by Allie Wetzel

The The University of Toledo’s Division of External Affairs focuses on shaping the awareness and understanding  of the university among internal and external stakeholders. Including University Marketing and Communications, Health-Care Marketing, Equity and Diversity, Catharine Eberly Center for Women and the Center for Creative Instruction.

A major department of the Division of External Affairs is University Marketing and Communications. The department offers design services, photography services, marketing research and planning, social media services, video services and UT news.

Sam Naumann is a 2014 University of Toledo graduate, from the College of Communications and The Arts with a degree in Communications and Public Relations. Sam works for the University Marketing department specifically for University of Toledo Health (UT Health). UT Health is a university health system that has a wide range of involvement in the healthcare field including an acute care hospital, various outpatient specialty and family medicine practices, and the home of The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

I chose to interview Sam for this assignment because he is in the position I and several of my classmates will be relatively soon. He is a recent college graduate who is finding his way in an extremely competitive industry, by focusing on what he loves. His views and insight allow for an aspiring social media professional to better understand how social media is used by universities and what changes can be expected.

Q: What do your daily duties entail for University Marketing and Communications?

A: Our office is set up similar to an agency, but we are, of course, internal. Marketing strategists are assigned “clients” which is essentially our various departments. We work with these clients to help put together outreach events, develop print materials and assist in any other terms of social media promotion possible.

Behind the scenes of the new UT Health commercial

Professional promotion of the commercial

Sam's personal promotion of the commerical

Personal promotion of the commercial

Q:Why do you think social media is important to building consumer engagement?

A: Social media is important to consumer engagement because it is the frontier of how heavily integrated the marketing and communication field is become. Marketing, public relations, communication, and advertising all used to be different fields/practices. Now brand managers and the like are becoming the sole positions for many organizations to build consumer engagement. Social media is a tool that helps bring together all these moving parts. I.e. the same Twitter account that can show pictures of an event or live tweet a project the company is doing is the same Twitter account where consumers can voice opinions about customer service and PR representatives can mitigate those issues through the same vehicle. This creates a timeline for a company and tells a story a lot more cohesively than multiple different campaigns.

Q: How has the use of social media changed the way colleges/universities communicate with students and staff?

A: Colleges and Universities use social media to brand the institution, engage with prospective students on tours, and with current students who may have questions, comments or concern. Social media also is a safety tool, voice alerts about cancellations for weather or any issue that students may need to be aware of. The University of Toledo is heavily engaged and integrates social media into almost every initiative it does, if not all.

Q: How can colleges/universities use social media to further engage with students?

A: I think a university or college should recognize just how powerful of a communication tactic it truly is. One problem you read about in higher education is how out of touch some administrators can be with students. In the regard, administrators should take a look at Gordon Gee of West Virginia University or Santa Ono of University of Cincinnati. These two administrators really show how a few photos and engagement on Twitter can lead to a more responsive student population.

Q: What people/ organizations do you follow to stay up-to-date on social media trends and why?

A: Fast Company, Buzfeed, other successful colleges/ universities and health systems, many journalists that rely on mobile reporting. Social media has completely taken citizen journalism to a new level, almost too much I may argue.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest social media trend for business in 2015?

A: Snapchat is going to become a lot more than your  350 second “story” showing everyone your crazy weekend followed by a photo of mimosa and “eggs bene” with the words brunch written in rainbow font. Business’ know its value.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a budding social media specialist?

A: Social media has linked personal branding and professional branding. If you are a social media specialist, most likely dedicated followers of the company you represent are following how you manage your own social media presence as well. If it’s not the dedicated followers, it’s your boss or potential boss, so you know…cool it with the solo cups; people know thats not pop.

Sam provides a fresh outlook to an aspiring social media professional, because not too long ago he was an aspiring social media professional. His insight on how universities handle social media is very useful because he has dealt with it on both ends of the spectrum, first as a student and now as a professional actually producing the content. Young professionals are key to the social media industry because it is integrated into our generation, we can provide CEO’s and business managers information that research cannot. My overall favorite insight to the interview was when he mentioned administrators Gordon Ge and Santa Ono, stating that even small amounts of engagement with students on social media can go a long way.