University expands use of social media

By Stephanie Sokol

Although social media is now a firmly established medium of communication in many circles, Oakland University has continued to increase it’s presence on social networking sites, new and old, as a means of communicating with students.

OU’s start with social media began with Facebook, and it wasn’t done intentionally.

Colleen Campbell, OU’s Online Editorial Assistant, said the social networking system at OU started with a Facebook page created by a student in 2009. The office of communications and marketing contacted the student and began running the page.

In the past year, OU’s Facebook page increased from 10,645  ‘likes’ to over 15,000 ‘likes,’ and it reaches out to over 20,000 people a week.

While Facebook remains the top in networking, OU’s social media has expanded to include Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn

These different outlets help get students’ questions answered, as well as spreading messages of what’s happening on campus and aiding in recruitment.

Soon after Facebook, Twitter peeped in OU’s social media radar, when hashtags such as #oaklanduniversity and #oaklandu were frequently used on the site. This encouraged OU made an account, and within a couple days, the school gained over 100 Instagram followers.

“People post a lot of photos of happenings on campus, so we figured it was time to connect,” Campbell said.

According to Emily Stephanian-Bennett, Admissions Adviser, social media is most helpful because of the wide audience it reaches. In addition to their Facebook and Twitter pages, admissions advisers have special Facebook profiles where students can add and message them.

Whether it’s regarding details about an event or reminders for new students, social media is often more convenient for students. Many students are more comfortable using websites like Facebook than email or telephone to get their concerns and questions answered.

“It’s a great avenue for us to use to communicate,” Stepanian-Bennett said. “It’s exciting and wonderful to have such a great way to meet students on their level and make the college transition easier.”

As well as helping students and faculty connect, social media  simplifies student organization planning. Almost all OU student organizations have Facebook and Twitter pages where they share organization details.

“Facebook makes it easier to send club information to friends and students,” said senior Marc Jacobs, the Jewish Student Organization president. “It really helps get the word out about events and is a place where you can get information to your members in a very fast and efficient way.”

Jacobs felt that creating a Facebook page provided potential club members with information and schedule.

Currently, 95 student organizations have a Facebook page to share their information online. According to Campbell, OU official pages support these student-run pages, helping get the word out about the organizations.

“It’s really important for us to be where the students are,” Campbell said. “Social networking brings together students, alumni and faculty. It connects everybody and helps get questions answered quickly. Social media can really help make the college experience easier.”