Ohio University Strategic Social Media

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Category: Jacob Paul

Advice and Wisdom from OU’s Jennifer Bowie

By: Jacob Paul

Jennifer Bowie is the executive director of development, advancement communication and marketing at Ohio University. Before earning her master’s degree and beginning her career in higher education at Ohio University in 1999, she worked in healthcare Deaconess Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio in the field of healthcare communications. Jennifer is a professor at Ohio University and also a two-time Ohio University graduate, having earned her bachelor’s of science degree in journalism in 1994 and her master’s of science in communication in 1999. 

Portrait of Jennifer Bowie

Jennifer Bowie (photo retrieved from LinkedIn account)

I decided to interview Jennifer after taking her strategic communications writing class and seeing how passionate and knowledgeable she is about the communications industry.

Jacob Paul – What people/organizations do you follow to stay up-to-date on social media trends?

Jennifer Bowie –

I follow a couple specific nonprofit marketing blogs, one of them is called Kivi’s. On Mashable, I follow Reagan’s PR daily. I also follow another PR weekly, but I can’t remember where it comes from. And then I have two email newsletters I subscribe to that have to do with social media and new media and they’re leadership on social media and then leadership and non-profit or something like that, and those come to me about once a week with just different topics about what’s going to be new on twitter and what companies are using that space really well and that sort of thing.

JP – What do you think is the like most important, or one of the most important upcoming trends in social media, and why do you think it’s important?

JB – what we’re finding, what’s the most important to us in the non-profit space is the continuing trend toward engagement, and that it’s not just about people clicking “like”, but it’s about people commenting on your posts and sharing your posts. For example if for Ohio University we had a contest around Valentines Day that was “your ohio love story” so we weren’t just saying “Ohio’s a place where you fell in love,” we invited people to tell “your ohio love story” so there was a reason for them to respond. We’re also finding that the more multimedia the content is, the more likelihood you have of getting that kind of engagement. That’s involved for us more of a move towards video, and even though we were already very heavily weighted in photography, we’re now even more focused on visual content.

JP – I understand you worked with The Promise Lives campaign. Can you describe some ways your organization used social media to promote the campaign?

 JB – We didn’t do a lot of overt social media work around the campaign. We used twitter primarily to share good news and information about the university so, mostly in the twitter space we were sharing our stories as we put them up in compass or on our website about student scholarship recipients or about donors and pushing that story out. We were just consistently trying to keep it top of mind that “hey, we happen to be in a campaign and here’s all these great stories.” We shared essentially what we sort of call “engagement reminders” through twitter and just a little bit through Facebook so our audience there was invited to be part of the campaign. We did so more often as we wound it down in the last year, but we don’t really engage in specific fundraising on social media. What we do is provide information and news just to keep it top of mind, more informational. So we shared video content that was, you know, people saying thank you, and on the front of the campaign we shared some video content that had to do with the different priority areas but not explicit “make a gift now” because in social media, for us so far anyway, it’s not a place where people really want to interact that way.

JP – Do any social media sites stand out as being the most effective for engaging with alumni and building awareness?

For our alumni population in general we have the largest engagement happening on Facebook. In terms of the number of people who like and follow our pages and share our content, we have the greatest engagement there, and some of that has to do with our population and the age of our population and that, more and more of our graduates who are in their 40s or older are engaging there on facebook. But we know that more and more of our grads in our 20s are not, and they’re finding us on Instagram.

JP – What is one of piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring social media professional?

JB – I think what I’ve learned over the last three years in the social media space is that, though it’s true in communication fields in general that you have to stay on top of best practices and trends, that it is even more critical in the social media space. You have to not allow yourself to be distracted by the new shiney thing happening in social but to keep watching your own analytics and your own needs and instincts in the social space and keep an eye on the best practices because they change constantly. The targets seem to always be moving and once we think “oh we’ve got a good handle on this” Facebook changes the algorithm and you’ve got to start all over anyway. So it’s even more essential than in more “traditional” communication fields that you stay informed and on top of not only what you’re doing, but what else is happening in the space.

