Monthly Archives: December 2015

Celebrating one year of #UMichChat

On November 6, we hosted a panel of U-M alumni, students, and staff who shared inspiring stories about the power of giving, the impact of #GivingBlueday, and the guiding vision behind the Victors for Michigan Campaign. Our panelists were: Katherine Kowalski (@leadersandbest), Associate Marketing Director, Online Engagement at the Office of University Development; Michael Reed (@michreed0703), U-M alum and account manager at Olapic, a digital agency in New York; and students Madison Graver and Ashley Howard (jointly, using Madison’s handle, @revraGnosidaM), social media coordinator and staff assistant for the Michigan Marching Band , respectively. The varied expertise of our panelists allowed us to explore three diverse perspectives on giving: Katherine described the success of last year’s campaign and discussed this year’s goals; Madison and Ashley shared how their organization benefited from donor gifts; and Michael talked about his motivation for donating, staying involved with U-M, and encouraging other alumni to do the same. All three participants poignantly articulated how U-M has shaped their lives in meaningful ways, and why “the world needs Victors.” With questions ranging from the technical to the deeply personal, we were able to have an engaging dialogue about the power of giving.


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If you missed it, you can follow the complete conversation on Storify.


In the  days leading up to and following the chat, the #GivingBlueday hashtag generated 4.7 million impressions and achieved an estimated reach of more than 300,000. #GivingBlueday also accumulated 195 posts from 113 different users, generating over 1.5 million impressions on its own. Community members joined the conversation and shared personal stories about their U-M experience. This user engagement made #GivingBlueday the #1 regional trend during the chat.


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This was something of a special event for us, since it marked the one-year anniversary of the #UMichChat campaign. On November 7, 2014, we hosted U-M point guard Spike Albrecht and Women’s Basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico, who gave us an insider’s perspective into all things athletic in general, and Michigan basketball in particular. We saw substantial engagement from that very first conversation, as #UMichChat accumulated over 400 uses in a one-hour timespan. Our team has worked tirelessly ever since to maintain and bolster that level of success.

In our first blog post introducing the campaign, we described it as an effort to engage our Twitter following and reach out to academic leaders on campus. But #UMichChat is much more than that. We follow three foundational principles that guide its success: 1. diverse perspectives, 2. discussion of timely issues, and 3. community engagement. #UMichChat exposes our Twitter followers to robust, honest dialogues about issues that matter right now. Topics highlight current events, academic programs, and university-wide initiatives that are of interest to our community. Additionally, these chats allow our community to think about these issues in the context of U-M For example, in August 2015, we hosted a panel of U-M faculty to discuss Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me, a gripping memoir about the black experience in America. The chat explored various themes: the changing nature of journalism, social media’s role in race relations, and the author’s perspective on racial activism. The panelists also considered the implications of including works like Between the World and Me into undergraduate education.

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Our #UMichChats provide diverse perspectives because they bring together voices who ordinarily might not be sharing their opinions. We take extra care to select participants who can provide unique perspectives from different areas of expertise relevant to the issue. Each chat thus provides a holistic, multifaceted look at the topic. Furthermore, the structure of these chats allows our panelists to showcase their expertise in a way that is accessible to the community at large. Most people don’t have the time or expertise to grasp a 50-page dissertation about a complicated topic, but are willing and able to follow a topical Twitter conversation.

For example, in February 2015, we brought together leaders in social media, behavioral analysis, and investigative journalism to discuss the societal implications of cybercrime and internet violence.  We were able to expose our followers to a variety of perspectives from  UMSI professor Cliff Lampe;  Desmond Patton, associate professor at the School of Social Work studying internet gang banging; Detective Sergeant Jay Poupard from the Michigan State Police cybercrime unit; and Eric Strauss, producer for ABC news and a University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellow. The varied expertise of our panelists allowed our followers to learn about the issue in an academic, legal, and journalistic context.. As a result, the chat was a well-rounded dialogue about a weighty and complicated issue.



The chats also allow our followers to participate in the dialogue and ask their own questions. Participants also frequently respond to people who mention them while the chat is taking place. What we find most rewarding are the instances where community members have learned about a chat topic and opened a Twitter account explicitly so they could participate. These instances elevate #UMichChat beyond the domain of a regular Twitter Q&A; the campaign would be pointless if we were simply talking to ourselves. By engaging with followers, we can ensure that a real dialogue is taking place.

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The impact of this engagement has been enormous.  Our chats have reached millions of engaged followers. Our most popular chat (“Forever Go Blue: Life after Michigan“) accumulated more than 14 million impressions. on it’s own. Additionally, for the past six months, #UMichChat (or the relevant topical hashtag) has been a trending topic in the Detroit region.


Over the past year, we have been lucky enough to attract many highly acclaimed  participants. These include former congressman John Dingell,  ABC News producer Eric Strauss, former Olympian Peter Vanderkaay, author Susan Orlean, former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, actor Darren Criss, and U-M president Mark Schlissel. By promoting their respective chats on their own social media accounts, these individuals have been able to spread the conversation to hundreds of thousands of people each month.

