Social Media Changes the Way Mercyhurst Connects

How do you get your news about Mercyhurst University?

Do you read the Merciad? Check the bulletin boards around campus? Receive information the gossip chain?

Chances are you do all those, but you also hear it through social media sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Who monitors these conversations that are taking place across the different platforms?  Chris Norris, Mercyhurst University Social Media Director, oversees this and is responsible for the majority of the content on them.  He brought me up to speed on these ever-changing technologies.

The Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts were created a few years ago, but the Facebook account had to be re-launched when Mercyhurst changed from college to university status. On the other hand, the Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus accounts were created less than a year ago and are just now being integrated into the social media mix.

Norris uses different accounts for different reasons.

For example, Twitter is used like a mass text message- it is used for short conversations and updates and there’s always a conversation between prospective students and Mercyhurst or faculty and staff and Mercyhurst. Norris says that, “If anyone says “Mercyhurst” we see it. If it’s good, we re-tweet it.”

“Instagram is the place we go for campus pictures, YouTube for a hodgepodge of information, and Pinterest for Mercyhurst related content.  The only blogs that Mercyhurst uses are links to student blogs.” Norris says.

Pinterest is Mercyhurst’s newest addition. It is “image heavy”, which is good because, “we live in a place where people like to see [things],” Norris says. “It is a good place to showcase athletes, art, even student life. It helps because we have a beautiful campus with lots going on” and it helps us share its beauty. Pinterest is a new fad for business and colleges” and what makes it different than other platforms is that it was designed for tablets and phones, not the other way around.

Although none of the accounts themselves are connected, Mercyhurst uses Sprout Social, a social media control platform to manage all of the posts. Once Norris does that, he posts between three and four posts a day. Norris tries to make the posts all different by using the “Share, Promote, and Engage method”, as he calls it. So on one day, he might share a student blog, promote article the Intel department in the New York Times, and ask followers a question about their favorite classes. To gain followers, Mercyhurst does extensive advertising on their website and social media sites.

The target audiences for the sites are, “mostly students, but it depends on the platform. We want students to engage with each other- that’s the main goal.” With perspective students, we want them to see our pride and “get a sense of the students at the school they want to go to”. We want to “get conversations started” between students; staff, departments; the Erie community. “We want the community to see that.”

We live in a time when social media is the first thing we do when we wake up, the last thing we do before we sleep, and in many spare moments in between. No matter what your major, extracurricular interests or connection to Mercyhurst, social media is the 5 o’clock news of the future. So make sure to connect in the mediasphere and share away

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