Reflections on My First Year at Coastal Carolina University

It is funny. Often times you can look back on a period of time and not quite know if it flew by or seemed to last. If you are like me, sometimes you end up deciding it was a little of both. Today I celebrate my one year anniversary at Coastal Carolina University. For the most part, the last 365 days passed quickly. But then I realize that next week I will cover my fourth commencement and it makes me feel like I have been around campus for a little longer.

This is my one year anniversary photo!

This is my one year anniversary photo!

On May 1, 2014, I reported for my first day at Coastal Carolina. I spent that Thursday in new employee orientation learning about policies and procedures. It was an uneventful and low key day. That would be the last one of those. From the end of that initial day on out I had the opportunity to go full speed ahead and that is exactly what I did. I arrived on campus just before the start of graduation week and went right into covering the craziness of it. I covered a lot of events and met a lot of people. Those first ten or so days really helped set the tone for my first year.

My rookie debut at CCU was a good one. Yes, it was successful. Our social channels grew exponentially, #CCUSocialMedia became a brand, we won an award, and we received far more media coverage than I could ever imagine. But that is all I want to say about job performance. My one year reflection blog post is much more than that.

What I want to really hit on is what a good fit this position has been. I came from a job where I wore a ton of different hats and had little free time. For the past year I have showed up for work at a place where my focus is much more defined and my time out of the office much more adequate.

From the start I said I took this job because I could concentrate on social media. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t grown in other areas. Although I might not have 15 different responsibilities to tend to on a given day like at Montana, I have been able to embrace a diverse set of opportunities that improved me as a professional. Encouraged to create my own news show segment, assigned to write for our alumni magazine, requested to serve on working groups, and asked to help out on search committees, I was enabled to expand my reach. Aside from running our social media program, I relished these additional roles.

Another part of the fit has been the energy and culture at CCU. Our university is growing, both in terms of physical structures and student enrollment. We are an institution on the rise and I wanted to be a piece of that. Additionally, and I truly mean it when I say this, Coastal is just different. We are built on customer service and this attitude is reflected from the top down. There is a pride and a vibe here that is special, one that I relate to and embrace. Our “Feel the Teal” mission motivates me at work each day.

Most importantly, this arrangement has worked because of the people. It all starts out with our Vice President of University Communication who had the guts to hire me. Bill Plate brought me from Missoula to Myrtle Beach and I am so glad he did. He had the vision and rationality to know that a social media position was needed at CCU and he made it a reality. So many other people helped me (and continue to help me) after Bill and I wish I could recognize them all. Although this is not possible I do want to thank a few people really quickly. Thanks to our administrative assistant Kim Harper for helping me with pretty much every office task and organizational logistic you could think of. Thanks to April Betsch for reaching out to me at one of the first events I worked and taking me around to meet many of the key people I would end up working closely with. Thanks to Eileen Soisson for teaching me what it means to Feel the Teal and for going out of her way to support me. Thanks to Matt Hogue, Seth Horton, and Kevin Olivett from athletics for treating me so well and for genuinely caring about my ideas and input.

Year #1 is in the books and it was great. I am appreciative of the opportunity Coastal Carolina University has afforded me and I can’t wait to improve. Don’t Blink.

Dramatic Website Overhaul

Although I would argue that social media is closing the gap, a website is the number one marketing tool of an organization. To have a powerful and innovative website is crucial to success. In higher education, this importance is even more pronounced.

These days a good university website engages prospective students the moment they access the URL. In a short amount of time, the story of a college must be told creatively and clearly. Gone are the days when a university homepage served as a bulletin board of information where you could find out about the next public lecture.

It only takes a quick glance at our Coastal Carolina website to realize we are behind the times. In our marketing office, we don’t feel an overabundance of pride directing people, especially prospective students, to it. However, we are in the process of changing this.

Bill Plate arrived at Coastal Carolina University about two and a half years ago to serve as the Vice President of University Communication and Marketing. Almost immediately upon his arrival he lobbied for the opportunity to lead the charge to revamp the CCU web experience. Explaining to the administration that we could either patch up the current site or build a top of the line, sparkling new one, our President elected the latter. By the time I joined Coastal about a year ago, this project was about to get started.

