Follow Friday: Emerson College
Follow Friday, At a Glance
Connect with Emerson on social media:
and all those departments.
No one understands social media more than the people who use it most, and in this town especially, that’s college students.
One of the most Twitterrific schools in the area is Emerson College. For instance, two years ago, HerCampus ranked school number 1 in social media-savviness, and last year Emerson made StudentAdvisor.com’s list—the site pointed out that Emerson was launching a new minor in Digital Media and Culture, i.e. social media.
OK, so the kids tweet a lot. What about the school’s official accounts? Many of those, it turns out, are run by Rhea Becker, the school’s associate director of communications and marketing in the Communications and Marketing Office.
Here, Becker talks about social media etiquette, that time Ron Burgundy visited the school, and the school’s newest initiatives.
Who runs Emerson College’s various social media accounts? Do you ever let students post?
I am mainly responsible for the content of Emerson College’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts. YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn are handled by other staff. I have occasional help from a student assistant and my colleague Dan O’Brien.
We use Hootsuite to schedule a ‘skeleton’ of tweets that I shuffle around and add to as things develop throughout the week. At a college, you have many audiences that you must appeal to—faculty, prospective students, current students, staff, alumni, donors, the media. It keeps us on our toes!
Many of our departments and student organizations also have their own social media accounts.
A few times each year, we open the Twitter account to our student assistant for, say, Oscars coverage or live tweeting from Emerson’s Family Weekend. At the beginning, our students are sometimes a bit timid—after all, our Twitter account reaches 16,000 people—but they get over that!
In three words, describe the voice and tone of Emerson’s social media.
Exuberant, quirky, current.
Emerson has a reputation for having a very social-media savvy student body. Why is that?
Some of the fields the college is strongest in are simply “made for social media.” Our students use social media to promote their work, to execute their work, and as a vehicle for self-expression.
One thing that is a must for any social media effort is to keep up on new technology and trends. Our student assistant regularly reads up on all the latest tech news, so we are aware, for instance, when Facebook once again tweaks its News Feed algorithm. Grrrrr!
Which account is the strongest channel for Emerson? If you had to pick, which one is the “must-follow”?
Tough question. Our Facebook has the most in-depth material, our Twitter account has the largest variety, but I have to say that the visuals really give you a feel for Emerson, so our Instagram and YouTube are tops. Forgive me! I realize that’s two accounts.
How much of the school’s social media is about admissions versus current students?
There are surprisingly few posts that are explicitly about admissions. Simply, we try to shine a light on Emerson and its people—faculty, students, staff, and alumni—doing what they do. It speaks for itself and gets prospective students really excited about being a part of it all.
What’s the weirdest, most surprising, or most outspoken feedback you’ve gotten via social media?
As you know, it’s necessary to abbreviate when posting to Twitter. I abbreviated the word “tonight” as “tonite” and we received several astonished tweets! I thought it was such an innocuous abbreviation, but obviously not to Emersonians.
Since you’ve been with Emerson, what has been your personal favorite thing to share on social media?
We had comedian/actor Will Ferrell here last year promoting his new Anchorman movie. He hosted a mock press conference to rename our School of Communication the “Ron Burgundy School of Communication” for one day. We got the gig because his publicist is—no surprise—an Emerson alum. We got tremendous attention all over the world for that appearance and our online hits went sky high.
On a local note, my most recent social media assistant, Leah Casselman, an Emerson marketing communication major, and I came up with a plan to put the Emerson mascot—a stuffed lion—in locations all over Boston. Each week last summer we featured it in a different interesting place, ranging from Fenway Park to the Arnold Arboretum to the Waterfront. It got some nice pickup and our audience seemed to enjoy it.
Also, our president, Lee Pelton, did a nice Ice Bucket Challenge entry.
Finally, with all those avid tweeters at Emerson, are there any other accounts you would recommend people follow?
Sure. On Twitter, check out Ploughshares, @Pshares, for lots of good articles on topics in literature. On Facebook, check out our Journalism Department, which posts lots of good stories about the field. And also on Facebook, check out Emerson Los Angeles.
On a side note, at Emerson, we have a very cool center called the Engagement Lab. There, they develop interactive online games for civic engagement. The games are designed so people can actively participate in planning the futures of their communities. They have developed online games in collaboration with the City of Boston, as well as Detroit and Philadelphia, the Red Cross, the United Nations Development Program, the European Union, and many other partners. This fall, Emerson College itself will have its own community planning game. It’s called EmersonUnCommon and the idea is that participants can play and engage with the college’s strategic vision.
Responses have been edited and condensed.