Monthly Archives: May 2014

My #UMsocial Adventure

Think about the last time you were on Twitter or Facebook at work and scrambling to minimize your window so your boss wouldn’t see. Now, imagine being rewarded for using social media at work. Actually, imagine having a job that REQUIRES you to use social media 24/7. This is my job! Interns at #UMSocial are tasked with using social media to build the University of Michigan brand. We get to learn the ins and outs of various social media platforms to showcase all that this A-MAIZE-ING university has to offer.

As a rising junior double majoring in Communication Studies and International Studies, using social media properly and for a purpose is a relevant skill that I will be able to use for the rest of my life. After holding an internship last summer at Maestro, a creative agency, I discovered my passion for digital marketing. Learning every aspect unique to each social media platform continues to fascinate me. Whether using a Facebook post to create a small instantaneous focus group or creating a hash tag contest on Twitter, the marketing possibilities various social media platforms offer are endless. I hope to foster this passion through my position as a social media intern at Michigan Creative.

Although working with social media is extremely rewarding, (3,000 likes? woohoo!) creating and sharing content for the 42,716 students that attend the University of Michigan is not for the faint-hearted. With hundreds of thousands of followers on every University of Michigan social media platform, the reach is incredible. So why am I so fascinated by digital marketing and social media? It has the power to influence and make a difference. The social norms of the internet are constantly changing, but I intend to post content that will enhance the overall University of Michigan experience for students, alumni, and enthusiasts.

Through my Communication classes, I have learned the importance of constantly researching digital content and identifying trends. It is interesting to observe which content becomes popular among society and which does not. (The cold water challenge?!) Immersing yourself in numerous social media platforms is a great way to better understand the wants and needs of society. I am excited to share my passion for social media with so many dedicated and supportive followers as I continue to intern at Michigan Creative.

This post was contributed by Rachel Haas,  Social Search Intern and Communications & International Studies Major – @rachel_collette

Too Much of a Good Thing? When It’s Time To Say Goodbye to Your Social Profiles

The University of Michigan has 11 social profiles, with roughly 760K fans and followers – and these are only the accounts managed by our team at #UMsocial. Outside, there are hundreds, if not thousands of Twitter pages, Instagram accounts, and Facebook pages representing the University of Michigan. With students jumping on the latest social networks every day, it’s often hard for the university to keep up and to evaluate where these may fit in our strategy. This year, the central UMich channels grew to include Vine, Linkedin, Snapchat, and a blog. Additionally, we manage our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Foursquare, and Tumblr content, posting upwards of 200 times per week across these channels.

As you can imagine, for a small team of five (two full-time employees and three interns), this is a lot of content to create. We do our best to produce creative, original content for each channel, each with a slightly different audience. As our presence evolved throughout the year, we began to notice that our Tumblr account, in particular, wasn’t receiving the high engagement month-over-month that we wanted, and that much of the content we were pushing out there was reblogs, or re-posts from our Pinterest and Instagram accounts.

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Before the launch of the new in mid-March, we used a Tumblr account as our blog, which included primarily best practices, behind-the-scenes at #UMsocial, stories from our interns, and event coverage and wrap-ups. We host similar stories on our new blog, and it’s linked to much, much more content on our website, driving more traffic to our blog posts, and giving us richer insights on our traffic and audience through Google analytics. Since the launch of our new website, we’ve received 5x the amount of traffic than our original Tumblr blog—and they had the same URL. We now see more shares and more traffic to our site from social media.


Without question, we knew it was time to shut down the social media Tumblr. We had a new place for this information, and it was much more engaging. With this in mind, we decided to also evaluate the strategy, traffic, and content on our more traditional Tumblr –

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The umichstories Tumblr launched in October 2012. With 5800 posts, we’ve consistently posted at least 100-200 times per month, re-blogging or sharing our favorite things happening at our university and around the world.

