By: Greg Russell
Steve Terry wants you to know there is a whole new world out there. It resides in
cyber space, but it will play an increasingly important role at the University of
The U of M is turning more and more to online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter
and YouTube to disperse news about the University, connect with alumni and to serve
as a recruiting tool.
The University’s official Facebook fanpage, http://www.facebook.com/uofmemphis, debuted three months ago and already has about 7,000 fans. Recent postings include
information about the U of M receiving a $500,000 grant for biofuel research, news
about the men’s basketball team’s No. 1 recruiting class for 2010 and a link to “the
University of Memphis Minute,” a weekly video posting by videographer Marty Deull
detailing important happenings at the U of M.
Photos are also posted, such as the recent Veteran’s Day celebration, campus life
and alumni photos.
Terry, U of M director of technology utilization, joined Bob Eoff, vice president
of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing, Linda Bonnin and Allecia Powell,
Web master, to comprise the U of M’s “social media team” that began meeting last February
to revamp the University’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites.
“We were and are looking at other ways to connect with our audiences, particularly
prospective students,” said Bonnin, associate vice president of Communications, Public
Relations and Marketing. “These social networking sites are an excellent way to do
that because of their popularity with high school and college-age students.”
Others will be added to the social media team soon as the sites expand and become
“Facebook is a marketing tool,” said Terry. “Twitter is a newsposting, a microblog
with a 140-character limit. Any posting on the fanpage on Facebook will show up on
Twitter. Also, all of our emergency text messages, Tigertext, comes across there as
well. It goes to Facebook, then it goes to Twitter.”
The U of M Twitter page is at http://www.twitter.com/uofmemphis.
The applications have a “breaking news” feel: those visiting either page can get a
quick snapshot of the latest happenings at the U of M, and experience a social connection
to campus with the capability to comment on postings and interact with others on the
Terry said Facebook has “really exploded” since age limitations and other rules were
relaxed. Worldwide, some 350 million have signed up for it. For the U of M Facebook
page, you don’t even have to log in.
Anyone can post on the U of M fanpage, but administrators first OK any content to
make sure it is appropriate for the site. Administrators are quick to add pertinent
information as well as “fun” postings to the site. Appropriate Facebook postings quickly
migrate to Twitter.
Facebook also allows U of M administrators to “track” who visits the page.
“We know how many people have interacted with us,” said Terry. “It tracks trends as
far as who is visiting the page, how old they are, what sex they are. It shows us
demographics. Sixty-six percent who have interacted with us, for instance, are female,
predominately between the age of 18 and 34.
“We can also look at the breakdown of the top cities that come to our site. Right
now, Atlanta is high. The sixth one down is Denver.”
The University has other Facebook pages, too, including ones that are centered around
a particular incoming class, alumni, athletics and student groups.
The U of M also is using YouTube to connect to students and alumni with a site located
at http://www.youtube.com/uofmemphisvideos. Recent video postings include information on the Helen Hardin Honors Program, the
U of M’s Study Abroad Program and Frosh Camp.
Terry said course content might eventually be offered via YouTube.
All three sites can be reached by going to the U of M’s homepage; scroll down to the
bottom of the page to find links to all three.
Terry said social bookmarking is becoming increasingly popular as is what he calls
augmented reality. “For those who were Star Trek fans, I can step into a world that is not real but I physically interact with it,
so it is real.”
The Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites are a great way for faculty and staff to stay
abreast of U of M news and happenings, and it only takes a few minutes to join each
site. Become a Facebook fan today by visiting: http://www.facebook.com/uofmemphis and clicking “Become a Fan” near the top of the page.