OrcaTV Helps Welcome the Class of 2019

Sadly, summer has come to an end. On the bright side, many excited freshman are starting their college careers! Our university partners came up with very creative events and programs to welcome the Class of 2019. Each college brainstormed clever social media hashtags to go along with these events in order to make them more interactive. Additionally, they aimed to publicize all of the media surrounding these events to their entire university communities. OrcaTV was able to help in this endeavor in the following ways.

 

OrcaTV is able to have a specific social media initiative run for extended periods of time. In this case, two of our partners, the University of Mary Washington and Pace University, had orientations occurring at various weekends during the summer. Both universities chose hashtags specifically meant to be used during these orientations. Working closely with Michelle Greenblatt, our Director of Content, OrcaTV was able to set up unique backgrounds for each school that advertised the chosen hashtags. OrcaTV published the live, curated feeds for the duration of the summer. We were pleasantly surprised with the amount and quality of social media posts that were submitted. We found, however, that some hashtag choices were more strategic than others.

 

In this case, both universities chose school-specific hashtags that corresponded with the Class of 2019. Pace University chose #PaceOrientation and the University of Mary Washington chose #UMW19. These were simple, logical and widely used by students. We have found that the more specific the hashtag is to the event it is trying to publicize, the more effective it is. A hashtag like #TakingFlight, which corresponds to the new Eagles (their mascot) of the University of Mary Washington is certainly inventive. Unfortunately, people all over the world use the same hashtag for other purposes. For instance, some used it to mention traveling and taking off in an airplane while others tagged it to reference people making slam-dunks in basketball. In order to ensure that we get the most targeted audience the OrcaTV team suggests that strategic, specific hashtags are used for these custom initiatives.

 

In addition to orientation, many schools planned welcome weeks for freshmen move-in. The University of Mary Washington chose #WelcomeUMW while the University of New Hampshire hosted a whole day dedicated to student organizations that they deemed “UNH Jukebox”. OrcaTV created live social media feeds with custom backgrounds for each of these events. Finally, Tarleton State University provided a week of activities for their new Texans that included everything from color celebrations to special speakers and talent shows. They asked OrcaTV to compile a custom highlight video of Transition Week and we happily obliged. Check it out here. We made sure to create the video in alignment with the University’s brand so all of the titles were purple and white.

 

This is important because the Class of 2019 is probably the most well versed in social media yet. It is no secret that technology overall and social media as a communication medium have become increasingly used and relied on by today’s students. Universities are definitely taking steps to connect with them through these lenses as evidenced by the various campaigns mentioned earlier. OrcaTV hopes to act as a facilitator in helping to publicize and document these exciting campaigns. In doing so, we aim to drive student success, build a sense of community on campus and reduce the burden of managing content on a daily basis. We can’t wait to see what the fall semester has in store!

Let’s Talk Tech: Signage and the Magic of HTML 5

So… how does OrcaTV actually work, you ask? Great question. At a high level, we are all HTML-5 based. That’s right, our entire curated stream of student and faculty created flyers, videos and social media is all compiled into one HTML-5 website that is distributed across digital signage, cable TV and of course, the web. 

 

What does that mean? Conventional digital signage providers allow for a playlist of various files that individuals must manually upload and convert to the proper format. Our software performs automatic conversion of these files (we accept PDFs, Word Documents, Power Points, JPEGs and a whole host of others) and once they have been approved they are uploaded onto that website. The website is unique to each school. This automatic file conversion and upload of content saves a tremendous amount of time on the part of administrators.

 

That said, those who have existing digital signage providers, never fear! OrcaTV’s seamless integration is here. This website need not replace the existing digital signage playlist. In fact, we have successfully integrated within existing digital signage at several of our campuses. Essentially, the OrcaTV website plays within that provider’s playlist, allowing for our exciting feed of relevant news and information to reach the entire university community in addition to the local administrator’s playlist. Check out our experience integrating with Visix at the University of New Hampshire here

 

We made the OrcaTV Campus Life Channel HTML-5 based because it is inherently flexible and simple to update. This ensures that all of the engaging, rich media being created by students and faculty can reach the whole campus population quickly and easily. This is just one of the many ways that OrcaTV is innovating around making better use of existing technology to help improve the sense of community and awareness at our partner campuses. Stay tuned for more on our creative technological solutions in our “Let’s Talk Tech” series.

