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.

John Dingell #UMichChat

The start of each month brings a new opportunity for our Twitter followers to engage closely with distinguished professors, athletes, thought leaders, and scholars in diverse fields. With Spring Commencement falling just a day after our #UMichChat, who better to spotlight and converse with than one of UMich’s very own honorary degree recipients? Having served in Congress for over 59 years–since the Eisenhower administration–our guest of the hour was the perfect candidate to offer advice for our graduating Wolverines. @JohnDingell joined us to discuss early days, his pursuit of a lifelong career in politics, and the lessons learned and wisdom acquired over his many years in office and, now, in a well-earned retirement.


Often referred to as the “King of Twitter,” Dingell is popular among students for his witty posts and #GoBlue spirit. Although his past accomplishments are no secret, it is rare for our students and the larger Michigan community to have the chance to interact with and ask him questions, one on one. Much like #UMichChat(s) of the past, our team provided ample scripted questions to keep conversation flowing, but also fielded inquiries from those who chimed in during the session. With questions ranging from the lighthearted to deeply personal, we hoped that we’d be able to provide a more intimate glimpse into Dingell’s perspectives given our limited timeframe:

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Follow the complete conversation on Storify here!

We learned his reasoning for joining politics, his inspirations–which include fellow Michigander Gerald Ford–and the legislative accomplishments he’s most proud of: heathcare reform and civil rights. He provided advice to students looking to get involved in the political field, writing: “Prepare yourself. Education & work are important. Stay involved in your community. You’re at the best damn school in America.” After he explained his involvement in the local efforts to repair Ann Arbor bridges, we asked Dingell where he sees the most improvement for the state of Michigan in the future. He couldn’t answer without a shoutout to the football team: “Economy. Jobs. Roads. Quality of the State Legislature. Most importantly: a winning @umichfootball team. Go @CoachJim4UM!”

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In the few days leading up to and following the chat, our hashtag accumulated 276 posts, coming from 136 different users. This led to a social reach of over 300,000 and 4.6 million impressions. We are beyond thankful to have had the time to sit down and chat with John Dingell, learning more about his political successes, inspirations, and advice for the future. Even though he’s officially retired, his work isn’t necessarily done. On Wednesday, Dingell visited campus in order to donate an archive of his time in office to the Bentley Historical Library–all 550 boxes worth! According to The University Record, this collection includes correspondence, bills that Dingell introduced, photos, and more. It is very exciting to have had the opportunity to feature Dingell in our latest #UMichChat, watch him receive his honorary degree at Spring Commencement, and, finally to have everything come full circle with his donation of the collected materials from 59 years in office to UMich.

Have an idea for our next topic and speakers? Tweet us, using #UMichChat and be sure to join in next time!

This post was written by Katie Szymanski, Communication and Digital Studies senior; #UMSocial editorial intern. #StaySocial with her: @KatieSkii 

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 

#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.

Alumni Spotlight: Mike Mikho of Big Fuel


If you’re interested in social media and content creation, chances are that you’ve heard of Big Fuel, a New York-based social media and branded content company. Using the tagline “from content to commerce,” Big Fuel fulfills the social media demands for large brands, including T-Mobile, Burger King, HBO, and Aflac. They boast their ability to, “combine brand messaging and strategy with entertainment value and cultural relevance (and to) deliver guaranteed and measurable consumer engagement for some of the biggest brands in the world.” 

We caught up with Mike Mikho, business development and account lead, to learn more about agency life, the inner-workings of this growing industry, and what his degree from the University of Michigan means to him.


#UMsocial: How would you describe a day-in-the-life at your office?

Mike: “Agency life, generally speaking, is pretty fast-paced. Within digital, it’s a little quicker (and) with social it is especially fast, including the rate at which the conversation changes. For most of our clients, if something happens in the news or if there is a holiday, they need to be able to react to what people are saying at the drop of a hat. A story could be relevant today, and tomorrow no one cares…we have to move very quickly in order to keep pace with consumers. From a business development perspective, we need to always show how fast we work, even when we aren’t working (directly) with a client.”

#UMsocial: What do hours look like on a typical day?

Mike: “Most agencies run from 9-9:30am to 6-6:30pm, but stuff is always expected from you outside of these office hours. If I’m pitching to a new client, I’ve been at work until midnight. If you’re up against a deadline for a client, then your day ends when the work is done. It can get pretty intensive.”

#UMsocial: What about the size of the Big Fuel team?

