social media

Now Playing: University of Michigan joins Spotify

Music provides a backdrop for our everyday experiences, helps us remember significant moments in time, and can both lift our mood and provide us solace. Whether it’s a bike ride to class, a night out with friends, or an all-night study session, music is present to create a soundtrack to our lives.

With that in mind, the University of Michigan is thrilled to launch the very first university-wide verified Spotify account. By leveraging the robust listening library of the popular music streaming service, we aim to engage its 100 million+ active users and connect with our students and stakeholders in a new and unique way.

Music sharing and discovery make up a large part of the college experience. In fact, Spotify recognized the pivotal role of music in collegiate culture in an article exploring music consumption:

“Universities have long been musical hotbeds, as generations of students find much of the music that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. There’s a great deal of music being played at college in general, a lot of which is formative listening. From the library to the gym to the party, and even to bedtime, college life often features a soundtrack.”

#UMSocial’s previous success applying strategic brand-related content into emerging platforms, like Snapchat and Yik Yak, have demonstrated the importance of meeting your audience where they are. Spotify provides us with a similar opportunity to adapt audio resources and integrate content into a network of branded U-M channels.

By collaborating with units, individuals, and organizations campus-wide, we can offer listeners everything from a research-based podcast by a prominent professor to a curated list of top hits from everyone’s favorite football coach.


A weekly playlist where students, faculty, and staff share their favorite beats. This week’s playlist is curated by Michigan Men’s Glee Club President Patrick Kiessling:

Good Vibes

When words fail, music often speaks. U-M’s Counseling and Psychological Services offers the Good Vibes playlist. Not only does this playlist include songs to put anyone in a good mood, the playlist description includes the number for the CAPS support line.

      Caps Playlist

Dad Rock by Michigan Football

We went straight to U-M Athletics to get this mix of ‘dad rock’ favorites to get you pumped up before a game.

User Engagement

In addition to providing an extremely popular music streaming service, Spotify has revolutionized online customer service. The @SpotifyCares Twitter account uses music to engage with its users. When a user interaction lends itself to a storytelling opportunity, Spotify Cares will create a custom playlist:

Allowing our account to evolve and continuing to expand our strategies for interacting with stakeholders means we can provide a more personalized and engaging user experience. We look forward to optimizing our account to maximize the capabilities of the platform and partnering with our listeners to introduce uses for the platform we haven’t considered.

Have an idea for how we could use Spotify? Contact us at

This post was written by @JamesWilsonR, content specialist at #UMSocial.

Edited copy by @NikkiSunstrum, Director of #UMSocial.

Snap-a-versary: One Year on Snapchat!

Last month, we celebrated the first anniversary of one of #UMSocial’s most successful initiatives to date- our ‘UofMichigan’ Snapchat account. At its conception in February 2014, we were just the second university on the platform and one of the first large brands to step into these uncharted waters. There were few models, little “best practices,” and no rules, leaving us with opportunity to explore. As we made the strategic decision to dip our toes in, many wondered how a university had any business leveraging the ephemeral photo sharing app. Following seasoned brands like Mashable and Taco Bell for inspiration and meticulously recording each of our followers into an excel spreadsheet, we were excited to break new ground and measure impact in the space. Since that time, we have moved from being risk takers to thought leaders in the “Snapchat-for-brands” arena. Gone are the days of being questioned about its appropriateness (or if we were receiving scandalous snaps), and here are the days of weekly requests for Snapchat strategy and best practice advice. UMSocial regularly consults with other universities, advertising agencies, and even broadcasters to help them navigate the platform, and we’ve been mentioned in Time Magazine and a Sprout Social piece. We’re very proud of our success, but more so with the thriving community we’ve created within the platform. Social media is a dynamic industry, constantly evolving to accommodate emerging platforms and user demographics. For UMSocial, Snapchat was and is an essential component of our ever evolving social media strategy.

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A Look Back

As with all social media initiatives, prior to launching our account we did our homework, and the numbers didn’t lie: 73% of college-age Snapchat users said they would open a Snap from a brand they knew, and close to 70% of students said they’d add a brand on Snapchat if they followed them on Twitter. We never join a social network for the sake of joining, so we evaluated our resources and brainstormed a series of campaigns. As early adopters, we were taking a risk, but we felt confident we would be able to move forward with a robust and engaging presence. Next we starting dropping hints about the endeavor at guest lectures and on our existing social platforms. The majority of our responses were positive and our followers expressed excitement, however some scoffed at the idea of a university launching Snapchat– after all, at this time the platform perception still held the inaccurate notoriety of being a sexting app (less than 2% use the app for this purpose).


