Another Season of #CCUfamily in the Books

Quite frequently, I accept invitations from professors to speak to their classes about social media. Often, a student will ask me why I love my job. I will reply that I enjoy formulating a social voice for CCU, that I embrace working in an industry that is growing each day, and that I thrive off the pressure of communicating clearly and effectively when it matters most. I will usually end my answer by saying that, best of all, I get to work with college students daily.

I enjoy speaking to CCU classes about social media.

Today we wrapped up filming the third season of #CCUfamily, a social media campaign that I pitched way back in 2014 when I interviewed for my job. The current incarnation of #CCUfamily debuted during the 2016-17 academic year and over the course of those three years, we have featured 270 students.

#CCUfamily has been a very successful social media campaign for our University.

Ah yes, the key word is students. Out of all the ways I have the privilege of connecting with students on campus (internship program, social media advocate council, speaking engagements, etc.), nothing introduces me to a larger or more diverse group as #CCUfamily.

The goal of #CCUfamily is to develop engaging digital profiles of our student body. We publish three profiles per week that are published in unique ways on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels – an integrated campaign at its best! But of course the content doesn’t create itself. In order to be successful, we need full cooperation from the students we feature. There is a lot of coordination that goes on with the students prior to filming but the interview day is definitely the most satisfying part. This is when we meet our talented Chanticleers and catch them at their best. Connections are always developed that last until they graduate and beyond. It is rewarding.

I would not be able to do #CCUfamily without Geoff Insch. This afternoon we took the below photo after our final shoot to celebrate the end of a great season.

Notice how I keep referring to “we” in context of this project? Aside from our subjects, I don’t do this alone. Geoff Insch, one of our production managers, is the guy who keeps this campaign afloat. He films the interviews and then edits each one into an enticing package. This semester, a third member joined our #CCUfamily team. Anthony Bowser, our social media specialist, does behind-the-scenes work and writes some of the student profiles.

The three of us really enjoy doing these shoots. As I mentioned, meeting the students is awesome. However, it is also fun for our little production gang to converse about the students after they leave. We marvel about how talented they are and how further along (at least compared to me) they seem to be at that age than us (me). Students are nominated to participate in #CCUfamily, thus ensuring that those profiled are high quality individuals. It is a pleasure to meet the best and brightest of Coastal.

It has been a pleasure working on #CCUfamily. Here is an example of one of the profiles we did last month.

After three years of interviewing 270 students, Geoff and I have a lot of stories! Every now and then, we reminisce about the unique moments of our #CCUfamily journey. Good memories have been made and even better work has been produced. On Friday we will release the final #CCUfamily profile of the 2018-19 academic year but don’t get too sad – it will be back in 2019-20. Don’t Blink.

A Half Decade at CCU

On May 1, 2014, I started a new stage in my life. That morning I reported to work at a different college campus, thousands of miles from my previous one. A half decade later, that “different” college campus isn’t so different anymore – it is home.

I took this photo the morning of May 1, 2014 — my first day at Coastal Carolina University.

As I celebrate my fifth anniversary at Coastal Carolina University, I can’t help but feel fortunate that I found #TEALnation. Wanting to manage the social media program of a university at the flagship level, I graciously accepted the opportunity given to me by CCU and said goodbye to the athletic department at the University of Montana.

These are some of the kind bosses/co-workers who greeted me with such open arms when I arrived at CCU in 2014.

I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to come into. Working out of the Office of University Communication, my bosses gave me the freedom to build CCU’s social media program according to the vision I presented during the interview process. When I arrived, my main objective was to establish a social brand (#CCUSocialMedia) that told the stories of #CCU. Because of the support I received, social media at CCU flourished. #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards, earned recognition as one of the top higher education social media programs in the country, enjoyed exponential growth, and generated extensive media coverage.

Because of the freedom to take chances and because of the talented co-workers around me, #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards in five years.

