Monthly Archives: February 2017

A Conversation About Digital Dating Abuse #UMichChat Recap

On February 16, in collaboration with Michigan Medicine and the U-M Adolescent Health Initiative, UMSocial facilitated a Facebook Live #UMichChat Panel that addressed the topic of digital dating abuse.This chat was inspired by the work of Quyen Epstein Ngo, a research assistant professor in U-M’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Epstein-Ngo is a licensed clinical  psychologist with specializations in substance use and violence and trauma. Her current research at U-M has earned her a career development award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which has allowed her to develop technology-enhanced interventions to reduce co-occuring instances of violence penetration and alcohol use among teenagers.



Epstein-Ngo served as the host of this chat, and was joined by two of her undergraduate research assistants, Nyla Hart and Devin Lovegrove. Over the course of the half-hour, our three panelists discussed this important topic through the lens of current research and trends. Along with sharing the findings from and implications of recent U-M studies, they also spoke about instances of digital dating abuse behaviors that they or people they know have experienced in real life. Toward the end of the livestream, our panelists answered user-generated questions from our audience members:

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This brief yet illuminating conversation generated a significant amount of engagement. At its peak, this chat had 221 unique viewers. In total, more than 14,000 people tuned in at some point during the livestream. Between those viewers and their social networks, the post with the livestream reached an estimated audience of more than 80,000 people. Finally, the video generated over 200 reactions, comments, and shares.

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This chat was also the perfect way to promote the upcoming Conference on Adolescent Health, which will feature dozens of prominent scholars and practitioners in the field. Epstein-Ngo will be there presenting her research. at the conference, which takes place April 24 and 25 at the Ann Arbor Marriott in Ypsilanti. View more event details here.

For more information about the Adolescent Health Initiative and their work to advance adolescent centered healthcare, you can visit their website.

If you missed this #UMichChat, you can re-watch the entire conversation on our Facebook Page. We hope you’ll join in for next month’s installment!

As always, #StaySocial and #GoBlue!

This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, UMSocial Senior Intern. #StaySocial with her on Instagram and Twitter @SarahBarnitt

UMSocial meets Spectacles

This past September,  Snap Inc. released Spectacles, camera-equipped sunglasses that allow users to shoot first-person videos that can be wirelessly uploaded to and shared via the Snapchat app. The glasses are the first wearable product from Snap Inc. (Snapchat’s parent company), and reflect the company’s shift from focusing solely on content generation to adding consumer hardware to its product mix.product

The advent of Spectacles also signals a divergence from traditional content production that is centered around mobile phones to an embedded-computing, internet-of-things approach.

First-person, visceral experience is the product’s main selling point. The post first announcing the launch of Spectacles reads:

Imagine one of your favorite memories. What if you could go back and see that memory the way you experienced it? That’s why we built Spectacles.

Documenting moments, recording memories. Spectacles appeals to the digital-age fascination with archiving one’s life in real time—not a new phenomenon by any means, but one which has been greatly simplified by the availability of digital media. It’s a high-stakes game for brands too, which have always faced the challenge of constantly evolving to meet the demands of a shifting world. They now they face the additional obstacle of finding new, innovative ways to communicate with their audience while remaining true to their own identity and the needs of their customer base. Spectacles, as well as other tools and features like Facebook Live, Periscope, and GoPro, allows brands to authentically connect with their audiences as they grow and change.

What makes Spectacles different? Unprecedented technology and visionary marketing.

Spectacles is a product of the current public enchantment with video content. Some would say it’s a risky move: the digital video space is already saturated with existing products and platforms. However, Snapchat is poised to make major waves in this arena by adding another dimension to the video experience: the glasses can record up to 10 seconds of content from the first-person perspective of the wearer (analogous to the Snapchat app’s video function). Spectacles uses a 115-degree angle lens to mimic the human field of vision, and the glasses have a ‘circular video’ functionality that plays on all devices and in all orientations.