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As a micro blogging platform, Tumblr is very powerful. Since its creation in 2007, Tumblr has grown to over 188 million blogs, and over 83 billion posts.
The average Tumblr user visits 67 pages per month. The average visit on Tumblr is around 14 minutes, which is higher than both Facebook and Twitter.  (source)

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There’s no denying Tumblr gets traffic, that it will continue to grow as time goes on, and that many brands (even the White House, and Beyonce) have used the site to enhance their social presence.

Tumblr’s users are divided equally between genders, and 66% are under 35. Among 13-25 year olds, Tumblr is more popular than Facebook. (source)


However, while it is popular among the younger demographics, this doesn’t guarantee that it will be popular for every brand, even brands with this audience in mind. The umichstories Tumblr grew in popularity since its creation, with 235% growth in followers in 2013, and 20% additional growth so far in 2014. We see average visits fluctuate between 300-500 uniques per month, with most of the traffic being direct (from Tumblr dashboard), or from Pinterest. While these numbers are not a disappointment, through evaluating the strategy, and the massive volume of content (i.e., time) we were putting into this channel, we began to question: What is this account really adding to our social presence?

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Many brands get caught up in checking off each social channel, adding all of the accounts to their arsenal, but falter when it comes to creating new content. It’s easy to recycle posts from other visual platforms, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and with Tumblr’s scheduler, you don’t even need to be present to watch your posts. All of this effort, all of this content, without clearly outlined goals in mind, loses its importance. Sure, our Tumblr audience would continue to slowly grow as we continue to post, but why not use these resources, this time and this content, and put it into our other channels? Our Pinterest saw 2320% growth in 2013, and our new Snapchat account, which already has more followers than both of our Tumblrs combined, sees more views on one Story, than our Tumblr account gets in a month, despite only being created 2 months ago.

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Social media is ever-changing, and there will always be new platforms for brands to evaluate, and ones they may start a presence on, only to realize they don’t have the time, manpower, or content to maintain them. How do you know which to pick, and which to skip? Here’s a few tips.



Define your goals: It’s important to have a goal in mind when launching a new social channel. Ask questions like, what do we hope to get out of this new channel? Why is it important or beneficial to have a presence on this channel? How will we create and manage the content? How will you measure success?

Define your audience: Emerging social channels often have a variety of audiences. Consider who you are targeting, and find out if they are on the platform, how they are using it, and how your brand could fit into that.

Make a plan of action: Detail the types of content you will populate your new channel with, how often you hope to post, who will manage the channel and respond to your audience. It’s important to have a plan before you jump in to be sure your new channel won’t be blank!

Measure your progress: Based on your goals, measure your progress and success. This could include followers, interactions, clicks, pageviews –whatever your unit defines.

Re-define: Once you begin to track your progress, you may find certain types of content, or posting times and days outperform others. You may want to experiment with new content, plan a campaign, or challenge yourself to exceed your previous growth. You may even realize that this social channel isn’t for you, and decide to shut down your account, which is okay, too!

Starting up a new social profile can be overwhelming, but always exciting. For us, using Tumblr was good practice, and a good learning experience for using a micro-blogging platform, and getting a sense to which parts of our audience are there, and what types of content they’re looking for. Overall, coming to the conclusion that it may be time to shut down your inactive, or unnecessary social accounts should never been viewed as a failure. It just means that it wasn’t the right time or place for your audience, but now you’re free to use your time, effort, and content on another platform.

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#5Things You Need to Know in Social ED:3

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What’s in your Top 5? Join the #5Things conversation on Twitter.

