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Field Notes from the Digital Prairie

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Breaking Down #UChiLaw13


(Cross-posted at the University of Chicago Law School Electronic Projects Blog)
The Law School has had a robust social media presence for quite a few years now, but we've never really attempted to do a full social media offensive for an event like graduation. Mostly, this is due to the fact that our staff is so small that graduation is an all-hands-on-deck sort of event, so having anyone devoting themselves to social media during the ceremony is a luxury we can't really afford. This year was no different, but, inspired by stories I heard at HighEdWeb Michigan of some of the commencement social media wins pulled off by other institutions, I decided it was time to take on the challenge anyway. By most every measure, we had a fairly successful go at it, especially considering the dearth of resources that we had to throw at the task (the sum total of which was basically my iPhone and me). Here are some things I think we did right:
  • Coordinate with larger units. I reached out to the University's social media curator very early on, to make sure that a) we wouldn't be duplicating hashtags, and b) on the day of graduation, when our #uchilaw13 hashtag started popping up next to the University's #uchigrad13 hashtag, they would know what the heck it meant.
  • Start rolling out your hashtag early. We wanted to get the hashtag lodged in the brain of our audience as best we could beforehand, so we began a couple of weeks before the big day by including our hashtag on the Facebook event we had created. We also created and promoted a Spotify playlist called #UChiLaw13 about a week before graduation, and in the days leading up to it posted a couple of Instagram photos and a Vine tour of Rockefeller Chapel using the hashtag.
  • Don't be afraid to try new things. This was our first time using Spotify, Instagram, and Vine as social platforms for the Law School. We weren't sure what their adoption rates have been yet for our community, but figured that this would be a good opportunity to try them out as low-risk, high upside social options. Instagram was especially successful, I think, since it allowed us to cross-post photos to both Facebook and Twitter as well.
  • Create a central hub from which your audience can find you on the platform of their choice. Since we were using so many different platforms, we created a page on the website called #UChiLaw13 (where we also embedded our streaming simulcast) that listed most the different ways to get social around this event. We also used Tagboard as a way to aggregate all of these channels; this proved especially useful on the day of the event as a way to track everything that was going on.  
  • Make sure you reach out to your audience. We made certain that the graduating student we knew to be on Twitter knew about the hashtag by @'ing them a couple of days before, asking if they were getting excited yet; we also let all of our faculty know about the hashtag the morning of graduation, and were pretty successful in getting them to pick it up.
Some stats, as of 6/18:
Facebook
  • "People Talking About This Page" up 261% from the previous week, Weekly Total Reach up 88%
  • Total reach for all #UChiLaw13-related posts: 23,250, of which 4,072 were viral; 1624 engaged users (about 7% of users reached)
  • Posts from the day of graduation: 10,213 reached, of which 899 were viral; 854 engaged users (about 8% of users reached)
  • By way of comparison, during the month leading up to and including graduation last year, our engagement was 3.5% of reach.
Other platforms:
  • 93 posts using hashtag across all platforms
  • 792 visits to uchilaw13 page
  • 443 views of Storify recap
  • 126 clicks on Spotify playlist
  • 63 clicks on Tagboard link
So what do you think? Did we try to do too much? Too little? How can we improve the social media experience for next year's graduation?

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