On February 26, 2014 after planning and hyping up the account, we revealed ‘uofmichigan’ on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We were immediately welcomed to the platform with an overwhelming amount of Snaps from students, prospective students, and alumni. Within the first week, we gained over 1,100 followers on Snapchat and received nearly 800 Snaps. This high engagement was extremely encouraging and we were excited to roll out our first of 80 campaigns executed last year.

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In the pioneering of this new social frontier, we identified the platform’s purpose through experiential campaigns. Through the dedication of a sole staff member to the platform, development of our artistic skills and storytelling abilities, we were able to claim the space and work towards becoming the Leaders and Best among higher education social media.

Crowdsourcing User-Generated Content

Through our long standing UMich social channels, we’ve learned the importance and value of actively engaging with our audience. Snapchat provided us with the opportunity to experiment with new strategies and original ways to reach our target demographics. Above all else, engagement remains one of the most important factors in our social metrics, and the environment Snapchat presents has proved to be a tremendous tool to cultivate relationships and collect user generated content. In one of our first Snapchat stories, we asked our followers to “Snap to the Victors” with us. As our first truly interactive story we were unsure of what to expect, but were more than pleased with our final result of over 150 submissions and more than 100 new followers!

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Since then we’ve added multiple “doodle stories” to our repertoire as well. In these, we ask our followers to screenshot and draw on one of our Snaps. From the Cube to campus squirrels, our community loves to help us crowdsource a story and we’ve received hundreds of submissions and thousands of screenshots. Best of all, we’ve seen many tweets from our users bragging on other social platforms that they’re now “Snapfamous” after being featured on our channel.

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#AskUMich on Snapchat

Strategically leveraging our growing Snapchat community has also provided us new ways to extend existing campaigns. During summer orientation, I acted as an ambassador to execute an #AskUMich campaign on Snapchat, answering questions and addressing concerns of incoming students through Snapchat’s chat feature. It was a very useful way to humanize our brand and the students genuinely appreciated our advice. They also appreciated the free t-shirt giveaways to help them be “on brand” come fall.

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 UMich Collaboration

Most recently, we’ve been working with many student organizations, university departments, and schools to help cover their events in a new and original way. Our Snapchat account is intended to act as the sole university account, enabling us to build bridges across the university and showcase the collective rather than create more silos. It is also a catalyst to demonstrate how other platforms and presences can be streamlined to better promote a united message. All of our efforts have truly revealed the power of Snapchat as a tool to cover campus events in real-time. You can see some of our efforts below:

 Geofilter Campaign Success


Another fantastic element of our Snapchat efforts has been the opportunity to capitalize on their continued development as a platform. After seeing the launch of Community Geofilters, we were so excited to bring them to our campus. We immediately had our design team create a few options, and then decided to make the process truly social by reaching out to our talented community. The success of this campaign helped further establish a connection with Snapchat, Inc., streamlining our results and also helping us gain access to another awesome feature, “Our Campus Stories.” When students returned from winter break, they were greeted by four custom Snapchat geofilters and the ability to add their Snaps to a collaborative Our Campus Story.

It’s been amazing to see our geofilters in action in tandem with the Our Campus Story. The shared content from our students is a great way to tell the University’s story in an authentic way.

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Everyday Interactions

Outside of our campaigns and call-to-actions, we estimate that we receive about 10-20 Snaps each day. From lecture hall selfies to snaps of our beautiful campus and acceptance letters, our followers are eager to engage with us on a regular basis. We’ve had so many a-maize-ing Snaps that we’ve taken to Pinterest to showcase them.

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Looking Ahead

Our first year with Snapchat has been a wonderful success story. When we first started the account, we had no way of knowing what results it might bring, but our preparation and innovation have positioned us again as leaders in higher education social media. It has been a lot of fun seeing our strategy develop and watching how other universities and brands utilize the platform.  We hope you’ll snap with us as the “UofMichigan’ story continues!


