September was an important month for the University, not just in terms of welcoming new and returning students to campus for the fall semester, but also in officially welcoming a new president, Dr. Mark Schlissel, to Ann Arbor. The last inauguration ceremony at the University of Michigan took place in 2002, when we introduced University of Iowa’s Mary Sue Coleman as our 13th president. Unlike past inaugurations, this year’s ceremony and presidential transition boasted the unique potential and unparalleled opportunity to engage the larger community and student population even more so than ever before–thanks to social.
Not only was the University’s central social accounts influential in keeping Wolverines involved and informed about the festivities planned for Sept. 5, but we also saw the unique opportunity to establish the first-ever Twitter account for an incoming UMich president: @DrMarkSchlissel. When his term began over the summer, our official accounts not only offered congratulations, but also introduced his Twitter presence and encouraged others to follow and interact with Schlissel. We were really pleased to see that his first tweet was well-received:
During his first few months, and leading up to the Sept. 5 inauguration date, various schools and colleges within UMich offered their support, remembering to include his handle in posts! It was encouraging to see that his account was receiving engagement, and that the hashtag #UMPres14 gained traction as well.
It’s important for campus leaders, President Mark Schlissel included, to be active on these social networks because it provides a direct link for students, faculty, and staff to voice their concerns, and see what their leaders are up to on a day-to-day basis. Not only is President Schlissel a Tweet away, but he’s making an effort to connect and engage with the community. He’s even willing to take a selfie (or two).
To gear up for the 14th presidential inauguration, the #UMSocial team proactively posted content across channels which incorporated the designated hashtag: #UMPres14. Along with anticipatory posts leading up to the event, we were there at Hill Auditorium, as well as the post-celebratory reception at Ingalls Mall, to provide live coverage for students, faculty, and University of Michigan aficionados alike. Our content included a combination of direct quoting from inauguration speakers, re-tweeting audience reactions, and sharing POV shots of the processional and ceremony at Hill. Whether you were physically there to welcome Schlissel or not, you could still feel as if you were part of the big day, joining in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat.
For those who wanted to get involved, there was definitely the opportunity. Right before the ceremony, we encouraged students and the general public, through social updates, to join on the Diag in order to form a tunnel for the processional. This was an interesting way to incorporate the community, and allow them to meet the President as he walked to Hill Auditorium. To increase involvement, we promoted #UMPres14 T-Shirt giveaways to those who arrived early enough to form the welcome tunnel!
It’s somewhat difficult to gage past inauguration successes because social outlets and metrics were nonexistent. This inauguration made history, in the fact that Schlissel became the 14th president of a major institution, but also in terms of experimenting with social engagement and promotion. For the first time during a ceremony of this nature, the University of Michigan was able to reach and engage with our audience in real-time. Student feedback and interaction is crucial for leadership development on campus, and we think that Schlissel has made great strides to transition from his position at Brown University into a Wolverine.
We couldn’t have said it any better, @aldafo.
This post was written by Katie Szymanski, Communication and Digital Studies senior; #UMsocial editorial intern