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.

SnapchaNt

About ten months ago I wrote about the launching of our Snapchat channel here at Coastal Carolina University. I explained my strategy and I also talked aloud about how shocked I was that more universities were not on Snapchat. Almost a year later, if institutions still aren’t on SC, they have severely missed the boat.

Follow us on Snapchat by searching "ccuchanticleers."

Follow us on Snapchat by searching “ccuchanticleers.”

I task my intern, Jada, with creating most of our Snapchat content. However, about three weeks ago I was logged in looking at our account. I was viewing the amount of users who looked at various snaps within our story. To my delight, all of these pieces of media had triple digit views. To know that roughly 150 people (mostly students) look at each image we send out via our Snapchat story is gratifying. It became very clear that we needed to leverage this service as much as possible. Thus, the creation of our latest #CCUSocialMedia event…

This Friday, we will hold SnapchaNt. On this day, we will shut down all of our other social media channels and communicate to our audience solely through Snapchat.

Our official SnapchaNt logo created by the wonderful Gwendolyn Washington.

Our official SnapchaNt logo created by the wonderful Gwendolyn Washington.

We have a few goals:


1. We want to build our Snapchat following as much as possible. We already have 300+ followers*, I hope to double it by the end of Friday.

2. We want to continue to provide our #CCUSocialMedia audience with fun and creative ways to engage with us on Social. When have you ever heard of a university staging a Snapchat day? I am guessing never. We pride ourselves on being unique.

3. We want to generate fantastic user content! I am already excited for the snaps that our followers will send back to us. I will be screenshotting like crazy so I can create a gallery featuring the best of the best.

It will be fun! We will stage Snapchat giveaways throughout the day for students to cash in on. We will make our audience laugh. We will bolster our strong Snapchat channel even more. We will experiment a little. We will make one heck of a Snapchat story for all to enjoy.

Make sure to have fun with us on Snapchat this Friday.

Make sure to have fun with us on Snapchat this Friday.

Sure, we will alienate some traditional social media users who want nothing to do with Snapchat. But I know for a fact we will also convince others to join the service and follow us. The target market I am especially after, our students with accounts who just haven’t added us yet, will hopefully follow us in droves. It has actually already started to happen. After the announcement of SnapchaNt yesterday I spent five minutes Monday evening confirming new adds. I did the same this afternoon. Who knows what is awaiting our account right now.

In my opinion, having a strong Snapchat account is imperative. There is no faster way to reach students these days than through a simple Snap. Besides the practicality and necessity of having an active Snapchat account, it again just sends home the message to our social audience and specifically our students that we care about the social media experience we give them. Make sure to add us on Snapchat by searching “ccuchanticleers” and join us for some fun this Friday. Don’t Blink.

* I equate 300 Snapchat users to 3,000 Twitter users or 13,000 Facebook page likes.

A Classy Twitter Battle: Coastal vs. Wisconsin

The reputation of a social media program is much like that of a public figure. After much hard work, careful vigilance, and perfect choices up to a certain point, things can come crashing down after just one mistake. Conversely, when the pressure is on and people are watching, the opportunity to define your social program in a positive way is also possible.

Late last week on the morning of our basketball team’s NCAA Tournament game against #1 seed Wisconsin, our @CCUChanticleers Twitter account was tagged in a tweet from the official Twitter account at the University of Wisconsin:

This was the tweet that started it all.

This was the tweet that started it all.

It was a completely wide open and general tweet that didn’t reflect any menace or ill-intention. However, I did want to proceed with caution. I am pretty outspoken on how much I despise it when official Twitter accounts decide to go head-to-head in a game of who can be the wittiest while trying to make the other look like a complete fool. I have seen too many respected and well-followed entities completely embarrass themselves by clashing in social media battles that made all involved look like whiny children.

There was no doubt I was going to respond to the Wisconsin tweet. This had the potential to be awesome. Not only was it David vs. Goliath in basketball, it was also David vs. Goliath in social media. The @UWMadison account boasts almost 90,000 followers, a complete dwarfing of the 5,000 followers we have at #CCU. Any mention that the Wisconsin account gave us would help the exposure and following of our own account. However, all that potential help would be completely washed away if the conversation went badly. I chose my words carefully and issued a warm greeting back to the Wisconsin account.

I needed to test the waters.

I needed to test the waters.

