Student Social Accounts Making an Impact

I follow all of the official social media accounts affiliated with the university. I also follow the accounts run by student organizations. One account that I really enjoy following is the @volapalooza Twitter and Instagram accounts. Volapalooza is our biggest event of the year and the student organizers are always coming up with unique ways to promote the concert.

This year they tied the design and content with the 15th anniversary of the event.

Along with videos and graphics, the account has been actively awarding users who interact with their account. One student has won a meet-and-greet with performers and others have won other swag items.

I admire the creativity of the student organizers and their efforts to make each year better than the last. I believe that social media plays an integral role in getting thousands of attendees to the event.


How to Tie an Icon to Your University for Big Results

Earlier this semester our alumni magazine included a story about a new course offered at the university. The course is titled “Coursework: Dolly’s America” and focuses on Dolly Parton and how a “hillbilly” girl from Appalachia grew up to become an international one-word sensation.


We posted the story on the UT Knoxville social media accounts and had great engagement with followers. Immediately we noticed local and regional news sources picking up the story and writing about the course. Earlier this week the New York Times wrote a story about the course. People were engaging with us on social media that we had no previous relationship with but provided a great opportunity to get new eyes on the university.

This was a great opportunity to get the word out about one of the university’s unique offerings while tying in an icon that many people across the world admire.


It’s Graduation Photo Time in Tennessee

We see students across campus getting their graduation pictures taken across campus. Some will stand in front of the Torchbearer, some will hover beside the Pedestrian Walkway seal, and some will walk across the checkerboard path in front of Neyland Stadium.
We begin to use the hashtag #UTgrad2017 so that we can compile pictures for social media posts before commencement. Each year we are so impressed by the pictures we get from students. They wear bright orange clothes, they decorate amazing graduation caps, and they even bring props.
This week, our student photography intern was taking some graduation photos for a friend on his own time by the Torchbearer statue. Out of nowhere, Vol football great Alvin Kamara came up and joined the photo shoot. The pictures that our intern posted after the shoot were hilarious (and great). The pictures are now going viral and local media outlets are beginning to cover the story.
While our office did not play any role in the pictures, it is another fun way to get some positive publicity. We will definitely pull these shots in to our commencement roundup posts so everyone can enjoy them as much as we have.

Creating Social Media Accounts for Media Relations Offices

A few months ago our team began discussing other ways we could get the news out to media other than press releases, emails, and phone calls. We decided it was time to create a Twitter account that would serve as a way to connect with journalists.
We created the @UTKnoxvilleNews account and have been building our audience. We are close to 600 followers at this point. This account serves as a great way to share news that might not fit on our main @UTKnoxville Twitter account. We can also use it to tweet at reporters or news organizations. We have pitched faculty experts to national news organizations. We have also shared stories with a local element to Knoxville media.
We’ve also joined in conversations when stories have been published mentioning how UT fits in to the story. It is a great way to build up relationships with reporters and keep their Twitter feed filled with UT news. 


But it’s not just about sharing our stories. We retweet UT stories from the news organizations Twitter accounts and we like and comment when appropriate. Hopefully next we can connect with reporters from the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, etc.





Showcasing Our Best and Brightest Students, Part 2

Earlier this month I wrote a post about the Torchbearer award. I discussed how we surprise the students in class then give them a shout out on social media. This year we decided to go a step further. Earlier this week we released a wrap up video highlighting the reactions of the students. Each of the seven Torchbearers were highlighted in the video. 
Each student was surprised in a different environment. One by their coach, one in a group meeting, one in class, etc. The emotions ranged from surprised to tearful joy. It was a great way to continue to show our appreciation for these amazing Volunteers.
We don’t plan to stop there. We want to continue to push out their stories in hopes of gaining media attention of their work. We wrote a press release highlighting their achievements and are now filming interviews. These interviews can be sprinkled in to other videos we create and showcase how our best students perceive the university.
P.S.: Yes, that is the back of my head in the first shot. I make several appearances (which I was not aware of) in this video!

Favorite Picture of the Week: Texas A&M

I follow Texas A&M on Instagram and they always share great content. The school is known for their traditions and they make sure to showcase them on social media. While the post below is not about traditions, it is a unique picture that I have not seen other schools attempt. It is a circular shot of what appears to be one of their quad areas.

The picture is so vibrant and makes the campus seem so beautiful. Additionally, the circular picture makes me think of the world. This could have been intentional by their social media team.


A post shared by Texas A&M University (@tamu) on Mar 22, 2017 at 12:44pm PDT


They could be trying to share a message that the school is a global leader or prepares its students to be leaders around the world. No matter what the meaning, this is definitely my favorite picture on social media this week.

Way to go Aggies!

Using GIFs to Grab Your Attention

Our alumni magazine has had some big changes over the past couple of years. Each time a new issue hits mailboxes we begin to share the stories on social media so even more people can read them. In our newest edition we included a story about Paula Pell. She was a writer for Saturday Night Live and happens to be one of our alums.

We usually post a link to the story with a very visual photograph. This time we decided to have some fun and create a GIF of her wearing a coonskin cap which connects her to UT. The GIF show her making different faces which showcases her creative side.


Although the post did not get as much engagement as I would have hoped, it is still one of my favorite posts we have created this year. The post has personality and brings more life to the story we are pushing out to our audience.

I would like to do another GIF in an upcoming story and see how it does compared to our Paula Pell version. It might do even better if we include something even more Vol-themed. Smokey? A Power T? A Torch?

Sharing Messages During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Each year the university hosts events during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Center for Health Education and Wellness spearheads these efforts. Our office helps promote the events beforehand. We also know that it is important to share the messages from the events after they finish. Many students will not attend any of the events due to many reasons. That doesn’t mean we can’t still make sure they hear information.

This year we created a wrap up video after the Hike the Hill in Heels event. We had taken pictures and posted them in an album format in previous years. Our new chancellor was planning to be at the event. This was an opportunity to send a message that she is serious about sexual assault prevention. We compiled shots from the event with portions of her speech. We were able to turn the video around in less than four hours and share them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


It was a great way to get the message out and we will continue to use quick videos as a way to share important messages from the Chancellor.

Showcasing Our Best and Brightest Students

The Torchbearer award is the highest award a student can receive at the university. Each year, a select few students are nominated as Torchbearers. One of the unique things we do to notify students of their Torchbearer selection is to surprise them. The Chancellor comes to let them know in person, which provides a personal touch.
So far we have notified four students. The Chancellor has stopped by a class, an organization meeting, a meeting with a coach, and an office to surprise the students.
We bring along a camera to catch their reactions. We then are able to give them a shout out on social media after receiving the award.


It is a great way to promote the outstanding work of these students. It’s also a way to show the Chancellor meeting more students since she started her position.

Welcoming Rokerthon to Rocky Top, Part 2

In my last post, I talked about what it took to get 4,000 campus members to Neyland Stadium to break a world record. For this post, I want to discuss sharing the outcome of the event on social media.

We had a few fans who weren’t excited about the event and felt that it was a waste of our time. They didn’t believe we could pull off the event. One of the best feelings was to be able to post throughout the day Wednesday that we accomplished the goal. We were also able to showcase what an amazing experience it was for those who attended.
We quickly posted that we had broken the record.
We also posted a time lapse of the Power T then posted a wrap-up thank you video. Two students were awarded scholarships so we wanted to make sure to show that this event was more than publicity.
We had so much video footage and pictures that we didn’t know what to do with it. While we did not use everything, we will have plenty of footage to use for other promotional efforts in the future.