Can a university Registrar’s Office thrive on social media? What would it talk about beyond transcripts and registration? Kevin Caffrey, UMW’s Senior Associate Registrar, shares how the UMW Registrar’s Office kicked off its social strategy and about the success it experiences today.
When you think about a university Registrar’s Office, social media is probably not the first thing that pops into your head. You probably think more along the lines of registration issues, requesting a transcript, or applying for graduation. And that’s a good thing!
As outlined in our mission statement, the Registrar’s Office is “dedicated to serving the University of Mary Washington community by providing accurate, responsive and respectful services and timely information regarding course schedules and academic achievement.” Since recent studies have shown that most students spend more time on social networks than they do using email each day, we decided that our office had to branch out and become involved with social networking. Our ultimate goal was to redefine the office’s role, resources, and reputation through the use of social media.
When we launched our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts in October 2014, we didn’t know where this undertaking would take us. So it was a pleasant surprise to find ourselves presenting on the success of our social accounts at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) 102ND Annual Meeting in March 2015.
How did we get from brand new accounts to presenting in front of our industry peers? Here are three key pillars our office instituted as we launched our accounts:
Keep the old, introduce the new
Our primary purpose was for our social media accounts to serve as “new” resources by which we could share information with students, faculty, staff, and the local community. We would still publish our Guide to Registration each term and send out informative emails on a regular basis, but we decided creating a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel was an easy way to disseminate information in a more relevant fashion for our students.
Bring the school spirit
We also saw this undertaking as a great opportunity to redefine our reputation on campus to be about more than registration deadlines and policy explanations. We’re interested and invested in all things UMW, not just the business that is directly related to our office. We’re proud of UMW and we wanted to use social media to not only get our message as a Registrar’s Office out there, but also the message of the entire institution.
Collaborate across campus
One of the things we stress in our social strategy is that it has to be a collaborative effort—not only with your own staff members but with the entire campus community. At UMW, we regularly participate in #UMWSocial, our campus social media users group, which allows us to share ideas, discuss social media policy, offer tips and brainstorm hashtag campaigns.
With these three pillars in mind, our social media presence sprouted and we found ourselves leading the way for university registrar offices on social media.
At the ACCRAO meeting, our team presented to 125 individuals from colleges and universities across the nation about our social media strategy. We discussed the success we’ve had with Twitter (500 followers and growing), the challenges we face with Facebook (still the most popular platform, but its growth seems to be slowing down), and the usefulness of YouTube for housing important and informative tutorial videos to share with new and continuing students for support.
After the session, one of our new Twitter followers who attended the presentation tweeted:
“Great session on social media in the registrar’s office from @UMWRegistrar!…loved the sense of student-centeredness, community & charm evident in the presentation I saw. Great place to learn & work!”
The sentiment echoes our own goals for social media – to provide the information that supports academic achievement, but also serve as a proud advocate of UMW’s accomplishments and achievements.