The @UWMadison account responded back asking if we had our dancing shoes on, a second harmless question that let me know that Wisconsin was not out for blood. I answered back with the date that our team had won the conference championship and then sent a separate tweet asking about the best part of the Wisconsin campus.

Here is where the dialogue started to get interesting.

Here is where the dialogue started to get interesting.

The ice was broken. I felt comfortable. We exchanged more Tweets while our respective audiences looked on. We both sent out playful jabs that the Twitterverse could laugh at rather than cringe at.

For space constraints I had to eliminate the photos but you get the idea of our dialogue.

For space constraints I had to eliminate the photos but you get the idea of our dialogue.

After we went back-and-forth a couple times I decided to make sure we concluded while we were both on the top of our games. I sent out a pleasant tweet to Wisconsin that was almost immediately met by a similar response from them. I felt really good about what had just transpired.

We ended the morning conversation the right way.

We ended the morning conversation the right way.

Little did I know that it was just the beginning. Throughout the rest of the day and even into Saturday, Twitter users both related and unrelated to our schools expressed how much the dialogue touched them. One person said it brought a tear to her eye, another said it restored his faith in humanity, yet another said it was the best Twitter exchange ever. Too many other tweets to count used the words “classy,” “respect,” “adorable,” and “beautiful” to describe the conversation. More than one person remarked “that’s how it’s done.”

Here is just a sampling of some of the tweets received regarding the Twitter conversation between Wisconsin and Coastal Carolina.

Here is just a sampling of some of the tweets received regarding the Twitter conversation between Wisconsin and Coastal Carolina.

Then came the media coverage. A newspaper in Wisconsin wrote a piece that they posted on their website highlighting the exchange. It was quickly favorited, retweeted, and shared numerous times. Our Myrtle Beach outlets soon followed as news channels WPDE and WMBF posted articles as well. I was quoted in one of these pieces and I was able to give credit to my counterpart at Wisconsin who had done so much to make sure the Twitter conversation stayed respectful and fun. Nate Moll, the man behind #UWSocial, humored me that morning. We quickly followed each other on our own personal Twitter accounts (follow Nate…@natemoll) and had the opportunity to exchange messages about the big morning. Indeed, it was a big victory for both of us.

When the buzzer had sounded and the Badgers had eliminated our Chants by a closer-than-expected score of 86-72, there was this final exchange:

And this is how it ended.

And this is how it ended.

When it comes to social media, if you are out looking to “win” by shaming someone else you will lose. There is little consolation in acting like a jerk in front of thousands of people. However, if you take an approach where you are creative yet respectful, the outcome will be fruitful for all. Friday was a proud day for the social media programs at Wisconsin and Coastal Carolina. Don’t Blink.

The Latest and Greatest Thursday Rundown

Once again I am face-to-face with Thursday. As is the Don’t Blink custom, it is time for a random rundown.

Grammys Disappointment – So much for my anticipation. I was bored to tears by the Grammy’s on Sunday night. I was so disappointed with the performances, hosting, and flow of the show. Making matters worse, the artists who I wanted to win didn’t come out victorious. With that said, I didn’t throw a big fit like Kanye West did. Can he please just go away for good? His actions and ego sicken me. But back to the topic. One good thing about the lackluster Grammy’s was that it made my decision very easy to flip over to the season premiere of “Bar Rescue.”

What #CCUSocialMedia is Doing Differently – I swear this isn’t a copy and paste job from last Thursday’s blog post. As you might remember, I talked about how WMBF did a great story on the social media group I hold each month. Believe it or not, the same station followed that story with another one a few days later. All-star reporter Mandy Noell looked into how #CCUSocialMedia doesn’t write off controversial social media apps like other universities do. Instead, we evaluate each different service to find a creative way in which we can effectively use it. Once again, my ugly mug is prominently featured. To see the story, click here.

Once again, here is your chance to see this sad face.

Once again, here is your chance to see this sad face.

Busy Friday – Tomorrow I will have a busy day at work. Currently our University is putting on a major conference. Thanks to our Women in Philanthropy and Leadership (WIPL) group, the 2015 Women’s Leadership Conference is going on as we speak. The event is two days of keynote speeches and breakout sessions. Tomorrow is the headlining day where women such as Leeza Gibbons and Gloria Gaynor will be speaking. I was out at the Sheraton Hotel covering it this afternoon and I will be back there tomorrow morning doing the same. After the WIPL conference in the early hours I will bust back to campus for the second half of the day so I can cover the opening of our brand new baseball stadium. Our Chanticleer ball club will be breaking in Springs Brooks Stadium against Old Dominion. Not only will I be working it for social media but I will also be on assignment for a magazine feature as well.

