Monthly Archives: January 2013

How Ben Bernanke and @FordSchool Used Social Media To Embrace Public Policy

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Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke visited our campus to speak and answer questions, hosted by the Ford School of Public Policy. While it was a full house, our attention was turned online. Using the hashtag #fordschoolbernanke, people were invited to tweet questions and follow along with the conversation. The event was also livestreamed through the Ford School’s website.

Chairman Bernanke addressed many issues, from the fiscal cliff, to the debt ceiling and trillion dollar coin. Taking audience and online questions, he brought an insightful and voice to the conversation, with refreshingly lighthearted jokes.

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We found it particularly interesting at how many students, community members, and even those outside of Ann Arbor were following along online. In 24 hours, the hashtag #fordschoolbernanke was used 1400 times (and this only includes from 2pm Monday-2pm Tuesday). Unsurprisingly, most of the tweets were original tweets (not ReTweets or mentions). Here are a few samples of how people were interacting:

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Bernanke also made mention to the importance of social media, joking that a question asked over Twitter appeared to be “over 140 characters” (it was). He also stated that in the past, he would simply read blogs, and several industry players have their own blogs, as an important intellectual exchange. Now, “the internet makes professional papers available immediately. With a shorter perspective, people can get more information, it’s [social media] the next natural step. Social media provides a convenient way to communicate quickly, exchange ideas and find out what’s going on.”

We couldn’t agree more! The Federal Reserve is on both Twitter and Facebook, which aides to humanize the institution. While we’re sure they don’t take hashtagged questions often, events like #FordSchoolBernanke leave us excited for the future of social media in public policy.

Instagram 101: The Basics

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(Photo courtesy of @hugh_davio)

Since we joined Instagram in April, we’ve been enjoying sharing our favorite photos from around Ann Arbor and celebrating campus life, as well as sharing many photos taken by our community of students, alumni, and Wolverines around the globe.

Our team in the #UMSocial office got together to discuss our favorite parts about Instagram, and best practices for those looking to build their presence. Instagram is one of our favorite platforms, as it is rapidly growing and never short of visual content.

  • Utilize #hashtags and location. Not only do hashtags lead us to other photos we can “re-gram” from our students and community members (with permission of course), this also leads users to our account. Same goes for locations; simply click on the location you have tagged and you will be led to any photo that was taken there. This is where we find a lot of our photos, and users that we follow from the Ann Arbor community. We frequently search the hashtags #UMSocial, #umicharts #umcampus, #uminstagram #blockMsighting #Michigan #UofMichigan #UniversityofMichigan #GoBlue #umich and #UofM, so if you use those we might find your photos. There are over 28,000 photos tagged #UofM!

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(Photo courtesy of @visitannarbor)

  • Engage with followers and community members. While many of our photos are regrams from our followers and community members tagging their locations and using various UMich hashtags, we always ask for permission by commenting on the users original photo.  In addition, liking commenting on various photos of those we follow and follow us attracts more followers. People like to see the @uofmichigan account engaging with their friends and are more likely to click to our account if they see it often. We do spend time checking out the photos we are mentioned in, and often choose to repost these to our followers.

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(photo courtesy of @shhecht)

  • Post a range of photos. Our Instagram welcomes a wide range of followers, from future and current students to alumni, Ann Arbor community members, and avid UMich fans. We keep this in mind when posting our photos, and it’s great to shake up your content with photos from all aspects of life. We strive to always give our audience something new to look at.

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(#TBT photo courtesy of @tyrellxavier)

  • Remind your followers you exist, but don’t overwhelm them. One of the top ways users lose followers is by bombarding them with too many photos. Spread out your content, and experiment to see what resinates with your followers. We try to post no less than 2 hours apart. In the same vein, you don’t want to followers to forget about you. Try to post at least once a day. However, this is assuming you have content that your followers will want to see. No one wants to see 12 straight days of your bowl of Ramen noodles!

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(Photo courtesy of @c_youtsey)

Be sure to follow us on Instagram @uofmichigan, and use the hashtags #UMSocial #BlockMSighting #UofM #Michigan #UMich #UMInstagram #UMarts #UMcampus #UofMichigan #GoBlue #university #student #campuslife, and more and you might see your photo on our page!

UMich Professor Feeds Higher Education With YouTube

Risk Bites creator Andrew Maynard, director of the U-M Risk Science Center and professor of environmental health sciences is flexing his social media muscle by creating short YouTube videos on a dry erase board covering issues from gun control, asbestos, BPA, and more provocative titles such as “poop on cell phones.”

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Maynard says he wants the series to provide credible and timely information that will help people better understand human health risks. Risk Bites takes advantage of a growing hunger for digestible, informal online education. He claims:

“Increasingly sophisticated educational material on YouTube and elsewhere is being consumed by ever-greater numbers of people. The most successful content generators are people with a passion for knowledge and an ability to connect with their audience. And in this new medium they are leaving professional educators in the dust.

I’m particularly interested in how this gap can be closed. How can someone like me who teaches for a living achieve relevance to a wider audience through using YouTube more effectively?”

We never see Maynard in the videos. Only his hand is visible, as he draws objects, stick figures and words, while he narrates each story with his distinctively British accent.

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In addition to the videos, the center has started a blog called Risk Sense that features experts who write about their research or about emerging issues. Maynard also has a blog called 2020 Science, which is about developing new technologies responsibly and safely.

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To learn the Ten Ways Water Can Kill You, and if your chocolate habit can earn you the Nobel Prize, look no further than the Risk Bites YouTube channel. You can also keep up with the latest news by following him on Twitter!

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