* * *

Jennifer lead the marketing and communication effort for the $450 million The Promise Lives Campaign and is responsible for all marketing and communication related to fundraising at Ohio University. After interviewing Jennifer, I realized how important it is to stay on top of trends in the social media and communication industries and to learn from as many different sources as possible. I also learned the importance of encouraging conversation and interaction to build engagement and generate good impressions on social media.

Straight Outta Somewhere: A #SocialWin

By: Jacob Paul

On August 5th, just 9 days before the national release of the award-winning blockbuster film “Straight Outta Compton,”  Dr. Dre’s headphone company, Beats Audio, launched the Straight Outta Somewhere Meme Generator.

Hosted at www.straightouttasomewhere.com, the meme generator allows users to create a meme with the iconic “Straight Outta Compton” logo by simply uploading a photo and typing in a word of their choice. Thought up and developed by three junior Beats employees, the “Straight Outta Somewhere” campaign became a huge sensation on social media sites in the days and weeks following its launch.

Photo of Straight Outta Compton Logo with Dre

Photo of Straight Outta Compton Logo with Dre.

In the weeks leading up to the August 14th release of the film, Beats Audio, in partnership with Apple, Universal Pictures, and Interscope, started promoting the film with some strategically placed ads. To start drumming up buzz a few days before the launch of the “Straight Outta Somewhere” website, they had the Straight Outta Compton label placed on the mat during a UFC title match. The Same day, Dr. Dre announced he’d be releasing Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre a week before the film.

Less than a day after the launch of the meme generator site, they played an ad for the Straight Outta Compton film during the first Republican debate. For Interscope Records, the sky was literally the limit when it came to promoting the film and Dre’s new album. On August 7th, 8th, and 10th, Interscope had advertisements for written in the sky with planes for all to see.

The “Straight Outta Somewhere” meme generator social media campaign was a huge success. Less than two weeks after its launch, www.straightouttasomewhere.com had over 7 million visitors and nearly 6 million downloads of the meme. It was also the number one trend two days in a on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with as many as 15,000 tweets and retweets per minute featuring the #straightoutta hashtag. Nearly 150,000 Instagram pics featuring the meme were posted within a few days.

The meme generator was used by millions of people for a large variety of purpose. For example, use of the meme became exceedingly popular in the sports world and was also used by many for comedic purposes. Many sports stars and celebrities posted their own memes made with the generator as well. Overall, the response to the campaign was huge and mostly positive.

Although the campaign was largely successful and drummed up a lot of buzz and publicity for both the Straight Outta Compton film and soundtrack album, I would make at least one change to the overall campaign. Specifically, I would not have chosen to show the trailer directly after the first Republican debate’s section addressing racially-motivated police brutality. Although the film and commercial had everything to do with the topic, placing it right after the section addressing racially-motivated police brutality was an awkward move when you consider how the commercial ran for twice the amount of time as that section of the debate. Despite that, the commercial did drum up a lot of publicity, with most negative publicity directed at Fox news and Republicans rather than the commercial and film itself.


8 Intriguing and Surprising Digital Marketing Stats From the Past Week. (2015, August 10). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/8-intriguing-and-surprising-digital-marketing-stats-past-week-166321

Ford, R. (2015, August 14). How ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Viral Marketing Became a Sensation. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-straight-outta-compton-viral-815390

Hensley, C. L. (2015, August 19). #StraightOutta Meme Generator Takes Over Social Media. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/straightoutta-meme-generator-takes-over-social-media-chelse-l-hensley

McCarthy, J. (2015, August 11). Twitter loves Beats’ #StraightOutta Compton movie meme generator. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/08/11/twitter-loves-beats-straightoutta-compton-movie-meme-generator

