Archive | Social Media at Duke

RSS feed for this section

A refresh for Duke’s social media website

Students, alumni and other members of the Duke community can now browse a social media directory and extensive other material thanks to an update of Duke’s social media website.

Duke originally launched the site in 2010 as one of the first university “aggregation sites.” Because of the quickly changing social media landscape and Duke’s expanding online presence, I recently worked with the Office of News and Communications and the Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications to refresh the site, Social Media at Duke, which is at

The site features a directory that tracks how Duke’s schools and departments are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. It also highlights the latest tweets from official Duke Twitter accounts, a stream of videos from Duke on Demand, a connect tool for Duke’s main Facebook page and a stream of the most recent posts from this blog.

Duke University Social Media Website

Duke University Social Media Website

This project reflects a push to deepen social and digital media efforts at Duke and to better integrate tools such as Facebook and Twitter with the university’s wider news, communications and marketing efforts. In addition to using these tools to reach larger audiences, Duke is also active  on niche social networks such as Pinterest and foursquare.

This blog will showcase Duke’s growing social media presence. Its purpose is to communicate how people are using these new tools across campus. I hope you’ll browse previous posts, contribute with comments and return often.

You can post your own thoughts about social media at Duke in the comments section of this post or send your questions to


Happy Foursquare Day!

Today was Foursquare Day worldwide (get it…April 16 is 4, 4^2!). Foursquare Day started as a grassroots effort in 2010 and quickly spread to communities all over the world. Foursquare Day is celebrated differently everywhere, and at Duke we celebrated it by encouraging more students to use the tool at Duke in new and different ways.

We had a table on the main plaza at Duke staffed by students to celebrate the event.

The students leading the effort were Tre’Ellis Terrell Scott and Yaqi Zhang, both first-year students at Duke. They recruited some other student volunteers and spent the bulk of the day on the plaza talking to their peers about what foursquare is and encouraging others to follow DukeU on foursquare.

We had buttons, stickers, t-shirts and other fun giveaways as part of the event. We also printed out a big map of the campus for students to write out tips and reviews on sticky notes for us to add to the DukeU foursquare venues.

It was good timing that the day corresponded with Blue Devil Days, Duke’s main recruitment event for prospective freshman and their families, and these incoming students were able to learn about a new tool to help them explore Duke during their visit and for when they come to live on campus in the fall. We even created a special Blue Devil Days foursquare list for prospectives to use while they are exploring campus this month.

How are you using foursquare in your efforts? Please leave comments below sharing your thoughts on the application.

Join a Hangout with Duke

April is here, and as this is a very important month for undergraduate admissions, Duke is trying out new ways to connect prospective and current students using social media.

One of the new ways our admissions office is connecting students is through a new Google technology, Google+ Hangouts On Air. We are using Hangouts On Air to host eight student video chats during the month of April about different themes that prospective students are interested in learning more about. These themes include academics, spirit and the first-year experience on East Campus – all important considerations for students making the difficult decision about where to attend college.

We’re excited to try out this new platform and partner with Google on beta testing this new technology. So far, we’ve had two very successful chats with dozens of questions asked by prospective students. We feel like it’s really important to utilize new technologies to let Duke students talk about their real-life stories and build relationships with incoming students.

In addition to streaming all of the video chats live on our Duke Undergraduate Admissions Google+ Page, we’ll be archiving the videos on our YouTube channel and Duke’s video site, Duke On Demand.

How else could we be using this technology for events and conversations across campus?

Getting Some PR For Duke

Today I had the pleasure of speaking at a meeting of the North Carolina Chapter of the Public Relations Society of American (PRSA). Joining me were Jill Carlson, marketing manager with Argyle Social, and James Wong, former marketing communications marketer with iContact. Our PRSA panel covered “A Digital Dive: What’s New and Hot Right Now” as a topic and we each offered our observations and examples of where digital and social media are headed.

For my part of the talk, I shared what Duke University is doing in the established social networks (Facebook and Twitter) and our involvement in niche communities (Pinterest, foursquare and Tumblr). I quickly covered our social media networks in China (Sina Weibo is the main one right now) and ways for brands to utilize internal resources and brand ambassadors. We finished with a quick highlight of the 903 and Counting campaign Duke ran this past winter. There was a bit of Twitter chatter during the panel.

After the talks, we had some rich Q&A and I met a number of the association members one-on-one after the program. Thanks to the NC PRSA for hosting a great event!

Please click on the slide below to view my entire presentation.

Training the Duke Trainers’ Group in Social Media

The Center for Instructional Training (CIT) and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at Duke are phenomenal resources. One of their many collaborative roles is to support the academic mission at Duke by helping instructors and faculty figure out what technologies to use in their classrooms – and how to use it.

