Monthly Archives: December 2014

November 2015 @ UMSocial

Like most months, November was rather busy for the #UMSocial team. There is always something exciting happening at the University of Michigan, and we must readily reflect that in our content. From Thanksgiving promotion and the season’s first snow-fall photos to Homecoming 2014, Election Day, and our inaugural #UMichChat, we worked around the clock to stay consistent in our coverage while also thinking outside of the box to try new things and engage in new ways.


Along with promoting on-campus events and routinely sharing content and updates from the many diverse departments, we experimented with highlighting campaigns, video content, and new things happening on our other social channels. In the past, we’ve seen that seasonal images perform well, and so we decided to mix up our strategy and utilize our YouTube channel to showcase our beautiful #UMichFall campus, GoPro style. Once live, this video was shared on Facebook and received traction:

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While engaging with our Facebook audience, over time we’ve learned that there is nothing better than a healthy rivalry. Our fans love to hate Ohio State. We utilized the #BeatOSU hashtag in various graphics, but this time it wasn’t related to athletics! The 33rd Annual Blood Battle provided the perfect opportunity to leverage the UMich v. OSU rivalry in a fun and beneficial way.

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Lastly, we teamed up with the Office of University Development to push out promotional content for Giving Blueday, the university’s first 24-hour day of giving. Although Leaders & Best exists as its own Facebook page, promoting giving to the university, it’s important for smaller departments to take advantage of all that the central accounts have to offer!

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Our top performing posts:

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           11K+ likes                                                  10K+ likes                                                     5.7K+ likes 


November 7th served as our inaugural #UMichChat, which we initiated to provide our audience the unique opportunity to converse with the many leaders, innovators, and athletes within the University of Michigan community. As Michigan Basketball prepared for the upcoming season, we couldn’t think of a better way to kick-off the series than with our very own coaches and players: Kim Barnes Arico and Spike Albrecht! Read the full recap here: 

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On all channels, we shared content for Veterans Day. However, we saw it perform best on Twitter, becoming one of our most engaging posts of the month:

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Amidst our usual posting and UGC-curation, we decided that it was time for another campaign! This month, we kept it short and sweet. We wanted to see, through the eyes of our followers, why it’s so great to be a Michigan Wolverine! The rules were simple:

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Throughout the weeks of the campaign, we received approximately 250 entries and gained 650 followers. To encourage submissions, we shared our own photos and included the #MyUMich hashtag in every post. After sifting through our favorites, we announced the winners in a collage-style graphic! It was rewarding to see how excited the winners reacted on social, commenting on our posts, and even re-gramming the winner announcement to share with their friends.

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November was hectic, but as we’ve learned, social never sleeps! That’s also part of what makes this work so exciting. We hope that you check back next month to see what else we have planned for UMich. As always, #GoBlue and #StaySocial!

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

#UMSocial Finals Week Treats

Every year, students migrate to the many libraries on campus for a week of late nights, cramming sessions and the mass production of final papers just in the nick of time. As a Wolverine, I know the stress of finals week and exam season all too well! To celebrate the end of the semester and tie in some holiday spirit, #UMSocial decided to bring sweet treats to campus–with a twist.


The day before our treat scavenger hunt, we encouraged @umich followers to look out for something sweet on campus. Each candy cane came with a note from our team, along with our Twitter handle on the back! This is an extremely simple way to engage with our community and potentially gain a few followers along the way. Another simple way to receive engagement is to simply ask for it, by including a clear call-to-action in your post. We asked our @UmichStudents to reach out to us if they found one of the candy canes on campus:

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Aside from Twitter and Instagram, we utilized Snapchat as a way to provide clues for the location of the “golden” candy canes, which had a special message and if found meant the recipient received a special #UMSocial gift. In order to claim their prize, winners had to Tweet @umich a photo of the golden ticket!


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As fun as it was to walk around campus in reindeer ears and string the Diag trees with holiday treats, it was much more exciting to see the positive impact we made on students. ‘Tis the season for stress, both with exams and the holidays, and so even the simplest of gestures make a difference. Along our journey we walked through the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and gave a few treats away to students, wishing them luck as they studied. It was rewarding to see the positive feedback appear on social almost immediately:

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Within higher education, it’s commonplace for brands to promote finals study tips, graphics, and words of encouragement during exams. The #UMich accounts are no different, and we are accustomed to tailoring our content to be most relevant for our students, which includes talking about finals week. We did something a little different this time, and saw it pay off. By using blue candy canes and decorating with messages and yellow ribbons, we were able to stay on-brand, holiday-season relevant, and reward students during this stressful point in their semester. We’re hoping that our Wolverines, and maybe a few UMich squirrels, enjoyed the finals week treat! I know that I did.

