Spotlight for Career Services ProfessionalsNovember 13, 2013
by Shannon Kelly
While social media is here to stay, our students’ awareness of and interactions with our social media accounts aren’t as strongly rooted. Earning their awareness and engagements is a constant battle, but one you don’t have to lose if you think—or better yet step—outside the “box.”
In September 2012, Penn Career Services stepped outside the box and took a new approach to promoting our social media accounts. We created a contest titled “The Penn Career Services Social Media Challenge.”
We recognized we were competing with other departments on campus that are just as active as we are on social media. A link to our Facebook page in an e-mail signature, the Twitter icon on our homepage, and a reminder to read the department blog during student appointments were not yielding the results we wanted—more likes, more followers, and, above all, more student engagement. With that recognition and the decision to take a new approach, our social media challenge was born.
We challenged students to find five video clues shared over the course of one week on our social media accounts, where each clue led to a resource that was underused, such as how to find funding for Ph.D. students or resources for green career paths. We created the videos in-house using iMovie and posted one video each day on our Vimeo video channel. We did not share clues via e-mail or on our website—we only shared the clues on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and our blog. If students wanted a chance to win the prize (an iPad we secured from an employer sponsor), they had to visit our social media accounts, find the answer on our website, and submit their response through SurveyMonkey.
In 2012, we had 117 unique responders, and our number of followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook increased. We learned a lot, and held a second challenge in October 2013, with 230 unique responders—a 96 percent increase. For the second challenge, we created video clues and added direct interaction through social media. For example, we had students take a picture of themselves in their interview outfits and tag our newly launched Instagram account. We had seven students respond and Instagram followers increased from seven to more than 40; a small number, but a victory nonetheless.
With some creative thinking and the talents of colleagues, we created our contest and hope to host one every year to promote our social media accounts. The constant battle for student engagement and attention is difficult at times, but it can be fun and yield new followers. More importantly, it can produce engaged students.
Shannon C. Kelly is an associate director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania. You can follow her on twitter at @shannonckelly or www.socialatedu.com.
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