Social Media Campaigns vs. Mass Conversations

I had the pleasure yesterday of sitting in on (from my computer) an amazingly telling webinar, hosted by MStoner, on UF’s recent Fall Admissions campaign #UF17. Mallory Wood started it off, but the bulk of the webinar was led by Bruce Floyd, UF’s Lead Social Media specialist.

That webinar was recorded, and the slides/audio should be up within the next week. And in my humble opinion, if you’re a higher-ed social media manager, Admissions officer, marketer: this is required viewing/hearing.

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I don’t wanna get too detailed and showcase a play-by-play of the entire campaign, but to sum it up: UF decided to rally up the incoming Fall freshman through their digital acceptance letters (which went out on a Friday) and essentially gave the students a package…

Use the hashtag #UF17 (17 being Class of 2017), and tweet/instagram your excitement on getting accepted to UF with a photo or tweet. Along with that, sending the students to a page where they had custom-made UF17 twitter/fb avatars and Facebook cover photos.

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Using the hashtag wasn’t just a way to visualize and showcase all the incoming freshman, but also as a way for Social media to interact with the students. And by social media, I don’t just mean the UF main account, we’re talking different colleges and offices within the school– using their Twitter to interact with the students.

This campaign was an incredible success and I listed the numbers/data below (Floyd used Hashtracker) to gather the analytics.

966 unique Twitter contributors
644 original tweets
1537 total tweets
Reach = 370, 355 unique users
4.57 million Twitter timeline deliveries
416 new Twitter followers (over 8-hour period)
117 images posted to Instagram

Now the question is: how do we use this idea for FIU? In my head, I already know that a good portion of our student base is somewhat apathetic. But I don’t blame them. Having been a student here, I know this because there hasn’t been a giant, significant, large-scale effort to inspire that FIU pride that exists somewhere in there.

UF has the advantage of having been around for longer, as well as having a more seasoned sports program, and years upon years of brand development. Everyone knows UF.

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FIU is new, but there is so much potential here for this type of brand/pride development.

The way UF treated this campaign was less a marketing strategy (which it was) but more a giant-scaled online conversation. Using the hashtag as a transparent network for students to converse and exchange words with potential UF schools, colleges and offices.

It was a “campaign” for the higher-ups, but a dialogue for the students.

Relating this to FIU, we have to stop thinking short-term goals (how many likes/follows can we get within the next year) and start thinking ahead 5-10 years from now. This type of campaign and its outcomes are less about Facebook insights and more about overall campus-wide insights. Looking at it through quality of students, alumni donations and seeing the FIU logo around just a bit more.

I walked into a Publix the other day and saw a UM flag for sale. Next to it was an FSU flag for sale. FSU being 8 hours away on the panhandle. If we keep with the long-term mentality, FIU’s flag will be right next to that UM one within the next 3-5 years.

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