  1. Who do you want to be online?
    We live in a world of disappearing photos; apps that promise to keep our “Secrets,” and where “catfishing” has its own TV show. Our expectation of privacy changes daily, as we continue to populate the Internet with more and more of our lives. Never has it been more important to have a clear understanding of who you are and what you want to be online. Here are a few tips:
  • Take the time to evaluate your digital footprint. Have you Googled yourself lately? In the chance you’re looking for a new career, count on your potential employer doing the same.
  • Selfies are not the best LinkedIn profile pictures. Use the platform to build a network of colleagues, peers, potential employers, and influencers.
  • Use your bios to be clear about who you are, and what your content is about. Stick to your area of content expertise.
  • Educate yourself on privacy settings.
  • Know the expectations of your employer. Don’t speak on their behalf if that is not in your job description. Avoid using their moniker in your @username, and while not legally binding it’s acceptable practice to state “opinions are your own & not that of my employer.”
  • Build a consistent personal brand across all of your platforms.
  1. Twitter Mute
    This week Twitter announced it’s equivalent to Facebook’s “hide” option. A softer approach than their block feature, you’ll soon be able to rid your newsfeed and notifications of that annoying tweetaholic without taking away their ability to leverage, retweet and favorite all of your best content.
  1. Social Shopping? There’s a hashtag for that.
    Last week Amazon launched #amazoncart, a collaborative effort with Twitter which allows you to place items in your shopping cart via hashtag. Notice an item you’d like to later purchase while perusing your newsfeed? Simply retweet it with #amazoncart, and it’ll be waiting for you to buy later. Personally I’m more excited by “Drone Delivery,” but with users consuming approximately 10 hours of content each day, the streamlining trend is on the rise. Brands are continuously fighting over maximum visibility, and therefore creating opportunities to lure you away or jointly barter for your time.
  1. FB Audience Insights
    Three cheers for more info on those that “Like” us! Facebook’s new “Audience Insights” are intended to give brands or anyone using Pages, a more in-depth looks at their target audiences, with aggregate information about geography, demographics, and purchase behavior. Unlike it’s partner in crime “Page Insights,” this new tool will examine trends about your current or potential customers across the entire Facebook platform, rather than only interactions on your Page.
  1. Identifying & Activating Advocates: #WhyIStay
    You know that person in your life that is always taking about how great they are? Don’t you just love that person! Not so much right? But, that person all your friends told you about, the one who sounds absolutely fantastic? Now, he seems interesting!
    Social Media works in a similar fashion; in fact statistics now say the millennial generation trusts user generated content, or the view and opinions of their peers, 50% more than that relayed to them via media. This is why we must focus on engagement rather than likes, because regardless of how fabulous we continue to be, we need to build an audience willing to go out and advocate on our behalf. Michigan Radio has recently joining a social campaign doing just that. Following a recent poll identifying 37% of Michigan residents would rather live elsewhere, they joined other radio affiliates to encourage their listening audience to share “why they stay” via Twitter with #WhyIStay. Providing organic, free, advertising for our home state, enticing new visitors, and hopefully adding new listeners to Michigan Radio. Now that’s social done right.

Now that you’re in the know, unplug from social and get outside! Bert & Zachary Levi said so.


#Victors2018: Orientation Gets Social

Summer is almost here, which means thousands of newly accepted Wolverines and proud parents will make the trip to Ann Arbor in order to attend orientation for the upcoming fall! Starting on June 2 and hosting sessions until July 30, new student orientation works to provide a smooth transition into the college setting for admits and their anxious parents, while offering different workshops that demystify how to schedule classes, the process behind financial aid, campus safety, dorm life, and much more.

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Photo via uofmichigan:

As a mandatory step in the college experience, summer orientation guarantees to bring fresh faces and families to campus each summer. This provides the perfect opportunity for the UMsocial team to reach out and engage with the growing University of Michigan community, especially when they are all in the same place!

In 2013, we leveraged the orientation crowd to draw attention to newly established Vine and Foursquare presences, promoting orientation specific content and providing resources. With Foursquare, we were able to create an “Orientation Must List,” and we encouraged students to check in at as many places as they could during their stay. It was fun to see orientation-ers share posts on Instagram and Twitter as they visited the different locations!