Mike: “At any agency, you’re generally going to be staffed pretty lean. An agency can’t have ten people (sitting around) that aren’t being productive. So you’re always going to have people that are very busy. You always have the need to get things done as quickly as possible.”

#UMsocial: So what brought you to the digital marketing world? What interested you in this type of work? 

Mike: “I kind of fell into it. I wanted to do something sales oriented when I left college, and I got a job in business development at a media agency. I had never really worked (in the industry) or really thought about advertising before. After a job there and a job at a competitor, another media agency, my current agency, reached out to me on LinkedIn, and said they were looking for someone to work in business development. Obviously I had to learn the industry, but I just sort of fell into it. I didn’t have a background in digital.”


#UMsocial: As a University of Michigan alum, how do you think your Michigan experience helped prepare you for the workforce?

Mike: “When you graduate from Michigan, you do get a degree that every single employer the world-round respects, and you have a huge alumni network in every major city. From that regard, my Michigan degree was extremely helpful. But when you get into the real world, you just have to learn everything by practice…in the marketing and agency world, you have to learn the agency landscape. That’s not something that you can learn in the classroom, no matter what school you go to.”

#UMsocial: Were you involved with any groups on campus that helped you gain experience for this type of work?

Mike: “I had a job at the Michigan Tele-fund, and being in a position where you had to cold-call alumni and ask for money was the best experience that anyone can get for a sales job. If you can convince someone to give you money over the phone without getting anything in return, you can sell anything. That (experience) was very relevant.”

#UMsocial: What advice do you have for students at UMich who are trying to land a digital or social media marketing internship?

Mike: “I would say a couple of things. Make sure that your own public social channels are professional. Make sure that you have a great LinkedIn and that your Twitter is public, and you are posting things that you wouldn’t mind an employer seeing. Make your Facebook private! It cannot possibly help you. It can prevent you from getting a job. When applying for jobs…you have to find out who the hiring manager is (and) follow up like crazy. We live in a world where that is very easy! You can go on LinkedIn, search the company you applied for, and find their numbers…it really does come down to how badly you want it. If you take a backseat approach to getting your own job, you will be unemployed for awhile.”

#UMsocial: When hiring for this industry, what qualities or characteristics would you look for in candidates? 

Mike: “It depends on what their role is. If it’s an account manager role…you want someone who is organized, obviously it is very important to have someone who is bright and can function on their own. Employers want to make sure that when they hire someone they aren’t spending their time doing that person’s job…and (that they) don’t have to be micro-managed…if you are professional, well-spoken, and confident in your interview, that goes leaps and bounds. If you can find out how to liken your experience to the job, that’s important as well. The reality is that you can always make your experience sound relevant, no matter what you did…but I really think that the biggest thing is being smart, confident, and poised in the interview.”

To learn more about Mike, follow him on Twitter @mikemikho.

University of Michigan Partners with Pinterest for Place Pins Launch


Pinterest has been our breakout channel of the year. Boasting nearly 2400% growth, we see the longest post-life on this channel, and the highest conversion rates from our other channels. This year, we redesigned our page, bringing in new boards such as Michigan Pets, Future Wolverines, True Blue Weddings, #UMInstagram, Quotable, and Michigan DIY, adopting many of the most engaging topics on Pinterest and aligning our strategy with the purpose and demographic of the platform, which is 84% women.


Prior to the launch of Place Pins, Pinterest reached out to us to partner with them, considering UMich to have a deep understanding of the platform. We saw this as a unique opportunity to showcase our campus and alumni community, in order to fill necessary gaps in our Pinterest presence.

Our first board, Tour #UMich, is a campus-themed board aimed at prospective students who are looking to get a sense of campus before they visit, or if they are unable to schedule a tour prior to applying. Ed Tech Magazine summed it up as:

The virtual tour provides an informative and engaging experience. It’s a tool that today’s teenagers will find intuitive and helpful. As users browse the page, they can click through to resources on the university’s website. It’s an innovative way to present information that hasn’t been easily accessible in the past.


Our second board, Wolverines around the World, emphasizes the true reach of our student and alumni community, and their loyalty and spirit for the University. With fans often sending us photos via email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, this board is a collection of everywhere in the world the Block M has traveled. Having Place Pins everywhere from South Africa to the North Pole, we are excited to continue seeing the great things our students and alumni are doing around the world!


So far, our Tour #UMich board has been our second-most followed on the platform, closing in on #UMInstagram. We hope to continue to direct our prospective students to this board, and would love to see it embedded on a few of our UMich sites when the feature is available. This way, we can drive more traffic to the page and inform students in an innovative way. When analyzing our Pin activity, we have noticed that the most engaging time for us to pin is Sundays at 5pm. On this day, our Repins are 20% higher than average, and at the time of day, 60% above average.

