When Nick Jensen attended New York University – he graduated in 2011 – he was frustrated with the university’s lack of social media presence. After speaking up to the right people at the right time, he was hired to serve as marketing/communications/social tech manager of a new office in the Office of Student Life dubbed “HashtagNYU,” which was launched in the winter of 2012.
In fact, according to Jensen, there are many social media connections to NYU. For example, a co-founder of Twitter (Jack Dorsey) went to NYU; the founder of Foursquare (Dennis Crowley) attended NYU; and touch-screen technology was invented at NYU.
HashtagNYU consists of three full-time employees – including Jensen – and 15 student interns. They crank out social media content for nine social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Foursquare, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Spotify.
Social Media’s Evolution at NYU
Jensen told SocialTimes that over the last several years NYU has been focusing on how to be “more thoughtful” about communicating to students.
He explained that Hurricane Sandy was a real wake-up call for some administrators at the university. The university already had a Twitter account for emergencies; however, it didn’t have a general @NYU Twitter account. After the hurricane, the university conducted several surveys that found that students prefer short updates via Facebook and Twitter instead of long emails.
“It seems like everyone is on social media, and I think that’s a frustrating problem because then there’s over-saturation. What we’ve seen is, the general overall communication from the university on social media has improved. It’s been a little bit more engaging. Messages are catered more toward students, and just in general, the @NYU official overall Twitter account just started in April. So, NYU is taking huge strides to be in the social media space,” said Jensen.
NYU’s Social Media Strategy
Jensen explained that NYU is the largest private university in the United States, and each school, department, etc., has its own social media strategies. However, HashtagNYU is solely focused on students.
“What we try to do is just share the NYU students’ story. We try to really provide interesting or informative information, whereas the overall New York University Facebook page that we have, they are providing interesting information on research coming out. They write to more of a public audience. Our office is very focused just on students,” said Jensen.
He added that each year NYU’s Student Resource Center creates a “robust” social media campaign for Welcome Week, which begins when students are admitted.
According to Jensen, one of the office’s interns mentioned several months ago it would be “cool” to host a conversation online that anyone could join, especially because the university has campuses around the world, and this would provide an opportunity to students from all locations to participate.
Originally, they were planning to run some live Twitter chats and Google+ On Air Hangouts, but Jensen discovered Nestivity at SXSW. Nestivity is an online platform that brings together Google+ Hangouts and Twitter on a single screen. It lets presenters show images, videos, polls, presentations and live-streaming content.
NYU held a #NYUProTips Tweetcast using Nestivity on Sunday, July 14, for all incoming students.
“We didn’t have anything at the university right now that was a true peer-to-peer conversation,” said Jensen.
How it worked was, three current students and two recent graduates participated in a Google+ Hangout, which you can view here:
Incoming students asked questions about what it’s like to attend NYU via Twitter.
Questions focused on everything from memories of Welcome Week to safety to whether or not there’s a physical community at NYU to allowed/prohibited items in dorm rooms.
The HashtagNYU team put together their 12 Favorite Moments from the Tweetcast and posted it on Tumblr.
“It was really just a student-generated idea that we executed for our other students,” said Jensen.
According to Nestivity, Tweetcast participants tweeted 165 times (86 directly through Nestivity), the event saw a Twitter reach of 403,571 people, and it received a positive sentiment score of 79. According to Jensen, the YouTube video has been viewed more than 800 times.
He said that HashtagNYU plans to host more Tweetcasts in the future, particularly one for commuter students.
“We’re thinking about having a Tweetcast just for commuter students. We’re kind of thinking through what would be most interesting to students, and we’re going to put that question out there to them – what would you like to see a live panel on?” he said.
NYU To Welcome Its Class Of 2017 With A Nestivity-Hosted Tweetcast