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

Snapchat Geofilters

In case you haven’t heard or noticed, in select locations and during special events, “Geofilters” have been popping up in addition to Snapchat’s original filters (e.g. colored filters, speed, weather, time). Users can swipe left and right to use these special overlays when they are in the area.


Earlier this month Snapchat rolled out an exciting addition to their Geofilters- Community Geofilters. Basically, anyone can upload their own original artwork to Snapchat and then select a location on the map where your Geofilter will show up when the user swipes.

Our mission is to have our very own University of Michigan Geofilter. We have created a few that we are submitting to Snapchat, but we want to reach out to our talented students and ask you to submit your own too! There are some detailed guidelines found here but here are the basics:


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Submit your artwork by emailing us at by January 1st, and we’ll feature them on our Snapchat Story and Twitter! We cannot guarantee that Snapchat will approve yours but we will submit all of them and cross our fingers!

Here is some inspiration that we have created to help get you started


Get creative and #StaySocial!

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

Social Journalism

After evaluating the successful engagement received during our inaugural #UMichChat, we were excited to move forward with our second installment this month. These Twitter chats work to provide our audience the unique opportunity to converse with the many leaders, innovators, and athletes within the University of Michigan community. Each chat revolves around a particular topic, and the guests are asked to participate based on their leadership in the field and the perspective that they will bring to the conversation. In leveraging the power of social media, we are able to extend our reach and lead, what we hope will be, an engaging dialogue.

Given the recent journalistic and social media coverage surrounding Ferguson and activism, the conversation on Dec. 5 was promoted as a way to cover “The Power of Social Media in Journalism Today.” We were lucky enough to have three knowledgable panelists contribute to this important discussion:  Gregory Anderson, editorial director at Yahoo and Knight Wallace Fellow, Martha Jones, professor of history, Afro-American and African studies, and law; and Jennifer Calfas, 2015 Editor-in-Chief of The Michigan Daily.


Similarly to our first #UMichChat, we went into the morning with a schedule of questions to serve as a guide, but as things progressed naturally throughout the hour, we saw users continually submitting their own thought-provoking and relevant questions for the guests. It was exciting to see the hashtag catch on, sparking a free-flowing debate amongst our panelists, students, faculty, and @umich followers alike. When engaging with a current topic of contention, there is always the risk of running into hostile comments and inappropriate feedback. However, instead of avoidance, we’ve found that it is beneficial for an official account, @umich especially, to bring attention to the concerns of the community and initiate healthy conversation.

This time around, questions ranged from simple,”Is there a platform of preference among journalists and educators? Which is your personal favorite?” and moved to include more complex user-submitted questions,”Does “Black Twitter” exist? How does race shape SM in #blacklivesmatter, #ferguson & beyond?”

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See the full #UMichChat recap here:

In regards to this chat, we received approximately 300 uses of our hashtag, which resulted in total reach  of 224K. 

There’s no denying that social media has reshaped the current journalism landscape, and that’s something our guests acknowledged. Looking forward, it will be fascinating to see how reporters, everyday users, and activists will continue to navigate and engage in these spaces.

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Photo courtesy of panelist @RealGEAnderson

Thanks to everyone who participated in this conversation! We hope that you will join us on Jan. 9 with Royster Harper, Vice President of Student Life.  Have any interesting Tweeters or topics in mind for the future? You know where to find us: @umich.

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

Michigan Dining’s Delicious New Content


Food For Thought: Social Media & Customer Service

It’s now considered normal for people to take pictures of their food. At almost every meal. Every day. So when Michigan Dining was creating a new brand for their freshly merged division, social media naturally came up in the conversation.  But what tone would we use? And what if the students used it to complain?

Google “Marketing to Millennials” and you’ll get pages and pages of articles and research — but here it is in a nutshell:  Millennials expect open communication and complete transparency.  They trust user generated content.  And, because they care about topics like sustainability, the environment and social justice, they are looking for organizations that reflect those values.

With these ideas in mind, the Michigan Dining Twitter, Instagram and Facebook  accounts were born.  We know that building social media communities takes time. And lots of work.  We’re still in the infant stages, but this is what we’ve learned about transparency and customer service so far:

Speak in the we.  Basic, we know, but it softens the tone of the whole interaction.  Instead of sounding like just one person is listening, it feels like lots of people are.  It makes the interaction less personal, in a good way.

