Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

With Social Media Efforts, GU Engages Students

The Office of Communications, which runs Georgetown’s official accounts on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, has begun to expand the university’s social media platform and marketing techniques this semester in order to include more student-generated content.

“A bigger initiative that we’ve had [is] to refocus on student-generated content,” said Laura Wilson (GRD ’11), the newly hired director of digital engagement and social media.“We still have a mix of professionally produced original content that we’re creating but you’ll see more and more as you look through our social channels what we’ve been sharing is curated content directly from students.”

The effort derives in part from a desire to make Georgetown’s online presence appear more authentic, Wilson said.

“Hopefully [Georgetown is] a relatable brand online and we’re translating that appropriately from the real word to the digital space,” Wilson said. “That’s why we’re using more student-generated content, so we’re giving that authentic voice. We’re giving the students an opportunity to show this is what Georgetown means for them.”

As part of a series called Georgetown Stories, the university’s website features 11 current students, who frequently post photos and videos of their experiences throughout the year. The Office of Communications provides direction to ensure the students provide an all-encompassing view of Georgetown.

“Some weeks we have an assignment; one was spirituality, [one] of the things that Georgetown is known for,” Georgetown Stories participant Eric Scheetz (SFS ’17) said. “They’ll say, we’d like one of your videos to be about this or that. … Generally, what I do during the week is just film stuff, take pictures as it’s happening and then when [I] get to the end of the week, I collect everything, edit my videos and submit it all.”

Latazia Carter (COL ’17), another participant, said she thinks the university’s online presence successfully communicates with prospective students.

“Georgetown still does some media that is straight from the school,” Carter said. “Mixing it with some of the media that comes from the students helps the actual view of Georgetown because you still have the professional side but you also have student-led content of the Georgetown experience.”

In addition to Georgetown Stories, the Office of Communications has also revitalized social media content on other popular sites, such as Instagram and Twitter. The office often reposts student photos of campus, and recently held a Georgetown photo contest. The winner received a $100 gift card to The Tombs.

“The best way to really engage with the university on social [media] is really to make sure that you’re reaching out, so you’re tagging us, you’re sharing something that you want us to see. …We’re constantly searching the university streams,” Wilson said. “It’s really how I get a lot of my ideas and get a good feel for the pulse of what is going on and what people are talking about on campus.”

Although the Office of Communications has recently reached out to students in its marketing techniques, other groups, such as the Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program, have been increasing efforts to connect with an increasingly large audience of prospective students.

“We really ramped up our social media efforts two years ago,” GAAP Vice President Matthew Strauss (SFS ’15) said. “[The Class of 2018] was the first where we really had a concentrated social media plan.”

The GAAP board increased the program’s presence on the admitted students’ Facebook group and also launched “Finding a Home on the Hilltop,” a blog featuring advice and experiences from members of the GAAP team. Although GAAP and the Office of Communications do not work together directly, Strauss said that GAAP often points to the university’s new initiatives as a resource for prospective students.

“There’s not a ton of communication between us and the Office [of Communications],” Strauss said. “There is a lot of opportunity to borrow and highlight other things. … A lot of times, people will say, ‘We want to hear more about Georgetown, the blog’s great, the Facebook group is great, but how do we learn more?’ So we’ll point people to things that the university does.”

Associate Director for Student Engagement Amanda Carlton said that student outreach through social media is an integral component of marketing to both current and prospective students.

“It’s another means in which clubs can market and outreach to our campus community and even to people beyond the Georgetown campus community,” Carlton said. “I think we talk a lot about globalization and the importance of building global citizens at Georgetown, and I think you can’t do that by just staying here on the Hilltop.”

According to Wilson, the Office of Communications hopes to work with student groups in the future to bolster the university’s social media presence.

“It’s something we absolutely have on the docket to tackle, if not fall 2014, certainly in the spring semester of this year,” Wilson said. “There is a lot of value and empowering student organizations to leverage what’s available out there.”

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