However, it’s not just the hardware itself that make Spectacles unique; the marketing and distribution strategy is also truly innovative. Spectacles was originally only available at a limited-hours store in Manhattan; the shop attracted huge lines of early adopters from across the country, garnering positive press for the fledgling product. Borrowing a page from the fashion industry’s book, Snap Inc. also executed a pop-up Spectacles ‘vending bot’ that travels across the U.S and pops up daily in new places. Snap. Inc maintained this sales and distribution strategy until February 20th, when they announced via Twitter that Spectacles are now available for online purchase.


Needless to say, UMSocial was eager to get our hands on one. And on February 11, we got our chance. The Spectacles vending machine arrived in Ann Arbor, and UMSocial was among the first customers in line outside Yost Ice Arena to check it out.

#UMSocial and Spectacles: a match made in heaven.

The timing of the vending bot’s arrival on campus was serendipitous, since we will soon be celebrating the third anniversary of our ‘UofMichigan’ Snapchat account. The kickoff of the university’s yearlong bicentennial celebration also contributed to make now the perfect time to take our Snapchat content to the next level. Spectacles has the potential to enrich our video strategy and add another impressive aesthetic dimension to our content. This tool will allow us to continue to deliver fresh perspectives to our audiences, as well as educating stakeholders on how to deliver their messages in new ways.

We purchased two pairs of glasses, one for internal UMSocial use and one to lend out to U-M schools, colleges, and departments. UMSocial’s collaborative Snapchat strategy  encourages individual units to leverage the main U-M accounts rather than maintaining individual accounts, so we are continually looking for ways to bring department-level content into our Snapchat channel. Lending out Spectacles will make it much easier to do so. It will also ensure that these stories will be told directly from the perspective of the people who are crafting them.

The ‘first-person’ perspective offered by Spectacles provides an even more visceral experience than traditional Snapchat stories. By using Spectacles, we will be able to bring even more facets of the Michigan experience to our audience than ever before. Event coverage and behind-the-scenes access via Spectacles will offer new opportunities to our campus partners to show off their programs, events, venues, interactions, etc. While traditional Snapchat stories have always allowed us to do this, Spectacles elevates the user experience: by offering the ‘first person’ view it will allow content creators to make more ‘hands free’ creative and artistic choices.

The Leaders and Best Reinventing the Status Quo:

It’s not just the capabilities of Spectacles that make them a great asset to UMSocial; the ideology behind them perfectly aligns with the one of the keynote events of the U-M Bicentennial celebration. This colloquium, scheduled for October, will feature student projects that will re-envision the concept of the university campus. They will be judged on innovation and feasibility by a panel of experts. The purpose of this campus of the future initiative is to reimagine a concept that is deeply entrenched in tradition and routine the stereotype of wearable tech as a niche product only for fitness enthusiasts and ‘tech geeks.’ Brands such as Mountain Dew have already proven that Spectacles can elevate brand narratives as effectively as they can document individual experiences. Though they’ve only been publicly available for a short time, the product has the potential to revolutionize influencer marketing.

It’s fitting that such a pioneering product came into existence under the direction of a Wolverine; U-M alumnus Steve Horowitz is VP of engineering at Snap. Inc. and is in charge of  the company’s hardware product lines. A former SVP at Motorola, Horowitz has extensive experience with wearable tech and understands the requirements of bringing those technologies to a wider, more generalized audience. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel also understands the importance of making the product sleek and accessible. He understands that it has to look and feel like a product people use everyday: In a Wall Street Journal article announcing the Spectacles launch, Spiegel said  “It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.”

Well, the verdict is in.

Spectacles fits impeccably into UMSocial’s strategy. We’re confident that they will serve us well as our storytelling efforts continue to evolve.


Interested in Spectacles? Want to see how they work and what they can do? Check out our recent ‘Spectacles 101’ Snapchat Story!


This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, UMSocial senior intern. #StaySocial with her on Instagram and Twitter @sarahbarnitt 






Hunger, Hope, and Healing #UMichChat Recap

It’s estimated that more than 30 million Americans will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Disordered eating behaviors are increasingly common among the young: studies have shown that 35 to 57 percent of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. The National Eating Disorders Association found that most full-blown eating disorders begin between the ages of 18 and 21, with young adults in the college environment experiencing the highest degree of risk. Eating disorders are certainly a major health concern on campus; according to the most recent U-SHAPE survey at U-M, 28 percent of female undergrads and 12 percent of male undergrads screened positive for the disorder. Despite this, the survey also found that 82 percent of those women and 96 percent of the men did not seek treatment.