But this blog post isn’t about individual accomplishments. In fact, the accolades above were only possible because of the people I work with (more on them soon). Rather, the purpose of this post is to recognize how proud I am to be associated with this institution. In the five years I have been here, I have seen our University open up multiple academic buildings, roll out doctoral programs, produce Fulbright Scholars, set records for fundraising, undergo a complete website redesign, grow at a strategic pace, make the major athletic move to the FBS, and win a baseball national championship…just to name a few. To have a front row seat for all these defining moments has been a pleasure.

The day CCU announced plans to join the Sun Belt Conference was a lot of fun!.

These CCU triumphs over the past five years paved the way for a constant stream of excitement that rushed through this entire campus. I tried to grab hold of this energy and make my own CCU moments. During my time as a CCU staffer I have appeared in a Darius Rucker music video, attended national conferences, traveled with the men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament, hosted my own social media segment, wrote a cover story for our alumni magazine, followed our CCU-sponsored NASCAR driver to a few races, experienced an eclipse at complete totality, covered the baseball team’s national championship parade/stadium celebration, and much more.

I have had so many memorable times while working at CCU.

Again, just like with the industry accomplishments, I would have been deprived of the memorable moments without my bosses and co-workers. If not for Bill Plate, Martha Hunn, and Matt Hogue I would not be here at Coastal. Those three comprised the hiring committee that ended up granting me the opportunity of a lifetime. If not for my incredible supervisor, Lindsi Glass, I would not have been able to grow as a professional and feel so comfortable coming to work each day. If not for Kim Harper, the best administrative assistant to ever walk the planet, many of our fun social media promotions would be derailed by red tape. And, if not for my talented and selfless co-workers, the success of our #CCUSocialMedia program would be non-existent. Because of our graphic designers (Rob, Jeanne, Regis, Ron, Scoops, Jady), photographers (Judy, Scott, Tad), video wizards (David, Geoff, Richard, Dennis, Josh), web personnel (Brentley and Marty) and writers (Caroline, Mel, Doug, Mona), we have incredible content to share each day. They take our social media presence to the next level and make me look good. Even more importantly, they are all humble people and trusted friends.

I have had the pleasure of working with so many great people in the Office of University Communication at CCU.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the final joy of working on this campus: the students. In five years, I have had many motivated and savvy students work for me and I have met countless others who have participated in many of my wacky social media campaigns/promotions. It goes without saying that I am beyond appreciative – without students, I don’t have a job.

I have been blessed to be around some amazing students. This photo is of me with Eddie and Monica, two of my former student interns.

A lot has changed in five years. My title has changed, the name of our department has changed, and our top leader has changed. But one aspect has not: Coastal Carolina University is a great place to work. I am thankful to the CCU administration and the state of South Carolina for employing me. I look forward to the next five years. Don’t Blink.

Low Carb Pizza Thursday Rundown

Peace be with you! I hope you have had a nice week and that you are fully recovered from your Super Bowl parties. Let’s get started with tonight’s five topics.

Keto Snack – I usually don’t eat anything keto-related, but I made a recent exception. What you see below is tortilla pizza, a dish that Sid made from the keto cookbook that Sloan gave her as a birthday gift. You simply take a low carb tortilla and layer it with sauce and cheese. Sid then cooked it on the stove. Although this is too light for a meal, it sure made for a great snack.

This is the tortilla pizza that Sidney made.

The Claw – This morning I saw a story about a unique situation in Alabama. A toddler managed to trap himself in a claw arcade machine. Do you know what I mean? I am talking those games where you position a three-pronged claw to grab a stuffed animal or other toy long enough so it is dropped and dispensed. The boy crawled up through the dispensing door, finding himself right in the middle of toy land. He required rescue assistance from the fire department.

I remember when I was 7 or 8. I was at a Safeway with my mom. As we were leaving, I watched an adult woman play a claw machine. She put a dollar in and failed at both attempts. She put another dollar in. No luck. Then another dollar and another dollar. Still another dollar. After what seemed like $20 (far more than any of the prizes in the cage), she managed to capture a stuffed animal, the claw successfully grasping it long enough to dispense it. Without saying more than two words, she grabbed her hard earned prize and handed it to me as she walked out into the parking lot.

