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Engaging the Next Generation

With new reports reflecting Millennials spend on average 18 hours with media each day, and other higher education institution using video, e-mail and personalized ads to recruit today’s media savvy teenagers, the University of Michigan Office of Undergraduate Admission (OUA) is no stranger to the value of conversing in the digital space. Active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, they engage daily with new and potential wolverines from across the globe. Recently, nearly a year’s worth of discussions regarding hosting Live chats via Twitter came to fruition. Below is a reflection of their efforts by OUA Communications Specialist Jaime Sharer.

“This winter, OUA held two separate one-hour chats for admitted students – an inaugural chat in February, and a follow-up event in March. Both chats proved to be successful, resulting in a constant flow of questions, answers and engagement – and providing OUA with a public platform to deliver useful information and resources in real-time. Although marketed very similarly (see chart below), the data reflects more students participated in the second chat. Additionally, while the overall number of students who asked questions was not exceptionally high, the number of active and engaged users was extremely impressing.

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Collectively, we had nearly 150 students asking questions, retweeting, or favoriting tweets. Which to OUA means there were a lot of eyes on the chats. So we have deduced many students were getting questions answered even though they were not necessarily the person asking them. It’s also important to note that the students who did ask questions usually asked more than one—sometimes up to half a dozen.
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Throughout the year, there are several traditional ways students can contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions with questions, our call center, regional territory counselors, and of course, social media. Each provides the same resources and information, but lack the immediacy the Tweet chats afford. Perhaps that’s why our two Twitter chats grew so quickly in popularity with admitted students. For one hour, they had our undivided attention and an open invitation to ask as many questions as they wanted.

One of the most appealing business aspects of a Twitter chat is that it costs absolutely nothing. All pre-event marketing was done via email and social media – also free. With that in mind, it’s likely we’ll offer this again in the future. In fact, we’ve already seen inquiries about upcoming dates from interested students. To capitalize on the success, we are also contemplating hosting similar opportunities for prospective students in the fall.”

On the central UMich social media accounts, we receive dozens of admissions questions, typically via Facebook and Linkedin. For the most part, international students reach out to us about our admissions requirements and don’t reply once we send them information from the admissions website, but sometimes, we have fantastic interactions with students and can see we make a difference in their day, just from a simple reply:
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What these students may not know, is that helping them makes our day!