This post was written by Alexandra Fotis, Communications & Statistics junior- #UMSocial Strategy & Analytics intern. #StaySocial with her: @sisterfotis

Editing by @NikkiSunstrum, Director of Social Media at the University of Michigan


Geofilter Wrap-Up

We have had our eye on Snapchat’s Geofilters since their introduction in July ’14.  The opportunity to allow our already extremely active community a way to brand their snaps uniquely to our University and campus was highly appealing. So, as soon as Snapchat announced Community Geofilters our team hurried to dream up a few maize & blue options. Snapchat’s Community Geofilters allow anyone to design and submit their own concept and predetermined geographical location for consideration. While in the area users can then simply swipe left to discover what is available to them. In order to make the process truly social, our team decided to also engage our Snapchat community in filter creation.  The strategy and subsequent success of our Snapchat Geofilter Campaign actually helped to further establish a connection with Snapchat, Inc. and streamline our results!


In fact, being noticed by Snapchat as an innovative and engaging brand within their community also helped us gain access to another cool feature- Our Campus Stories. So upon arrival back to campus from winter break, students were not only greeted by FOUR custom Snapchat Geofilters, but also the ability to add their snaps to those other peers in a collaborative story that showcased the excitement of being back hoMe!

In total, the campaign garnered ten submissions; we submitted our top four. Each intended to showcase a different element of campus and the city of Ann Arbor. It has been really exciting to see our followers snapping us photos with the new filters and even more exciting to see the Geofilters in action in the Our Campus Stories. With the varied location availability of each filter we have also seen excitement within our community to find the exact location where each is accessible. We are deeming the campaign another clear success for our Snapchat presence and are looking forward to seeing what other features Snapchat rolls out next!

Very special shout-out to Peter (@the_muffin_flan) and Tracey (@the_tyfun) for the lovely Geofilter designs!


This post was written by Alexandra Fotis, Communications & Statistics student- #UMSocial Strategy & Analytics intern. #StaySocial with her: @sisterfotis

Royster #UMichChat

On Friday, our team geared up for our third #UMichChat. Unlike the previous Twitter chats, which featured several guests throughout the allotted time, we were fortunate enough to sit one-on-one with E. Royster Harper, V.P. for Student Life, and discuss “Creating Community at Michigan” for the full hour. As a student, I regularly receive emails from V.P. Harper regarding new campus initiatives and important student events. It was a unique experience to finally have the opportunity to sit down with the person behind it all, and be able to hear her advice first-hand. At one point, I joked about being indecisive about graduate school and looked to V.P. Harper for her response, off the record. She responded with a smile and said, “Tweet it at me!” Of course I did, allowing us to begin to see the conversation come full-circle online, which was very exciting.


The goal for this chat involved reflecting on the campus community at the University of Michigan, learning more about what V.P. Harper’s role entails, and how the Student Life office works to address student concerns, make accommodations, and take into consideration student wants and needs. At UMSocial, we want each #UMichChat to be relevant and engaging for our Wolverines, and so topics depend on what is happening at that moment within the campus community, but also larger trending issues in which we can join and add value to the conversation. We want our followers to be passionate about each discussion, and engaged throughout the course of the hour. V.P. E. Royster Harper was the perfect individual to address everything from small-scale student initiatives to large, on-campus protests, and so we are thankful that she was able to direct this conversation in a meaningful way.

Chat questions ranged from ice-breaker topics, “Have you ever fed a Michigan squirrel?” to more pressing issues of campus diversity, inclusion, and safety. Placing a leader of V.P. Harper’s caliber in this format provides students, and our entire social audience, unprecedented access to their thoughts and insights. In this case, the genuine and caring nature of V.P. Harper for both the University and all of its students shone through. In order to prepare for each chat, the UMSocial team solicits questions from all of our online communities during the week leading up to the discussion. We enter each #UMichChat with a lengthy script of questions, and work to continuously monitor the hashtag and pull submissions from the community live as the conversation unfolds.

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See the full #UMichChat recap here:

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Throughout the course of the chat, V.P. Harper was sincere in her answers, and responded honestly to even the toughest of questions. When asked about responding to criticism and negative publicity, she acknowledged that, “At first, it hurts. We’re human, and we are not doing this work to cause others stress or pain. We then look for ways to respond to what people are telling us.” She continued by praising the student body for its continual commitment to discovering their voice: “It is about students discovering their power & voice. Whether that is in a protest or a letter to the @michigandaily…” It was rewarding to see students responding and engaging with @umich and V.P. Harper’s own account, with a number of individuals proactively asking questions the entire time!