Orkie in Bloom

Spring is in the air! Every university has events like spring break, spring formal and spring carnivals through out the semester. OrcaTV has partnered with several of our campuses to make these classic springtime favorites more fun and interactive by integrating social media and images to document and spread the word about all of the warm weather fun.

 

One of the most popular (if not notorious) events of college during the spring semester is most definitely spring break. Groups of students from both the University of New Hampshire and Emory’s School of Nursing decided to skip the stereotypical beach bonanza in favor of alternative spring break trips where they assisted in community service projects across the globe. We were able to pool together all of the tweets and Instagram photos from the UNH trips using their hashtag #UNHABC while students and faculty from Emory took their own photos and videos that we were able to compile into a video montage to show when students returned. 

 

It also wouldn’t be spring without outdoor concert and fair events. Many schools have their own version of a spring carnival and Johns Hopkins is no exception. They celebrate Spring Fair in style. We were all envious of their Nelly concert as well as the endless photos of funnel cake and fried Oreos they were posting about using #JHUSpringFair. The OrcaTV team was able to seamlessly curate and publish this live-stream of musical and food-themed social media to the entire JHU community.

 

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be Spring without a fresh bunch of Spring formals. Everyone loves to get dressed up, take lots of pictures and dance the night away with their friends. Even better, students from the University of Mary Washington could see those same pictures the whole next week and relive the night of majestic festivities on their way to class or while they’re studying in the library. By simply including #UMWSpringFormal in the post they were already making about the event they were included in this live-stream of swanky-looking students.

 

Spring has most definitely sprung at all of our campuses!  As always, the OrcaTV team is here to showcase spring fever in the most interactive and engaging way possible. We curated hundreds of posts submitted by students and faculty in order to bring the campus community together around events that everyone knows and loves.

#OrcaTV

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake do a great “hashtag” skit. Although it is a humorous exaggeration (Jimmy and Justin resort to communicating solely via hashtags until QuestLove tells them to #shutup), it emphasizes the fact that “hashtags” have become ubiquitous in pop-culture. 

Hashtags are a fascinating and convenient way to unify a movement or trend across different social media platforms. It is no secret that social media is an integral medium of communication on college campuses today. Students and faculty utilize it for a myriad of purposes from club announcements to live tweeting and Instagram-ing a sporting event or just sharing their school pride. We have sought to harness the power and influence of social media to keep the stream of information on our Campus Life Channel as relevant as possible.

One way OrcaTV does that is by partnering with key groups and individuals who want to have a special social media initiative as part of their event. The University of Mary Washington recently hosted a Gospel Festival in which neighboring schools came to compete in a vocal competition. The main organizer wanted to both encourage social media activity around the event as well as make sure that all of the great content ended up in once place. The Orca team was able to create a custom background for the event and once they chose their hashtag (#UMWGospelFest) we were able to pool together and review all of the tweets and Instagram posts that used the hashtag. 

Another way OrcaTV does this is by “piggy-backing” on pre-existing popular social media initiatives. Some schools have entire teams of administrators and students working together on social media task forces that dedicate themselves to creating and publicizing unique hashtags and trending social media topics. This was the case at the University of New Hampshire on Valentine’s Day. Their team decided on a hashtag (#UNHLove) and did a tremendous job of informing the university community about it. All we had to do was create a background, aggregate and curate all the content using the hashtag and we were able to share this immensely successful movement on the Campus Life Feed. Alumni couples shared their "UNH Love Stories" of how they first met on campus and the social media booth in the student center captured many adorable pictures of students getting in the spirit of the holiday. Initiatives like this are especially great because they can be easily replicated at multiple schools.

We used the same template for snow days at both the University of Mary Washington and the University of New Hampshire. They had each decided on their own hashtags, #UMWSnowDay and #UNHSnow, respectively.  We got tons of submissions and were really impressed with how creative everyone was with their pictures and captions. One student actually included “Please put me on Eaglevision!” (the Campus Life Feed at the University of Mary Washington) in their snow day post to twitter. This just goes to show that the Celebrity Effect we have talked about is in full force at our campuses. People love to see themselves and their friends on the screens, especially when they can be part of trending movement.