We are thrilled with the impact these conversations have had so far, but we’re just getting started.. We’re now booking chats up to six months in advance, and as more unit leaders realize the tremendous impact that these Twitter dialogues have, we are confident that the strength of the #UMichChat campaign will only increase. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store! To our followers: thank you for joining the conversation. #UMichChat would be nowhere near as successful as it is now without your constant support, enthusiasm, and engagement. Be sure to join in next month, and #StaySocial with us on all our channels. #GoBlue

This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, #UMSocial intern and Bachelor of Science in Information junior. #StaySocial with her on Instagram and Twitter @SarahBarnitt

November 2015 @ UMSocial

November 2015 Recap

It’s hard to believe that the Thanksgiving holidays are over and December is already here. As we approach the end of 2015, it’s time to once again reflect on the successes of the past months. From the anniversary of our #UMichChat Twitter series to reporting on the first snowfall of the year, our team worked diligently to keep our coverage fresh, while creating innovative new ways to engage with followers. Here’s a recap of our favorite November moments:


We posted content for Veterans Day on all our channels, but we paid special attention to the holiday on Facebook by featuring Ron Warhurst—a former U-M track coach and recipient of two Purple Hearts and a Navy Commendation Medal for service in Vietnam,—on Wolverines of Ann Arbor. In brief yet poignant responses, he reflected on the camaraderie among his company members, the haunting realities of PTSD, and the importance of medical treatment for veterans. This post reached more than 160,000 people and received dozens of comments thanking Warhurst for his service. Many commenters shared bits of their own personal stories, reflecting on their own or their loved ones’ experiences serving in the military.

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Every #ThrowbackThursday, we share facts about U-M’s history and traditions on Facebook. In November, we used this feature to promote the newly digitized archive of the Michigan Daily at the Bentley Historical Library. This post received considerable traction, reaching an audience of more than 100,000 people. This ongoing collaboration between the Daily, the Bentley, and UMSocial will continue to showcase the tradition of academic, athletic, and philanthropic excellence that U-M is known for.

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Our top performing Facebook post was our Thanksgiving Day graphic, which had an estimated reach of nearly 670,000 people. 


            November 6 marked the one-year anniversary of our highly successful #UMichChat campaign. This month, we teamed up with the Office of University Development to start a conversation promoting #GivingBlueday, in preparation for the main event on December 1. We hosted a panel of students, faculty, and staff, which comprised Katherine Kowalski, the Office of University Development’s associate marketing director; Michael Reed, U-M alum and account manager at Olapic, a digital agency in New York; and Madison Graver and Ashley Howard, social media coordinator and staff assistant, respectively, in the Michigan Marching Band. Each of our panelists was able to add a unique perspective to the conversation. Together, their voices told a powerful story about the impact of donor generosity and why the world needs Victors.

The first-ever U-M Diversity Summit took place November 4–12. The event was a weeklong exploration of U-M’s commitment to increasing and enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. Our team provided comprehensive coverage of the summit, live-tweeting several community dialogues using the hashtag #UMichTalks. To help our audience follow the conversation, we encouraged everyone who was live-tweeting the summit to adopt the hashtag as well, Our efforts certainly paid off: during the week of the summit, our hashtag was used nearly 2,000 times by 499 unique users, generating 15 million impressions. We’re proud that we could use our social channels to spread these crucial messages and contribute to the summit’s success.

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Our best performing tweet was on November 17th, receiving 611 favorites, 437 retweets, and 66,256 total impressions.


            This month we diversified our content to highlight different areas of campus, including academics, athletics, the arts, and student life. Seasonal content, including photos documenting the first snowfall of the season and our Thanksgiving Day motion graphic, performed well.

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Additionally, we collaborated with two different departments for weeklong Instagram “takeovers.” When a department takes over our Instagram [feed , they provide a week’s worth of photos and captions to tell a story and spread their message to our audience. From November 9–14, we partnered with the Ginsberg Center, who used their takeover time to promote their #IAmSocialChange campaign. These posts featured students who are involved with Ginsberg Center programs like America Reads and Alternative Spring Break. These students told their stories, articulated what social change means to them, and explained how their involvement with the Ginsberg Center has allowed them to contribute to the community.

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During the week of Thanksgiving, we teamed up with the Office of University Development to promote Giving Blueday. They chose Stephanie Madigan, U-M junior and member of the Forever Go Blue advisory board, to be their Instagram ambassador. Stephanie’s photos told an emotional story about her personal connection to U-M, and how her family’s long history with the university has encouraged her to give back. She also shared stories of the impact of past donations, and told followers how they can get more involved with Giving Blueday and the Victors for Michigan campaign.

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Our top performing Instagram photo was this sunset shot from the gates of The Big House. This photo received 7820 likes and more than 100 comments.


         On Snapchat, November was full of exciting growth and promising engagement. We exceeded 10,000 followers, effectively doubling our audience since January 2015.  As our number of followers increases, so does the average number of views and screenshots that our stories recieve.We’re expecting this this growth to continue into 2016 and are excited to expand our account’s reach across campus.

From the Diag for LSA’s annual squirrel-themed scavenger hunt, to backstage at MUSKET’s performance of Spring Awakening, to the sidelines of the Big House at the OSU vs. Michigan game, our Snapchat brought campus events to people who weren’t able to attend in person. In addition, we were able to utilize Snapchat to showcase these events from multiple points of view, resulting in visceral, authentic storytelling.

We continued using Snapchat to highlight academic research by teaming up with the social media team at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts to create a story about, well, Snapchat! This story ga a study from the communications department that explored sutdent’s social and emotional experiences on Snapchat and Facebook. The study suggested that Snapchat interactions are perceived as more enjoyable than associated with a more positive mood than other communication technologies. Our audience clearly agreed: the story received 4.7K views in its 24-hour lifespan.


Time flies when you’re having fun, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of 2016 has in store. #GoBlue and #StaySocial!

This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, #UMSocial intern and Bachelor of Science in Information junior. #StaySocial with her on Twitter and Instagram @sarahbarnitt