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Expanding Special Events Marketing Into Long-Term Social Media Success


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Learn how Juniata College's President took a community emphasis from his Inauguration week and manifested long-term success by inspiring campus members to contribute to dialogues through social media.

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Expanding Special Events Marketing Into Long-Term Social Media Success

  1. 1. On Monday, October 6, 2014, CUPRAP hosted its fall west workshop at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry, Pa. There, Juniata Vice President of MarkeHng and Advancement Gabriel Welsch presented on our College’s recent presidenHal inauguraHon, which emphasized Juniata’s chief brand value: community. He also described how he, other members of the InauguraHon commiRee, and the enHre community were encouraged to engage in a moment (several throughout inaugural week actually) of arHculaHng Juniata’s best qualiHes and forming its new beginning. 1
  2. 2. Just as a short reiteraHon: Juniata is a liberal arts college that recruits students from across the U.S. and around the world. Our yearly enrollment averages 1,600. Time and again, our consHtuents say that our caring campus community which stresses hands-­‐on experience and academic flexibility is our greatest asset. Juniata’s central brand values are community, experience, and flexibility. 2
  3. 3. I’m here to talk about the social media efforts of Juniata’s new President, James A. Troha, but let me start with our previous president, Tom Kepple. A serious man who inspired our College to stress outcomes in our markeHng efforts, Tom was responsible for bringing more recogniHon to our small community. He was also a very good sport. Here you see him and Mrs. Kepple in Juniata’s holiday video for 2011, a take off of A Christmas Story. President Kepple indulged our humorous markeHng tendencies in other instances as well. A well-­‐liked leader, President Kepple was popular on social media when we deployed content similar to this, but had no Facebook or TwiRer account of his own linked to his professional status as College President. 3
  4. 4. Enter President Troha. Shortly a_er coming on board at Juniata in June 2013, President Troha approached Gabe, John Wall (Juniata’s Director of Media RelaHons), and I about starHng his own TwiRer feed. Like willing subjects, we grilled him about his intenHons. Why did he want to do this? What was he going to post about? How o_en? How had he come across this noHon? In short, had he done his homework in researching this idea? Our intenHon in asking these quesHons was not to squelch his enthusiasm, but to let him know something that we let every social media manager on our campus know: as a markeHng department office, we are here to help you, but that is best done when we equip you to become a content creator for yourself and/or your department. (We’ll revisit that in a liRle bit) but, unHl then, let me share President Troha’s iniHal TwiRer Strategy. He set out, simply, to chronicle his first year in the Juniata Presidency. From meeHng with alumni and current students, to describing his family and personal hobbies (he’s a huge Cleveland sports fan), he suggested a robust collecHon of content. He had also found four tweeHng presidents and mined their feeds for content ideas. We were impressed with this, and decided to indulge him. 4
  5. 5. We began the process of launching President’s TwiRer by providing him with a handle, a bio, a profile picture, background/banner picture, and some basic training. We also followed some key consHtuents for him: any tweeHng trustees (there were three), followers of @juniatacollege who were very interacHve with us, those four tweeHng presidents he discovered, as well as @chronicle and @inside higher ed. If the screenshot to the right doesn’t look like our best work, that’s because it isn’t. Promptly a_er we set him up with a carefully constructed candid image, a bio with plenty of buzz words, and a banner image with a hi-­‐res aerial of campus, we quickly found that President Troha changed everything about his profile. Note the blurry profile picture, the colorless aerial taken from a hiking trail near campus, the cringe-­‐ worthy capitalizaHon in President Troha’s bio. It’s not what a markeHng department would’ve picked. And we’re thrilled with that. From the very start, President Troha had taken control of his TwiRer presence. But he sHll needed some help. 5
  6. 6. Meet Ally. At Juniata, we encourage students to have a voice in our markeHng. One way in which we achieve this is to allow our students to run our social media feeds. From Facebook and TwiRer to Instagram and Pinterest, Juniata students post as their college. We are fortunate to idenHfy high-­‐quality students to do so through a program we have called Juniata Associates, wherein students who have proven their responsibility through prior employment or leadership, are paid a higher rate to do student jobs with great responsibility. Ally Lush, a 2014 graduate, was running Juniata’s social channels when President Troha approached with with his tweeHng plan and I quickly put Ally to work training Troha. What we learned through this process is that most presidents will come to you with a sophis3cated no3on of the social channel they intend to inhabit, but they will understand virtually nothing about how to post a tweet. Thus, Ally spent some Hme sijng with President, explaining retweets, modified tweets, hashtags, and handles. 6
  7. 7. On Sepetember 4, 2013, just a liRle more than a month before his inauguraHon, President Troha sent his first tweet. Ally and I instructed him: use at least one handle and one hashtag. We think he did preRy well, though there’s certainly nothing earth-­‐ shaking here. 7
  8. 8. A_er three months, President Troha proved himself a prolific tweeter. This is a spread from the Juniata magazine showing many of his tweets. 8
  9. 9. There have been historic tweets, 9
  10. 10. And boring tweets. 10
  11. 11. Tweets whose imagery and text contradict one another. 11
  12. 12. And funny tweets. 12
  13. 13. This tweet shows student book bags sijng, untended, outside of our dining hall—at Juniata the idea that no one steals from another’s backpack shows the strength of our integrity, which can be felt throughout our enHre community. So, good or bad, Troha’s tweets that have reached the greatest amount of people -­‐-­‐ those that are RTed and favorited widely – show something we really value: community. 13
  14. 14. They show experience and outcomes. 14
  15. 15. And they exemplify a third brand value: flexibility. Together, all of these tweets — and there are 500 more — show a President invested in his community, accessible to his consHtuents, and deploying our brand in new ways. 15