In the end, when it comes to social media initiatives, the Orca team aims to please. If a school has an idea, we are here to help them complete their creative vision. We hope to represent all of the exciting social media activity that already exists on college campuses through the OrcaTV platform in order to help achieve our overall goal of improving the campus experience. #TheEnd

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OrcaTV Makes a Splash in Atlantic City

This past October we had the honor of presenting at Campus Televideo’s annual conference in Atlantic City. We had such a great time meeting with leaders from the higher education community and learning from all of the presentations. Our very own Youtube Star Joey Goldberg even got to sing the National Anthem before the conference officially started. It was very emotional, by the way.

Our presentation centered on the introduction of our Campus Life Channel. We emphasized how our platform serves to relieve the burden of managing campus communications from administrators. Additionally, we discussed how the Campus Life Channel creates a strong sense of community at our schools with unique content initiatives. Ultimately, our message to the attendees was that our goal is to deliver something we all would have loved while we were in college and improve the overall quality of the campus experience.

Whether we were taking points from HBO’s data collection methods or admiring Pivot’s marketing techniques we really found that it was a great way to gain perspective about working in the sphere of higher education. Most importantly, we felt extremely welcomed by the CTV family and truly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know everyone better. You can find some of our favorite snapshots from the event below.

Broccoli and Cake

What is content? To us, everything generated on college campuses including flyers, videos and social media feeds are all encompassed under the umbrella of “content”. We like to divide the types of content that we receive into two categories: broccoli and cake. 

Broccoli represents the administrative content that may not be super fun or interesting but is healthy and good for everyone. For example, class registration announcements or information on campus safety procedures. Cake, on the other hand, is exciting, fluffy, delicious content that is usually student-driven. Examples of cake might include a video clip from last week’s football game or a highlight reel from Squirrel Appreciation Day. 

OrcaTV aims to seamlessly marry the two together in a universal Campus Life Channel. The idea is that the more cake you give people, the more likely they are to digest the broccoli. The more fun, engaging types of content we make available, the more likely the important administrative content is likely to be viewed and remembered.

Gradually, we have noticed that the content we receive is all dynamic and interesting. It has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between broccoli and cake. The result is a magical hybrid creature of broccoli-cake. It is basically the narwhal of content. 

What is a narwhal, you ask? A narwhal is a majestic unicorn whale that seems imaginary but actually exists. Seriously, look it up. Broccoli-cake and narwhals are both real, but only one of them has become the defining feature of the OrcaTV Campus Life Channel. Full disclosure: it’s not narwhals.

You, Too, Can be a Campus Celebrity

Halloween at the University of Mary Washington is kind of a big deal. Among their time-honored traditions is a particularly entertaining one: their Dean of Student Affairs dresses up as Winnie the Pooh and hands out candy to students.

OrcaTV rode the wave of this popular holiday by aggregating all of the social media related to Halloween and distributing it everywhere on campus. Students and faculty merely had to use the hashtag #UMWHalloween on their social media posts about Halloween and OrcaTV was able to consolidate and review all of the wonderful student and faculty created media for the holiday. 

Did your professor dress up as the grim reaper because you had a midterm that day? Maybe your whole freshman hall dressed up as different characters from Harry Potter. If you posted a picture on Instagram or tweeted about it using the hashtag, we got it. We reviewed it and seamlessly delivered it in a live stream to the entire campus community.

When you’re at a baseball game (or any sporting event, for that matter) and you see yourself on the jumbo-screen, do you not freak out with excitement? What’s that? You do? We thought so. Initiatives like this aim to achieve that same adrenaline rush of seeing yourself on the big screen and achieving temporary celebrity status time and time again.

We call this the celebrity effect. It is totally awesome to see yourself, your friends and your favorite professors on the screens. The best part is, everyone is more likely to pay attention to all of the other content being distributed when it is interspersed with fun, engaging initiatives such as this. Ultimately, OrcaTV has the power to marry administrative content with fun content!