October 19, 2018 Meeting of Social Media Working Group

Time and Location of Meeting

October 19, 20181:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Agenda Details


Guest Speaker: August Lynn Schiess, Director of Social Media, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

August will go over some basics about the University’s social media platforms, audiences, content strategy, etc. Then there will be a Q&A session.

Minutes Details


Notes from August’s presentation (taken by Maria Sclafani and Sarah Christensen)

Note: “we” in these notes refers to August and the other members of her social media team.

  • Each social media platform has a specific audience and contains content that is designed for that audience:

Social Media platforms the University of Illinois uses:

Weibo and WeChat (Chinese social media platforms):

  • Hire consulting company to translate messages into Chinese for these platforms.
    • Nick Vance is contact for Crimson Hexagon if needed.
  • WeChat is like a blog. They tend to publish approx. 15 articles a month.
  • Weibo is like a Twitter feed and they try to post once a day.


  • Second biggest platform. Students and young alumni make up the majority of the members, but the most engaged members are parents and older alumni. Therefore, we post things that have a nostalgia factor.
  • Facebook is a “story” platform (allows longer posts)
  • Examples:
    • Having pumpkin decorating contest now. Collect submissions, pick top and put on facebook, and then have people vote. This way, users contribute content, and actively participate in selection of content.
    • 1918 – was a year without Homecoming because of the flu. Use the post to talk about how great Illini are, and encourage people to get their flu shots. Usually don’t link to outside websites, but linked to alumni assoc. article in the caption. Facebook algorithm doesn’t like when people navigate away from Facebook.

Instagram (@illinois1867):

  • Focus on posts with vibrant, rich photos. Try to use high resolution images.
  • Try to stick with the orange and blue color scheme (esp. for highlights at top of profile: Friday Five, Big News, Campus Tour, Ask Us Anything, Resources)
  • Highlights at the top of profile – Friday 5 (5 things we were tagged in that week to encourage user generated content).
  • Videos are less engaging on Instagram, but are a priority for Facebook.
  • Reach students and prospective students (and young alumni) through Instagram. Spirit or pride building. Provides deeper story.
  • Instagram stories: great engagement compared to Snapchat. 8,000 views vs 1,500.
    • Measure success rate and completion rate (how many people make it to the end).
    • Post all photos at one time to capture initial momentum, instead of images as they come in. Link out to resource at the end of video.
  • Follow Big 10 schools and other designated institutions.
  • More likely to follow students on this platform.

Twitter (@Illinois_Alma):

  • Audience: everyone
  • Serves as a catch-all
  • Post most frequently on this platform. 5-10 tweets per day and re-tweet a lot. Like a lot of tweets to signify that we’ve seen it – are listening to campus.
  • Always use photos in tweets and tag accounts with handles (in photo) instead of putting the handles in the text of the tweet.
  • Do paragraph breaks as well. Every piece they do is a story that contributes to entire Illinois story. Intro, middle, and conclusion= each 1 sentence, with paragraph breaks between.
  • Tend to follow any accounts affiliated with U of I Urbana-Champaign. Rarely follow student accounts


  • Biggest platform, but difficult for individual units to run.
  • When user adds U of I in education section of profile, they’re automatically added to the Linkedin group.
  • Focus on student success stories. Want alumni to feel pride and that they’re part of a big group.
  • Also include updates on construction on campus – look at great things we’re doing with donor money.


  • Recent redesign made things more difficult.
  • Only platform where we can consistently reach prospective students.
  • This is the only platform used heavily by 13-18 age range.
  • Users can request snapchats
  • Do “day in the life” stories about current students.

General (for all platforms):

  • 80% of people on all platforms view content without sound, so our content is text-focused.
  • Do storyboards all the time for all stories on all platforms
  • Use Airtable (new tool that is free and cloud-based) to keep track of all content planned for all platforms. Has a column for campaigns.
  • Social media team has strategic goals, which are aligned with the strategic plan for the University.
  • Strategy:
    • #Illinois, NOT #uiuc. We will not like or reshare anything with #UIUC because it is an unofficial term

Notes from Q&A:

  • Libraries can send content to August for the University to share on Weibo/WeChat (so we don’t have to hire/use translators)
  • August does use 2 Crimson Hexagon monitors: academics and sports
    • Nick Vance is contact for Crimson Hexagon if needed.
  • Lots of Instagram users request tours of libraries in Insta stories (one of the most common requests). Libraries can send photos/content (see examples in presentation slides) to August so her team can create tours of specific libraries.
  • Libraries can use photos on U of I public affairs database.
  • August’s team uses paid version of Buffer (non-profit rate) for Instagram posts, Linkedin, but not Twitter. Buffer doesn’t have all the functionality of Twitter platform, so they tend to tweet in real time.
  • August’s team rarely deletes tweets and rarely block users. Sometimes hide comments on other social media platforms if it is possible. August’s team responds if they think they can be helpful.
  • August’s team often uses social media for crisis communications- to get a sense of what people are concerned about/discussing, etc. They also check how often specific hashtags are used (crisis management)
  • August’s team measures engagement through likes, sharing, following, reading until the end, clicking links.
  • University of Michigan has really impressive social media accounts
  • BYU has a very good Instagram account