This boy trapped himself in a claw machine.

Sloan Update – Just the latest ramblings on Sloan…she is turning into an accomplished singer. She has about 6-7 songs in her repertoire that she will perform for us. She has her ABCs down and her favorite letter is S. She can finally say her name after learning the names of everyone else in her life first. Her daycare has taught her so much, including animal sounds and table etiquette. She constantly says “church” but sometimes she can’t stay still once we actually arrive and sit in the pew. She loves cats but dislikes dogs. She lives a good life.

Some recent Sloan photos…the top image is with her friend, Riley.

Getting GIPHY With It – At #CCUSocialMedia, we know GIFs aren’t going anywhere. In fact, we realize they are as popular and versatile as ever. We have plunged head first into the new brand accounts offered by GIPHY. Thanks to our new social media specialist, Anthony Bowser, our presence on the platform has been felt. Anthony created an entire selection of unique CCU GIFs, quickly racking up over 1.4 million views on our account. The best part is that these Chanticleer-inspired GIFs are available for use on Instagram Story and Snapchat. Want to add some teal to your Story? Simply type “Coastal Carolina University” in the GIF bar.

Make sure to add these Coastal Carolina University GIFs to your Instagram Story.

Happy Birthday, Monopoly! – The game of Monopoly turns 84 today. I think all of us have memories of games that lasted for hours. For me, playing Monopoly as a kid made me feel sophisticated and grown up. We certainly didn’t play by all the official rules (we seriously sweetened the Free Parking jackpot) but we grasped the lessons that Monopoly teaches – buying/selling, managing money, strategy. As long as I got to be the cannon game piece and didn’t land on Broadway when it was owned by someone else, I was a happy camper. Happy birthday to this classic game!

Happy birthday, Monopoly!

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I appreciate your time this evening and I hope you enjoy your weekend. Remember that the Grammy’s are on this Sunday night. Don’t Blink.

Unicorn Thursday Rundown

What a fun week it has been! I can say that we definitely got the maximum bang for our buck with Sloan’s $25 Target unicorn costume. Let’s get straight to the Thursday Rundown.

Instaween – Yesterday, #CCUSocialMedia presented its fourth annual Instaween. It was fun to once again put together this event. Students in costumes have their picture taken in our gigantic Instagram frame and then our social media audience votes for their favorites. However, the event just isn’t about generating cool content. We pass out candy and treats to all students, not just the ones in costumes. You see, we spend so much time communicating with our students behind the @ccuchanticleers handle that we don’t always get to interact with them face-to-face. This event helps us to bridge that gap and I couldn’t be more thankful for the assistance that my #CCUSocialMedia intern, Katie, gave me to make sure Instaween was a success.

Katie and I worked the 2018 #CCUSocialMedia Instaween event.

Halloween Night Fun – Last night, Sloan had an absolute blast trick-or-treating (as did her daddy). I had never seen a neighborhood as insane on Halloween night as ours. Think of any Halloween movie that shows exaggerated scenes of kids trick-or-treating and that was our neighborhood last night. Neighbors distributed candy from their driveways, police vehicles cruised the streets, lawn decorations were outrageous, non-traditional “treats” were passed out, and the neighborhood overflowed (people came from near and far) with costumed kids and their parents. We live on a very long street so we stayed on it the whole time as I pushed Sloan in her little car from house to house.

Sidney and Sloan hanging out on the driveway on Halloween night.

Meeting Rachel Swindler – Many of you know that I am a huge “Big Brother” fan. Thus, it was a thrill for me to meet “Big Brother 20” houseguest Rachel Swindler this morning. Rachel actually graduated from Coastal Carolina and today she stopped by campus to chat about her time as a Chanticleer and her experience on Big Brother. I ate up every word as she took us behind the scenes of the show. Once our talented team edits and releases the video, I will include the link in a future Thursday Rundown. Rachel was extremely gracious and open and of course Robin Russell was once again an absolute professional as she conducted the interview.

It was a pleasure to meet Rachel Swindler (thanks to Judy Johns for the great photo).

