university of michigan

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.

Violence, Crime & Social Media #UMichChat

Violence and crime do not have an area code nor an IP address, and the prevalence of ephemeral and anonymous social applications continues to provide a breeding ground for inappropriate information. In recent months, we have seen an increasing amount of popular cases come to light where individuals are taking to social media to wreak havoc, bully others, and/or post items that have resulted in severe consequences. The delineation of our online lives and ‘personal’ lives is complicated and blurry at best. We are now regularly hearing of people losing a job as a result of a social media post, being prosecuted for false terrorism threats, or arrested for the undertones of their emoji use. The constant surveillance of celebrities, athletes, and politicians by paparazzi became a norm but pales in comparison to the harassing nature of online communities at present day. With social media, everyone is fair game. We all have the potential to be more easily scrutinized and judged for our behavior online and subsequently our offline personality. In this month’s #UMichChat, we decided to bring together leading minds in social media behavioral analysis, youth violence, cyber crimes, and investigative journalism to discuss these complicated and weighty topics.

What are the consequences of our online behavior? Why is the ‘filter’ so low in these spaces? Are these channels facilitating falsified identities and parody accounts, or are they better used as a source of empowerment for unrepresented groups? What is the role of social media in today’s hustle and bustle world, and most importantly, who is going take responsibility?

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The sensitive and timely nature of our topic, Violence, Crime, and Social Media, has a wide appeal and therefore allowed us to draw off a variety of knowledge sets. Our panel consisted of Cliff Lampe, Associate Professor at the School of Information, Desmond Patton, Associate Professor at the School of Social Work studying internet gang banging, Detective Sergeant Jay Poupard from the Michigan State Police cyber crime unit, and Eric Strauss, producer for ABC news and a University of Michigan Knight Wallace Fellow. This diverse panel set the stage for our community to openly discuss the dichotomy of social media as a tool to prevent injustice, but also how it could serve as a catalyst for crime and violence.

As always, we asked our online audiences to contribute questions for our panelists ahead of time, and then actively responded to inquiries that took place throughout the course of the #UMichChat. The result was a dynamic dialogue that spanned ideas on responsibility, accountability, anonymity, and the relationship between the user and technology. You can follow the complete conversation on Storify here!

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By tying in current hot topics at neighboring universities regarding Yik Yak and discussions in the news, we were able to provide real-world solutions and tangible assistance to help not only provoke critical thinking but also protect our friends and family online. Our panelists tackled questions that revolved around personal usage, freedom of speech, and social user behavior. The great thing about #UMichChat is that it is more than a ‘Q & A,’ as additional community members participate they also provide their own opinions and insights, creating a larger conversation. The summary analysis at the end then pools the collective dialogue into a resource with longevity that can be retained and used in a variety of ways.

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Throughout our April hour-long chat, 509 posts were generated with a reach exceeding 200,000 people and over 5 million impressions. As our chats continue to grow, we are placing an increased emphasis on who they serve and how we are strategically bringing awareness to important topics.  We would love to hear your thoughts on future subjects and on the items discussed during Violence, Crime and Social Media. Tweet us using #UMichChat, and be sure to join us May 1st as we host Twitter all-star @JohnDingell, former Congressman from Michigan’s 12th District and the longest serving U.S. representative in what is sure to be an exciting conversation!


This post was written by Yasin Id-Deen, #UMSocial Media Manager 

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

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

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.

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.*



We’re excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with the University of New Hampshire for a friendly social media competition this weekend for the Men’s Hockey Winter Classic!

You’ll be able to follow all of the action on the ice, and online, on the competition’s official website:, and score virtual points for our team by using the hashtags #UMichvsUNH AND #GoBlue on Twitter and Instagram. Plus, you might even see YOUR photos and tweets on the site!

Help us beat the Wildcats online, and follow @umichhockey for a play-by-play of the Winter Classic! #GOBLUE