Springs Brooks Stadium will open up tomorrow.

Springs Brooks Stadium will open up tomorrow.

Valentine’s Day Plans – On Saturday night I am taking Sidney out to Valentine’s dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Perhaps the nicest steakhouse chain in the country, I am looking forward to a delicious meal. It is my first time frequenting Ruth’s Chris and it should be memorable…unless of course I fall asleep. You see, our reservation is for 10:30 p.m. Dinner reservations on Valentine’s Day fill up quickly, especially for prime dining establishments. The only way we could get seated was if we took this late time. Bon appetit!

Long Overdue Mikayla Update – Because I haven’t done so in a long time, I thought I would update you on the development of my niece. Mikayla is now five months old and growing! As you can see, she is still as cute as can be.

Mikayla is now five months old.

Mikayla is now five months old.

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Happy Valentine’s Weekend, everyone. I know some people love it and some people hate it. To the people who love it, don’t rub it in the faces of those who hate it. Those who hate it, there is no need to constantly remind the world of your feelings (Want me to elaborate? Read this blog post I wrote three years ago). Don’t Blink.

A Social Media Campaign Months in the Making: #CCUfamily

Yesterday, #CCUSocialMedia officially kicked off an ambitious campaign called #CCUfamily. Designed to run every single school day of the semester, the campaign will thoroughly spotlight a Coastal student each day through our various social networks and website. Believe it or not, #CCUfamily has been in the makings for five months.

Yesterday, the #CCUfamily campaign made its debut (graphic created by the talented Daniel Mableton).

Yesterday, the #CCUfamily campaign made its debut (graphic created by the talented Daniel Mableton).

When I came to Coastal Carolina University in March for my on-site interview I was instructed to devise a social media campaign for the school and present it to the hiring committee. It was in my Missoula apartment that I drafted #CCUfamily. I worked hard to plan the campaign and work out how all the pieces would compliment each other. When I pitched my idea to the hiring committee I won points for the feasibility and organization of it. I promised that if hired I would follow through in implementing the campaign exactly how I presented it. I am now making good on that promise.

Inside my vision for #CCUSocialMedia was a section devoted to #CCUfamily.

Inside my vision for #CCUSocialMedia was a section devoted to #CCUfamily.

Camille Hurley, a senior student-athlete from Chicago, was my first featured student on Monday when the 2014-15 academic year started. Scrambling to put the finishing touches on the website, Camille’s face was all over our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube channels by 3 p.m. Each different outlet features a different image and fact about the featured student. However, while the social media outlets present different information they all drive the user to the #CCUfamily website where they can get a complete profile on the student.

Camille Hurley kicked off the #CCUSA campaign on Monday. This was the Facebook post.

Camille Hurley kicked off the #CCUSA campaign on Monday. This was the Facebook post.

I have found out over the past two days that I might have underestimated the work load just a little bit with this campaign. For each day this semester I will have to play web designer, video editor, journalist, and of course social media manager.

And that is just for getting the daily feature up each day.

A lot of prep work has/will go into this as well. I receive names of students worthy of this recognition from fellow Coastal employees. I compile those names and send them through the Dean of Students for approval. Once given the okay I start reaching out to the students and asking them if they want to participate. After sending them a questionnaire I set up a time to meet with them. During those individual meetings I take photos and shoot the Youtube video. As of right now I have completed 10 of these meetings and have about 60 more to go.

To be 100% honest, my favorite part of this campaign has nothing to do with social media. Although the original intent was based solely on introducing something cool for #CCUSocialMedia I am loving #CCUfamily for an entirely different reason: I get to meet our students. Only 10 interviews through and I am already blown away and rejuvenated by the maturity, humility, and drive of the #CCU student body. These students call me Mr. Reser, act graciously, and express honor at the opportunity to participate in the campaign. I have walked away from each interview feeling so happy to be on this campus.

To follow the #CCUfamily campaign, click here. On Instagram and Twitter our handle is @CCUChanticleers. If Facebook is your thing, click here. Don’t forget to watch the short 90 second videos either. Our Youtube channel can be accessed by clicking here. I am excited to share the students of Coastal Carolina University in a very cool and descriptive way throughout the next several months. Don’t Blink.