All Saints Day – Today is All Saints’ Day, a solemn feast in which we honor all saints who served as such dedicated disciples of God during their time on earth and who now look down on us from Heaven. I attended 6:30 a.m. mass at St. Andrew this morning and as is custom, the gospel reading was the Beatitudes passage from John. Saints lived out the Beatitudes as by Jesus Christ and we are called to do the same so that one day we can join them in paradise. Rejoice and be glad!

I attended All Saints’ Day mass at St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach today.

Delicious Pizza – Last year, I wrote a blog post listing my top five favorite national pizza chains. Well, if the category didn’t have the “national” designation in front of it, I would be updating that list. On Friday night, we tried Gino’s pizza here in Myrtle Beach. It markets itself as a place that offers authentic New York pizza and it doesn’t disappoint! If you like flavorful and fresh pizza with quality toppings, give Gino’s a try. It is now my favorite pizza restaurant in Myrtle Beach.

This pizza from Gino’s looked so good that I couldn’t wait to take a photo until I had ate a couple pieces.

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Thanks for reading my post! Time now to sign off for the evening. Have a great month of November and don’t forget that Christmas is next month. Don’t Blink.

The Abu Thursday Rundown

I have a genuine appreciation for my readers so thank you for returning to Don’t Blink. You picked a good day to do it because it is the Thursday Rundown. If you are a rookie, that means five random topics are about to come your way.

Cup On Head – I want to start the Rundown with a cute photo of Sloan. On Sunday, my daughter managed to put a Cookout cup on the top of her head. Not only did she look absolutely silly, but my sister-in-law made an interesting observation, saying that she looked like Abu from “Aladdin.” I don’t think the comparison was that far off.

Sloan with a Cookout cup on her head. Does she look like Abu to you?

Coin Dance – Earlier this week, my sister and brother-in-law celebrated their seventh anniversary. As I looked through Timehop I saw many photos from the reception, including one from the best wedding reception tradition ever: The Coin Dance. An Italian custom, the coin dance occurs during a designated bride-groom dance. Wedding guests shower the dance floor with coins and all the kids in attendance rush to pick up the silver (don’t think about throwing pennies). Not only does it break up the monotony of a reception while giving the children something to look forward to, it also provides good luck to the bride and groom. Judging by my sister’s marriage and my own (Sid and I did it at our wedding reception), I would say those Italians got it right!

A look back at the Coin Dance at both receptions of Sid & I and Miradan & Jay.

Summer Social Media Campaign – This week I was thrilled to introduce our summer #CCUSocialMedia campaign. With the PopSocket craze still going strong, I came up with something called PopCHANTet Texts. I am asking current students, alumni, and faculty/staff to describe what Coastal Carolina University means to them. However, they have to do it in 280 characters and I am encouraging them to write it as if they were sending a text message. For the visual component of the campaign, I am supplying each participating person with a CCU PopSocket to put on the back of their phone. The volunteer will then have a person snap a photo of them as they “text” what Coastal means to them. See below or click here for what the final product looks like. My goal with PopCHANTet Texts is to encourage the CCU community to be frank and to the point about why they are proud of their university.

I am excited about #PopCHANTet Texts!

Lemonade? – I got wrapped up in a debate with Sid and one of my co-workers about a tweet I sent out a year ago. I had expressed my opinion that I don’t think lemonade really goes with any food item or meal. I concede that it is a thirst quencher on a hot day, but I would never pour a large glass of lemonade to go with my Mexican food or a steak. Geoff, my co-worker, believes it naturally goes with Chick-fil-A and apparently Sid thinks it goes with anything but I can’t agree. What do you think?

This tweet that I sent on June 3, 2017, was debated again this week.

Knockoff vs. Premium – One of my personal favorite blog posts of all-time was written exactly three years ago when I had Sidney do a blind taste test of five products. Each product was represented by its premium version and a generic version. From snack foods to breakfast favorites to macaroni and cheese, I had Sid try all products and give me an honest assessment on what tasted better. I will say this: my wife’s taste buds are on point. I encourage you to read the post!

