“@UMaryWash students so fly, it must be ill-eagle.”
The Twitter description for the new @UMWStudents account leaves a distinctly different impression than that of many current UMW social media accounts – and it’s meant to.
Launched this fall, @UMWStudents is managed by students in Associate Professor Anand Rao’s social media course and embraces a ‘by students for students’ approach. The fledging account is quickly gaining traction, having reached nearly 300 followers in its first two months.
Part of the account’s draw arguably derives from its fresh, candid and student-centered portrayal of daily life at UMW. According to Anand Rao, associate professor of English, linguistics and communications, @UMWStudents was designed to expand the scope of student-run social media accounts.
“The account is another opportunity to share an authentic student perspective,” said Rao, whose social media classes have run an Instagram account called ‘Inside UMW’ for two years.
Managing the Account
To establish this student perspective, @UMWStudents was placed firmly in the hands of students. Students managing the account must follow basic community guidelines, are encouraged to capture day-to-day life, and are required to create two original tweets and retweet at least once per day.
The @UMWStudents account is managed on a rotating basis, with the account handed off to a new pair of classmates each week. Collaboration on the account allows students to bounce ideas off one another and receive feedback before each tweet.
“We decided we would stay in contact regarding what we would tweet,” said Anna Boland, who recently completed her week managing @UMWStudents with classmate Kendal Gabor. “This gave us a good way to ensure that the content we were putting out would be successful and appropriate to our audience.”
The team approach also helps the students capture the breadth of things happening on campus.
“It helped us with our schedules so we could each post when the other was busy,” said Gabor. “We also live on different ends of the campus, so we would see different things to share.”
Adjusting the Strategy
At the end of each week, students share their experiences and insights from managing the account with the rest of the class.
Many students have expressed that the lighter and more personal posts often receive the most attention. For example, one of the account’s early hits was its “Honor, Trust, and Debbie” post, a humorous spin on the Honor Week chalkboards.
Students have also talked about how to balance personal and ‘promotional’ posts, such as tweeting about upcoming events. Based on feedback, the account’s original tweets have begun to lean more to the ‘personal’ side, while events are largely promoted through retweets. For example, this week’s original tweets featured Spongebob, donuts, and a dramatic motivational picture.
Overall, the account appears to have elicited a positive response from the university community.
“I like that this account is different from the official university accounts,” said senior Kimberly Carbajo. “It gives students a more authentic representation on Twitter.”
Even alumni have noticed the account, noting that it keeps them in touch with student life even after graduation.
“It’s good for keeping connected with the Mary Washington community,” said Georgeanne Stuebner, a recent graduate. “And it’s relatable to UMW students.”
@UMWStudents Twitter provides a raw and humorous portrayal of student life at UMW. You can now glimpse and connect with the genuine, diverse and amusing day-to-day experiences of UMW students.
Follow us at https://twitter.com/UMWStudents.
Alexandra Hoenscheid is a current senior and International Business major at UMW. She just completed a year studying abroad in Switzerland and is now involved with the Judicial Review Board, German Club, Phi Beta Kappa, and with managing university social media pages such as Overheard at Mary Wash and Mary Wash Compliments. She can be reached at email@example.com or followed on Twitter at @ardnax3lla.