Bill is the man on the left with the tie.

Bill is the man on the left with the tie.

In December we started working with a company called iFactory. Not just a higher education web design firm but rather a wildly successful multi-industry design firm, we knew that investing in them would lead to something special. Bill created a small “core team” that would work hand-in-hand with iFactory throughout the whole project. Knowing the major disadvantages of having too many cooks in the kitchen, it was important to assemble a tight group that could focus on a nine-month project with our new partner while at the same time making important decisions.

We have partnered with iFactory to re-design our website.

We have partnered with iFactory to re-design our website.

Bill asked me to join him on the team. He also asked another member of our University Communication team, our Director of Creative Services, to serve on it. The three of us merged with four folks from our IT department. In a very smart move, Bill also added two web design professors to sit in with us as well. For the past five months our core team has met at the very least once a week to work on this monumental project.

Of course joining us a thousand miles away via conference call in Boston have been our friends at iFactory. We started small working on discovery stages such as developing a strategy and analyzing our users. But, over the past couple months, the project has started to take shape. We have developed our user personas, built our site map, constructed our wireframes, and started in on the fun stuff…the art design! With things really heating up, two big developments occurred over the past couple of days.

Yesterday the two people in charge of the project from iFactory’s end, Pete and Courtney, flew in from Boston to meet with us. After meeting them in-person at the start of the project in December, it had been a long time and countless conference calls since we got to see them in the flesh. After lunch we delved straight into the user experience portion of the project. Pete offered us out-of-this-world, crazy concepts…exactly what we wanted. You see, our mission of this project is to not develop just another typical .edu site. The options he gave us were unlike anything you would associate with your typical ________ State University. It was exciting.

Today was the big day though. We held a university-wide town hall meeting for the community to attend. During the meeting we would discuss the scope of the project and then (gulp) open it up for questions. You can’t deny it, change is difficult on many. With news that a major overhaul would soon overtake coastal.edu, staff and faculty at CCU wondered what it would mean for them.

Bill delivered the opening address and then turned it over to Pete. With all eyes on our strategist from Boston, Pete was on his game. He eloquently explained the stages of the project and the desired outcome. He made no qualms about the fact that our website would now be about prospective students. He put it very bluntly that the homepage of coastal.edu is not for current students to access Moodle or for faculty members to pull up university policies. Sprinkling in doses of humor throughout his hour presentation he also reminded the audience that while feedback was appreciated, the big decisions would rest with the core team. He then turned it over for questions.

Bill started the town hall meeting off. The event took place in Johnson Auditorium of the Wall Building on the campus of Coastal Carolina University.

Bill started the town hall meeting off. The event took place in Johnson Auditorium of the Wall Building on the campus of Coastal Carolina University.

Pete had done an excellent job but would the audience be receptive? It was clearly put that major changes were coming. I expected moderate pushback. But surprising to me, the resistance was actually minimal. The audience asked several good, well-phrased questions. Pete and Bill both did very answering them. The town hall was by all accounts a success.

Pete from iFactory poised and ready to answer questions.

Pete from iFactory poised and ready to answer questions.

Of course the real test will come in the fall when we launch. I remember when I was part of the website overhaul while working for Grizzly Athletics. We replaced our static, embarrassing website with a brand new site created by CBS Sports that incorporated video, sophisticated statistical tracking, and an enhanced fan experience. Some people claimed to prefer the old one. Unbelievable. But then again, to draw on the major point of this whole thing, it is not about “some people.” Rather, it is about the prospective student. When our final product is ready for all to see, our target audience visiting coastal.edu will be blown away. This isn’t going to be your grandfather’s university website. Don’t Blink.

How Social Media Got Our #TEALnation Sign Back

As a digital marketer, I love to share the success stories that this medium creates, especially when it deals specifically with social media. Very recently I had the pleasure of helping out with something pretty cool.