Sid sampled a popular cereal as part of the Knockoff vs. Premium showdown.

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To everyone attending the Carolina Country Music Festival this weekend, have fun! To all those who don’t live in Myrtle Beach and who have no idea what I am talking about — you have a good weekend too. Catch up with you soon. Don’t Blink.

The Latest #CCUSocialMedia T-Shirt

As a marketer, I am a firm believer in branding. My affinity for “establishing a brand” filters down to the social media program I am in charge of. When I arrived at Coastal Carolina University, I wanted the campus community to know that the engaging and memorable content they were seeing came from an overarching source that stretched from our Facebook page to our Snapchat account to our LinkedIn profile to our various other channels.

We confined our brand to a hashtag, #CCUSocialMedia. It didn’t take long for people to realize that if a piece of content was stamped with the tag, it meant that it was created by the University specifically for #TEALnation.

It was important to develop a brand for our social media program at Coastal.

But how did we get word out about the brand? Well, we developed a website, came up with creative content, utilized brand ambassadors, and followed an organized plan.

Oh yeah, we also created t-shirts…

We announced our new #CCUSocialMedia t-shirt today. Thanks to Katie, my social media intern, for being a great model!

Yesterday, I picked up our newest #CCUSocialMedia t-shirts. Designed to reflect the current social media climate, this shirt is the third version in our program’s history.

Me sporting the new #CCUSocialMedia t-shirt.

The front is our brand. Actually, it is a 2-in-1. Not only does it contain our University’s social media logo but it also boasts our #CCUSocialMedia hashtag. Tricky, right? A logo that is, for all intents and purposes, your hashtag.

The front of the shirt features our logo/hashtag and is to the point.

But the back of the shirt is where it is at. Ron Walker, a designer in our office, polished the concept I gave him and created something really cool. In a live streaming world obsessed with “likes” and “loves,” we knew this shirt would need plenty of hearts and smiley faces. He placed our increasingly popular Chants Up sign inside the screen of a phone marked with our social media handle (@CCUChanticleers). He then let the instant gratification flow as the reaction emojis begin at the bottom and hover upwards to the top of the shirt.

I must say that Ron Walker did an extremely creative job designing this shirt.

Will this shirt be as popular as our Chauncey inspired Twitter design? Talk about a difficult task! We didn’t re-order those shirts TWICE for no reason. But judging by the reaction on social media, I think these shirts will rival the past ones in terms of popularity.

The past two #CCUSocialMedia t-shirts.

I know you want a shirt. All you have to do is participate in #CCUSocialMedia to win one. Sorry, they won’t be available in stores to purchase. As for me, I am excited to wear my new #CCUSocialMedia shirt and continue to spread the brand! Don’t Blink.

Two Special Students

This afternoon at around 3:30 p.m., our social media team at Coastal Carolina University will decrease by 66%. At that time, President DeCenzo will be telling the students gathered in the HTC Center to move their tassels from the right to the left. When Eddie Harris and Monica Trepiccione follow the President’s instructions, they will effectively conclude their time with #CCUSocialMedia. I am a little sad about that.

I was very lucky to have Eddie and Monica serve as my social media interns.

Although I am lucky to work with incredible content creators within our University Communication department at CCU, I only have two people working directly in the social media program with me. Eddie has served as my intern for two years and Monica for one. They have both contributed to our social media program immensely and their services will be sorely missed (click here to watch the tribute video we made for Monica and Eddie).

I am going to miss these two!

When I speak to classes, I always tell them my job is awesome. I brag that I have the privilege of interacting with thousands of people via their computer or smart device each day and that I get to represent a first class university in a very public/visible manner. However, I then add that while both of those job duties are cool, nothing is better than the opportunity I have to work with students. Working with Eddie and Monica has reinforced this incredible perk even more.

This is Eddie and I at a senior recognition event in April.

I don’t know where our social media program would be if not for Eddie and Monica; surely not one of the best in the country. Both of these young people brought creativity and perspective to the office each day and helped keep CCU current and fresh in the higher education social media world.

