Social media is an integral part of the communications plan for the WVU College of Business and Economics, and that commitment to engagement with critical audiences has fueled two new landmark records for the business school.
On August 15, B&E’s @wvucobe Twitter account topped 5,000 followers, a major milestone for the College. In late spring, B&E also surpassed 1,000 followers on Instagram.
“This is a fantastic achievement for B&E because it represents a level of engagement we once had only dreamed of reaching,” said Patrick Gregg, director, B&E Office of Communications & Marketing. “Social media is an area of major commitment at B&E — it has to be. We have a great deal of information to pass along to our critical audiences, which include students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, prospective students, parents and friends of the College. This has been a team effort and is really important as we involve our audiences in our business school and tell our story.
Blair Dowler, B&E communications specialist and social media manager, said B&E ranks among the top Big 12 business schools in Twitter engagement. Only Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech have more followers.
“Our commitment to social media strategy has been strong and I think we’re really seeing that commitment pay off,” said Dowler. “There are different ways to engage students, like through our First Year Academy for incoming freshmen, student organizations, the Office of Undergraduate Programs, the Graduate Programs Office and faculty and staff who encourage social media participation. We cover a lot of events, distribute a lot of news and really put ourselves in the shoes of the people who follow B&E so that we’re giving them the kind of information that is truly useful and informative.”
Dowler has also introduced initiatives like “social media takeovers” to get students involved at B&E. During the first week of this new semester, Victoria Johnson was the first of several B&E student ambassadors who represent the College in a number of capacities to take over Twitter; that is, serve as a regular social media contributor to B&E’s Twitter account to provide information from a student’s perspective.
“I think this Twitter takeover is important because it encourages incoming freshmen (and other new students) to ask for help when they need it,” said Johnson, a 20-year-old junior management major from Ashburn, Virginia. “Students are more apt to approach one of their fellow classmates instead of a faculty member, which can be intimidating at times.
“If our followers are frequently seeing posts about B&E, it makes the business school more familiar and approachable, and allows us to get out mass information that people actually look at. Social media is an amazing way for us to stay connected with our students, alumni, donors, etc. Since so many people get a bulk of their news and information from social media sites, it’s a great way for us to further market ourselves,” Johnson said.
Dowler said social media is important to all of the critical audiences, such as alumni and donors who want to know what’s happening at B&E. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are the social media channels that get the most traffic for B&E and appeal to a number of demographic groups. B&E also encourages social media engagement in the College’s monthly digital newsletter, semi-annual magazine, website and printed materials.
“When I first came to B&E, we only had a few hundred Twitter followers, for example, so the progress Blair and others have made is pretty impressive,” Gregg said. “Social media is a great opportunity to have a ‘touch point’ with the people we want to engage. Telling our story with strong content is a priority, and with social media people can read what we deliver on their own devices whenever they want. We’ve already set new social media goals, but we’re also going to take a moment to enjoy these milestones.”