Yesterday at Coastal Carolina University we discovered that a welcome sign next to one of our entrances had turned up missing. This wasn’t just any sign though. It was a newly installed board that had one of our key marketing brands on it. The “Welcome to #TEALnation” sign added personality and flavor to one of our most heavily trafficked entrances. Our campus community identifies with #TEALnation and to have the new sign removed in such a savage nature was unsettling. We knew we had to get it back.

Our #TEALnation sign had been completely removed.

Our #TEALnation sign had been completely removed.

During the morning on Wednesday a brief meeting was held between our Vice President Bill Plate, Director of News and Public Affiars Martha Hunn, our Chief of Police David Roper, and myself. We wanted to decide how we would get word out about the jacking of the sign while asking for its return. After mulling over ideas such as a campus wide e-mail or an actual video we decided to go with a different approach: Social Media. The decision was made to do this outreach solely on a social level. All the other traditional avenues be damned, we were going to rely completely on social media to bring our sign home.

Chief Roper gave me some key words he wanted included in what we sent out but then I was free to compose the social media posts myself. After getting the “okay” from Bill I posted variations of the sign theft news on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I then watched the Coastal Community go to work.

Our Facebook post generated lots of shares and fired up the community.

Our Facebook post generated lots of shares and fired up the community.

The tweet was retweeted like wild fire. The Facebook post was shared like crazy. The Instagram image was commented on and reposted. A local news station even picked up on the story. People were outraged by the theft and wanted to make sure that the sign was recovered. A distinguishing and prideful piece of University property was not going to be missing for long!

The tweet we sent out was rapidly retweeted.

The tweet we sent out was rapidly retweeted.

And it wasn’t. By 3:30 p.m. yesterday, Chief Roper notified Martha and told her the sign had been recovered. An individual had called in and given the location of our stolen property. When she told me the great news my face lit up. We had rallied our community via social media and we had received the best result we could have possibly hoped for in a matter of hours. Because of the investigation and recovery effort we had to sit on the good news for the night. However, this afternoon we were able to inform Teal Nation that the sign was back in good hands. A heartfelt thank you was given to our social media audience for coming to the rescue. Our announcement was met with enthusiasm and joy.

It felt great to send out the good news tweet.

It felt great to send out the good news tweet.

File this one under “Social Media Success Stories.” We knew that this conundrum would touch a nerve with our community. When people are urked by something, it goes viral. This was exactly the case with our #TEALnation sign disappearance. Instead of concentrating on methods that would require lots of resources and time, we utilized the absolute best weapon we could call on in the given situation. Social media and Teal Nation to the rescue again! Don’t Blink.

Ordering Off a Handwritten Menu

Yesterday for Boss’s Day our office went out to lunch at a very eclectic restaurant. In fact, I found more charm in this distinctively southern restaurant than the all-you-can-eat country home cooking buffet we went to last week. I am going to have fun telling this story.

Once again, we went deep into Conway, South Carolina, for our meal. This time though, we were headed in the direction of a place called Donzelle’s. Tucked away in a dusty mini strip mall was our lunch spot for the day. Parking was a goat rope but somehow the four vehicles we brought inside the disorganized parking lot managed to fit. I was literally rubbing my hands with excitement as we walked in because I knew I was going to get a real kick out of what I saw.

Walking into the restaurant!

Walking into the restaurant!

I was not disappointed. We walked into a complete blast from the past. A non-alcoholic bar greeted you as you walked in to your right. Basic tables and chairs covered the majority of the restaurant floor to the left. There were some booths on the sides. Old, crooked photos covered the walls. Because they didn’t have a table that could accommodate the 14 of us, I sat at a four-person table with three of our graphic artists.

First cool/eccentric thing I noticed? We had pieces of cake waiting for us at our tables. Donzelle’s had a sign that read “Life is too short, eat dessert first.” Next incredibly cool thing? The lunch menu was handwritten on a sheet of paper. I had never ordered off a piece of computer paper before. Take a look at that menu though…kind of a cool combination/variety to choose from, huh? (And I am not being sarcastic. I love how you can choose a main entrée and then choose three side items). I ended up getting the chicken bog with butter beans and rice & gravy. I decided not to venture for any of the bottom four choices.

The famous handwritten menu. What will you have?

The famous handwritten menu. What will you have?