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Photo via zachb54 on Instagram:

Along with sharing user-generated content, UMSocial also actively worked to provide an increased level of customer service through the promotion of #AskUMich, in partnership with Campus Involvement. Students and parents were encouraged to tweet questions and concerns, to which our team and @umichcampusinfo were ready and waiting to respond. With the help of flyers in dorms, and promotion of the hashtag in our own content, we were able to provide responses to over 100 inquires. This year we hope to extend the use of #AskUMich even more!

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Photo via uofmichigan on Instagram:

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The success of the orientation social strategy in its inaugural year verified just how important these channels are to making new students feel like part of the community, and also assuring students and parents that their University is social savvy, responsive, and accessible. At a university as large as Michigan, it can be easy for incoming freshmen to feel like small fish in a big pond. Our online communities provide the opportunity to have tailored conversations, allowing us to communicate more personally with our Wolverines, and give our followers the individual attention that they deserve.

In 2014, we’re excited to experiment with new channels and expand our strategy, while still creating meaningful connections with our incoming #Victors2018! Here’s a preview of what’s potentially to come…

  • “One Day at Orientation” Snapchat Contest: Create a Story of what your day looks like
  • Instagram Meet Up: Visit 5-10 must-see spots, upload your photos with #Victors2018, we’ll pick our favorites to be featured on the uofmichigan account
  • Orientation Facebook Album/Pinterest Board: Cataloged and curated live, you could see your photos featured on official University of Michigan accounts
  • #AskUMich: We’re standing by to answer your questions, just tweet with #AskUMich! Or new this year, chat with us via uofmichigan on Snapchat

This post was contributed by Katie Szymanski: Editorial Intern and Communications and Spanish Major – @katieskii

Guest Post: When a Prank Goes Viral, U-M Engineering Fools’ 40,000 in April


Guest Blog:

On April 1, 2013 the College of Engineering quietly released a video about a breakthrough in teleportation. The YouTube video was shared as a link on our Facebook page and on Twitter. The response was great. There was lots of social engagement, and the video quickly received around 40K views. Typically, when we linked to videos from Facebook, they would receive around 400 views.

This year we thought we should try again. We produced a video about breakthroughs in cloaking technology. This time we embedded the video directly into Facebook, as opposed to sharing a link from YouTube. Through experimentation and undeniable analytics, we have seen how this tactic gives video content much higher reach on Facebook. This was certainly the case on April 1.


The video was released around 9 A.M. and by 5 P.M. it had reached a tipping point. On April 7, the video had received 786,161 video plays, 83,607 comments and 74,348 shares. The majority of the comments were along the lines of “LOL April Fools,” or “You almost got me,” but there were some people who didn’t realize it was fake. On April 2, we did edit the post to make it more obvious that it was an April Fool’s joke.

The most impressive analytic was that our Facebook page organically gained more than 8000 new fans over the course of the life of the post. We now have a larger audience to share all our real stories with in the weeks and months to come. This case study shows that a social media mix should include fun, playful and provocative content that the audience can’t help but share. Equally important is understanding how to share specific types of content, like embedding videos as opposing to sharing a link. So, experiment with your content. Test variables and leverage the results. This knowledge combined with great content is a receipt for virality.

Many thanks to Ben Logan, Social Media Specialist- University of Michigan, College of Engineering for providing UMSocial with this guest post.

#5Things You Need to Know in Social ED:3

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What’s in your Top 5? Join the #5Things conversation on Twitter.


