Monthly Archives: March 2014


No longer is Instagram reserved for #Selfies or yummy restaurant photos. Major brands, including the University of Michigan, are actively maintaining presences on the platform in order to tell a cohesive, visual story. It allows for ample opportunities to showcase exclusive content, engage with natural advocates, and educate individuals on the brand messaging of our organization.

With over 30K followers and posts averaging 2,000+ likes, the University of Michigan Instagram has become an extremely influential channel in our social media repertoire.  Throughout the past year, our loyal audience has grown to include not only current and prospective students, but fans from around the globe. The popular photo (and more recently, video) sharing platform has given us an outlet to feature content where we know it will gain traction, as well as engage with the ever-growing University of Michigan community.


The idea behind Instagram is relatively simple: take a photo, add a desired filter effect, include hashtags—or short phrases proceeded by the pound sign (#)—and post. Similar to other commonly used social platforms, it relies on a scrolling feed to display photos and videos from the accounts you follow in order of post time. Posts can also be found by searching for specific hashtags. With such a simplistic format, it can’t be that hard to accumulate a strong follower-base and run a successful account, right?

Sadly, it’s really easy to get lost in the mix. According to Instagram’s website, the platform currently boasts over 200 million monthly active users, uploading approximately 55 to 60 million images each day. Curating an account becomes more than simply posting appealing images, but learning how to effectively reach your intended audience and create meaningful conversations. In terms of its massive scale, Instagram can seem like an intimidating beast to tackle. But, with a well thought out strategy, you can learn to stand out.

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Hashtags and Geo-Tag

In order to drive users to your profile, it’s essential to use consistent hashtags on your posts’ captions. Users are able to search for all images that include specific keywords, therefore making properly tagged images much more likely to appear than those that neglect to include hashtags. This is a simple and foolproof way to gain attention and a few followers along the way.

Establishing go-to hashtags early on will ultimately encourage followers to incorporate them into their own posts, which will only increase the visibility of your name and content. For example, the @uofmichigan account utilizes tailored hashtags such as #UMsocial and #MyUMich, along with the more general #GoBlue and #UMich. To date, #UMsocial has appeared in 4,976 posts, and #UMich has appeared in 35,940 posts.

Beyond creating your own hashtags, take the time to research applicable options that already exist and are popular on the network. Common themes or promotions such as #TBT (Throwback Thursday) demonstrate that your account is on trend, and also connects you with an established audience throughout the platform. Keep in mind, hashtags are a great thing, but should be used in moderation. #Nobody #likes #captions #that #hashtag #every #word. Be creative, concise, and consistent, and it’s smooth sailing from there.

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Along with specifying hashtags, it’s helpful to add your location to the photo. This way, users searching for photos in certain locations can be directed to your content. By further adding it to your photomap, you can showcase where you’ve been and see what other photos have been taken at a given destination. To ensure that your location can be added to posts, you must turn on “Location Services” in your phone settings.


Instagram thrives as a highly visual platform, so it’s important to think before you post just any ordinary photo or video. We all can’t be top-notch photographers, but with an engaging subject and flattering filter overlay, the magic of Instagram is that almost anything can be turned into a “like” worthy post.

The @uofmichigan account takes great strides to create original content by exploring campus and attending noteworthy events. However, with a central team of five, producing 100% original content can be time consuming (and nearly impossible). This is where user-generated photos become crucial. By regularly curating images that are posted by Ann Arbor residents, UMich students, and Wolverine fans alike, we are able to expand our reach and our resources to anywhere in the world!

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When taking this approach, always be sure to ask for permission prior to sharing someone’s photo. Typically, users are beyond eager to be featured on another account, but you know what they say about those that make assumptions.

To find content, simply rely on using the hashtags we mentioned earlier. Run searches relevant to your brand to identify natural advocates. Apps, such as Regram, allow you to re-share other posts on your feed, but you can also do it manually by taking a screenshot and re-uploading. Make sure to always credit the source by including their handle in your caption. Common courtesy goes a long way in social.

You may decide to share behind-the-scenes content, images from events, or fan-submitted photos, but remember to always keep the message consistent with your brand. Find your voice and stay true to it!

Post Habits

What seems like a simple photo or video post is actually so much more—it’s a strategic way to reach out to your audience and grab their attention. You have to show them something cool enough that they’ll follow your account, like your photos, and share content to be featured. Being conscious of your demographics, posting times, and frequency can help you achieve maximum results.

