Monthly Archives: August 2016

Getting Paid to Snapchat: My UMSocial Internship Experience

It was a humid Monday afternoon in July. I had just hiked down a steep wooded decline in Nichols Arboretum while wearing a dress, an unplanned addition to my day. With phone and stack of UMSocial t-shirts in hand, I finally caught my breath at the Huron River. In the shadows of Mott Children’s Hospital, I tucked a rolled-up tee in a nearby tree branch and grabbed a quick picture of it (hidden in plain sight) for a lucky viewer to find. I then waited eagerly with my coworkers James and Aerielle for the perfect moment to arrive.

We were Pokemon hunting. For Snapchat.

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My name is Kelly Arnold. I’m a rising sophomore at Hope College majoring in Communication with a focus in Marketing. And I’m an intern here at UMSocial.

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Officially, I help with digital marketing and social media strategy. In reality, I’m usually working on a variety of tasks. As you can see, being a social media intern doesn’t mean I sit at a desk all day. Sometimes it requires me to interview people from around campus for our “Wolverines of Ann Arbor” series. Sometimes it means I relive freshman year and cover Days 1, 2, and 3 of Orientation on Snapchat. Sometimes it means I actually do sit down to do my work.

When I’m at the office, I write for our social blog on topics ranging from best practices to industry innovations, as well as monthly UMSocial recaps. I also conduct and coordinate #UMichChats, which are Twitter chats that feature multiple panelists. I spend much of my time scouring Twitter as well as some of my favorite social media sites (major shoutouts to Digiday, Mashable, and Fast Company for educating me throughout the summer). And I’ve helped compile analytics across platforms and have helped to audit more than 1,000 social media accounts to streamline quality content.

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Coming into this internship, I wondered what I might learn. Being a digital native, I felt that perhaps I already knew much of the why and how behind the content I saw as I meandered my way through my favorite platforms. This summer, my eyes were opened to a world of HESM, BCC, and SEO. As my 15 weeks on the job come to a close, there are several important things I’ll take away with me:

Everything you see is curated



Mad Men, the TV show about the “golden age of advertising,” showed us how much energy and care went into developing an ad back in the 1960s. It’s crazy to think that today, social media managers are putting that same amount of effort into each tweet, snap, and Facebook post your eyes happen to rest on.

This is something I thought I understood, but found out I really didn’t when it came time for me to write content myself. Exclamation point or period? Emoji or no? Add some adjectives or keep it simple? Each brand will craft its content differently, and understanding your brand’s tone is absolutely essential. But next time you tap through your favorite “Discover” channel, consider the effort that led to you seeing an article titled “10 Bizarre Eating Habits of U.S. Presidents”.

Social never sleepsyou never know what might happen.


I believe I originally heard this important morsel of wisdom on my very first day of work, when it was said by U-M social media director Nikki Sunstrum during a meeting. From Olympic memes to new music releases, events happen on a 24/7 basis, and social is expected to report on them regardless of the hour.

In my short time here, Instagram redesigned its entire interface, and Snapchat changed the face of “Discover” and added “Moments.” Let’s be honest: nobody saw Pokemon GO coming. When these developments occur, it’s my job to know: to be one step ahead, to tell the story. That’s what it all comes down to. Being well-versed in social media, with access to a seemingly never-ending stream of information, means that I can hear the story before others. And I get to tell it.

Roadblocks and errors happen. You might not be able to get that Pokemon snap right on the water like you wished, and that one notable alumnus you wanted for your Twitter chat may not return your emails. Part of this internship that challenged me personally involved being more adaptable and flexible, which—as difficult as it may be to some—is essential. Welcome to the world of “don’t expect anything.” You’ll see tweets that confuse, pictures that insult and words that inspire.

You can put down your phone for an hour and nothing might happen. You can put down your phone for five minutes and everything might happen. It’s crazy, it’s exciting—it’s social media! Be ready for what may come your way, and keep yourself informed. As we like to say: be social, stay social.

If you want something, ask for it.


Around the end of winter break last year, my dad and I were sitting on the couch as we both aimlessly perused the internet. We had been offhandedly discussing my summer plans, him continuously hinting that I needed to get a job. After throwing around lots of ideas, he finally looked me straight in the eye and asked it: “What do you really, really want to do this summer?”

In my heart of hearts, I dreamt of working in social media. And even though I worried it might be out of reach, I decided to see if I could make it happen. I had previously met Nikki Sunstrum through an experience as an editor-in-chief of my high school’s newsmagazine, and remembered I still had her contact information. So I wrote her and asked about internship possibilities.

What originated as a shot-in-the-dark email turned into me sitting here today, writing to you all.

Being here at UMSocial has been one of most fulfilling experiences of my professional life. From meeting Facebook experts at a conference, to watching a volunteer genealogist at the Clements Library beam with pride as she told me about her latest project, to walking through the fountain along with incoming freshmen, these experiences will stick with me long after I leave Ann Arbor. My gratitude runs over for those who helped me along the way these past few months. I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of the UMSocial team.

Who knew you could get paid to Snapchat?