We have found Place Pins to be the perfect addition to our Pinterest presence, and strive to find new and creative ways to utilize all the Pinterest has to offer.

Making a Place Board is simple. Create a board and turn on the ‘Map’ feature:


Next, start Pinning! You can ‘add a place’ to your map, search, and select photos from others, or upload your own.



You can also add Pins to your board from around the web, or upload your own photos, and then add it to your map later by clicking the + sign:


Overall, Pinterest has proven to be a great tool for marketing for a University. While every department, unit, college, and even University is very different, each can find unique ways to utilize all that Pinterest has to offer. We do our best to cater to the audience on Pinterest, the interests and categories that are popular, while staying true to the University of Michigan branding, spirit, and academic excellence.

Victors for Michigan Gets Social

When the University of Michigan announced our new fundraising campaign, Victors for Michigan, on November 8th, 2013, the Office of University Development had already hosted a 31 day countdown and reached millions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Read more on the goal and successes of the online promotions of this campaign in this guest post.

This is a guest post written by Shannon Riffe, Assistant Director of Marketing, Online Engagement for the Office of University Development

On November 8, 2013, the University of Michigan launched its Victors for Michigan campaign. With a goal to raise $4 billion, it is the largest campaign ever for a public university.

Since the last campaign, The Michigan Difference, ended in 2008, the social media landscape has changed dramatically. The challenge that the Office of University Development (OUD) faced was how to use social media to build awareness about the campaign, engage students, and highlight the impact and importance of philanthropy at U-M.  From  10/8 – 11/9 OUD focused on raising awareness about the campaign and driving attendance to the campaign kickoff events on November 8.

A 31 day countdown of philanthropic impact stories was the central component of the social strategy. Starting on October 8, the Leaders & Best Twitter and Facebook accounts posted one impact story a day for 31 days highlighting a variety of people impacted by philanthropy at U-M. During this time, the Leaders & Best account gained 377 Likes and the Twitter account gained 216 followers. Whenever possible, OUD reached out to managers of other U-M affiliated social media pages and asked them to share the impact story if it featured their school or unit.




The Facebook Event was another important element of the pre-event communication. An email to all staff and faculty from VP of Development Jerry May, an ad in the Record, a feature on the U-M Gateway and numerous social media updates drove traffic to the Event with a call to action to join and share. A total of 1,081 people said they were attending the Facebook Event.

The Student Campaign Volunteer Committee planned and executed a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), where students had the opportunity to ask any question about the campaign to Assistant VP of Development, Tom Baird. The AMA was promoted on Facebook and Twitter and received 55 comments. It offered an opportunity for students to have unfiltered, direct access to top level staff directly involved in the campaign.


Atlee Silk of the Student Volunteer Committee tweeted from @umichstudents for the week leading up to kickoff. Student engagement is a key part of this campaign, which has raising $1 billion for student support as its highest priority.

When our campaign goal was announced on November 8, the news was shared via many University channels, include the U-M Weibo account, where it received 40 Retweets and 26,000 impressions.


The #VictorsforMichigan hashtag was introduced on 10/8 during the President’s Leadership Breakfast.  During the period from 10/8 – 11/9, the #victorsformichigan hashtag was used 2,092 times, reaching 2.5M people on Twitter and generating 7M impressions. On Instagram, 106 posts used  #VictorsforMichigan.


For several days leading up to the November 8th kickoff, and the day after, the number of tweets per day of #victorsformichigan overtook the popular #umich hashtag.


The hashtag was integrated into the live show, with a selection of tweets projected above the stage at Hill Auditorium before the main event began.


During this time, our Leaders & Best Facebook content had a Reach of 221,462. This does not include posts from other pages like these from Michigan Football and Charles Woodson.




For those who couldn’t attend the main event at Hill Auditorium, we promoted the livestream on the U-M Gateway, where it was viewed by 275 unique IP addresses (118 of them via an iPhone or iPad).

We’re thrilled with the results of this social media push. We brought the Victors for Michigan message to millions of people, had a near-capacity turnout for the main event at Hill, and drove thousands of attendees to the community festival where all of our 2,300 t-shirts were distributed within the first hour. The 31 day countdown has been a great collection of content that we’ve been able to reuse in several different channels, including our Leaders & Best magazine and website. Finally, it’s been great to see members of our U-M community – from current students, to faculty and staff, to alum Darren Criss – engaging with philanthropy online.


#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.*