  16. 16. At the last spring CUPRAP conference various speakers talked about inspiring and curaHng “user-­‐generated content” via social channels. To that we say, “Hail to our Chief.” On all campuses, the President sets the tone. Our leader has set his as good humored and outgoing through the very events of his InauguraHon and, to today, through his social media posts. He inspires others to contribute to community conversaHons as he has and will conHnue to: in person and online. Take a step back with me for a moment and look at President Troha’s Tweets through another lens: that of his audiences. He uses twiRer to engage with current students, 16
  17. 17. Alumni and investors, (this tweet was posted at the very end of Inaugural week – hence the #nicecoincidence hashtag) 17
  18. 18. And even others in higher ed. This is President Troha’s #ALSicebucketchallenge. Let me point out two things about it: because he’s social media savvy, President Troha caught the #ALS craze before it became cliché. And, he used it to engage others outside our community, nominaHng Susquehanna President Jay Lemmons. When Susquehanna responded with their video, tagging us, they inadvertantly sold us to their prospecHve students as well. Thanks, Susquehanna! 18
  19. 19. There have also been various media relaHons benefits to having a social-­‐savvy president. In this Inside Higher Ed arHcle, President Troha writes about how to handle the personal challenges of applying for and transiHoning to a new presidency in a tone and with messages that are not dissimilar to the voice and content of his TwiRer feed. AddiHonally, local press has found Troha accessible. Though we have an old school newspaper with a strict paywall/subscripHon blockade, its reporters are on TwiRer (like most journalists) and have covered Troha’s campus-­‐community dialogue invitaHons to local leaders through the paper and by RT-­‐ing his messages. 19
  20. 20. Not only did Troha branch out through media, he got a handle on other social media as well. In addiHon to the TwiRer feed we’ve been examining, he learned to use Facebook and cross-­‐plauorm tools as well. On the le_, he snaps a photo for his Facebook page during HunHngdon Community Leaders Luncheon, when the College hosted local leaders. On the right, Troha shares a student tweet to his Facebook page via Flipboard. We were impressed at his willingness to branch out – he asked for no assistance in these efforts! 20
  21. 21. And then he did something I did not expect. He tweeted back @JuniataProblems. I’ll be honest. I held my breath, wondering if he’d opened the floodgates for complaints. 21
  22. 22. But the students liked knowing that he cared. When I interviewed students about this, they pointed out that the President’s TwiRer feed allows them to have a conversaHon with a specific person (not a faceless insHtuHonal page) – online and off line. I asked my current social media student leader what she thought of President Troha’s tweet to @JuniataProblems. (Read quote above.) Remember when I said we wanted him owning his TwiRer feed? TJ’s quote shows that the authenHcity of having Troha tweet on his own was a wise choice. Also, while he’s been busy tweeHng, we’ve been busy! 22
  23. 23. In addiHon to deploying Troha’s social anHcs (carefully and occasionally so that his feed can stand on its own) and covering other campus events, my social media students were starHng to see that their post views rose if they embedded Troha somehow in a post. Here he is in a post that promotes Juniata’s tradiHon, Storming of the Arch. In this tradiHon, freshman charge toward an architectural arch on campus which is defended by upperclassmen and rugby players. No one has ever made it through—though each year freshman try. The post above seeks to promote the 2014 Storming event (with an image of President Troha parHcipaHng in 2013). The number of likes, shares, and overall views were more than double what they had been in the past, when President Troha was not pictured. I cauHoned my students to not overuse President Troha, as his feed needs to have its own messages so people will go check it out (rather than just browsing our feeds). AddiHonally, we don’t want people to Hre of him and wrongly assume that our President only has fun. 23
  24. 24. Let’s look at another example. Every fall, Juniata cancels classes early one morning and the enHre community heads to a nearby park for a picnic (featuring tug-­‐of-­‐war). The above post on our Facebook page is a poster that alumni can print out to hang at their offices or homes on the day of Mountain Day. This announcement (early in the morning – and a total surprise) always garners many likes, comments, and shares. 24
  25. 25. The post I just showed you – the Mountain Day announcement, got 15,600 views according to Juniata’s Facebook Insights on that day. But, if you look at the second-­‐ most viewed item that day, you’ll see that that post, which garnered more than 10,000 views, included President Troha. 25
  26. 26. This 10,000+ views post was actually generated by a student — who does not work for our department – on her phone. She posted it to Instagram and posted @instajuniatacollege (our handle on Instagram). We reposted this great user-­‐ generated content to our Facebook, TwiRer, and Instagram feeds with credit to Eliot (the student). In this post you can see what we’ve learned throughout the last year (since President’ Troha’s InaguraHon): that Troha’s in-­‐person, off-­‐line parHcipaHon as well as online posts inspires online community building at Juniata—online and off. 26
  27. 27. We can (somewhat) see this conclusion in our social analyHcs. Facebook defines reach as the number of people who see a post from its original posHng and those who see the post as a result of their friends sharing it, liking it, or commenHng on it. In the year before Troha arrived, the 2012-­‐13 academic year, depicted at the top of the screen, Juniata’s posts with the greatest reach topped out at 5,000 views. In Troha’s first year, the 2013-­‐14 AY as seen below, the top post garnered 9,000 views and five posts had more than 5,000 views. 27
  28. 28. The number of people who liked, commented on, and/or shared posts also increased from ~250 during the 2012-­‐13 academic year (above) to ~300 during 2013-­‐14 academic year, Troha’s first, (below). Although not all of this is not due to to President Troha—many other factors also enhanced our social presence—President Troha’s leadership in crea3ng and sharing content has fostered an abundance of community par3cipa3on in dialogues at Juniata. 28
  29. 29. Have quesHons? Send me an email at or tweet at me (@gennawk). Hope to chat soon! 29