Outnumbering students (only slightly) and acting as the “unofficial mascot” of the University of Michigan, squirrels have received celebrity status within the Ann Arbor and UMich community. We routinely share funny shots of our Diag friends, promote holidays and upcoming events with their help, and even have several Instagram and Twitter accounts curated by the local critters themselves. When we noticed that #SquirrelAppreciationDay was set to take place on Jan. 21, we knew immediately that we had to join the conversation (…and I’ll be honest, I got a little too excited).
We teamed up with LS&A and the Alumni Association to diversify coverage and squirrel celebration. Here is a quick break-down of daily activities and successes:
Based on the amount of squirrel content that gets pinned to uofmichigan, we surprisingly did not have a board specifically dedicated to Michigan Squirrels prior to #SquirrelAppreciationDay. Leading up to the day of, we filled our newly established board with pre-existing content moved from other boards. Starting in the morning of Jan. 21 and running throughout the entirety of the day, we pinned the “Top Ten Ways to Appreciate a Squirrel,” in which new content would roll out every hour or so. Once pinned, these tips were recycled and promoted on @‘s Twitter.
Along with routine graphics announcing the holiday, our channel dabbled in video content, which happened to simultaneously promote not only #SquirrelAppreciationDay, but also National Hug Day. We utilized on-campus personalities, who happen to own squirrel masks, in order to make this production possible! It resonated well with our fans because it combined the element of Diag squirrels, the use of student-generated content, and humor regarding the holiday.
Our @umich presence was vital for redirecting followers to participate in the celebration and join the conversation on other channels, but aside from the central account, we utilized @UmichStudents to bring everything full-circle. Every week, a new Wolverine is selected to tweet from the account about their experiences as a Michigan Student. What better way to celebrate the occasion than to hear from one of our very own squirrel celebs? Staying true to this platform, we switched out the regular tweeter on Jan. 21 in order to feature a special guest: a typical UMich Squirrel. The account takeover included adjusting the image, name display, and bio. Overall, this was a super fun way to engage with students on a topic that we know will gain attention…because everyone loves squirrels and can relate.
In the past, we’ve received high engagement from Snapchat contests and interactive stories which encourage users to screenshot part of our story and add their own creative spin to the image for a chance to be highlighted by uofmichigan. We wanted to do something similar to celebrate our squirrel friends! Our “Dress That Squirrel” game received some of the most creative submissions we’ve ever seen:
On average, 3.4K users viewed each snap in our story and 203 users screen-shotted our initial image of the squirrel, ready to be dressed up.
I’ll admit, squirrels have begun to saturate our feeds. They are furry and adorable, but we must find a balance between routine content and going in for the “awe factor.” However, we got to play up the squirrel love on Jan. 21 and it paid off for our channels. We hope you enjoyed following along, and continue to #StaySocial with us.
This post was written by Katie Szymanski, Communication and Digital Studies senior; #UMsocial editorial intern