Regis, one of our graphic designers, ordered the same combination I did. However, the waitress asked him if he wanted any onion rings or French fries thrown on the side. How random is that? I couldn’t help but smile. He opted for the onion rings. As we were ordering I sat back and watched as loads of people entered the restaurant. It didn’t take long for that place to fill up.

Speaking of not taking long, our food was out in no time. The waitress put in front of me a big plate of great-looking food. After our table was served she asked if we would like any corn bread or rolls to compliment our meal (free of charge). We said “yes please” to the corn bread.

This food was delicious

This food was delicious

How was the food, you ask? The best southern food I have had so far! It beat out the place we ate at last week, Radd Dew’s, by a long shot. That chicken bog was absolutely incredible as it definitely stuck to your ribs. Corn bread was very tasty and the rice and gravy hit the spot. I demolished my plate, eating every morsel of food in front of me.

Speaking of plates, I mentioned in last night’s blog post that we presented our boss with a plate with his face on it. His name is Bill Plate and surprisingly no one had ever given him a similar gag gift in his life. The reason why I bring this story up is because when we gave him his Boss’s Day gift we were all laughing like hyenas that the entire restaurant stopped what they were doing/eating and stared at us.

Some of the photos on the wall.

Some of the photos on the wall.

After chatting about the random photos and discussing the smothered beef liver that was on the menu we got up to pay. One-by-one we went to the cash register where the owner asked us what we had and then charged us accordingly. Don’t ever think about paying with a credit or debit card at Donzelle’s. As we walked out into the South Carolina sun I had the same smile on my face that I had when I walked in. Don’t Blink.

Shortest Thursday Blog Post Ever

It has been a long day and it is late so how about I speed through my run down Thursday blog post in record time? Five random topics are coming at you right now!

Subway Flatizza Review – I never thought I would break down and get something at Subway other than a sandwich but yesterday it happened. I forgot my peanut butter sandwich at home so I went to our campus Subway to get lunch. The menu seemed to grab me by the throat and force me to order the buffalo chicken Flatizza. I obeyed and paid the consequences. Although it looks delicious in the picture below, I would have been much happier with a cold cut combo.

I won't be eating a flatizza again.

I won’t be eating a flatizza again.

Sweet Plantains – Today at Coastal it was our Hispanic Celebration Day. The various student clubs of Hispanic origin came out to Prince Lawn, our center of campus, to showcase their heritage. Available for all to taste were appropriate delicacies. One of these tasty food items was a treat called sweet plantains. To describe it simply, think fried bananas covered in cinnamon and sugar. It was my new food item for the day and I have to give it two thumbs up.

Me with a sweet plantain today and then on the right is the pan filled with the tasty treat.

Me with a sweet plantain today and then on the right is the pan filled with the tasty treat.

No Plan Weekend – After several weekends of traveling and action-packed adventures, I have no plans this weekend. Check that, I have one plan: Watch football. I am psyched for the Notre Dame vs. Florida State unbeaten clash and you can bet I will be cheering on the Fighting Irish. I am so sick and tired of hearing about Jameis Wilson that I hope he has a terrible game and Florida State is handed an overwhelming defeat.

Boss’s Day – Today it was Boss’s Day. My office celebrated by taking our boss, Vice President of University Communication Bill Plate, out to lunch. Tomorrow I will write about the doozy of a restaurant we went to but for now I just want to wish Bill a Happy Boss’s Day. He is a great person to work for and I am very thankful to him for hiring me.

For Boss's Day, our graphics guys gave Bill a "Bill Plate".....get it?!

For Boss’s Day, our graphics guys gave Bill a “Bill Plate”…..get it?!

Another One of Those Niece Updates – Mikayla is now six weeks old. The one development I should note is that she is starting to lose her hair! I don’t know the exact reason why but my girlfriend pointed it out to me (by looking at photos) and my mom confirmed it. However, she is still as precious as can be. Without ever even meeting her I miss that little peanut.

My niece, Mikayla, at six weeks old (my parents with her on the bottom left photo).

My niece, Mikayla, at six weeks old (my parents with her on the bottom left photo).

