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Wichita State University: Enhancing Social Media

How do you empower a two-person team who is in charge of the university’s social media on a part-time basis?

Give them tools to perform a excellent job and the resources to document the improvements.

Wichita State had an interesting problem: how were they going to harness the power of social media? For a college that wanted to double-down on technology and be known as an innovation campus, this was the make-or-break point for an emerging social media initiative.

At the time, only two university employees ran the social media operation for Wichita State. And for those employees, this role was performed as a secondary duty, and neither of them have had extensive experience on how to effectively use social media.

The task assigned to our group of four was to analyze the current usage of social media and provide suggestions on how to improve the effectiveness of Wichita State's social media outreach without employing someone specifically for social media, due to budget restrictions.

UX Hypothesis

We believe that understanding different social media platforms and creating strategy plans will increase traffic to the social media platforms and enhance information distribution for Wichita State students.

We will know this is true by tracking and comparing the frequency of likes/retweets/shares among the two social media platforms we focused on (Facebook and Twitter).

Proving Value with Limited Resources

Our first suggestion that we offered was to start tracking the metrics of the university's social media accounts. This is done through Facebook Analytics or by recording the daily social media activity in Excel.

Tracking activity allows the two to try out different approaches and measure their effectiveness. The tracked information provides tangible data, instead of anecdotal results that the social media team previously relied upon.

Another benefit to the recording of metrics is that having a deliverable in hand when going to the university department heads will make their case easier to get additional funding. With Wichita State wanting to take a step into the future, proving the value of social media is an important step to convince the university to expand the social media outreach.

Wichita State Basketball
WSU students gathering for a Men's Shockers Basketball Game
Courtesy Wichita State

Which Social Media to Use and When

For Wichita State, Facebook is more of an interactive platform for generating conversation between students and the organization. The ideal Facebook user is someone who is on the go, but will invest time to browse the Wichita State Facebook feed.

Promoting upcoming events through Facebook makes it easily accessible gives holds an advantage university's website. A common student complaint is the frustration experienced when searching for event information via the university's website.

Facebook also gives the opportunity to interact and engage with students and groups. This interaction builds a relationship between the students and the university and increases the likelihood of visiting on the Wichita State Facebook page.

The number of likes, shares and follows are the quantifiable metrics that should be recorded.

Wu Shock, Mascot for Wichita State Univeristy
Wu Shock the Mascot, courtesy WSU

Using Twitter is much different from Facebook. There are 140-character limits, the search functionality through hashtags, and the time-sensitive filtering of Twitter's posting algorithm.

For Wichita State, Twitter is best used for posting brief information and events happening close to the present. An example would be tweeting scores and big plays during a Wichita State basketball game.

One of the ideas we proposed was to have the school mascot, WuShock, go around campus and have people tag where they found @Wu_Shock on Twitter.

For Twitter, using Twitter Analytics is a great start for monitoring social media. Other metrics, like tweets, retweets, and relevant hashtags could also be documented.

Results in Action

With these ideas in mind, Wichita State started tracking their social media metrics. After meeting with university officials, it was decided that the two person team could use extra help.

In the following semester, a social media intern was brought in and new social media guidelines were established. By being more aware of social media and tracking their results, Wichita State is now ready to harness the power of their social media.

UX Skills Used:

Problem Solving: Understanding the issue WSU faced and what steps could be taken to solve the problem.

Brainstorming: Researching of possible methods that WSU could use to engage with students and enhance their social media presence.

Interviews: Communicating with students and staff about their expectations of social media and what could be improved.