Monica and I (and Ethan) at a #CCUSocialMedia event in October.

Don’t think they hung out and tinkered around on Facebook for the duration of their internships. They did the dirty, grassroots work needed to keep a social media program afloat. I had them running around campus each day, recruiting students for campaigns, covering events where they stuck out like a sore thumb, stringing together lengthy Snapchat stories, perfecting content for me to post on our major channels, and much more. They worked non-business hours, they covered events that I couldn’t attend, and they even worked from home.

I wish both Eddie and Monica the best of luck.

But besides just excelling at their jobs, both were genuine and compassionate people. They asked me about Sloan, inquired about Sidney, patiently explained trends, joked around, and always asked what they could do to further assist. What more could I ask for?

Eddie and Monica didn’t just have an impact on #CCUSocialMedia, they had an impact on me. I can’t wait to watch them graduate today and then keep tabs on them as they find plenty of success in the future. I am extremely appreciative for all they have done and I will always remember them fondly. Don’t Blink.

Mid-November Thursday Rundown

Today is significant because it marks the two week countdown until Thanksgiving. Today is also a big deal because it is the Thursday Rundown. As I like to say, let’s get started!

Underwhelming Trump – I have to lead off the rundown by getting this off my chest: my admiration for Donald Trump is starting to wane a little bit. Four months ago, I wrote a post that was complimentary of the campaign he was running. Fast forward to the present and while I still respect what he has done, it has become apparent to me that major substance is lacking. I have watched all the GOP debates and it really seems like he says the same things over and over. He bypasses on the details. He drifts into irrelevancy when he talks about past business deals. Each debate I have watched I have paid close attention to Trump and each time I came away underwhelmed. However, more power to the guy for still leading the polls!

Fritos Chili Pizza One Year Later – As it is the one year anniversary of when I ordered the Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza, I thought I would just state my opinion that I am not surprised that 365 days later no other pizza franchises have followed suit with their own version of it. Despite good intentions, the pizza just didn’t work. Sure the taste itself wasn’t spectacular but the worst part about the experiment was eating a slice the next day. Soggy chips that are then refrigerated never turn out good.

Me holding the Fritos Chili Pizza from Papa John's.

Me holding the Fritos Chili Pizza from Papa John’s.

Two Interesting Documentaries – Sidney bought me an Apple TV for my birthday. Lately I have taken full advantage of the device, watching movies and documentaries. When it comes to the latter, I want to share the names of two decent ones I watched this week. I got a thrill entering the world of sleep paralysis with “The Nightmare.” The film interviews numerous folks who suffer from sleep paralysis while depicting their horrors as they share their experiences. As someone who has had sleep paralysis experiences before, I found it very interesting.

Ever wonder if you have a long lost twin? The documentary I watched last night, “Twinsies,” tells the story of two twin girls who were adopted out of Asia. One went to France and one went to the United States. The French girl happened to see her American twin, who she had no idea existed, on a YouTube video. The two connected and started to Skype. The documentary chronicles the DNA tests that ensued, the endless questions that were raised, and the reunion that took place in Europe.

Another Great Graphic – Last week I shared the stellar Halloween graphic that was made for our Coastal Carolina University social media accounts. This week I want to show off the Veterans Day graphic that was created. Once again, our graphics team did a phenomenal job. Thank you Ron for designing this, it was very well-received by our #CCUSocialMedia audience.

This fabulous Veterans Day graphic was made by designer Ron Walker.

This fabulous Veterans Day graphic was made by designer Ron Walker.

Wedding Update #12 – We are in the process of trying to choose the venue for our rehearsal dinner. Sidney and I want to get our restaurant selected so we can make a reservation and beat out the swarm of engaged couples that will sprout up over the holidays. Best way to make a quality decision? Treat yourself to dinner at each prospective location! Last Friday we ate at Sea Captain’s House, a Myrtle Beach favorite that is on our short list. After we ate we were able to ask questions. To all my Myrtle Beach readers, Sidney and I would LOVE suggestions on other good places to consider. Keep in mind that we want a restaurant that isn’t too far from St. Andrew Catholic Church.