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E. Royster Harper gets ready to kick off the third #UMichChat!

In terms of engagement, this #UMichChat garnered 912K impressions and an estimated reach of 325K. Thanks to everyone who took time to submit questions and jump into the conversation! Join us next month as we discuss innovation, entrepreneurship, and Michigan’s future with Governor Rick Snyder and Thomas Zurbuchen, associate dean for entrepreneurial programs at UMich. It’s certain to be a wonderful time!

Have any future speakers or topics in mind? You know where to find us: @umich.

This post was written by Katie Szymanski, Communication and Digital Studies senior; #UMsocial editorial intern 




U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) has put a sword-wielding squirrel atop a unicorn as it floats through space—that’s not something you see every day.

University students around the nation fawn over the often too-brazen community of Rodentia sciuridae. But unique to the University of Michigan campus, perhaps, is the close relationship U-M students have to the resident squirrels.



Our hope was that Scatterhoard: A U-M Squirrel Quest would stand out, something both familiar and curiosity-raising. We planned to have fun creating a culture of engagement by improving the lives of students who then improve the world, all while increasing our Twitter following.

From a business perspective, it’s well established that constituents are more likely to recommend and purchase from companies that use social media to engage them positively—sometimes twice as likely.

For this reason, we wanted to focus on the student experience. Students frequently become alumni, and if we can get them in the habit of getting good “stuff” and good “vibes” from LSA’s social media channels, our students will be more inclined to make philanthropic commitments to the college in the future.



We were tentative about investing too much in promotion leading up to the event. While everyone we spoke to had lots of enthusiasm for the project, there was no guarantee that Scatterhoard would be any type of success. So we attempted to match effort with the amount of success that we could guarantee.


Our main concern during the planning phase is universal to every institution in higher education: How do we get students to care enough about what the institution is saying that they take action?

Could we use unicorn-riding squirrels to surprise students into paying attention to institutional messaging? And what venue–physical or digital–would LSA have to enter to make students take notice?

For promotion, we knew we couldn’t reach new followers by poaching our existing social media channels (“You like us on Facebook; now come follow us on Twitter”) to achieve the growth we desired. If students have found and followed us on one social media channel, that’s most likely the space where they want to connect. Instead, we figured that we had to physically enter the student space and leverage new media, where individuals did not already have a relationship with LSA.

To that end, we printed 100 posters for distribution around campus. We also distributed 500 mini-moo cards in a “spectacular Spectacular” during which a six-foot, Ulysses M. Squirrel anti-mascot hung out on the Diag for a few hours.

We also consulted the central university social media accounts, with the aim of leveraging their pre-established networks. We collaborated with Nikki Sunstrum to integrate Scatterhoard messaging into the existing Twitter accounts and new Snapchat channel, a strategy that broadened our reach to an already-engaged student body.


Social media drove the scavenger hunt and companion photo contest, making it critical for students to interact with LSA via social media during the campaign.


For the students following along, we hid five treasure-laden squirrel sculptures at various locations on campus and invited the students to watch for five #squest clues every day by following @UMichLSA on Twitter. We interacted with students on Twitter, observing them as they hunted down each hidden squirrel.

For all audiences following our social media, we offered a photo contest: Participants could take a selfie with a squirrel and tag it #squelfie. We included all #squelfie entries in a daily drawing for a prize from “the bottom of our goodie closet.”



We had great participation, which resulted in all five of the hidden squirrels being found. Significant participation in the #squelfie contest made it easy to give away prize packages.

Because we incorporated Twitter as an integral part of Scatterhoard and asked participants to follow our Twitter account, we saw a significant increase in our Twitter following.


In an average month, our growth rate is about 3.4%. In the Scatterhoard month of October 2014, or growth rate rose to nearly 7.6%! As of the writing of this post, attrition of the new followers has been nonexistent.

With the aid of other university social media entities, our messaging reached nearly 1.3 million potential impressions.

Furthermore, the rate of audience engagement showed an increase of 78% (excluding the promotion period leading up to the event).


Of the engagement metrics, we saw the largest increase in “User Profile Clicks” (364%), while the “Follows” metric represents the same level of increase as our 7.6% growth rate for October.