The take-away? Eating disorders impact millions of people around the globe, as well as a significant portion of our own campus. National Eating Disorders Awareness Week occurs later this month, so it’s a perfect time to start a conversation about the issue. In collaboration with Wolverine Wellness and the student organization Body Peace Corps, we hosted a  #UMichChat that brought together a panel of clinicians and activists dedicated to treating eating disorders and spreading awareness about body positivity as a crucial component of wellness.


Our panelists to offered valuable insight into the warning signs and physical symptoms of eating disorders, provided statistics about the prevalence of eating disorders in the college environment, and expressed their views on why college is such a perilous breeding ground for disordered eating behavior:

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Additionally, our panelists shared their beliefs about the societal factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders, as well as the most commonly held misconceptions about eating disorders that they aim to dismantle through their work:

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In addition to our established panelists, several other university departments and individual followers joined the conversation. The U-M Depression Center and University of Michigan Adolescent Health Initiative each responded to the chat questions, and many current students and alumni made their presence know as well. The promotional graphics for the chat were shared widely via several on-campus units. Michigan Medicine, U-M Student Life, and University Health Service, among others, publicized the chat and urged their followers to tune in.

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The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) also participated. NEDA has a Twitter following of more than 30,000 people, many of whom have no connection to the university. So their participation helped bring our conversation to a much larger and more diverse audience than we previously had access to. NEDA also promoted the chat on their website, which receives thousands of daily visits from people all around the world.

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As a result of the successful cross-promotion, this chat had an extensive reach and generated copious engagement from audience members both in and outside our community. In the days that preceded and followed this chat, the #umichChat hashtag was used more than 200 times by 73 unique Twitter users. During this time period, tweets containing #UMichChat reached an audience of nearly 300,000 people, making more than 6,000,000 distinct timeline impressions.

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We’re extremely pleased with the impact of this chat and see this trend continuing as we host other conversations on topics of interest to the campus community.

If you missed this conversation, you can check out our archive on Storify.

This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, UMSocial Senior Intern. #StaySocial with her on Instagram and Twitter @SarahBarnitt






Houston, we have a Wolverine!

Like many self-professed nerds, I follow @NASA on social media. However, most self-professed nerds cannot claim to be a social media intern for their university. Because of my unique situation between these two spheres, my interest was piqued when I came across this tweet back in December:

It was truly the best of both worlds. Among other things, NASA was looking for social media users with the potential “to reach a large number of people using digital platforms.” The U-M central social channels certainly reach a large number of people—our audience is nearly 1 million people, and growing. I spoke with U-M’s social media director Nikki Sunstrum about applying, and she agreed that this would be a great opportunity for me. Lo and behold, a few weeks later I received this in my inbox:

And voila! I was headed off to Houston! First, however, before I left Ann Arbor, I had to develop a content strategy and schedule to help promote the wonders of the Johnson Space Center. The first question: which of our main channels would be the best fit for this story? I knew that touring NASA was going to be an incredible sensory experience, and would make a compelling visual narrative. Therefore, Instagram seemed like the best platform for the job. But I also knew that there were likely going to be a lot of share-worthy moments. So, rather than bombarding our followers with post after post, we instead decided to show off my trip in the form of an Instagram story. A big benefit of Instagram’s story functionality is its flexibility: audience members  can come and go as they please. If they were interested in the aeronautical content, they’d continue to click through. Otherwise, they’d leave.

At the same time, I knew that photographs and videos might not capture the experience in its entirety. So, we decided it was important to provide an additional platform to highlight parts of the tour that might not fit the informational narrative of the Instagram story (like classic memes or strange space suits). That’s where @UMichStudents came into play. The account has a casual, witty tone that is completely unique to its weekly owner. As a result, it is one of UMSocial’s most engaging popular channels (I have a special affinity for @UMichStudents, as last time I took over the account, I tweeted an ardent plea for fried pickles in the dining hall and it landed me a job at UMSocial.) I took over the account for the week that I was in Houston. It allowed me the opportunity to showcase parts of the tour that I could add a humorous twist to, as opposed to the Instagram story, which focused on providing facts about NASA’s history and current innovations.

