This month, Wolverines returned from spring break refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to end the semester on a high note. The pace at UMSocial quickly picked up as we attempted to capture the pulse of campus, celebrate our community’s achievements, and tell U-M’s story in new and exciting ways.
March is National Reading Month and we celebrated by featuring alumni who have gone on to achieve success as authors, publishers, poets, and playwrights. The number of literary classics penned by U-M alumni is truly remarkable: from Jumanji and Cheaper by the Dozen to A View From the Bridge, Wolverines have been exemplifying literary prowess for decades.
To honor these authors, we created a series of short videos and motion graphics overlaid with quotes directly from the author and the hashtag #NationalReadingMonth. This post, which celebrated 1972 graduate Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s classic The Polar Express, performed particularly well with our audience, receiving nearly 30,000 video views.
Oftentimes, the true power of social media is its power to bring small moments of joy into people’s lives. And sometimes, sometimes the simplest content is what resonates the most. This was certainly the case on March 27th, where we posted a user-submitted photo of their pet rabbit sporting a Michigan bow tie to celebrate the Easter holiday. While this photo was certainly adorable, we did not anticipate it to have the impact on our audience that it did. Receiving nearly 21,000 likes and generating 1,132,291 impressions, this was our highest-performing piece of the month, on any channel. This photo also gained considerable traction on Instagram, receiving nearly 4,000 likes and being re-posted by several followers’ accounts. “AmeliaBunelia”’s rise to social media stardom is a short, simple reminder of the importance of celebrating with your community.
This month’s #UMichChat featured the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and highlighted the specific ways that U-M is involved with urban renewal, neighborhood re-allocation, and architectural revitalization in Detroit. We brought together a panel of Taubman faculty along with notable professionals from Detroit’s blossoming arts and architecture scene. Our panel also included two U-M alumni who now work at the Detroit Land Bank, a public authority dedicated to restoring Detroit’s vacant and abandoned property to productive use.
The reach and engagement that this chat produced was considerable. In addition to our panel, over 20 guests chimed in, providing fascinating commentary on the impact of various urban planning initiatives.
Our Social Media Director and Senior Content Manager had the wonderful opportunity to attend South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, from March 11-14. U-M maintained a booth at the main expo center of the event and several U-M faculty members participated in panel discussions about technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Not only was our team able to explore the expo and discover the latest up and coming ideas and innovations, we also provided our audience with information about what was going on at the event. Throughout the weekend, we shared details about U-M’s presence at SXSW, linked to articles about featured exhibits, and encouraged our followers to join the conversation using #mgosxsw. Overall, SXSW was an invigorating, enlightening experience and our team was extremely grateful to be able to attend.
At U-M, student mental health is a critical yet often ignored issue. Thousands of students are suffering from mental illness every day, yet they are not receiving the support they need. Student-athletes are particularly at risk, given the rigor of their training, the societal pressure upon them to live up to specific ideals of how athletes should conduct themselves, and the stigma that is connected to help-seeking. At UMSocial we strive to create #ABrighterBlue and a campus community where all Wolverines feel supported and value. This month, we facilitated an extremely powerful Instagram Takeover to spread awareness about Athletes Connected, a collaborative effort between the U-M School of Public Health, Depression Center, and the Athletic Department to increase awareness about mental health issues, reduce the stigma of help-seeking, and connect student-athletes to mental health resources. We followed U-M senior wide-receiver Jehu Chessen as he recounted his experience grappling with his mental health, and how Athletes Connected help him access the resources he needed to improve his quality of life.
As a respected athlete and reputable student on our campus, Chessen was the perfect choice to serve as our Ambassador for Athletes Connected. Chessen’s content resounded extremely well with our audience, as many of our followers posted comments praising his bravery and sharing their own struggles with mental health. His last photo was a beautiful action shot of the Big House, with the powerful caption: “In a perfect world, mental health is viewed the same way that physical health is. If you hurt your knee or sprain your ankle, there’s no shame in going to someone for help. The same should apply to mental health. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious or worse, there should be no stigma in seeking help. Getting your knee taken care of isn’t a sign of weakness, and neither is taking care of your mind. Hopefully, as people are educated on the importance and prevalence of mental health issues on campuses, we can drop the stigma and break through reluctance to seek support and learn more.” This post received over 5,000 likes and dozens of supportive comments. As conversations about mental health go from the periphery to the mainstream, it is our hope students struggling will feel more and more comfortable seeking help rather than suffering in silence. We are so glad that we were able to find an engaging outlet to share the message of Athletes Connected: seeking help signals strength. No one needs to suffer alone.
Many students look forward to annual St. Patricks Day celebrations on campus, but these social gatherings are often accompanied by a considerable amount of risk. Therefore wanted to find a creative and effective way to share safety and wellness information with students. Following in the footsteps of our enormously successful Snapchat PSA we teamed up with the campus dept. of Safety and Security to share risk management tips with students. This story promoted best practices for remaining safe during the celebrations, as well as provided information medical amnesty and health resources.
This month marked a special birthday for UMSocial as we celebrated two years on Snapchat! Since our channel’s launch in 2014, UMSocial has been eager to use the platform to tell interesting, interactive stories, engage with our students, and support campus-wide indicatives. To thank our followers and increase our exposure on campus, we held a Snap-a-versary giveaway contest. To enter, followers had to send us a snap telling us why they love Snapchat. The lucky winner received the ‘Ultimate Snapchat Prize Pack’, consisting of an exclusive U-M snapchat sticker, an external battery to charge their phone, and a stylus. The contest has impressive reach; the winner was a diehard U-M fan all the way from California! We’re can’t wait to see what our third year on Snapchat has in store as we continue to push the envelope and explore new ways to reach our student body.
Wolverines of Ann Arbor Exhibit
On March 24th, the U-M Center for Campus Involvement brought Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton as part of their “Change the World” speaker series. In honor of the event, we created an exhibit that displayed over 60 images and narratives from our Wolverines of Ann Arbor series. We were able to display these stories in the lobby of the Power Center, where Stanton’s talk took place. We also provided live coverage of the event on both Snapchat and Twitter and encouraged people to join the conversation using the cross-platform hashtag #HONYatUMich. Stanton provided a truly inspiring talk about personal perseverance, authenticity in your work, and the importance of storytelling. We’re so grateful that we could take part in this event and recognize the impact that Stanton’s work has had on our own.
The semester may be coming to an end, but UMSocial is certainly not losing any momentum. We have exciting plans for the remainder of this academic year, so be sure to follow along! As always, #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.