University finds new ways to reach students
A UH student is never far from UH.
Whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even Pinterest, the University has found new ways to extend its arm to reach students. Social media has allowed the student body to interact more with UH.
The University’s newest addition is Snapchat, the mobile app that allows users to send temporary photos and videos to their friends with the option of adding text or drawing pictures. The “snaps” can be viewed only once for an amount of time determined by the sender, no more than a few seconds.
UH has used the app to reach students in a variety of ways already. It has been especially popular as a means of advertising Cougar Red Friday and to let students know where they can go to get a free T-shirt. Kimberly Davis, the social media communications coordinator for UH, said that students also appreciated the snaps they received during last week’s icy weather.
“We received a lot of positive feedback after we recently had snow days at UH, when we used Snapchat to inform our followers campus was closed,” Davis said. “It is a very direct form of communication, unlike our other platforms, where our messages are in feeds that update in time.”
UH’s social media team uses its many social media platforms in ways that appeal to each platform’s specific audience.
“Our Snapchat audience is comprised primarily of users in their late teens and early 20s, so our messaging there would be more student-oriented,” said the social media manager for University advancement, Jessica Brand. “However, our LinkedIn presence is geared toward a more mature audience of upperclassmen and alumni, so we would share things that speak to the professional and career-oriented mindset.”
By 2011, every American university was active on social media, according to swissnexSanFrancisco.org. “Although universities sometimes appear as bastions of tradition, they actually embraced social media rather quickly, especially in the United States,” said the website’s senior communications manager, Julia Kuhn Mirza, in an article. “They realized early on that social media was the way to engage the new, technology-savvy generation and to stay relevant.”
Social media can be a crucial part of the UH image.
“The University disseminates its messages to students, and students perceive UH as being on top of the latest technology, which helps with the UH brand,” said journalism and mass communication assistant professor Arthur Santana.
While social media is not a replacement for face-to-face conversations with a real person, Santana said these platforms allow the University to address widespread issues felt by a large number of students.
“Social media can serve to add a new layer of transparency,” Santana said. “The crowdsourced nature of social media can be a very effective way for the University to identify and address the needs of the group.”
UH has a decentralized system in which each department or college handles its own social media accounts. According to Davis, social media alliance meetings are held monthly so the departments can discuss where the University is headed as a whole. This allows UH to keep a unified image on social media, despite so many working parts.
As students turn to the next big thing, UH will work to remain not far behind.
“Engagement and communication are key elements to keep our UH community strong,” Brand said. “Since social media has become a preferred mode of engagement and communication for much of our community, then that is an important area for us to cover.”
For a full list of UH’s social media platforms, head to uh.edu/social-media.