Tag Archives: social media management

GroupMe: the new secret weapon for our social media team

One of the great things about having students on your social media team is that they bring you new ideas and platforms — some of which even work behind the scenes. GroupMe — which our students suggested — has been a noteworthy new tool that has improved our efforts this semester.

GroupMe is a private messaging service that allows you to share text, photos and video — and to help organize what you do.

This semester, we have our largest social media student team ever — seven students. How do we keep activities organized, especially spontaneously? GroupMe.

With that larger group, most of the students are specializing on one particular channel. But when they get that great content, how do they share it with the rest of us for the other channels? GroupMe.



img_1493The perfect example of how we use it came this weekend, with a special and decidedly visual event — our first-ever Teddy Bear Toss to benefit local kids. In a nutshell, attendees to the Saturday night men’s hockey game were asked to bring teddy bears (or they could buy them in the arena from the local Girl Scouts) and throw them on the ice after the first Laker goal. A wonderful way to make spirits bright for a number of children this holiday season.

But it’s also clearly great content. Saturday afternoon, I sent a group message asking who was available to get video and/or photos at the game. Two students, Ilyssa and Erika, replied they would be there and they determined Ilyssa (whose main channel is Twitter) would get photos and Erika (whose main channel is Instagram) would get video.

img_1492The Lakers scored an early goal, teddy bears rained down and both teams helped collect them. Great visuals, indeed. Ilyssa’s photos and Erika’s video were posted and shared to appear across Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, all doing very well at showing this event that supported a worthy cause and underscoring we are a caring community.

A lot of people focus on the dazzle and the sizzle of social media, but you can’t do a good job without the structure and the steak. Whether its something as simple as Yousef, our intern who specializes in athletics, telling me he’s taking care of promoting today’s action, or as complex as coordinating a big social media moment on the fly, GroupMe has really been a fabulous addition to our social media game.

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Social media and college sports rivalries: Managing #OzWhiteout Weekend


If you attend one of the schools or know DIII men’s hockey, you know that Oswego vs. Plattsburgh is a college sports rivalry of legendary proportions. The two teams always vie for the SUNYAC title, an NCAA bid (often both get in) and bragging rights. When it comes to school spirit, social media is an amazing outlet. But if you’re a social media manager, how do you harness that enthusiasm?

You plan, you prepare, you tap talented students and you all manage the plan early and often.

We started using #ozwhiteout as the official tag a couple years ago but were more aggressive with it this year. I’m happy we didn’t pare it down to #whiteout because Arizona used that tag this weekend for a big basketball game and our tweets would have been lost in the flood of a huge Division I program. An unofficial (funny but somewhat offensive) #puckflattsburgh tag stays around every year, and #whiteoutweekend was a player.


While we didn’t have broad promotional support this season (goal for next year: get hashtag on the official T-shirt) I worked with our sports information director, Mike Bielak, to solidify early, and he made the above scoreboard graphic (also shared on social media) promoting the tag, which announcers read during games. White the Whiteout term originally just applied to the hockey matchup, the athletic department has broadened it to Whiteout Weekend, which featured eight home games total — two each for men’s and women’s hockey plus men’s and women’s basketball — even though the Oswego-Plattsburgh ice showdown is unquestionably the main event. We promoted the tag and the weekend fairly heavily on Facebook and Twitter the week leading in, with much of the Twitter promotion coming via retweets of other fans using the official tag.

Using topsy.com, I looked at the three main related hashtags, as of Monday morning:
– 643 mentions for #ozwhiteout
– 220 for #whiteoutweekend
– 97 for #puckflattsburgh

The #ozwhiteout figure was by far the biggest tag use I’ve ever seen for one of our campus events (maybe twice the previous record). In addition, 84 photos posted to Instagram sported the #ozwhiteout tag. I just imagine the figures if we could get everyone on one tag and not watering down the figures, but social media is a democratic, not top-down, communication device, so you just do your best and ultimately appreciate anybody who is (positively) active around your events.