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Did I make good on my promise or what?! I told you this would be a short blog post. Have a great night everyone and close out your work weeks on high notes tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

Feel the Teal: Surprised and Recognized at CCU

I am blessed to say that all of my days at Coastal Carolina University are good days. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say that some days are even better than the good days. Today was one of those.

After I left work yesterday I received a call from our awesome and valuable administrative assistant, Kim. She told me that a 9 a.m. meeting had been scheduled for today. I thought something semi-urgent must have come up that our communication team needed to talk about. This morning at about 8:30 a.m. Kim came to my desk and told me that the meeting would just be with me and our Vice President for University Communication (Bill Plate – My Boss). She also added that the meeting would start in his office at 8:55 a.m. My head started to turn. What was up? Did I do something wrong?

I went into Bill’s office and he just asked me to help him establish some goals for an accreditation program. Right away at ease, I brainstormed some ideas with him. After discussing a couple more topics our meeting concluded. I walked out of his office and strolled down the hall to my desk. Once I passed through the hallway and made it to our office’s lobby area I was greeted with a special surprise.

Across from me stood all of my University Communication co-workers and superiors. Our university photographer was present and he had his camera fixated right at me. Right in front of the whole group holding a bunch of teal balloons was Eileen Soisson, the Director of Service Excellence at Coastal. Everyone was starring at me and everyone was smiling.

Eileen Soisson addresses me this morning. I swear that there were more people watching than just our crazy Director of Creative Services Rob Wyeth (Thank you to our University photographer, Bill Edmonds for the photo. Thank you to Mona Prufer for passing the photo  C.D. onto me).

Eileen Soisson addresses me this morning. I swear that there were more people watching than just our crazy Director of Creative Services Rob Wyeth (Thank you to our University photographer, Bill Edmonds for the photo. Thank you to Mona Prufer for passing the photo C.D. onto me).

Eileen, the woman who is in charge of the innovative and popular “Feel the Teal” program, addressed me. She said that she was in our office today to honor me for the simple act I did last weekend. If you didn’t read my post from Monday night, I had the opportunity through a social media promotion to give my football tickets away to a student and her overseas dad who just happened to be in town for Family Weekend. It was a no-brainer on my part but the university still wanted to give me some recognition.

Eileen hands me the balloons. The Feel the Teal program is outstanding and innovative.

Eileen hands me the balloons. The Feel the Teal program is outstanding and innovative. (Thanks to Bill Edmonds for the photos).

After saying some really nice words about me, Eileen handed me the balloons while my office clapped. It was the nicest, most genuine thing that has ever been done for me in a professional setting before. I was able to hold it together but it did touch me. This is why I am at Coastal, I thought to myself.

Me with Eileen Soisson. It is easy to love a university and want to do your best when they treat you like this.

Me with Eileen Soisson. It is easy to love a university and want to do your best when they treat you like this.

Needless to say, it turned a good day into a great day. Bill, the same great boss who recognized me at the Board of Trustees meeting, orchestrated the whole thing. This morning was one of those times where a snap shot was instantly cemented into my brain. I will always have that image of all the people I work with on a daily basis looking right at me while Eileen stood in the center with balloons. I can’t thank Coastal enough for letting me implement my vision for its social media program and then honoring me simply for following through with it. I am at the right place. Don’t Blink.

The #HappyCCU Video

The #HappyCCU Video

Very rarely does a high-quality production turn around so quickly. However, at Coastal Carolina University it does.

Classes started here on campus last Monday. At the end of the week prior to school starting, Bill Plate, our Associate Vice President for University Communication, had an idea. Inspired by the success that some other universities had with showcasing campus life with a certain wildly popular song, he believed that CCU would also generate enthusiasm and pride doing something similar. He was right on.

Several universities out east have featured their students and faculty/staff dancing to the song “Happy” by Pharrell. These videos show the university community dancing at different spots all over campus. With smiles and interesting/awkward/questionable moves, the videos paint the picture of joyful and beautiful learning institutions. Even though everyone already knows that Coastal is a joyful and beautiful place, we wanted to drive home the point even more.

