By Zach Taylor, University Relations Student Writer
With over half of America on Facebook and 10% on Twitter, it is likely that most of the students at UTC are involved in social media in one way or another.
Whether it is a famous athlete or entertainer, a store or restaurant, or your friends and family, the capability to interact, connect, and communicate is the easiest it has ever been. As engagement through social media continues to increase, the demand of users for content and connectivity from their institutions also grows.
One way University administration and faculty have looked to keep pace with a rapidly growing enrollment and campus is through a heightened online and social media presence.
Laura Bond, Staff Writer in the Office of University Relations, manages the University social media accounts and content. Bond, who has had a major hand in the growth of the social media presence of the University, has seen the benefits of increased engagement by the University not only through the official accounts, but also for numerous groups around campus.
“As the University’s main accounts have grown, individual departments and student organizations have created their own accounts and are interacting with their own audiences. A more interactive, more communicative campus can only help in continuing the University’s mission of engagement and achievement,” Bond said.
Since the beginning of 2013, there has been 14.63% growth to more than 14,000 fans on Facebook, 29% growth to more than 7,000 followers on Twitter, and 271% growth to nearly 2,000 users on Instagram.
“To put it in perspective, two years ago, we had less than 6,000 Facebook fans. Now we have more than 14,000. We doubled the number of followers we have on Twitter in a year. Instagram is our fastest growing account ever, and it’s less than a year and a half old,” Bond said.
The “2013 Running Out the Doors” photo album on Facebook is the most popular photo album ever for the University page. In a two-week time period, the photos were viewed 161,500 times. The next most popular album is from the May graduation, with about 102,000 views.
A huge benefit and catalyst of the growth of social media is the ability to streamline communication beyond simply pushing out news with little to no dialogue.
“Organizations can easily forget the ‘social’ part of social media. It’s not meant to solely be a broadcast channel or sales and marketing tool. At its core, social media is about conversations, connections, and relationships. At UTC, we try to keep that in the front of our minds before we post every piece of content or interact with our fans on social media,” said Bond.
Madison Ralston, Associate Dean of Students, helps with the social media pages for the Dean of Students, Homecoming, and the Campus Activities Board. As the University shows yearly growth, it is important, especially with freshmen, to help students become involved with and acclimated to campus life.
“A student may be hesitant to come up to our office or not know where to go, but a shared Facebook status or re-tweet from a friend may get them some information that can introduce and engage them to what is happening around campus. From our perspective, we want to make the student experience enjoyable and relatable. If we make that connection and start conversations through social media, then it’s worth the effort to push out content through multiple outlets.”
For up to the minute UTC news and information, visit some of the University’s official social media outlets below.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/UTChattanooga
Twitter – https://twitter.com/UTChattanooga
Instagram – http://instagram.com/UTChattanooga