Our social media team — interns Kristen Burke, Alyssa Levenberg and Lavon Shim-Johnson plus video grad assistant Phillip Moore — deserve a lot of credit. Kristen and Alyssa alternated running our Twitter account (one would do game tracking, the other crowd/superfan shots) and Instagram for hockey-related activities. Lavon took care of basketball, which had its own exciting weekend. Phil filmed and posted a video showing the line of students camped out in the Campus Center waiting for Oswego-Plattsburgh doors to open, which we used as a post-event thank you to our students for their dedication … and can use to promote future #ozwhiteout games and student life in general.

On the ice and the hardwood, our teams went 5-2-1 for #ozwhiteout weekend. In the marquee game, our young Laker men’s team held Plattsburgh (ranked #1 in the nation) to a 3-3 tie, a huge growing and learning opportunity for our freshmen-laden squad. But overall when so many of our fans are active, proud, positive, enthusiastic and connected via social media, it’s a win for school spirit.


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pulling a plug: today’s new/shiny can be tomorrow’s dead/dull

Screen shot 2013-11-08 at 10.17.14 AM

On Friday, I did something for the first time as a social media manager: I pulled the plug on a once-thriving platform for us.

Once a hot platform that brought many prospective-student questions, Formspring/Spring.Me has been functionally dead (to us, anyway) for months. We created a SUNY Oswego account after Mallory Wood (now with mStoner) mentioned on a Higher Ed Live episode how many Formspring questions accounts at St. Michael’s College received. When we waded in, the current was strong — 10 to 20 questions a week, almost all from prospective students, demonstrated we could provide a valid service as well as see what questions we perhaps weren’t answering very clearly or prominently on our website.

But back in February came the announcement the site could no longer afford to stay open and would shut down operations at the end of March. But while the bustling thoroughfare turned into a tumbleweed-strewn ghost town, it didn’t entirely go away. SUNY Oswego’s account still received a few scattered user questions but — worse — received emails from somebody/something at the company with vapid Questions of the Day such as whether we were going to see the latest Brad Pitt movie. (Lame sauce.) The site may boast nearly 26 million users, but that’s just a reminder that sheer numbers don’t mean everything in social media relevance.

Useful though it was, Formspring’s usability had shortcomings.

  • We saw the same questions over and over and over, and while we have a backstage wiki that allows us to copy/paste/modify responses, it still becomes tiresome for the manager to answer the same question about application deadlines (which are pretty clear on our site) multiple times a day. Formspring’s interface made the site more about asking questions more than making answers easy to find.
  • The site didn’t seem to cultivate user inclination for detail in questions. We’d receive one-word queries like “deadline.” Really, that’s all it would say. Which deadline? We have so many for different things. Many questions were just one-worders such as “scholarships,” “jobs” or “cost” that showed a very shallow level of user interaction … even though, as a customer-service-focused organization, we felt inclined to not be lazy in replies.
  • The mostly anonymous format meant that you could get off-base and inappropriate questions. This didn’t impact us much but I know others who grew weary of the site for such reason.
  • What should have been a simple and quick-loading interface was anything but. Instead there was a long delay, and then the cursor bumped me into its Question of the Day … not the actual question we wanted to answer. Protip: Emphasize the customers’ experience first, not your vanity feature.

As I went through the (thankfully) brief process of disabling our college’s moribund account, I didn’t really feel much remorse as if leaving a community that ever meant much to me. More than anything, it reminds us that one day’s new and shiny can easily become the next day’s dead and dull. So we should be wary when new communities or platforms suddenly become “hot” in the fanboy tech press, and consider the sustainability of any efforts. And we should know that there comes a time, when a community is no longer useful, to move on.


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stop begging, start creating (cont.): a very short story

I’ve talked before about how social media accounts should stop begging for users and instead find and post quality content. Saw a very stark example of that with our campus this weekend. At about the same time on Saturday, the following two posts went out, the first from an affiliate site, the other from our main site.

The “please, please like us to reach an arbitrary figure” post goes against the very currency of social media — creating content people want to see, interact with and share. It makes everything about the account itself, and not about the user (and it should be about the user). As you can see, this post scared up 5 likes, no comments, no shares and — surprise! — as of Monday morning, the account still needed 7 likes to reach 2,000. It’s unfortunate because this account is run by smart, creative and very likable people capable of producing outstanding content.

