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The State of Social Media at Duke, Spring 2014

Correct Cover SM Report Spring 2014
The social media universe has seen many changes this semester. WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion. Snapchat usage blew up. Google+ lost its founder. Facebook changed their algorithm again and again and again …

Here at Duke, we’ve been busy over the past few months. Our social media team created a Duke-styled 2048 game. We hosted a #DukeSpring photo walk in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, resulting in hundreds of crowd-sourced seasonal images of campus. The Office of News & Communications produced a fast-paced video guide on using social media effectively in higher education. Current students held a number of online chats using Google+ Hangouts for admitted students.

We also did some data crunching. Amanda Peralta, David Jarmul and I prepared a short report/infographic showing the state of social media here at Duke this spring. Below is a snapshot of the data our team compiled.


A quick glance at some of the aggregate numbers for all of Duke’s institutional accounts reveals a vast presence on social media.


A look at growth and engagement on the main Duke social media accounts. One of the things we are watching very closely is the explosion of engagement on Duke’s Instagram presence.

metrics_graph1From the data, it’s clear to see social media continues to grow in importance as part of Duke’s news, communications and marketing efforts. We’ll be updating this report every semester here on Duke’s social media blog to keep you informed of our social media activity and trends.

Want more? Here is a link to the full PDF.

Using Social Media Effectively in Higher Education

Do you work with social media in higher education and wonder whether you should focus on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram … or something else? Which investment will give you the biggest benefit? Which matches best with the content you typically produce?


A new video from Duke’s Office of News & Communications, “Using Social Media Effectively in Higher Education,” helps you think through your options.

I originally delivered this presentation at Duke’s 2014 social media mash-up a few months ago. This spring, I worked with Cara Rousseau, Carson Mataxis, James Todd, Sonja Foust and others to capture it in video format. We’ve also prepared a helpful PDF checklist that you can use as a reference.

We hope you find the video helpful. Share your thoughts on using these different social networks in the comments below!

Duke’s 2014 Social Media Mash-up

The Duke Communicator’s group gathered on Friday, Jan. 24 for our first meeting of 2014 to hold a “Social Media Mash-up.” This was our second meeting held in this format – see this earlier post for information on the inaugural event.

Our speakers were a number of colleagues who shared their own experiences and “lessons learned” working in social media, following a format similar to an Ignite session. The program included:

  • Tom Dominick and Audra Ang from university development on how Duke Forward has used social media on the road at fundraising events
  • Wendy Hower and J. Caldwell with the Nasher Museum will share how they use digital media for exhibits and events
  • Michael Palko, a Health System colleague, on self-teaching himself to become an Instagram sensation
  • Amanda Peralta from ONC discussed different approaches to social networks
  • Brett Walters from Alumni Affairs on the new LinkedIn University Pages
  • Aaron Welborn from Duke Libraries highlighted their extensive use of blogs

I know I walked away with great new ideas to try, as well as with renewed inspiration from our innovative colleagues.

Save the date for our next Duke Communicators event in Perkins Library 217 on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 3p.m., featuring Duke alumnus and founder of Ignite Social Media, Jim Tobin.

What’s Your Story?

This is a guest blog post by Michael Palko, an instructional designer with the Duke University Health System and a digital storyteller. 

I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Duke Communicators at one of their monthly meetings.  That group is comprised of staff who are, in some capacity, responsible for getting news about Duke University and the Health System out to the masses.  Their work spaces were wide-ranging: from Duke Libraries, where the event was held, to the Office of Alumni Affairs to the Nasher Art Museum to Duke Medicine to the Lemur Center.

Mine was one of 6 presentations made, and each used the Ingite format: 5 minutes and 20 slides, which auto-advance every 15 seconds.  The format is a bit of a challenge, and in preparing I think I now better understand what Olympic athletes go through: years of preparation for 10 second dash.  Ok, I didn’t really prepare for 4 years, only a month, but you get the picture.

I was asked to talk about how I got involved in iPhoneography, how I became an “Instagram sensation” (their words) and how that path led me to the RAW Artists Raleigh event.

I talked about stumbling across an online course on mobile photography while searching for a work-related tutorial on and how, as a Duke employee, I had access to that resource, free of charge.  I mentioned the influence Richard Koci Hernandez had one me and how photography changed me and my path in life.

At the end of the meeting I received many compliments.  One person called it“inspiring.” Another told me he liked the way I “framed the story.”  Coming from a professional “communicator” that was high praise. But the one comment that stick out the most came from the event’s organizer.  She said, “I just love your story.”

