Social media helps university connect with present, prospective students

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
December 10, 2009

Indiana State University is working to develop relationships and recruit prospective students through the use of social media.

"Social media starts with social: It's a conversation. The whole concept is to engage people in conversation," Web Content Manager Bill Herndon said.

The effort to "converse" with students through social Web interaction began four years ago at ISU.

"While we use standard media to send out information, one of the reasons social media has become so popular is the idea that people can comment and share thoughts and ideas," Herndon said.

Herndon's effort has given ISU a presence on Facebook, YouTube, Smugmug, MySpace, Ning, Orkut and Twitter. Herndon and his team routinely monitor and update ISU posts in an effort to help students and prospective students explore what the school has to offer.

Web team member Kelsey Sutfin, a senior Spanish major from Robinson, Ill., monitors blog sites and posts notifications about ISU on the social media sites. She also helps answer questions from prospective students and parents.

Sutfin said she's seeing a slow and steady increase in the number of fans and followers on ISU sports, alumni and general interest pages of Facebook and YouTube. As of Dec. 8, ISU had a total of 11,031 fans on its four Facebook pages and 523 Twitter followers.

"We are using every tool we have to make sure things stay as interesting as possible for those who are following our posts," Sutfin said.

Because technology has changed the way that people interact with information, Herndon has also included blogs on the ISU Web site as a tool to help with recruitment and retention. This Web-based interaction allows students, current and incoming, to connect with current students and professors about their everyday lives at ISU.

ISU has five student bloggers, one of which is studying abroad in China.

ISU Literature, Languages and Linguistics Professor Ann Rider also hosts a blog about her teaching adventures in Vienna, Austria. Rider is experiencing Vienna through ISU's study abroad program, and with the help of three ISU students who are studying there with her, Rider routinely tells and posts her stories.

Rider describes her blogging experience as storytelling with a little "oomph" added to catch people's attention.

"Our intellectual community is vibrant but not always as public as it should be, and blogging is a possible way to bridge that gap," Rider said.

ISU's bloggers reach out to different people and communities to share what ISU has to offer.

"I believe that blogging opens up a world of endless possibilities," Herndon said. "It also gives a prospective student or family an idea of what college life is like."

Contact: Bill Herndon, Indiana State University, web content manager, bill.herndon@indstate.edu, (812) 237-8037.

Writer: Bailee Souder, Indiana State University, media relations intern, bsouder1@indstate.edu, (812) 237-3773.

ISU social media sites: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IndianaState; Twitter: http://twitter.com/indianastate; YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/IndianaStateU; SmugMug: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/; ISU RSS feed: http://www.indstate.edu/news/rss/rss.xml; ISU blogs: http://www.indstate.edu/blogs/.