Social media isn’t a home run for campus brands

Efren Cortez is what brands are looking for their social media efforts: A young creative person who uses social media daily and has essentially grown up with a smartphone in his hands.

And Cortez, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln junior and editor for Seeds Entertainment, the arts and entertainment section of the student publication The DailyER, should have it easy when it comes to generating an audience on social: He’s surrounded by so-called digital natives just like him.

However, Cortez and other student social media managers will tell you, just because a brand uses social-media savvy college kids doesn’t mean that their engagement numbers are going to be high.

In some cases, the numbers are anything but.

With Twitter, we don’t get a whole lot of interaction,” Cortez said. “There are not many retweets or likes and usually when it is it’s just ourselves, the writers for Seeds doing it.”

Cortez said Seeds’ Facebook presence is slightly larger than their Twitter presence, but it’s still not very large. Cortez said to increase likes and retweets, he often tags the people that the articles or photos are about in his copy.

“In September for Lincoln Calling, we had a little photo thread for all the bands we took pictures of and PUP which is like a punk from Canada retweeted it,” Cortez said. “I think it got the most retweets and likes out of the whole thing.”

The engagement is still fairly small, though, with the tweet receiving 57 likes and four retweets.

Another account where the reach is small is the UNL Libraries social media accounts. Junior Alex Paun is a copywriter for the accounts. She said it’s a struggle to create a professional brand identity for the account, while also being able to appeal to students.

“I feel like sometimes the way I’m expected to write, the voice I’m expected to write in, no longer lines up with our target audience,” Paun said.

Paun said she understands why her bosses want the UNL Libraries account to be professional, but she thinks she can blend it with more personality.

“I feel that the voice I’m supposed to write in sometimes is a little bit boring,” Paun said.

One UNL-affiliated account that hasn’t struggled to find its voice, however, has been the UNL Snapchat account. Senior Maura Gillan is the face of the UNL Snapchat and creates daily content for the app.

Snapchat as a platform has been facing troubles recently because of a much-maligned redesign, which saw the app’s traffic drop considerably. The UNL Snapchat account hasn’t avoided the fallout, but Gillan said it’s still successful enough to keep posting.

That success wasn’t easy to come by, though. When Gillan started working for UNL’s social media she said they didn’t really have a clear idea of what they wanted to accomplish.

While there were many challenges Gillan faced when developing these stories, one particular challenge stood out to her.

“I think the biggest challenge was not knowing what it should have looked like,” Gillan said. “Because you can look to other universities and see what they are doing on social, but really UNL is pioneering some things.”

She said developing the stories’ style, led to her getting in front of the camera for the first time. Gillian, who is also a budding comedian, said she gained a lot of confidence by doing the Snapchat stories and that helped her when she first forayed into stand-up.

Gillian now uses her experience from her stand-up to inject even more of her personality in UNL’s Snapchat stories, which she said helps them stand out from every other brand trying to effectively use social media.

“Social media as a whole is a void of content,” Gillan said. “We’re all just screaming into it.”


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