Thomas, T. (2015, August 6). Bustle. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.bustle.com/articles/102761-the-black-lives-matter-debate-question-straight-outta-compton-trailer-aired-back-to-back-creating

Yates, C. (2015, August 7). ‘Straight Outta Compton’ memes, D.C. sports style. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/08/07/what-do-you-get-when-you-mix-straight-outta-compton-with-rgiii-a-glorious-meme/

Starbucks #RaceTogether Campaign Brings Everyone Together… Against Starbucks

By: Jacob Paul

During a time of high racial-tensions in the U.S. after the tragic killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown by police and the riots in Ferguson, Starbucks decided to launch their #RaceTogether campaign. In an attempt to get customers talking about racial issues around the nation and bring positive publicity to their brand, Starbucks printed full page ads in the New York Times and USA Today announcing their campaign and began encouraging their baristas to write the words #RaceTogether on coffee cups when serving customers.

A Starbucks holding a cup with #RaceTogether written on it.

Photo originally published by AdWeek

 Although the #RaceTogether was intended as a positive message to help raise social awareness and unite people of all races, social media sites began erupting with negative backlash immediately following the announcement of the campaign’s launch. Critics and people on social media lashed out at the campaign for a variety of reasons, calling it a publicity stunt, short-sighted, self-righteous, racist, and plain unfair for their workersNegative backlash on twitter got so bad that the Starbucks SVP of Global Communications deleted his twitter account after claiming to have been receiving a large number of personal attacks on twitter, further hurting the campaign and Starbucks in the eyes of the public. More negative comments criticizing Starbucks’ PR Chief for deleting his account began pouring in shortly after, claiming that he wanted his baristas to handle discussions about race but deleted his own account once people began questioning him. As public outcry against Starbucks and the #RaceTogether campaign continued to snowball, Starbucks finally decided to pull the plug and brought the campaign to a close after only a week.

I believe the public’s response to Starbucks’ campaign is a clear indicator that it was a total failure. While Starbucks claimed their goal was to help unite people of different races together, all they really succeeded in doing was uniting everyone against Starbucks, itself. The campaign received wide-spread criticism from people of all races from the moment it launched, and did nothing to improve their public image.

I believe the campaign could have been improved in a number of ways. For starters, I think it was a bad move by Starbucks to launch a race-based campaign so soon after the riots in Ferguson. Although they may have had good intentions, doing so at such a time made it seem insincere, as if they were just trying to take advantage of a serious societal issue to gain publicity. If it was up to me, I would have changed the theme of the campaign, or at least waited for a better time to launch it. I also think it was a poor idea by Starbucks to pressure their employees to initiate conversations about race when serving customers. I think they would have been better off leaving their store employees out of it, or at least printing the campaign hashtag on the cup instead of asking employees to write it on coffee cups while serving customers. In the future, I think Starbucks would be better off basing their PR campaigns around less controversial topics.


Coffee, P. (2015, March 17). Starbucks PR Chief Quits Twitter Over #RaceTogether Campaign. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/starbucks-pr-chief-quits-twitter-over-racematters-campaign/110934

Cullers, R. (2015, March 18). The Internet Is United in Despising Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ Cup Campaign. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/internet-united-despising-starbucks-race-together-cup-campaign-163540

Gucciardi, A. (2015, March 21). WATCH: Infowars Confronts Starbucks Over Racist #RaceTogether Campaign. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.infowars.com/watch-infowars-confronts-starbucks-over-racist-racetogether-campaign/

Isquith, E. (2015, March 19). Starbucks is a national joke: Why its #RaceTogether campaign is so “self-righteous”. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.salon.com/2015/03/19/starbucks_is_a_national_joke_why_its_racetogether_campaign_is_so_self_righteous/
Peterson, H. (2015, March 17). A Starbucks exec deleted his Twitter account after backlash over the company’s ‘race together’ campaign. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-race-together-campaign-2015-3