  1. But first, Let me take a “Selfie”
    Now that I’ve put that song in your head (#YoureWelcome), let’s talk about Instagram. With 70 million people logging in daily to post approximately 60 million photos the platform is clearly thriving, but what can it do for you? According to Forbes, a whole heck of a lot! On average research shows brands post 1.5 times daily. Some that advertise, or “promote” their images, have seen an over 30% increase in followers and a corresponding increase in engagement on non-paid posts. Perhaps even more interesting, there was no correlation indicating that increasing the frequency of postings decreases engagement. The more the merrier!
  1. “Social Media Lessons You Learned in Kindergarten”
    Sometimes we just need to go back to the basics. This graphic is a great reminder to play nice, be yourself, pay attention, ask for help, and have fun. Oh, and don’t eat the paste.
  1. DYK? The Average Lifecycle of a Tweet is 18 minutes
    I’m often asked about how frequent a given user should be posting. The answer is, it truly depends on what you aim to accomplish and more importantly, what is it that you have to say? The content we distribute and channels we maintain should always provide added value to our audience, bottom line. Never just occupy a platform to say that you are there. 91% of consumers search Facebook for brands and 50% of users trust what their friends say about you, more than what you say about yourself. For an in-depth look at posting strategy across platforms check out this article in Fast Company.
  1. Social Media Day
    Mashable’s 5th annual Social Media Day returns Monday, June 30th. The global “holiday” was created in 2010 to acknowledge the impact social technologies were making on our lives. In 2012, Michigan became the 3rd state in the nation to recognize Social Media Day through an official proclamation by Governor Snyder, a self proclaimed nerd and active social media user. To participate in this years festivities follow hashtag #smday, or visit the Mashable Meetups page to share your plans for celebrating.
  1. Oh Snap!
    Turns out there is no “Vegas Rule” when it comes to Snapchat. Yesterday the platform agreed to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that state messages sent via the app don’t disappear as easily as originally promised.

Changing a Social World, One Hashtag at a Time

“You, Class of 2014, are our collective hopes as a society. With your dreams and discoveries, you will change the world.” President Mary Sue Coleman #MGoGrad

ThankYouMSC JumbotronThe collective theme of Saturday’s commencement festivities was one of innovation and integrity. President Mary Sue Coleman (MSC) delivered a bittersweet message reflecting on the profound impact this role, and the students of Michigan, have had on her 45-year career in higher education. She expressed her sincere appreciation for the change and challenges students have presented, and commended them for making the University a better place. With the help of a hashtag, students returned the favor.

Introduced in March, #ThankYouMarySue was presented by UMSocial as a way for our campus body and community to express their gratitude, share memories, and offer best wishes to President Coleman prior to her retirement. The response was outstanding! To date users have shared hundred’s of photos via Twitter and Instagram, in addition to many tweets and Facebook comments. During commencement the hashtag trended in the number two spot regionally with a collective reach just shy of one million.

As part of our overall UMSocial strategy, a planned final photo reminiscent of the “selfie” revolution featured MSC, the over 7,000 students present at the ceremony, their family and friends. Following its publication on our central social channels, the image quickly went viral, breaking records across multiple platforms and raising the bar in higher education social media implementation.

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With almost 400 retweets and 476 favorites, the MSC “selfie” alone had a reach three times larger than any other piece of content produced in the past month. The outstanding response in our Instagram community made it the most liked photo ever, and earned it a spot on the “Popular” page for over an hour. It also appeared organically in the newsfeed of over 100,000 Facebook users, resulting in 4,091 likes and 416 shares.

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During her time at the podium featured commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors Company, offered life lessons for the connected generation. “No matter what you choose to do in life, pursue it with passion and hard work. Talent is not enough” ~ @GM CEO @mtbarra #MGoGrad

That passion for life and dedication to success was evident in the “Big House” Saturday. With the help of another standardized hashtag, #MGoGrad, the UMSocial team was able to capture, curate and visually depict students enthusiasm on two gigantic jumbotron screens. Introduced last year for utilization during commencement, #MGoGrad grew substantially in its second year, thanks in part to the addition of images in the live feed.
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Overall the campaign garnered 1,000+ more mentions than it had in 2013. Paired with a “take over” of the newly introduced, the UMSocial team constructed over 60 posts covering everything from a #UMichBucketList of tasks to an explanation of honorary degrees. Efforts resulted in over 5,000 unique page views ~ 85% of which were by new users.