On Tuesday of last week Bill, Martha, our video crew, and myself sat down for a meeting. We discussed the project and the locations that we wanted to film. Our award-winning video team then went to work.

During the hottest and one of the busiest weeks of the year our video guys outdid themselves. Going all around campus in the brutal heat while convincing students to dance on camera, they logged plenty of long, hot hours. Besides the impromptu video shoots they also organized and executed several planned shoots as well. With the “Happy” song playing in their heads when they went to bed at night, the project really started to come together. Only a few days after that Tuesday morning meeting most of the shooting was completed. Then came of course the significant task of editing all of the dancing, moving, and grooving into an organized piece.

Yesterday afternoon, the video guys invited all of us in University Communication to come over to their stomping grounds of Hampton Hall for a premiere showing. We sat down, Bryan Stalvey (video mastermind) gave us an introduction, and then we watched the 2:24 minute piece. When the screen went dark there was an enthusiastic round of applause and a unanimous request to play it again.

Rather than talk about the parts in the video that make it so great, I will just let you watch it. The whole piece screams Coastal. It is fresh, well-done, and logical. I have seen several of these videos and the version put together by Coastal Carolina University is one of the best. Our social media audience thinks so too. With over 200 shares and 3,000 views, the Coastal community gave this project two thumbs up.

Credit to Bill for pushing to have this project done and credit/respect/thankfulness to our video team for putting in an amazing effort and creating a truly awesome piece. Coastal Carolina University just became even more attractive to prospective students. Don’t Blink.

Five Reasons Why My Work Week Rocked

The first 100 days of my new job have passed by quickly. However, the feeling of excitement and thankfulness that I had at the beginning has not passed quickly. It is as strong as ever. This week has been great. Staying true to my Thursday rapid-fire topic theme I will once again jump from subject to subject but it will all relate to this week at Coastal Carolina University.

Social Media Dream Team Meeting – One of my tasks in my position is to meet with my fellow social media leaders on campus. After sending out twice-a-month e-mail updates to this group we call the “Dream Team,” we finally had our first face-to-face meeting on Monday morning. I had the pleasure of sitting down with some of the major social media players at CCU including: our athletics marketing director, our dean of students, our celebrity dining services director, the leader of CCU’s student customer service program, and our assistant alumni director. We talked for almost 90 minutes about social media (and some other issues) at Coastal Carolina. Although I was running the meeting I probably spoke the least but learned the most. It was awesome.

CCUSA on WMBF – On Tuesday I was humbled when WMBF reporter Mandy Noell called me up and asked if she could do a story on our CCUSA campaign. Absolutely! It didn’t take long for Mandy to get to campus, take the footage she needed inside our offices, and then interview me outside of the Singleton Building. While I thought that my terrible news interviews ended in Montana they unfortunately carried over to South Carolina as well. No matter, Mandy was a true professional and pretty much washed away my awkwardness on camera with an awesome report, one that was praised by our own media legend, Martha Hunn. I was very thankful for the coverage that WMBF gave us. Click here to view the story.

Mandy Noell from WMBF interviews me about CCU Social Media.

Mandy Noell from WMBF interviews me about CCU Social Media (Thanks to Mona Prufer for the photo).

On Camera Again – On Wednesday, Kevin Olivett of Chanticleer Athletics invited me to go around and help cover a pretty cool deal. Athletic Director Matt Hogue and Chauncey were presenting Big South Conference football championship rings to staff members who were season ticket holders. Along with the video guy from athletics I would take video/photos when we would enter the offices. Well, I was given quite the surprise when the camera was turned in my direction. Before I knew it, Matt was presenting me with two rings. You see, I had recently become a Chant football season ticket holder. However, I thought the ring promotion was just for people who had season tickets during the actual 2013 championship season. Nope! Click here to see my reaction.

My surprised face as I stand between Coastal Carolina University Athletic Director Matt Hogue and Chauncey.

My surprised face as I stand between Coastal Carolina University Athletic Director Matt Hogue and Chauncey.