The tour had three main stops: Mission Control, the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, and the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. Misson Control had half a dozen NASA staff members monitoring current space station operations. I saw live feeds into the International Space Station as well as maps tracking the real-time location of multiple satellites. At the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, I saw testing of a microgravity system and walked through mockups of the ISS and Orion: a NASA spacecraft that takes astronauts into low-Earth orbit. The last stop was the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, where astronauts train for spacewalks. Inside the lab was a six million gallon pool containing a replica of the ISS. Astronauts train in the pool to get a feel for zero gravity. The staff estimated that for every hour doing a real spacewalk, astronauts spend 10-25 hours in the pool. It’s important training!


NASA puts on many social media days–I was informed that I was one of 7,000 alumni of their program. They strategically invite high-influence accounts to post content about NASA’s newest technology and initiatives. That the event feels exclusive makes attendees more likely to share the content they curate that day (I know I certainly did). Overall, it’s a great way for NASA to spread its social media reach.

The results were impressive: 10,000+ views on each scene of the Instagram story, along with showcasing the strong historical connections between NASA and U-M. This short video generated more than 20,568 impressions and nearly 5,000 media views: Over the course of the week, tweets from @UMichStudents earned 22.9K impressions per day, and more than 1.3K likes, retweets, and replies.

So what did this trip teach me (other than the fact that not even outer space is far away enough to escape 80’s fashion?) There are many creative ways to infuse new content into your platforms. Sometimes a simple change of scenery with a connection to your brand will do the trick. Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and expose your audience to new, interesting people and places. If you have a clear vision of the story you want to tell, and a sound knowledge of your audience’s preferences, you’d be surprised just how receptive your followers will be to new things.  When you combine a strong content strategy with the spontaneity and flexibility of new experiences, the opportunities for engagement truly go to infinity and beyond.

This post was written by Peter K. Shultz, an intern at #UMSocial.

January 2017 Recap

January 2017 @UMSocial

 The first month of 2017 was full of action as students returned to campus to for winter semester, and UMSocial captured the goings-on. Follow along to learn more!


On January 17, we hosted a Facebook Live #UMichChat in partnership with U-M Poverty Solutions, a series of community and academic research partnerships that aims to develop and test unique models to alleviate poverty. Earlier this month, U-M announced investments in the Poverty Solutions Initiative that will support new research from U-M faculty as well as amplify the efforts of community partners in and around the city of Detroit. This chat was the perfect way for stakeholders to discuss the implications of these investments and the opportunities they will provide.

The chat was moderated by Luke Shaefer, the director of the Poverty Solutions Initiative. He was joined by U-M President Mark Schlissel, who explained the initiative’s broad vision and the role of the university in developing community-based solutions to ameliorate poverty. The other panelists represented important voices from the initiative’s academic and community partners: Michelle Heiser, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Dave Law, and Trina Shanks.



This chat generated a great deal of engagement thanks to a cross-promotional strategy that advertised the chat via UMSocial, Michigan Medicine, The School of Public Health, and the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. Additionally, a teaser video produced by Michigan Creative (U-M’s internal ad agency) helped create more awareness of and interest in the chat. As a result of this marketing campaign—and because of the importance of the topic—the chat reached over 200,000 people by the end of the half-hour livestream.

You can read our recap of the chat here. Additionally, you can watch a recording of the chat on our Facebook page.

Another one of our top-performing Facebook posts was a 1-minute PSA, which is part of the larger #UMich200 bicentennial celebration that will continue throughout 2017. U-M Social published the video on January 9, subsequently releasing a call to action to members of the U-M Social Leadership team to promote the video. Thanks to this cross-promotion, this video received more than 20,000 unique views in 12 hours.


In coming months, UMSocial will be releasing a storytelling series featuring scenes from the PSA, to encourage our audiences to learn about pivotal moments in the university’s history. We are confident that continued cross-channel efforts will maximize the exposure of this significant campaign.