Also, we had our fourth Pre-Cana meeting on Tuesday. We only have one meeting left but that will be on hold next week. Why? Well, our sponsor couple is graciously having us over solely for dinner! The books will be put away as they prepare a meal for the four of us. Sid and I love our sponsor couple!

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Have a great Thursday night! As always, thank you for reading. Don’t Blink.

Sponsoring a Student and Taking a Chance

I have become a broken record stating that the part I like most about my job is interacting with college students on a daily basis. They help me reach my goals for our social media program and I do my best to help them as well.

In an effort to attract more people to their services, especially students, many social media apps have a “college rep program.” The makers of these apps will recruit and train students to grow their social media service on their respective college campuses.

A few weeks ago I met with a student at Coastal named Emily. She had recently become one of these social media reps. However, she wasn’t a rep for one of the many apps that pop up for a few weeks and then disappear. Instead, she signed on with a popular app that has proven to have a little more staying power. I am talking about Yik Yak.

Yik Yak is an app that makes a lot of folks working in higher education very nervous and uncomfortable.

Yik Yak is an app that makes a lot of folks working in higher education very nervous and uncomfortable.

Emily needed my help. Up until our meeting, she was fulfilling her Yik Yak rep duties by catching up with students as they walked to class or entered the dining hall. It was an unofficial, hit-and-miss, guerrilla type strategy. Not that there was anything wrong with what she was doing, it was just that she was limited. She came into my office and asked that #CCUSocialMedia sponsor her.

What does it mean to be sponsored at Coastal Carolina University? It means that a third party individual or group (such as Emily working for Yik Yak) must be backed by an official office on campus. The official capacity watches over the sponsoree and does what they can to help the third party reach their goals. Perhaps the most coveted advantage of a third party that is sponsored by a Coastal entity is that they receive tabling privileges out on Prince Lawn.

Emily Little is a freshman from Mauldin, S.C.

Emily Little is a freshman from Mauldin, S.C.

During her pitch, Emily told me that her goal was not just to “recruit more members for the #CCU herd” but to also clean up our Yik Yak feed. Of course I brought up the Yik Yak Takeover I organized a year ago. I told her it worked great for the day but things went back to normal shortly thereafter. She countered that it would be a project she would be able to focus on for a much longer period of time as opposed to the one day we devoted to it. I then grilled her with questions about her role as a Yik Yak rep. I explained how tough of a decision it was for me to sponsor an individual who is working for a service that allows users to be so openly critical of CCU.

As one final vetting measure, I had Emily come in and talk to our #CCUSocialMedia Student Advisory Group about her plans. They interrogated her with more questions and comments than I did! With the approval of our Vice President for University Communication, I decided to sponsor her. For someone who had gone to great lengths to prove she wanted to help both Yik Yak and Coastal Carolina at the same time, I couldn’t refuse. After all, it was a great PR move. Students naturally think that all college institutions automatically despise Yik Yak. When they see a university actively working with the service, it sends a message of collaboration instead of fear and resentment.

This past Friday, Emily had her first event on Prince Lawn. Offering items such as t-shirts, pens, masks, and extremely popular socks, her table was packed for the full three hours. The merchandise was used to make both Yik Yak and CCU happy as students received the smaller promo items for signing up for the service and the more premium items for sending out positive Yaks.

#CCUSocialMedia was successful in sponsoring Emily, a student rep for Yik Yak.

#CCUSocialMedia was successful in sponsoring Emily, a student rep for Yik Yak.

As with our Yik Yak Takeover, the stream was filled with positivity. However, there was one major difference. Absent this time around was an effort by an unhappy minority to hijack the positive vibes. When we did the Takeover, we received pushback from some who hated the idea of CCU staff getting involved. With this a sole student-driven effort, we didn’t see anyone trying to combat the optimism.

Emily and I at the Yik Yak table on Friday.

Emily and I at the Yik Yak table on Friday.

