By ESTER SALGUERO
Social media is a vital part of millennials’ lives and their college experience. Understanding Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can make communication all the easier, and could be a useful tool in the workplace after graduation. As social media affects students, faculty and administration, one group is looking to bring all three together and use social media to thrust UMW into the cyber world.
#UMWSocial is UMW’s social media team that drives the strategy behind UMW’s expansive social media presence. The team runs #UMWSocial Circle, a think tank of students, faculty and staff who manage the university’s more than 130 social media accounts ranging from department, student organization and sports accounts. #UMWSocial Circle meets during the academic year to share social media news, tips and trends to enhance the impact of UMW’s social media presence.
On Thursday, Oct. 22, #UMWSocial Circle hosted a workshop, including a lecture on how to create an exceptional Twitter biography in Lee Hall, Room 412. Those present at the meeting were members of #UMWSocial Circle, but the group welcomes any student, faculty or staff to the sessions, which are held at least twice a month.
Erika Spivey, who has been working as the assistant director of Media and Public Relations for more than a year now, led the workshop. Spivey is responsible for the daily management and strategic execution of the official university social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, YouTube and Storify.
“UMW’s social media presence is the result of teams of people all working together,” Spivey said. “It’s a little more than just ‘hanging out on Facebook all day’ as people often tease.”
The University as a whole aims to help increase awareness about UMW and student life by sharing stories of their experiences on campus through social media, expressing qualities that make up UMW like trust, respect and honor. President Hurley who is retiring at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year has been a part of implementing these UMW values.
To honor President Hurley, the #HighFiveHurley campaign started Sept. 16. Congratulating Hurley with silly photos of mustaches and smiles, the campaign made this year’s Twitter page full and inviting. The campaign is also releasing various guesses about Hurley’s retirement plans, offering a lighthearted look at Hurley’s departure as another way for students to express the memories of many great years shared with him. “President Hurley is known for giving high fives,” said Spivey, who is responsible for thecampaign. “It’s been great to see students come together to congratulate him in a meaningful way.”
This past July, #UMWSocial hosted the university’s first social media retreat, a day-long conference during which students, faculty and staff talked about social media projects happening at UMW and brainstormed campaigns for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Another approach to encouraging shared experiences is the #UMWAbroad campaign, in which student bloggers shared their study abroad adventures on Twitter and Instagram. The stories are collected in Storify, a platform that allows users to combine social media posts to tell a multimedia story in one place.
Students who participated in the program included Brianna Costache, who went to France, Mackenzie Smith, who went to Spain and Emily Pilat, who went to Wales. Pilat used Instagram photos of a library in Bongor, a city in Wales and Twitter posts of the Glaslyn river valley to illustrate her trip and everything she learned. “#UMWSocial put together a Storify to capture student’s travels in a digital story,” said Kate Jordan, the faculty-led study abroad program coordinator, on UMW’s social blog, found at umw.edu/social.
By posting these digital stories, comprised with photographs of current students endeavoring in great experiences on and off campus, UMW’s community becomes connected in a more personal sense.