Much like receiving too many emails, over-posting on Instagram tends to look spam-y. You don’t want to turn potential (or current) followers away, so the rule of thumb is to post at least every other day. This will keep your account on their radar without coming across as desperate. There are always exceptions, however. If you’re covering an awesome event and can’t decide between multiple photos, you can post them in the same day. The key is to always keep your audience in mind. What will they respond best to? Spread content out, putting at least two or three hours between posts, take a photo followed by a video, or use a collage app to showcase multiple images at once. This will ensure that each post gets the attention it deserves, allowing them to rack up more likes in the long run.

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With @uofmichgan, we’ve found that content performs better during the evening. At around 7 or 8pm, we’d expect students to be studying or relaxing after class. This is the perfect time for them to be scrolling through Instagram and fall upon our content. Using Statigram, an analytics and engagement platform for Instagram, we are able to better track when our followers are most active. Utilizing this and other optimization tools, like Nitrogram, allows us to recognize consistent patterns and further increase engagement.


It should go without saying, but posting regularly on your account is not enough—you must actively engage with followers. Liking, commenting on, and sharing photos are all ways to step up your game and increase your visibility. Fans love it when we acknowledge their posts, and some even post about being recognized by UMich. It’s exciting to see such positive feedback, and an excellent testament to the efforts and emphasis we place on social.

Another way to engage with followers is relatively common sense: follow them back. You don’t have to follow everyone, but definitely reach out to those that continually like or comment on your photos. This is a great way to reward them for being an active follower, and maybe they’ll in turn promote your account within their friend group. The more fans that you follow, the more opportunities you’ll have for finding relevant content and establishing ties within the community.

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Once you rally followers and master regularly update content, consider running an Instagram contest. Whether it consists of a simple “Caption this!” or a full-fledged month long challenge, anything will help bring in followers and awareness to your brand. Plus, everyone loves prizes!

Here are a few additional tips to ensure your contest is a success:

  • Establish clear goals and guidelines to follow.
  • Determine a time frame, how you will keep track of entries, how winners will be chosen, etc.
  • Make sure every member of your team understands the contest rules, so there is no confusion.
  • Include prizes that are relevant to your brand and audience. UMsocial typically rewards users with #GoBlue T-shirts that promote our social accounts, as well as the University of Michigan.
  • Endorse available prizes and rules in the launch of your contest, with a simple graphic. People will be much more likely to participate if free things are involved!

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After establishing the contest rules and creating promotional materials, distribute this message across multiple channels, not just your Instagram account. Doing so will encourage a wider variety of participants to join and increase exposure to your account. We usually tweet about smaller, one-day contests and feature larger campaigns on Facebook.

From there, monitoring entries and selecting winners is the fun part. The new Direct Message feature makes notifying the winners extremely simple. On the home tab, you should see the DM icon on the top right corner. Once inside, click the plus sign and upload a congratulatory image. You are then prompted to select the users with whom you’d like to message.


If the contest involves users submitting photos, feel free to create a collage of the winning entries and post to your account. This is the perfect way to give the winners a shout-out (and make them feel special) while encouraging others to participate in future contests. It is also consistent with the ways in which Instragram runs and promotes their very popular weekly challenges.

Follow @uofmichigan to learn more and see how we leverage our channel! #StaySocial


This post was written by Katie Szymanski, Communication and Digital Studies senior; #UMsocial editorial intern 

University of Michigan “Links” In

UntitledWith over 259 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the leader in Professional Social Networking Sites. It provides a platform for members to network with other professionals in their industries, and potential employees and employers. Additionally, LinkedIn offers other features such as Groups, Company Pages, and University Pages, to enhance and organize brand awareness, as well as allow users to connect with brands they would like to work for or learn more about, and network with others looking to do the same. Over 30 million students and recent college graduates have a presence on LinkedIn, in addition to alumni, prospective students and employees, making it a powerful marketing tool actively used by many units within our university.

However, before delving into another social platform, ask yourself the following questions:

Who will manage this page? While a dedicated staff member is not required, someone should check the page daily.

How often will we be able to post and interact? At least twice a week is recommended. 

What will our content be like? Like any social network, LinkedIn requires unique content, not just shares or reposts.

 Do we have an established brand voice? Many departments and units already have a web or marketing voice, check with your social media primary before branching out. The University of Michigan has an established Company page and University page, as well as several sub-university pages and groups. In most cases, it will be in your unit’s best interest to send your content directly to the school and college level, or central university pages that possess established audiences.

