social media circles that says "fish where the fish are." So we are busy establishing an integrated social media presence that includes the corporate website, Facebook, Flickr (a photo-sharing site), and for the future, we are considering Twitter (a micro-blogging broadcast site), Mxit, Itunes and YouTube. It will be a gradual roll-out process as it will depend on the availability of time and resources. All of these channels will serve to communicate UCT's vision and key messages such as research, teaching and learning, social responsiveness, transformation, student leadership and campus life. We have already established an official Facebook fan page (which you can access from the corporate website homepage) and a Flickr page with a variety of photo albums.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
It's a very creative and varied job in which I constantly have to think up new ideas. It's also interesting keeping up to date with the latest web trends and seeing how we can integrate those trends into our web communications and marketing. I'm also very excited about our foray into the social media universe.
What are the challenges of your job?
There is only one of me doing a variety of tasks, therefore some careful time management is vital. The Online Communications team is extremely helpful in giving technical assistance and maintaining website content when I am unavailable. It's also a struggle to convince content managers to update their website sections. It's really painful to stumble upon a web page that is scarily out of date.
What is the weirdest thing you have encountered?
The fact that in this day and age, people still don't consider the website to be a vital aspect of their communications. The website is the window through which the world can learn about UCT and its work, and so it's really strange that it is not considered important enough to be given the priority that it deserves.
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