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 umsocial@umich.edu.

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

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


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: https://storify.com/umichigan/umichchat

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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 

#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.*

Uncommon Campus: Marine Hydrodynamics Lab


LSA’s Uncommon campus video took us from the Burton Tower to a spot on Campus that was a bit less recognizable. We found ourselves at the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory. The 360 foot trough is tucked away in the ground floor of West Hall right off the engineering spot, this is a place most students past daily.

The Marine Hydrodynamics Lab It is the only remaining piece of the College of Engineering left on Central Campus. The labs are used to demonstrate the navel architecture experiments, such as calm water resistance and testing propellers.


To test the ship models, they are connected to a computer-controlled carriage. The carriage is capable of traveling at speeds up to 22ft/s. There is also a wave maker that can create a wide variety of wave conditions for testing. We decided to take the carriage for a test run:

Fun fact: The West Engineering Building opened in 1904 and held the model basin, then 300-ft long. In 1908 the basin’s structure was extended by 60 feet, and the building itself was also lengthened to enclose the basin.

Know of any other cool places on campus? Tweet us @umich using the hashtag #uncommoncampus and we’ll make sure to visit! And a special thanks to LSA for creating the original video!


What the New Pinterest Analytics Mean For Marketers


You may have read online this week that Pinterest has officially launched their analytics for business accounts. This is a free service for any Pinterest user with a business account, which means your account must be verified by a web URL (you can do this simply by pasting a code onto your homepage or blog, and it displays a small checkmark next to your name), and “registered.” If you have an existing verified Pinterest account that is NOT a business account, never fear! You can simply convert your existing account and then will be able to  access the analytics.


Once you’re in, it’s an easy to read, easy to export series of graphs representing your content.


From top to bottom, the terms represent:

  • Pins: Daily amount of pins that have sourced from your webpage (eg. umich.edu)
  • Pinners: Daily amount of pinners who have pinned from your webpage
  • Repins: Daily average number of times a pin from your webpage was repinned
  • Repinners: Daily average number of pinners who have repinned a pin from your webpage
  • Impressions: Daily number of times your pins appeared on Pinterest’s main feed, search results, or boards
  • Reach: Daily number of potential people who saw your pins on Pinterest
  • Clicks: Daily number of clicks on your webpage that came from Pinterest
  • Visitors: Daily number of people who visited your webpage from Pinterest


In the next tab, you will see the most recent Pins that any Pinterest user has Pinned from your webpage.


Continuing on, the next tab represents the most Repinned content from your webpage on Pinterest.


The final tab shows the Pins from your webpage with the most click-throughs. All of these tabs are exportable to Excel, which will show raw data.


What does all of this mean?

Now that brands and marketers are able to see how their content and webpages are performing on Pinterest, we can only hope to expect better content. Smart brands can see what users pin from their webpages, what they click, and produce content that lines up with that. In turn, we should expect to see more active brands on Pinterest, creating more content instead of simply Repinning, which is the majority of the current Pinterest content. However, brands must be wary in posting content, as a pinboard represents a fine line between brand and follower, allowing the brands to humanize themselves for the viewer and show they appreciate more than just selling a product. With these new tools, brands and marketers have the opportunity to appeal to a greater audience and curate their image to maximum exposure.


We discovered that this site of Wallenberg’s story was one of the most Repinned articles from our page on Tuesday, proving that while many of our followers love Block Ms and Michigan Football, they also love UMich History, and hearing of those that made a difference at our University. For those followers, we have a UMich History and Michigan Difference board, and now know to continue to pin content from our sites to these boards. 

Instagram 101: The Basics


(Photo courtesy of @hugh_davio)

Since we joined Instagram in April, we’ve been enjoying sharing our favorite photos from around Ann Arbor and celebrating campus life, as well as sharing many photos taken by our community of students, alumni, and Wolverines around the globe.

Our team in the #UMSocial office got together to discuss our favorite parts about Instagram, and best practices for those looking to build their presence. Instagram is one of our favorite platforms, as it is rapidly growing and never short of visual content.

  • Utilize #hashtags and location. Not only do hashtags lead us to other photos we can “re-gram” from our students and community members (with permission of course), this also leads users to our account. Same goes for locations; simply click on the location you have tagged and you will be led to any photo that was taken there. This is where we find a lot of our photos, and users that we follow from the Ann Arbor community. We frequently search the hashtags #UMSocial, #umicharts #umcampus, #uminstagram #blockMsighting #Michigan #UofMichigan #UniversityofMichigan #GoBlue #umich and #UofM, so if you use those we might find your photos. There are over 28,000 photos tagged #UofM!


(Photo courtesy of @visitannarbor)

  • Engage with followers and community members. While many of our photos are regrams from our followers and community members tagging their locations and using various UMich hashtags, we always ask for permission by commenting on the users original photo.  In addition, liking commenting on various photos of those we follow and follow us attracts more followers. People like to see the @uofmichigan account engaging with their friends and are more likely to click to our account if they see it often. We do spend time checking out the photos we are mentioned in, and often choose to repost these to our followers.


(photo courtesy of @shhecht)

  • Post a range of photos. Our Instagram welcomes a wide range of followers, from future and current students to alumni, Ann Arbor community members, and avid UMich fans. We keep this in mind when posting our photos, and it’s great to shake up your content with photos from all aspects of life. We strive to always give our audience something new to look at.


(#TBT photo courtesy of @tyrellxavier)

  • Remind your followers you exist, but don’t overwhelm them. One of the top ways users lose followers is by bombarding them with too many photos. Spread out your content, and experiment to see what resinates with your followers. We try to post no less than 2 hours apart. In the same vein, you don’t want to followers to forget about you. Try to post at least once a day. However, this is assuming you have content that your followers will want to see. No one wants to see 12 straight days of your bowl of Ramen noodles!


(Photo courtesy of @c_youtsey)

Be sure to follow us on Instagram @uofmichigan, and use the hashtags #UMSocial #BlockMSighting #UofM #Michigan #UMich #UMInstagram #UMarts #UMcampus #UofMichigan #GoBlue #university #student #campuslife, and more and you might see your photo on our page!