Monthly Archives: June 2012

@umichstudents: Trust In Your Students

Yesterday we launched our newest initiative: a Twitter feed for students, run by students. It’s called @umichstudents, and it came out of a brainstorm at Twitter HQ last week (no, we aren’t copying Sweden, but we’re certainly watching how they’re doing).

Every week we will have a different student tweeter, who will be responsible for managing the account in all ways, although I will have moderation and monitoring capabilities through Hootsuite. And there’s a high degree of trust. The rules are: no swearing, no illegal activity, and no promotion/selling. Very simple. 

On day two, we already have 241 followers, and I hope it keeps growing at this rate. We hope to use it as a tool to help new students get advice from experienced students, as well as prospective students to get a feel for what it feels like to be a Michigan student.

I’ve included some questions, conversations and comments from Twitter so you can get a sense of the discussion:


I have no idea. I haven’t seen another one, but I’m curious to know if this is true.

This one just made me happy:


Then we got a LOT of these:


Here’s one conversation about it, as well as my response:


And another:


So far we have several students who have volunteered to participate in the project, and I’m sure we’ll have more. Our first student, rising senior Taylor Davis, has already been just awesome.

Something like this is a calculated risk. But social media should be risky. Sure, we could have a student post something we don’t like. But that’s a risk we take for the price of giving our students a voice that they haven’t had before in representing THEIR university on Twitter. Sure it may keep me up a few nights, but that’s a price I’m readily willing to pay.

Hub & Spoke, Dick Costolo, and how to do Twitter.

On Monday afternoon I was insansely lucky enough to spend time with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, as well as super-smart staff members Omid Ashtari and Neil Shah (a U-M alum!). Sometimes I have to pinch myself. Really.


See the Twitter bird behind me? Cool!

I wanted to share some of the more interesting nuggets that I walked away with, since I realize that this isn’t a common opportunity.


1. Higher Ed social media management should be hub and spoke. That’s good news for us at Michigan, since that’s how we’re set up currently. It’s important that units have autonomy and the ability to make decisions, but that there’s a central department/person responsible for setting the global strategy and ensuring that new practices are implemented correctly.

If you don’t know what a hub and spoke model looks like, think of your organization in one of two ways:


(image courtesy

The first model is called Point-to-Point, and it’s time consuming and confusing. Without a main hub to guide the silos, there is chaos. In the second model, the Hub and Spoke, there is a back-and-forth communication with a central entity, which then redistributes that information to the other entities that would have otherwise remain siloed.

2. What is your message? What is your objective? For all of the talk I do about strategy, I realized, what is our Twitter strategy, really? Do we have one other than to disseminate information and do some light CRM (Customer Relationship Management)? Not really. There’s room for improvement there, and we’re going to work on it, measure it and share.

3. Tweet at your famous alumni. They might reply or re-tweet, and that’s COOL.

4. Promote your handle. I think I’m re-designing my business cards. And I have some other ideas. But I’m not going to be THAT transparent.

5. Do more Twitter “events.” Have a campus celebrity? Denard Robinson comes to mind for U-M. Do a Q&A.

6. Stop doing this “^JM”. If you have multiple people running your account, people don’t care who’s responding, they care that they’re getting a response. So respond, and just do it as the organization. Which means that everyone on the team should have that voice down cold. But then again, they should anyway.