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