Scatterhoard proved itself as a viable method to increase LSA’s Twitter followership and delivered surprisingly high engagement rates. Beyond the strategic implications for follower growth, the Scatterhoard campaign underscores an often-overlooked premise: Students enjoy and respond to social media fun that may be off-message but on-mission.



Contributed by Matthew J. Adams (@mtthwjdms), Social Media Manager for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (@UMichLSA). Matthew is a fan of all things Batman, Star Wars, and Tolkien, father of four future Victors, and the husband of Aimee.

#UMsocial is Seeking a Graphic Design Intern!


Calling all #UMich graphic designers – the #UMsocial team is looking for a graphic design intern!  This internship will provide real-world experience in social media management, strategic development, and operational graphics and video production for social media. Deadline for submissions is Friday, February 21th.

The Details:

  • 10 hours per week, paid, flexible schedule
  • Creates digital assets for University of Michigan central social media accounts, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Youtube, and website.
  • Collaborates with community management and analytics interns on campaign strategy and development
  • Creates longer form assets such as infographics, monthly and annual reports, ebooks and newsletters in collaboration with senior social media specialist and social media director.

What We’re Looking For:

  • University of Michigan student. All majors considered.
  • Aptitude in graphics and design required, photography, videography, and social media understanding strongly preferred.
  • Skills: Full knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office. iMovie/Final Cut and HTML/Web Programming a plus.
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment where real-time marketing is necessary.
  • Self-starter comfortable with working independently, as well as collaborating in a group.

How to Apply:

  • Create 2 graphics for spring commencement. The designs are up to you – size specifications in the above graphic.
  • Email your graphics, along with your resume, to by next Friday at the latest.

#MyUMich Instagram Campaign


We are thrilled to announce our first Instagram photo contest, which will run through the month of November, using the hashtag #MyUMich!

Each week, Instagram users are challenged to share photos of their Michigan experience, whether it be in the classroom, at the office, at home, or on the field.

The rules are simple, and the rewards are big!

1. Follow @uofmichigan on Instagram to qualify & see each week’s theme.

2. Upload your photos to Instagram and use the hashtag #MyUMich in your caption. No limit to the amount of entries!*

3. Each Sunday, we will choose 3 winners to be featured on the @uofmichigan Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and get these great prizes:

  • A 10×10 poster of your photo
  • Your photo featured on the official @uofmichigan Instagram poster alongside the other winners, to be distributed campuswide
  • UM Planet Blue reusable bags
  • $10 in Blue Bucks
  • Discounts to the new Merit Goodness store on South U and a notebook
  • Clip-on fisheye lens for your cell phone
  • #UMsocial T-shirt & stickers

4. Have fun! We are looking for the most unique, creative photos of your Michigan experience. We want to know what makes Michigan, #MyUMich!

 *A reminder to all, if your account is locked/private, we won’t be able to see your photo, meaning it will not be entered in the contest.*

University of Michigan named #1 Best and Most Collaborative Large College in the US!


“The very best schools are the most social schools.” 

Yesterday, Huffington Post Business named the University of Michigan the #1 Best and Most Collaborative Large School in the US. We ranked #3 out of 100 overall, #1 in the pool of Universities with 20K or more undergraduates. This is a high honor for the team at #UMsocial, as these rankings were determined by a combination of the US News & World Reports of the best schools, and social media scores from Klout and Kred.

Studies have shown that university social media accounts have the power to influence high school students during the selection process. The changing landscape of mobile and social technologies, including Coursera MOOCs and online interaction during offline classes is without a doubt changing the educational experience. How do we keep up?


At the University of Michigan, the central social team, as well as departments and units campus wide, work to collaborate with our students and improve their experiences using social media. Whether it’s giving our students their own voice through the @umichstudents Twitter, letting them ask questions about the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling by using a hashtag, see simple details on human health risks on YouTube, share their commencement experiences with the world (and the Big House), or showing them when their buses will arrive, we strive to connect with our students every day in ways they WANT to connect with us.  It’s experiences like this that separate the University of Michigan from others when it comes to social media, and what we here at #UMsocial aim to continuously deliver on throughout the year.


We are unbelievably proud to have received this rank, and will always believe that our social presence plays a part in the bigger picture that is the Michigan Difference. Stay Social, and Go Blue!