Which type of LinkedIn resource is right for my organization?


Groups: Designed for interactions with a known audience, the Alumni Association has the largest group associated with our university, but there are several other groups on the platform. Much of the conversations center around careers, with additional discussions around university news, alumni connections and general news. Verification is required to participate and encourages discussion and connection between individuals, and occasionally page admins.

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Company Pages: Brands can create Pages that users can “follow” in order to interact and receive updates. Many major organizations use Company Pages to attract and recruit potential employees, share news, and connect with consumers. Associated analytics highlight performance based on impressions, clicks, interactions, and engagement. Graphs are also available for reach and engagement, and can be broken down through organic and paid. Companies can also see the demographics of their followers by seniority, and view their follower counts against their competitors.

The University of Michigan uses our company page to post jobs, and share the latest campus and Ann Arbor community news. Other content includes rankings, research news, gift announcements, and major campus initiatives, with a primary audience of alumni and prospective employees. Potential employees can see updates about our university, open positions, similar institutions, and common connections that are employed by the university. It is only possible for a company, or university, to have one company page on LinkedIn. Therefore, if you have content you would like to appear on this page, please contact

University Pages: Intended to provide a connection between prospective students, current students, alumni, and the University this most recent addition has a slightly different layout than the Company Pages. Followers see a spotlight of our outstanding alumni, breakdowns of what industry and career level they hold, and curated content about our university, student body, and community.

Any user may post on the page’s wall allowing for a strong sense of community and resulting in significantly higher amounts of followers, but also necessitating regular moderation. Posts from page administrators are focused on the university community, announcements, and accomplishments. Links to articles about professional advice or new research can also be found on University Pages. Content is unique and not duplicative of other pages, analytics are not yet offered.


Being the newest feature on Linkedin, many have created a presence on this page in hopes with connecting with this new audience. “Focusing more on higher education is a natural extension for LinkedIn, and one that opens up the company to a whole new territory of users–young people,” writes the Wall Street Journal’s Brian L. Fitzgerald. “LinkedIn says ‘smart, ambitious students are already thinking about their futures when they step foot into high school.’”

The social media team at New York University, another one of the early adopters of Linkedin University pages told us, “prospective students can see what NYU alumni are doing based on what they studied. As the pressure of ROI on a higher education degree increases, so too will the desire to know what individuals can go on to pursue with a potential degree.”

Posting on your Linkedin Page

If your unit is already active on Linkedin, keep the following in mind when creating content for your page. If your unit is considering creating a presence on Linkedin, contact for tips and guidelines.

  • Be consistent: Your post should accurately reflect the University of Michigan brand, and voice of your department or unit.
  • Be brief: While posts do not have a set character limit, we recommend posting no longer than a short paragraph, and always including a photo or link if possible.
  • Speak as a team: Whether your page has one admin or ten, always speak as a team, and in your brand voice.
  • Consider your audience: Your audience may not have a presence on Linkedin, thus, your unit will not need an individual presence on Linkedin, and can provide content to the pages with larger followings.
  • Create a content calendar: Creating a content calendar will ensure you have enough content to fill your Linkedin page. We recommend two posts per week of original content. If you do not have enough content to fill your page, you can reevaluate your strategy and instead opt to provide content to the central university page.

Overall, Linkedin can be a helpful tool for marketing if used effectively. The University of Michigan’s central pages have garnered nearly 305K followers, and strategically deliver a wide variety of content to our audience. Have something you would like to be featured on our pages? Submit it here!


Successful Analytics

When managing and creating content for multiple Social Media platforms, what determines your success? How do you know if you’re doing it right? Due to its low cost and accessibility it’s easy to experiment, but what are indicators that these strategies are working? As a leader in Social Media for universities we are obviously interested in knowing how many followers or ‘likes’ we have in addition to growth rates. However, we find that other data is much more informative and telling of our effectiveness. If our Facebook page has thousands of likes but people aren’t looking at our content or liking our content (and ‘liking’ facebook-like our content) we aren’t doing our job correctly. Each platform has a different audience, and engages in a different way. This makes the type of data specific to each page.