I’d never really considered myself as “having a story.”   I’d always thought that I, like everyone else, was just going through life, experiencing the highs and lows and the mundane, going to work, coming home and trying my best to fulfill the responsibilities of a husband, father, friend and citizen and along the way trying to learn more about myself and the world.  But those words really resonated with me, and I realized on my way home that we ALL have “a story.”  Not one of us has traveled the same path.  We all have a distinct set of experiences that make up a history that no one else has.  The events of life, no matter where they have led you, are what make up your unique story.

I was fortunate to be presented with an opportunity to reflect on the events and people who have influenced me in the past year and a half, but I’m now going to look back further on my timeline and examine the larger story.  I want to encourage you to do the same thing and challenge you to be prepared to tell YOUR story.  Where did you start? Who did you meet along the way?  What did you learn? What did you see?  How did you get here?

Prepare to tell it, then tell it.  Tell it to yourself, your significant other, your kids, strangers.  I guarantee that you’ll be surprised by what a compelling tale it is and know that you will find people who say “I just love your story.” 

And don’t forget, you write your story every day. The exciting part of that is that while you are the author, you don’t know how the story will end.  There are plot twists and surprises ahead and that’s what make the story compelling.

So, what’s YOUR story?


Announcing the Winners of #pictureDuke Earth!

Spring has most definitely sprung. Need proof? Look no further than the lush and iridescent photos captured during our latest photo walk.

Prize Winners

After seeing a number of excellent submissions in a tight competition, we are pleased to announce the following prize winners from last Friday’s photo walk:

#pictureDuke Grand Prize: "Asparagus at Duke Farmers Market" by Natalie Nobles

Grand Prize: “Asparagus at Duke Farmers Market” by Natalie Nobles

#pictureDuke First Place: "Bloom" by Nicole Silvanic

First Place: “Bloom” by Nicole Silvanic

#pictureDuke Second Place: "Classy Italian Ice Guy" by Cindy Pi

Second Place: “Classy Italian Ice Guy” by Cindy Pi

#pictureDuke Third Place: "Swiss Chard Lyons Farms" by Jaqueline Rimmler

Third Place: “Swiss Chard Lyons Farms” by Jaqueline Rimmler

Natalie, our grand prize winner, will join the Duke Photography crew on an official university photo shoot. Natalie, Nicole, Cindy, and Jacqueline will all receive prizes compliments of Duke University Stores and Sustainable Duke!

Honorable Mention

We were unable to award a prize to this photo, but we thought it deserved a special shout-out:

#pictureDuke Honorable Mention: "LSRC Stairs" by Michael Palko

Honorable Mention: “LSRC Stairs” by Michael Palko


We’ll have the full set of submissions posted soon. Stay tuned!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the walk and to all who submitted their artwork. We would also like to convey the utmost gratitude to our event partners: the Duke Farmers Market, Casey Roe and Sustainable Duke, Bryan Roth and Working at DukeThe Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke University Stores and our friends at Duke Photography.

If you want updates for future photo walks and #pictureDuke events, subscribe to our email list. We promise not to bombard your inbox!

Social Media 2013: Internet users who use social networking tools

The folks over at Pew Research Centre recently compiled their annual research on the demographics behind social media users on different platforms.

The infographic below (courtesy of Adweek) takes Pew’s data and displays it in a nice visual, including these key takeaways:

  • Women are five times more than men to use Pinterest
  • City dwellers are significantly more likely to use Twitter than rural residents
  • Black people and hispanics are more likely to use Instagram than white people
  • The 18-29 year-old demographic is more likely to use Instagram than Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr


A Wrap-up of Duke’s Science Photo Walk

Another photo walk has come and gone, but some stunning images are here to stay. The walk is a curious experiment — we bring a variety of people together, cluster them into small spaces with a mere handful of minutes at each location, and step back to see what happens — yet we are impressed with the results every time. Despite being rushed (we marched through four sites in two hours!) our participants captured some serene, candid and all-together surreal moments along Duke’s Science Drive. We hope you enjoy these photos as much as we do.

Prize Winners

After seeing a number of excellent submissions in a tight competition, we are pleased to announce the following prize winners from last Friday’s photo walk:

"Greenhouse Dew" by Lindsey Wu
Grand Prize: “Greenhouse Dew” by Lindsey Wu
"Anticipation" by Celeste Hodges
First Place: “Anticipation” by Celeste Hodges
"Chain on the roof of the French Family Science Center" by Natalie Nobles
Second Place: “Chain on the roof of the French Family Science Center” by Natalie Nobles
"Brain in Latex Gloves" by Scott Van Manen
Third Place: “Brain in Latex Gloves” by Scott Van Manen

Lindsey, our grand prize winner, will join the Duke Photography crew on an official university photo shoot. Celeste, Natalie and Scott will all receive prizes compliments of Duke University Stores!