Contrast that with the above image of the mind-bending 3-D chalk art from Art for After Hours, part of our Family and Friends Weekend. By Monday morning, it had 192 likes, 7 comments, 7 shares. While those are a good number of likes, the shares are what I consider the highest level of user engagement — they like it enough to take some kind of ownership and share it with friends. While this was far from our most-shared image, it had more shares than the begging post had likes. Plus this scene was available for any member of the campus community to capture and share.

As my friend Georgy Cohen of Meet Content has pointed out, the most-shared stories are ones to which the initial reaction of users is “wow!” or “whoa!” That was my actual reaction upon seeing the chalk art, and others seeing it in a photo (which honestly didn’t do it justice) felt the same way. No one says “wow!” or “whoa!” over an account begging for more users. Sadly in part because it’s so commonplace.

Consider this cocktail party example: You walk into the party and one person is asking people to like him, while the other is telling interesting stories. Where would you gravitate? Exactly.

I can’t say it enough: If you run a social media account, stop begging and start creating. Look around you for interesting content. It’s quite possibly everywhere. Then share it. It really is that simple.

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new to working in social media? 5 common mistakes to avoid.

It’s the time of year when many places have new people working in social media management, whether interns for colleges or other accounts or new hires ready to roll in this field. Which is exciting. And yet. I look at my Twitter ticker or Facebook feed and see so many people making simple mistakes that make me weep a little. So here are five common mistakes in social media you’ll want to avoid to make it all easier.

Watch your @. If you are replying to another Twitter account, an @ is entirely appropriate. If you’re trying to promote something and start with an @, you’re restricting your audience to only those following both accounts. If you want this message to reach your full audience, the answer is simple: Don’t start with an @! If you work in social media, you should be clever enough to know how to reword it.

Avoid the horse latitudesDifferent studies say different things about when is the best time to post in social media, but what generally matters most is the content. After all, our most popular Facebook post ever went up on a Friday evening, which many self-styled “social media gurus” would advise against. That said, you should examine when your target market is active and when it’s not. When I see accounts post things appealing to students at 4:30 a.m., that doesn’t seem very wise. Lazy Sunday afternoons are also not the ideal time to try to engage a wide conversation with a general (not necessarily inspiring) question. And if there’s a much-tweeted event (Super Bowl™, award shows, “Walking Dead” season finale, etc.), any tweets — especially off topic — will drown in the flood.

Don’t be a robot. A friend of mine who just assumed greater social media responsibility announced she was unhooking the auto-feed that blasted her school’s Facebook and Twitter accounts simultaneously. And there was much rejoicing. A tweet that is awkwardly cut off in the middle and sports a Facebook link is essentially saying: “I really don’t care about Twitter.” Twitter and Facebook are two distinctly different media with different strengths and different audiences. You don’t run a TV ad on the radio or vice versa. Your social media outlets — while they should be integrated — also should have their own lives. If you can’t find 15 seconds to post something separately in Twitter and Facebook, you really don’t care about your audience.

Have conversations. Social media is not a bullhorn; it’s a conversation. Or a series of conversations. If your Facebook account is just your news releases with hardly any comments or likes, or if your Twitter account is just your posts with no @s or RTs, then it’s not very social. Also, when you post, don’t throw out lame marketing taglines. Sound like a human (see above), as if you were having a conversation with friends. Because even if you’re working social media for a brand, you ARE having a conversation with friends.

Know which account you’re in. Yes, at some point or another, we’ve probably posted something from the wrong account in haste. This is usually harmless, like when I answered a question last week from @TimNekritz via Tweetdeck forgetting to switch over to @sunyoswego. But there’s always the famous “#gettngslizzerd” example where a Red Cross employee accidentally posted about drinking exploits under the official account. To their credit, the Red Cross responded magnificently so the story had a happy ending. In terms of mobile posting, I make sure my personal Twitter account and any professional accounts are on different apps so I don’t have to worry about signing in or out. Whatever method you use, check what you’re doing so you don’t become a social media case study.

All that said, if you’re new to the field of social media management: Congratulations! It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s very fulfilling to help others and make connections. And know that there’s a massive support group of others working in this area on Twitter and elsewhere always willing to help with advice and feedback. After all, social media is about humans being social and helpful, and it really is a great job and community.

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