According to number of ‘likes,’ (551,348) Facebook is our most popular social networking site. This channel has an audience all over the board- from students, to alumni, to football team fans. When determining level of engagement for a particular post, taking a look at the likes, comments, and shares is helpful. The number of likes is the most visible indicator of popularity, but this is not the only thing you should be concerned with. Reading the comments helps discover if people are receiving your message in a positive or negative way. A ‘share’ is when a user chooses to display a post on their personal Facebook page. Shares are important because we can gain a much higher post reach when our fans share our content. The post reach is the number of unique people that see your post. A post is considered to reach someone when the post appears on his or her newsfeed. While the number of likes are helpful to see if someone enjoys or supports your post, your page post reach might be a better indicator of how much influence your post holds. Another indicator of how many people see your post is by looking at the number of impressions. The number of impressions is defined by the number of times content is displayed. Impressions and reach can be easy to confuse with one another.  One way to differentiate them from one another is to think that one person can be ‘reached’ by a post only once, but the post can be displayed multiple times when they are clicking through Facebook- and each time it is displayed it becomes an impression. All of these analytics can be found on Facebook’s Insight pages. Facebook has their own analytics built into their site that is very user friendly and helpful to look at when determining which posts are successful.

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Twitter is another popular site that receives a significant amount of engagement everyday. This audience is primarily students and members of the Ann Arbor community. Once again, while it is helpful to know the amount of followers and average growth rate, our engagement is a more significant indicator of success. On Twitter, it is easy to see the number of retweets and favorites each tweet receives. A retweet can hold more value because a user re-posts your tweet on their timeline. In this case all of the person’s followers would be able to see your tweet. This could be considered similar to sharing a post on Facebook. Another piece of data similar to Facebook is Twitter’s potential impressions. This is the total number of followers of every person that retweets your tweet plus the number of your followers. If someone that holds a lot of influence online with a high number of followers retweets your tweet, many more people will then see what you have to say. Replies are made when a user responds to your tweet and starts a conversation. It’s important to take the time to reply to your user’s tweets as well. This makes your connection with your followers more personal. Sometimes our followers get really excited when we reply to them and act as though a celebrity acknowledged their existence. This is always fun to take note of!1



A mention is when a user tags your twitter handle in a tweet. Mentions are helpful to know when people are talking about you or your brand. Twitter offers its own analytics, however it can be confusing and difficult to navigate. While there are free solutions offered depending on what data you’re trying to find, the most comprehensive tools usually cost a monthly or yearly fee. 



Instagram, a photo and video-sharing site, hosts our younger audience. As far as analytics go, in addition to number of followers, it’s important to take note of likes and comments made per post. User-generated content is the most prevalent for Instagram. We have a lot of followers and fans requesting to have their Instagram pictures featured on our Instagram. Users often tag us or use our hashtags as a way to catch our attention. User-generated content is a unique way to engage with the university’s fans. A feature that is exclusive to Instagram, which is yet another important indicator of a very successful post is if the Instagram ends up on the ‘Explore Tab’- or better known as the Popular Page. An ever-changing algorithm determines which pictures appear on the Popular Page. The algorithm is speculated to require the photo to be liked by at least 20% of your followers and likes by at least 400 people that do not follow your account in the first 10-20 minutes of posting the photo. Here are a few examples of our pictures that made it onto the Explore Tab.


Instagram does not offer analytical data, but there are multiple tools dedicated to deliver the necessary information to determine which posts are the most engaging. Here are some insights from one of the tools we use for Instagram. 

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In addition to noting the types of content to post in order to get the most activity, we must keep other factors in mind when posting. One of these factors is the time of day. Depending on each channel, there are certain times of the day in which the majority of our users are online. Its important to be aware of what others are doing to stay engaging in your industry, so every week we take time to note how many followers all of our top competitors have in addition to their number of followers. Fortunately, there is a good amount of online literature and blogs dedicated to Social Media best practices, and we’ve found many that are specific to universities. These provide useful strategies and advice from leaders in the field. Different events on campus must be acknowledged and can also promise popular content. For instance, our athletic events such as basketball and football games always provide a lot of hype. 

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This year we were lucky to have fellow Wolverines compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and two of our students brought home the gold! This is the type of news we must always be on the lookout for.


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While keeping up with competitor’s posting strategies and reading advice from dozens of articles can provide useful help, we find that our Wolverine community is unique from others. It’s better (and more fun) to figure out what works best for our particular audience and to deliver our brand in our specific way. While pouring over data can help find out what’s worked in the past, it’s important to provide fresh content that keeps our fans and followers clicking back for more.

