Magazine On-line [summer 2013]
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Around Campus

Social media fosters connections, promotes values

InstagramOMG, the oldest college west of the Allegheny Mountains is hip to social media.

Complementing the main website, tools such as Facebook and Twitter give Transylvania’s communications office a way to interact with users and promote the school and its values, such as academic excellence and sustainability. “We use social media to show the world why we are a great place,” said Sarah Emmons, associate vice president of communications and public relations.

Through words, photos, and videos, Facebook helps the university spotlight its students, faculty, alums, and events—but in a way a news release can’t.

“Our number one goal is to engage our fans and our followers,” Emmons said. “And we love getting feedback.” The communications staff considers what fans want to know when deciding what to post.

“We strive to make our Facebook page dynamic, fun, and informal,” Emmons said.

While other departments, such as alumni, admissions, and athletics, have their own Facebook accounts, the
communications office aims for a broader audience that includes all of Transylvania’s constituents and people just curious about the university.

Twitter is another major way Transylvania keeps in touch with its community and beyond. For instance, some tweets send encouragement to students, such as before finals, or to tell them they’re missed during the summer break.

Also, a lot of alums will give a shout out to what they learned at the university; or if someone attends a production or sporting event, they’ll tweet about it.

Twitter also is useful during emergencies on campus, such as when bad weather strikes.

Additionally, the service reaches students who aren’t on Facebook, and links can direct them to notices about upcoming events on the main website.

Plus, tagging users creates connections and starts conversations.

A topic of discussion on Twitter has been Transylvania’s unusual name.

Speaking of, Pinterest—a virtual bulletin board allowing users to organize and share images they find on the web—tells visitors what the school’s mascot isn’t. Public Relations Associate Mollie Eblen started the board with photos of a bat and Dracula to name a few.

The university maintains 18 boards and has pinned more than 500 photos. Boards include: Crimson, News and Events, Study Abroad, and Living in Lexington. First-year student Courtney Manies is the main caretaker.

“It’s the fastest growing social media site of the past year,” Emmons said. “Somebody’s first impression of Transylvania might be Pinterest if they see something that one of their friends had repinned.”

Instagram is another popular service. Users snap pictures with their smart phones, apply filters that alter the images, and then share them. Junior art major Hunter Kissel maintains the Instagram account.

The university recently held a popular contest called “My Transy is  _________.”

Similar ones are in the works.

Instagram is more about showing life as it’s happening behind the scenes than just trying to post high-quality photos.

The YouTube videos can have a similar feel: short, spontaneous takes on daily experience.

The university, which often shoots and adds videos to its site, has a new YouTube page design.

The service has been a good way to spread the word about the Transylvania Athletics Complex construction, for instance.

“We’re really excited about the possibilities of what we can do to grow YouTube,” Emmons said.

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