Castleton clubs, teams and academic departments are taking advantage of the digital age to reach students.
While the accounts stretch across multiple platforms – including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat – Instagram seems to be the most common source of interaction and student response. The Instagram accounts associated with the university vary from sports teams to the Random Acts of Kindness club to the business department.
Some accounts take advantage of the immediacy of social media and post limited-time contests or advertise where they will be on campus with merchandise.
Academic Support Center Director Jen Jones shared her department’s experience with a recent contest held in Huden Dining Hall. Jones said the contest was a part of the effort to attract more followers to their social media – @castletonacademicsupport.
“We were present in Huden for lunch and dinnertime one day with a prize to give away and all you had to do to win was follow us on social media,” Jones said.
Jones said the Academic Support Center is now using the “Sparty Says” blog to relay information via email, but social media allows the information to be shared in a different way.
“We are trying to mirror the information we send out in a more visual way. We share when a special event is planned or contests, or currently, we are advertising our TRIO achievement grants that students can apply for,” she said.
Courtney Widli, director of Development and Alumni Affairs, runs the @CUSpartans social media accounts in an attempt to provide interactive experiences for alumni as well as current students.
Widli said she launched the account in Spring of 2018 to better connect with Spartans in a digital space.
“This platform celebrates our beautiful campus and builds on the narrative of ‘Once a Spartan, always a Spartan,’ highlighting current campus atmosphere, while also celebrating our past, in terms of people, places, and spaces,” Widli said.
Similar to the Academic Support Center, the account often features giveaways with chances to win Castleton swag. In addition to the contests, the account shares stories of alumni success, behind the scenes look at events and nostalgic campus photos.
Widli also encourages students to join the “Castleton Alumni” page on Facebook after graduation as a chance to network and reconnect with past students.
“Our social media goals were to create a more informal space for alumni and students to connect with one another. Email is a great channel for us to get news and information out to our audience, but it is not always ideal for more in-depth conversations and connections. These platforms allow for participation and feeling like an active part of our Castleton past, present, and future,” Widli said.
The men’s soccer team Instagram account (@castletonmsoccer) offers a glimpse of what is going on in preparation for the season or games.
Graduate assistant Thomas Kirk said the goal of the soccer team and other teams on social media is to gain as much community and peer support as possible.
“Social media has become a powerful recruiting tool over the past few years so we also want to show prospective student-athletes what our program is like,” Kirk said.
Similarly the women’s volleyball team’s account (@castletonvb ) aims to recruit new players, according to Head Coach Lindsey Bynon. She says students check their social media more frequently than email because it tells a story.
Castleton’s Communications Coordinator, Elicia Pinsonault is responsible for the content on the university’s Facebook and Instagram pages. She said her department has been taking advantage of the Instagram stories tool to create conversations on campus.
“Our newly-launched ‘Beyond the Classroom’ feature highlights books, movies, podcasts, and other creative works recommended by Castleton students, faculty, and staff,” Pinsonault said.
Like Jones, Pinsonault agrees the information from emails is often mirrored on social media, but it provides a different level of interaction that other formats do not.
“On social media, the emphasis is really on visual storytelling and I like that we can have a little fun with the content and share it in ways that will hopefully resonate with students,” Pinsonault concluded.