In fact, #MGoGrad was so popular this year that it trended throughout the entire United States as early as 9am, a full hour before commencement even began. It continued to run in the number two spot nationally until late in the evening, with a peak performance of over 2,000 mentions around 10am. Its total reach surpassed 11 and ½ million users! unnamed

In partnership with the University of Michigan News Service, another new addition to the #MGoGrad strategy included providing more diverse and inclusive content. Together we crafted tweets and graphics in Hindi, Mandarin and Spanish. The result was extremely positive, and we saw numerous replies. One member of our audience even assisted with an “on the fly” Italian translation!

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Other social efforts where implemented across other UMich channels such as Instagram, Vine and LinkedIn. On our newest network, Snapchat, we asked students to snap us images of graduation from their point of view. Using the story feature to provide engaging tasks resulted in almost 1,000 new views of our account. The #UMichBucketList highlighted tasks or accomplishments for students to partake in leaving campus one last time. Collectively the multiple pieces of content associated with this campaign resulted in over 28,000 likes. 1558582_10152283915730753_3418168541492249062_n

So, thank you to our students and now alumni for sharing your special moments with us. This level of social media success would not be possible without your content and support. In the word’s of our beloved President, “For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good luck. And forever, #GoBlue!” ~ MSC #MGoGrad









#5Things You Need to Know in Social Ed:2

Social PeopleEdition 2: May 2, 2014

  1. Snapchat adds more “Chat” to it’s “Snap”
    Yesterday Snapchat announced it’s biggest platform redesign to date. The popular image application has evolved from disappearing 10-second images to 24-hour Stories, and now live instant chatting. According to their blog they felt the app lacked “presence.” With University’s, like UofMichigan, and large brands now adopting communication strategies for the network, this could prove to be a valuable feature.
  1. “Yik”ety Yak, Don’t Talk Back
    If you don’t get that reference, allow me to introduce you to the 1950’s hit. My Grandma is going to be so proud.
    She would also be terrified by this new app, targeted at college age youth, but quickly causing havoc among the high school population. Yik Yak allows users to post purely anonymous messages online to anyone and everyone within a given radius of the creator’s location. Not surprisingly the five-month-old platform has given birth to a whole new level of cyber bullying. See NBC’s Today Show special feature.
  1. I chat, you chat…how about “We Chat?”
    The latest venture in global UMSocial sharing, this week Michigan News Service launched on We Chat. The network, created in China, allows for across mobile platform sharing via text, voice messaging, and photo/video sharing. The app was launched in 2011 and now boasts over 355 million monthly active users, primarily in Asia. However as it expands, it is billing itself in advertisements as a better alternative to Facebook.
    We Chat’s closest competitor is more likely WhatsApp, which as you remember from lasts weeks #5Things, was recently purchased by Facebook. Coincidence?
  1. F8
    Welcome to a more mature Facebook.
  • Anonymous Login
    Plagued by the notion that our images could appear in the latest local singles advertisement in the Facebook side bar, utilizing our account credentials to sync platforms has been met with much skepticism. New Anonymous Login will allow users to log in to apps without the risk of sharing personal data or information with developers.
  • Send to Mobile
    So long copy, paste, and email to yourself sharing. With Send to Mobile you can now send links seamlessly from mobile to desktop.
  • App Links
    Primarily a developer function, App Links will let us link other apps straight from our apps, bypassing the mobile web. Increasing cross-app promotion.
  • Facebook Audience Network
    Meet Facebook’s mobile ad network, where 1 million advertisers can now place ads into third-party apps.
  • Business Manager
    While not a result of the conference, Facebook did introduce us to their newest tool Monday. Business Manager let’s marketers and agencies manager multiple campaigns from a centralized location. Features include; a workflow mechanism, secure sharing, delegated permissions, and supposedly solves the problem of adding admins without having to friend them. Full Conference Highlights
  1. Foursquare ÷ 2 = Swarm
    Keeping up with your friends and discovering new places will now be done separately as Foursquare announces the unbundling of its most recognizable features into two applications. The soon to be unveiled Swarm will be your go to for check-ins, as a reimaged Foursquare aims to take on the likes of Yelp as your go to location based recommendation source.