Find heroes.  JetBlue was one of the first companies to use social media for customer service and they’ve done an amazing job.   So we researched how they responded to complaints, how they trained their staff, and we checked out the tone of their tweets – upbeat, fun and likeable.  Then we found Boston University’s Dining Services Twitter. They were doing exactly what we needed to do. And they’d been doing it for a long time.  We watched (and continue to watch)  how they handle tricky situations.

Try to listen. It’s not our job to talk any of our customers out of anything. They have a right to express their opinions and feelings – even if their opinions don’t seem to line up with our reality.  We try to write responses that show that we’re listening. And we always pass the information to the appropriate parties.  The goal is to turn complaints into positive exchanges that satisfy the customer.

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Always double check the tone. Millennials are smart and savvy. They smell marketing-speak a mile away.  So we always, before pressing “Tweet”, read the response from the recipient’s point of view. Is it honest and authentic? Does it make good common sense? Does it have a reasonable chance of resolving the issue? If the answer is yes, we let it go.  If it still feels funny to us– preachy or sell-y or evasive–it’s back to the old drawing board.

Wear our helmets.  Michigan Dining serves over 23,000 meals a day to our community.  They have a highly trained and professional culinary staff, a staff that cares deeply about excellent service and amazing food.  That being said, every once in a while something might slip. If we receive a complaint about an honest-to-goodness mistake, we’ll take the blow, apologize, and then get back to our regularly scheduled excellent service.

Google is your friend. We’ve learned some new terms like slapped, rn , XD, and bae.  And some other terms we probably shouldn’t repeat here. We’re sure to learn more in the future.

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Use kid gloves. Well, they don’t have to be actual kid. Because baby goats are too cute to wear. But we do try to remember to be very gentle.  Students are sleep-deprived. They are stressed out about their futures, their finances, their classes, their relationships… Sometimes they just need to vent.  And because food should be a comfort, venting about food makes perfect sense. When we respond, our goal is to never incite anger but, instead, to diffuse it. We want to help relieve their stress, not add to it.

Try to have fun. Whenever possible we try to come up with playful tweets that will make our students smile.  We figure out what needs to be said, then spend some time crafting a witty (but not too cutesy) way to say it. We also remember that it’s easy to misinterpret the tone of a tweet. So we’re careful not to send a jokey response to someone who might be angry or upset.


Learn when to walk away. After staring at the above tweet for ten minutes and failing to come up with a helpful, useful or comforting response, we realized that we could say nothing. Phew.

Come up with a plan B.  We’ve developed policies to deal with green, yellow and red level complaints. Since Twitter is 24/7, those policies need to be in place before any complications arise. So far, common sense has prevailed, but it’s good to know we have a plan if things get messy.

Looking to the future, our next challenge is to build our numbers. (We really need to build our numbers!) We also need to devote more time and attention to Instagram. We’re currently developing contests and promotions which we hope will add value to our current community while attracting the attention of new followers. We also hope to continue elevating the brand perception of Michigan Dining across all channels. Here’s to a great winter term!



Contributed by Kate Glahn,  Marketing Communications Specialist for Auxiliary Marketing.   She manages social media for Michigan Dining (@michigandining).



Who would have thought?

I never would have thought I would be back here doing something I love. One rarely finds the opportunity to combine both of their passions together in a singular focus—a geek of social media and a proud University of Michigan alum. I am excited to return to Ann Arbor and contribute to the #UMsocial team. I have been in the social and digital marketing space for five years and have worked with top fortune 500 companies to small brands.

My last two years have been with a NASCAR team traveling the remote areas of the country. In those two years I developed award-winning campaigns that excited, educated, and entertained the online audience. When I began, social media was like a mysterious box. My job was to demystify this box while, educating. engaging, and exciting our fans as we achieve milestones. Now, at Michigan, I am excited to team with Nikki Sunstrum, our social media director, who, as she puts, “takes the shiny out of social media.” I believe our team can lead the University to be number one among higher education in the social space.

I have learned so much from the past couple of years, mainly that social media marketing is storytelling at its finest. I’m happy that I can continue this work at U-M.

So you play on Facebook all day?

I wish that is the case. Being a social media manager allows me to think of new ways to connect with people. I like to create stories so that you can play on Facebook or your favorite social media channel all day. Social media is not like traditional marketing. It is a two way street; we create stories so our community can interact with us.

Wolverine Family

Before I was in a classroom, I was in the Big House celebrating the first of many graduations. I had the fortune of growing up with three older siblings that took the journey from Atlanta to Ann Arbor in order to become a Wolverine. From the beginning, I had no other choice. As the youngest of four, the bar was set, but I was glad that I had the best option in front of me.

This post was written by Yasin Id-Deen, #UMSocial Social Media Manager