Honorable Mentions

We were unable to award prizes to the following photos, but we thought they deserved a special shout-out:

Untitled by Josh Stout
Honorable Mention: Untitled by Josh Stout
"The view above" by Celeste Hodges
Honorable Mention: “The view above” by Celeste Hodges
"Stairwell Traffic" by Lindsey Wu
Honorable Mention: “Stairwell Traffic” by Lindsey Wu
"In The Open" by Jonathan Canfield
Honorable Mention: “In The Open” by Jonathan Canfield

The Full Set

You can view all the awesome submissions in this slideshow from our Flickr album:

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the walk and to all who submitted their artwork. We would also like to convey the utmost gratitude to our event partners: the staff at the Duke University Live Plant Collections and the Duke Canine Cognition Center, Dr. Ken Lyle and the Duke Chemistry Department, Dr. Len White and the Duke Institute for Brain SciencesDuke University Stores and our friends at Duke Photography.

Also, thanks to our friends at Durham Magazine for this nice blog post.

Stay tuned for details on our next walk.
Hint: We’re thinking of spring! 

If you want updates for future photo walks and #pictureDuke events, subscribe to our email list. We promise not to bombard your inbox!

#PictureDuke on Instagram

Duke’s campus is just gorgeous. It’s one of my (many) favorite things about working at this university. Because it’s so photogenic, it’s a natural fit for Duke to have a presence on Instagram.

For those of you who haven’t explored Instagram yet, it’s an online photo-sharing application and social media service which Facebook recently acquired. Instagram is distinctly built for mobile users – images must be shared on the application through a mobile device. Instagram recently created account profiles that are accessible via a desktop computer, but posting and editing in Instagram is still only available via mobile device access.


Duke University’s Instagram account profile on a mobile device

Instagram is a visual medium with a huge, dedicated user base. These are the main reasons we decided to jump in: a way to share images of our beautiful campuses (here in Durham AND in our global locations) and Duke happenings with our community. Instagram is also a place to host good visual fodder to use on other social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

After we decided Instagram was a good fit for Duke’s social media strategy, our social media team kicked off our official account with the first Duke community PhotoWalk in November 2012. The PhotoWalk was a great opportunity to create content on our account and build a quick following. We also launched the hashtag #PictureDuke for the walk and expect to continue using it for community-generated imagery about all things Duke.

The Duke University account hit 1,000 followers this past weekend, and we’re not slowing down. We have tons of photo ideas queued up and a few ideas for more PhotoWalks this spring. Other areas of campus that are also on Instagram include Duke Libraries, Duke Athletics and Duke Blue Planet.

Duke University's Instagram account profile on a computer

Duke University’s Instagram account profile on a computer


Right now, the team posting to our Duke Instagram account includes myself, Jonathan Lee and our social media intern, Sarah Haas. Want to see something in particular? Post your suggestions in the comments here or tweet your ideas using #PictureDuke and we’ll see what we can do.


A PhotoWalk: Picture Duke University

A group of Duke students, staff and Durham residents recently took part in Duke’s first Photowalk, an adventure in photography across our campus.

The PhotoWalk was intended to build community by giving some budding photographers in our area some pointers and access to parts of campus they might otherwise not be able to see. Several member’s of Duke Photo’s team of experienced photographers shared their tips and tricks and told stories of their work as we explored campus during a two-hour walk.

We started at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and continued on to Perkins Library, where we poked around inside the Gothic Reading Room and the Duke Chapel, where we got to climb Duke Chapel’s Tower. We then hit the Bryan Center Plaza and ended at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

More than 20 people took part in the walk. Many were devoted photography hobbyists who clearly have some talent, one as young as 12-year-old Jonathan Canfield.

The result of our adventures was a huge number of images captured and shared using #pictureDuke via Twitter and Instagram.

Image by Michael Palko

Image by Michael Palko

Image by Michael Palko

Tweet by Sarah Haas

Tweet by Katie Wood with Duke's Marine Lab

After the walk, participants uploaded their favorite photos to Duke Photography’s online database to enter a photography contest. We received 61 contest submissions and awarded a total of 8 prizewinners, with the grand prize winning an opportunity to accompany the Duke Photography crew on a major photo shoot.

Here is a collection of the images on Facebook.

We hope to do more PhotoWalks at Duke in the future. Spring is begging for another walk through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and we would love to feature beautiful spaces like the Nasher Museum of Art or our vibrant East Campus in the future. What would YOU like to see on Duke PhotoWalks?