2013 was a great year for us and we boasted significant growth in all of our channels. Take a look + make sure to follow/like us on all of our social media channels!


 This post was written by Alexandra Fotis, Communications & Statistics student- #UMSocial Strategy & Analytics intern. #StaySocial with her: @sisterfotis



Off The Court: Q+A with Jalen Rose


A Leader and Best, Making a Difference in Education:

Most know Jalen Rose as the former Fab Five Michigan Basketball star turned NBA player, but off the court, Rose has always been passionate about education. He funded an endowment scholarship at the University of Michigan, and is now aimed at changing education in Detroit – with a 19% dropout rate and just 62% of students reaching graduation, Jalen decided something needed to be done. In 2011, he opened the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, an open enrollment public charter school, determined to increase success rates of Detroit youth with high goals of graduating 85%, enrolling 85%  in college, and graduating 85% from college.

Big Ten Network’s LiveBIG spoke with Jalen about JRLA, his passion for Detroit and changing education, and of course, basketball.
Read the two-part exclusive interview on their blog! -Part 1- -Part2-

Show Us Your Best #Selfie – UofMichigan Joins Snapchat!


Snapchat. Wildly popular for allowing users to take photos/videos (“snaps”),  send them to friends for a predetermined length of time, and then have them magically disappear. Utilized by 77% of college students daily, on February 26th, the University of Michigan joined the likes of brands such as Taco Bell, Wet Seal, Audi, and McDonalds by launching a presence on the budding platform (username: uofmichigan), seizing a unique opportunity to build an audience, strengthen our creativity and connect with students in a unique and fun way.

While many may question if brands or even universities have a place on Snapchat – the numbers don’t lie:

“Almost half of college-age Snapchat users said they would open a Snap from a brand they’d never heard of, and 73% said they would open one from a brand they did know.
Close to 70% of students said they’d even add a brand as a friend if they also followed them on a separate social network like Facebook or Twitter.”

As with any new business or social endeavor, prior to entering the Snapchat domain, the #UMSocial team evaluated our resources and our content, as well as researched functions for brands. What would we put on this channel? How would we manage it? Would we have time to create content for this channel, consistently? Our top priority is always to fill our channels with creative content – we never just join a network for the sake of joining.

With a plan at hand, we began dropping hints to our students that our Snapchat was coming. The excitement was building, and we couldn’t wait to reveal the secret!

On the day of the launch, we posted the snapchat logo so students who were active on the network would know the rumors were true, and the excitement would continue to build…

An hour later, we officially revealed our new Snapchat account on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The results were overwhelming! Immediately, we were bombarded with follows and Snaps from our students, prospective students, and alumni.






In just one week, we’ve gained over 1100 followers on Snapchat, and received nearly 800 snaps. We’ve love seeing how our students are using the platform, and are excited to bring new and creative content to our channel. In addition to our students, we’ve also had a few interactions with the University of Houston, one of the first universities to join Snapchat.

While we are navigating uncharted waters, the fact that our primary audience is actively embracing our presence is tremendously encouraging. We are working on developing new campaigns both as the central uofmichigan account, and in partnership with our schools and organizations. This weekend, we will use Snapchat to connect with students, fans and alumni while on location at SXSW, and in the near future we intend to reveal creative opportunities to use Snapchat stories (multiple snaps added together to create a collective narrative that can be viewed for 24 hours). Further building brand awareness, advocates, and transparency.

Have an idea for how we could use Snapchat? Contact us

At a Glance: #UMsocial 2013 Recap


2013 was an exciting year for the University of Michigan, and even more exciting in social media! We saw impressive growth on all of our social channels, started a presence on Vine, Google+ and Linkedin, and celebrated 500,000 fans on our Facebook page with a special video from Dhani Jones.  We announced gifts from Sam & Jean Frankel, Helen Zell, Charles Munger, Stephen Ross, President Coleman, and Rich Rogel. We kicked off our new fundraising campaign, congratulated our alumna, Miss America, announced our Spring Commencement speaker via Twitter, had celebrity alums like Darren Criss, Levar Burton, Dick Costolo, and Desmond Howard interact with us, and had an impressive seven photos and two videos on the Instagram Popular Page. We revamped our Pinterest and Tumblrs, launched a University Page on Linkedin, created a social media newsletter, and had our first campaign on Instagram, #MyUMich.

We’re excited to see what 2014 has in store for us, and are looking forward to continuing to connect with our audience! Stay Social, and as always, GO BLUE!