The kickoff of U-M’s MLK Symposium on January16provided a perfect opportunity for our first #UMichTalks lecture coverage of 2017.  We live-tweeted the Memorial Keynote lecture, which featured Golden Globe-nominated writer/producer Issa Rae and award-winning investigative journalist Amy Goodman. Both women spoke powerfully on the topic of “sounds of change,” and how their personal and professional experiences shaped them as leader and activists for social good.




We were able to continue this narrative of change-making with our next installment of #UMichTalks, a lecture by activist Shaun King. In addition to live-tweeting, we also utilized Youtube Live to stream King’s  Talk directly to our audience. Followers were encouraged to join the conversation using #UMichTalks and #ShaunKingatUMich.




Both of these #UMichTalks generated considerable engagement from our followers; by the end of each session, the event-specific hashtags (#UMichMLKDay2017 and #ShaunKingatUMich) were trending regionally.



Along with covering the MLK Symposium keynote event live on Twitter and providing a behind-the-scenes look at the event on Snapchat, we also released an Instagram graphic in celebration of Dr. King. featured a photo of Dr. King addressing the crowds at Hill Auditorium during a 1962 Ann Arbor visit—the same building where the symposium keynote has been held for the past 31 years. . We chose to brand the post with one of King’s most famous quotes—“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”—to uphold the sentiment of tolerance and justice that prevailed throughout the day.


User-generated content also performed well this month. Scenic shots of Ann Arbor, alumni expressing their pride, and study-abroad photos were among the best-performing shots in January.



This month, we released our first-ever video installment of Wolverines of Ann Arbor on our Instagram account. This video featured U-M sophomore Sakila Islam reading a stanza from her award-winning slam poem “Apology to my Father,” which was featured earlier this year as part of Michigan Radio’s A Nation Enraged series. We paired a short recording of Sakila reading with an interview about her experiences writing poetry and where she gets her inspiration. We also provided a link to the original story on Michigan Radio, so our followers could hear the entire piece:


"I’ve been writing since about 6th grade and performing since the 7th. When I write, I try to give awareness to things most people think about in their daily lives. Mostly, I write about my experiences as a woman, immigrant, Muslim, etc. I also try to put focus on things around the world like FGM (female genital mutilation), and the Korean Comfort Woman phenomenon in World War II. "Why do I write? Well, I’m not really a ‘skilled artist’ in any other domains. So this is the only way I can get my thoughts out in a creative way. And creativity is so important; when you speak creatively, people listen. I mean, I could just go up on stage and rant—but if I introduce these issues in a way that people recognize as beautiful, they’ll listen. They’ll pay attention." "Inspiration finds me in random places. Oftentimes, it’ll come when I’m researching something for a class. For example, I first learned about Korean comfort women when I was in high school and I thought: ‘Why don’t more people know about this?’, and the poem just kind of came to me from there. Other times, I base my poems off the things that I see—I strive to create imagery that sheds light on things that people wouldn’t ordinary think about." "I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of connections in the poetry community. I’ve been a two-time Detroit Poetry Team member, and I’ve represented the city of Detroit in the international youth poetry slam. In 2015, my team was featured in the grand final stage for the Brave New Voices national poetry competition. "Aside from competing, I perform around Detroit a lot. I get a lot of inspiration from the city. Actually, my first published poem was about Detroit. In my opinion the community, tenacity, and passion of the city has a big impact on Detroit writers. It’s hard to escape Detroit when you’re a writer. But I’m more than ok with that. "This particular poem was hard for me to write, but I’m ok with that. There are certain topics that are difficult for me—parents are definitely one. So this allowed me to make my voice heard." Hear the rest of this piece on Michigan Radio's Website: #WolverinesofAnnArbor

A video posted by University of Michigan (@uofmichigan) on



This month, the Detroit Tigers made a stop at the Big House as part of the 2017 Winter Caravan. The players toured the stadium and met U-M baseball and softball players. We were there to witness team members gifting President Schlissel with an honorary Tiger jersey with the number 200 (in celebration of the University Bicentennial.) Given that many U-M students are also Tiger fans, it was one of our highest view counts of the month, receiving nearly 6.5k  views at its peak.

Thanks for following along!

This post was written by Sarah Barnitt, #UMSocial senior intern. #StaySocial with her on Instagram and Twitter @SarahBarnitt