Coogs Developing Their Social Graces

By Melissa Carroll

UH social media manager Jessica Brand helps students with online activities at Frontier Fiesta.

It‘s becoming clear that UH ‘likes’ social media - and vice versa.

UH continues to maintain a high-ranking position among universities as an innovative user of social media with award-winning recognition during the last three years. UH President Renu Khator leads from the top, with acknowledgement from Education Dive, an online education news site, as one of the “10 College Presidents on Twitter Who are Doing It Right,” in 2013.

“We are incredibly lucky to have a president who is wonderful at using social media,” said Jessica Brand, social media manager at UH. “President Khator shares a good mix of insight into her personal world, achievements at UH and things that inspire her about the University. Her tweets and blog posts open up conversations about UH that help people feel connected in a special way.”

#RemainConnected

Khator’s social media participation is part of Brand’s overall social media goal for UH to engage and remain connected with its students, prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, fans, friends, donors and the community.

“The UH social media team is a resource helping people stay involved with football games, art events, career services and many different kinds of events and information,” said Brand. “We cross-promote campus events to keep people with different interests engaged.”

Her greatest success so far is the “Keep Houston Red” campaign, where the social media team asked UH students, faculty and staff to wear Cougar Red on Fridays.

“There were many components of this social-based campaign, and it was incredibly successful,” said Brand. “We organized ‘Red Rewards’ on Fridays, where teams of students and staff would roam campus to hand out free T-shirts to students wearing red and arranged visits to classes with the UH marching band and mascot, where social media cards were handed out and photos taken of students for the social media sites.”

#GoingforGold

The Council for Advancement Support of Education (CASE) awarded the “Keep Houston Red” campaign gold awards for social media integration and the UH Facebook social media networking page; the silver award for social media creativity; and a bronze award for UH Twitter in 2013.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) Houston awarded the campaign two Crystal Awards, including “Judge’s Favorite” and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Houston awarded a Gold Excalibur Award for Integrated Marketing Campaign and a Bronze Excalibur Award for Grass Roots Program/Guerilla Marketing in 2012. PRSA Houston awarded a Silver Excalibur Award for Excellence (Interactive PR) for a social media campaign in 2011.

“UH is successful with social media because we look at things a little differently,” said Bill Herndon, director of web and new media communication at UH. “ We are willing to try things to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

UH receives between 10 to 50 questions a day regarding all aspects of the University on social media.

“Being responsive is the most important part of our job. We have a great network with the Social Media Alliance (a group developed by the UH social media team to meet with communicators across the UH campus on a regular basis) and that is key to providing the best customer service,” said Brand.

UH’s commitment to social media also led it to become the very first university on Snapchat. The timing couldn’t have worked out better. About a month after UH’s launch, the NCA A announced that Snapchat would be an acceptable recruiting tool for the upcoming academic year.


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