This post was written by Kelly Arnold, a sophomore at Hope College studying communications and a summer 2016 #UMSocial intern. #StaySocial with her: @KellyAArnold

Digital since Delivery

Social media has not only reshaped the ways in which we connect with others and consume information, it has also completely altered the way we curate our lives. When was the last time you printed a photo, let alone put one in an album or scrapbook? An entire generation is being born that will never know life without a ‘selfie’ and whose entire existence will be stored in ‘the cloud.’


Which is why #UMSocial is excited to announce a brand-new way to celebrate the latest additions to our Wolverine family. In partnership with the University of Michigan Health System, a custom Snapchat geo-filter is now available at the Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to customize your baby’s first digital footprint in maize and blue. Believed to be the first of its kind on the popular ephemeral social networking platform, the geofilter features a whimsical stork carrying a new bundle of joy with the words, “Go Blue!”

We look forward to being a part of your #LittleVictors lasting memories. Congratulations!


This post was written by @NikkiSunstrum, Director of #UMSocial.

Dear #Victors2020: UMichChat Recap

On Friday, August 12, students and alumni gathered to share their advice for the incoming freshmen, the Victors 2020. Panelists included: Abi Walker, rising junior and member of the Synchronized Skating Team, @sk8abi_w; Abby Grajek, alumna and Upper Bodies Structures Engineer at Ford Motor Company, @abbsgrajek; Aerielle Kim, rising sophomore and director of marketing at Wolverine CuiZine, @aeriellekim; and Andrew Humphrey, alumnus and Emmy Award-winning meteorologist at WDIV-TV Local 4, @AndrewLocal4.



Questions revolved around student life and panelists didn’t hold back. Topics discussed included time-management tips, favorite places around campus, and opinions on surviving the cold Michigan winters.


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Lastly, all panelists wrote their past freshman self a 140-character letter of advice.


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Over the course of the hour, the chat had a peak reach of more than 7 million, with 44 participants from across Twitter, 192,805 impressions, 2234 engagements, and 186 interactions (replies, likes, retweets).

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Be sure to check out the full recap on Storify and join us for our next #UMichChat. As always, stay social and #GoBlue.

July 2016 @ UMSocial

Whether around the world or outside our front door, the leaders and best kept in touch in July. See what the month had to offer across our platforms.

On Thursday, July 8, Pokemon GO was released. By the end of the weekend, it had been downloaded more than 7.5 million times, becoming the top-grossing app on the iTunes App Store, along with raising parent Nintendo’s stock by 33 percent. Individuals who might otherwise have been on the couch were walking miles, phone in hand, on the search to “catch them all.”




We took advantage across multiple platforms, focusing first on Snapchat by posting a story about Pokemon GO: the essentials for Pokemon hunting, basic how-tos for the game, and location features around campus (like how, for instance, the Block M is a PokeStop).  We also planted UMSocial t-shirts for viewers to find at various locations throughout Central Campus and the Arb.


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We also partnered with DPSS and sent safety tips to our Wolverine Pokemon trainers.

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This was a perfect example of real-time marketing. We identified a trend and its impact on our audience, and factored it into our social execution for the day. We engaged with our followers in tangible ways, relating to them in a fresh and exciting manner, and attracting individuals in our community ranging from alumni to prospective students.



Pokemon Go isn’t just fun and games at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Children’s Hospital. The Mott team enlisted Pikachu and his friends to motivate ‪#‎LittleVictors‬ out of bed and encourage them to start exploring. This video garnered 1,307,667 impressions, along with 2,225 total shares and a reach of 843,525.


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Another #WolverineSummer continued, with messages from students near and far. We introduced our #WorldWideWednesday series posts with “Go Blue!” in different languages. Our audience never fails to take us with them wherever they Go Blue.

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On July 15, we were joined by students from around the world who were kind enough to share their #WolverineSummers with us. Panelists included McKenna Eisert, Class of 2018, Communication Studies and Biology, currently a sales intern for Qualtrics in Dublin, Ireland (@myeyesert); Tracy Scherdt, Class of 2018, Residential College, intern at James and Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit (@umtracyscherdt); Charles Wilkes, graduate student,  LSA’s Department of Mathematics (@CharlesEWilkes); Rachel Hai, Class of 2019, intern for LSA Internships Program (@rach_hai); and Kim Chan, Class of 2018, LSA Chemical Science (@umkimchan).



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Each student brought something exciting to the table, discussing summer experiences that ranged from studying in Spain to interning at a school in Detroit.

To read more of the conversation, check out our recap here.



Third-year U-M medical student Lynette Wynn took over the UMSocial Snapchat in the first of an upcoming series of Medical School Snapchat takeovers. She introduced us to other students from her program and showed us what her typical day looks like.


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Bitmoji partnered with Snapchat this month to include users’ Bitmojis in their snaps. Interns Kelly and Aerielle showcased how to download and create your own Bitmoji. We also featured some of our audience members; we asked users to snap us their own Bitmojis, and we added them to our story.



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Thanks for following along with us this month, and keep an eye out for more exciting content coming in August. Stay social and, as always, #GoBlue.