#CCUSocialMedia tried to help out Emily more than just organizing her table and checking up on her. We devoted Instagram and Twitter posts on our main accounts during the event. I also sent our student videographer out to do a short story on Emily’s efforts. When I asked Emily at the end of the day if she was happy with how it all turned out, she said YES.

Emily's Yik Yak table was packed the whole day.

Emily’s Yik Yak table was packed the whole day.

When it comes to pushing your brand, it is important to think outside of the box. Sometimes this entails working with a rival brand that might seem counterproductive at first glance. We pulled this off by sponsoring someone working for Yik Yak. Of course it wasn’t just “someone working for Yik Yak”…it was one of our students. The fact that we got to help her was the best part of it all. Don’t Blink.

September 2015: A Month Worth Recapping

Every now and then when a month ends, I like to quickly reflect on it. These posts typically come just twice a year and usually cover March or December and a summer month. I have never focused on September before. However, there is a first time for everything.

September 2015 was great from both angles. When I say “both angles” I mean work life and personal life.

Even busier this September than last, I have had my hands full on the campus at Coastal Carolina University. The month couldn’t have started off with a bigger bang. On Wednesday, September 1, we announced that our institution would join the Sun Belt Conference. It was a historic announcement that made for a busy and fun day. Speaking of sports, our football team made its debut on the brand new teal turf. I was there to cover that first game as everything that went out socially that night seemed to turn to gold. I was then back on the #SurfTurf the following week for the second home game. Yes, football season entails that we all work weekends and many times don’t leave the office until late at night but I wouldn’t trade it. Lucky for me, the four game football home stand will continue for the first two Saturdays in October.

Me standing in Brooks Stadium on our teal turf after the September 26 game. Moving to the Sun Belt and the first game played on this field with the new turf brought a lot of excitement in September to TealNation.

Me standing in Brooks Stadium on our teal turf after the September 26 game. Moving to the Sun Belt and the first game played on this field with the new turf brought a lot of excitement in September to TealNation.

With September being the first full month of the academic year, things were just busy in general. I got to fully implement the numerous social media campaigns I created for the year and evaluate their performance. I presented to a couple departments on campus, worked with several student groups, met with my CINO Legacy Mentee twice, and visited several different classrooms where I had the opportunity to capture learning in action. I staged the #CCU Periscope Marathon, an exhausting day where we broadcasted live for nine hours straight. I received recognition from a couple publications, including the student newspaper.

But the crowning achievement for the month of September was no doubt the establishment and inaugural meeting of the #CCUSocialMedia Student Advisory Group. This was a long time coming and one of my original goals so to see it come to fruition was the professional highlight of the month for me.

No questions asked, meeting with my #CCUSocialMedia Student Advisory Group was my favorite professional part of the month.

No questions asked, meeting with my #CCUSocialMedia Student Advisory Group was my favorite professional part of the month.

The overall highlight of the month for me, however, was having my brother come and visit me. As I mentioned in a blog post recapping Glen’s vacation here in Myrtle Beach, it can only be described as epic. Sidney and I had such an enjoyable time showing him around the area and just being able to have fun. It will be something that we will always talk about for a very long time.

Nothing was better this month than having my brother visit me in Myrtle Beach.

Nothing was better this month than having my brother visit me in Myrtle Beach.

September was also the month where I finally learned how to formally play golf. Sidney and I completed our fourth lesson last night and have really gotten a lot out of them. Living in Myrtle Beach, it was definitely time that I actually learned how to play. I also watched as my new favorite show came to a conclusion. It was an intense month of “Big Brother 17,” an emotional roller coaster as my two favorites (Vanessa and Austin) both had their ups and downs. Unfortunately it culminated with a major disappointment as Steve won.

Of course I will always have the lasting images of Pope Francis making his visit to the United States. Watching him make the tour through Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia was special. The way he conducted himself and the way the American people and media embraced him will always be cemented in my brain.

Tomorrow, October will begin. It is the month of my birthday and Halloween so it can’t be that bad. If I missed you in September, I hope to see you in October. Don’t Blink.