Board of Trustees Meeting – Today I was invited by my boss, Associate Vice President Bill Plate, to attend his presentation to the Board of Trustees. He told me that he wanted to introduce me to these extremely important individuals. Only he did a little more than just that. After he asked me to stand for the formal introduction he proceeded to build me up incredibly in front of the Board. He explained the whole CCUSA campaign, talked about some of the other things I am doing, and mentioned the increases our social media program has seen in the past few months. I felt so honored! It made my whole week and made me walk out of work with a huge smile on my face.

A photo from today's Board of Trustees meeting.

A photo from today’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Graduation on Saturday – This Saturday morning Coastal will hold its summer commencement. When I started working at CCU at the beginning of May I arrived just in time for spring commencement. I had such a fun time working that event and although the summer graduation is much smaller I am looking forward to the occasion. It will put an exclamation point on a magnificent week for me.

Myself at the CCU spring graduation in May.

Myself at the CCU spring graduation in May.

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I hope many of you out there like your job as much as me. I am truly blessed. Have a great evening! Don’t Blink.

#CCU Social Media Adds Snapchat

As I am sure many of you are sick of hearing, I thoroughly enjoy my new job. Having the opportunity to develop a social media program at a different university from where I was previously has reignited my love even more for all things social. While I have implemented some of the strategies I used at Montana here at Coastal Carolina I have also had the chance to try some new things.

This week we introduced our #CCU Snapchat channel. Because of my workload and our audience, I never started one at UM. However, at Coastal Carolina University it just made perfect sense. With the mass amount of people using the service, an age demographic that aligns with exactly who we are trying to reach, and many mechanisms to creatively send out information it made perfect sense to utilize Snapchat.

Oh, one additional reason why it appealed to me? Not many colleges are on it. I don’t know if maybe they don’t understand it or if they don’t think they can communicate effectively with it but you don’t see many university Snapchat accounts. To get ahead of other institutions and reach out to the younger generation in the way they are communicating the most these days it was necessary for Coastal Carolina Social Media to establish a Snapchat presence. Thankfully our Vice President for Communication and my boss, Bill Plate, was well ahead of the game and reserved our social media handle (CCUChanticleers) on Snapchat long ago. With that piece already completed I launched our account simply by creating a graphic, doing some quick marketing on our social media channels, and then adding the users that instantaneously flooded our account.

#CCU Social Media opened up its Snapchat account for business!

#CCU Social Media opened up its Snapchat account for business!

I have participated personally in the Snapchat game for a long time now so I am pretty well versed in it but I was surprised by a few things while interacting with our audience. First off, they are YOUNG. Besides the college students that jumped on board with us there is an outrageous amount of kids that look nine years old who are on the service. Secondly, these young adults/kids are creative! I was laughing at and admiring many of the snaps that kept coming into our inbox. Besides the art that many of them can create on their snaps they are also witty and resourceful. Thirdly, they all have great appreciation for Coastal Carolina. I received a fair share of “Go Chant” snaps but I also received snaps from students stating that they can’t wait to get back to campus or that they are counting down the days until they get here for the first time. It was cool to see that pride over a social media outlet where I had never seen it before.

I really enjoy some of the creativity I have seen sent to our Snapchat channel.

I really enjoy some of the creativity I have seen sent to our Snapchat channel (thanks to Admissions)

Over the first few days of utilizing the #CCU Snapchat account I have just had fun with it. I like to send our “friends” (as they are called on Snapchat) generic snaps wishing them good morning or updating them on the weather on campus. I have also sent useful messages notifying them about the posting of grades or how to access our other social media accounts. Last night I ran a little promotion where I asked our friends to snap a photo of any Coastal Carolina logo. The first person who did so would win a prize. We received around 30 responses. Even about two hours after that snap went out our account was still receiving logo photos.

Just a few of the great snaps we got when we asked our friends to send us a CCU logo.

Just a few of the great snaps we got when we asked our friends to send us a CCU logo.

I encourage you to see how Coastal Carolina Social Media is utilizing Snapchat by friending us by searching “CCUChanticleers”. There are lots of possibilities for higher education institutions to creatively connect with their student audience through Snapchat and I am glad that #CCU is on it sooner than later. Don’t Blink.