When students arrived on campus this fall, some expressed confusion over an addition to the occasional lamppost – campus hashtags.
Some students assumed the hashtags were for Getting Started Weekend and occasionally noticed the few changes in the next two weeks as they remained posted.
The continuous campus hashtags are a pilot program, courtesy of the marketing department, to fit in with its goal of making Cedarville’s social media more purposeful.
The idea of advertising specific hashtags originated in a marketing student team meeting, led by Chad Jackson, director of marketing and creative director of the Cedarville Magazine. Samantha Imber, one of the members, mentioned how ineffective it is to use different hashtags for the same event.
“If it’s frustrating for you, then it’s frustrating for others,” Jackson said.
The solution was to come up with hashtags for events that everyone affiliated with Cedarville could use. However, it developed into a continuous schedule of hashtags to be posted throughout the month. Michael Pells, digital marketing manager and manager of Cedarville’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, said this fits into its goal as a department.
Both Jackson and Pells agreed the hashtags are a part of accurately telling Cedarville’s story.
The department is marketing both to the audience outside of Cedarville – families and prospective students, and to those inside Cedarville — current students and others on campus.
Reaching people on and off campus starts with the student team that puts the hashtag signs together.
“Cedarville’s presence on social media would not be an accurate representation of who Cedarville is without the input of students,” Jackson said.
The student social media team within the marketing department is responsible for thinking up the ideas, helping schedule the hashtag debuts and making changes to the hashtag signs the night before a new one is released.
Jackson said it is a relatively simple project that does not take much to do because the signs are already made. He said it is definitely worth it to continue the project.
When a new hashtag is posted, virtual conversation is expected. Some hashtags are more effective than others, but the department has yet to see any negative feedback from the program.
Jackson said the department’s hope is to encourage people who do not use social media to at least go on Twitter and check it out. This way, others can still view the current conversation as it develops.
The department also said the hashtags are a voice for the campus by being able to represent student events as well as university events. The department said they want to be able to work with Student Life Programs in promoting the hashtags to keep Cedarville’s social media consistent.
Current students, prospective students, faculty, staff and alumni all participate in social media.
Facebook is the most widely used of the social media platforms with over 12,300 likes to the university page. But Jackson said Twitter is probably the most popular among the student body, with over 4,600 followers, and Instagram is the fastest-growing platform. The department revived the dormant Instagram account this summer and has since received over 1,300 followers.
In addition to student activity, the marketing department credits Dr. White for his social media activity in promoting the hashtags, as well.
The success of the posted hashtags can be difficult to measure with general ones like “#backtoschool,” but the department said they saw a lot of activity with Getting Started Weekend’s “#CvilleGS14.” The class of 2018 photo posted Aug. 18 with this hashtag received over 3,900 likes, 788 shares and 193 comments on Facebook.
Pells said an upcoming hashtag is “#CvilleChapel.” Students can use it to post quotes, pictures or recaps unique to Cedarville’s daily chapel.
The department has chosen to use “cville” instead of “CU” in the hashtags due to the wide use of “CU” among other universities.
Links to all of Cedarville’s social media outlets can be found at www.cedarville.edu/socialmedia.
Amy Radwanski is a sophomore journalism and broadcasting & digital media major and reporter for Cedars. She is pursuing a career in broadcast performance with her studies.