In order to provide training effectively, we actually have a Duke Trainers’ Group – an informal working group of trainers throughout the university including staff from CIT, OIT, Student Affairs, Human Resources – Learning & Organization Development, Health Systems and more – who hold regular training sessions and workshops available free of charge to the Duke community.

In order to stay on top of their game, the Duke Trainers’ Group meets monthly for professional development and also share resources on their blog. I was invited to be the guest at their regular trainers meeting for the month of February. At the meeting, we discussed the social media tools and resources Duke is active in and talked through some ideas for ways to present social media resources as tools for faculty use.

One of the interesting topics we covered was how faculty and staff are blending their personal and professional presence on social media accounts and ways to use privacy settings to make this easier. It seems to vary based on the individual, but there is general concern among faculty and students on this topic. They want to know who is viewing their profiles and how the content they share reflects their own belief systems. There is no blanket recommendation to make in this area, but we discussed how privacy settings are critical for blending personal and professional use of social media tools.

Somewhat related to the conversation around privacy and social media, my friend and colleague recently wrote a post on his personal blog about awareness of situational conversations I highly recommend reading.Talking through social media with Duke instructional trainers

Thanks to the Duke Trainers’ Group for hosting me! My presentation from the meeting is available on slideshare.


Social Media Use Growing At Duke

This article originally ran in Working@Duke on February 17, 2012

When August Burns wants to learn about colleagues and get the latest news about benefits and resources at Duke, she checks the “Working@Duke” Facebook page.

Burns, who has used Facebook for about three years, plans to start following the “WorkingatDuke” Twitter feed too.

“Social media is the best way to keep track of what’s going on right now,” said Burns, business manager for the Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics in the Pratt School of Engineering. “With so many of us on these sites, tools like Facebook and Twitter are a great way to share information and be a resource for each other.”

As employees experiment with social media channels, departments and schools like Athletics and the Fuqua School of Business are finding impressive success in using social media to enhance professional reputation, expand research and scholarly contacts and interact in real-time. Duke has more than 100 official school Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as sites on YouTube, iTunesU, Foursquare and Flickr.

According to a survey of Duke faculty and staff last year, Facebook is the most widely used social network (61 percent), followed by YouTube (32 percent), LinkedIn (23 percent) and Twitter (11 percent). Those numbers mirror national statistics on social media use, according to the Pew Research Center.

“Everyone on campus is trying to figure it out,” said Cara Rousseau, Duke’s social media manager. “They’re trying to connect with different audiences, but it can be really challenging to tell what will click on different channels, and the landscape is changing all the time.”

Rousseau has met with dozens of Duke departments to offer guidance on social media best practices. She recently led a workshop with about a dozen event planners from across Duke on social media basics like creating accounts and sharing content.

Still, some faculty and staff are reluctant to venture into social media channels, concerned that learning the new technology won’t be worth the time investment, said Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African and African-American studies at Duke.

“They think it’s superficial and a waste of time,” said Neal, whose New Black Man blogdraws about 62,000 hits per month. “I tell my colleagues, `This is the same way you felt about email 15 years ago.’ It’s time-consuming, but most folks have successfully integrated it into their workflow. This is an effective way to communicate and interact with students and former students in creative, nontraditional ways.”

Neal has his own web show “Left of Black” and about 9,000 Twitter followers and 3,000 Facebook friends. He said there is a clear connection between social media and Duke’s academic mission.

“We can write the greatest books, but they will only remain among the audience of the scholarly community,” Neal said. “Social media is a critical tool to show the vitality of the work we do, to function as an academic and also engage with audiences outside the academy. I’d say about 70 percent of what I do on social media is teaching. It’s perfectly in sync with Duke’s mission of knowledge in the service of society.”

Enhancing Duke’s reputation

Athletics overhauled its social media presence last year, launching Twitter accounts for all of its programs. In addition, put together a social media landing page to allow fans to see Twitter feeds from Duke’s official athletics website.

Social media is a natural way to connect with fans and recruits and to humanize the Duke brand, said Dave Bradley, Duke basketball’s recruiting/communications coordinator.

Bradley has netted more than 800,000 views on YouTube with the viral “Buckets 2.0” video, showcasing trick shots by basketball player Kyle Singler. He also worked on the “Show Us How You 903” contest, sponsored by Duke Athletics, which collected hundreds of online submissions from Blue Devil fans celebrating men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s record 903rd win.

“For many of our student-athletes and fans, Twitter has become a primary means of communication,” Bradley said. “There is a great synergy there for Duke because our athletes are engaging and dynamic. And we have unbelievable fans all over the world. Social media can then help bring together the Blue Devil community and provide new opportunities to advance the Duke brand.”

The Fuqua School of Business also is looking to students and alumni as “brand ambassadors” through social media. A recent effort involved an online game: a virtual “Campout,” a take-off on the real campout undertaken each year by Duke graduate students hoping to score coveted men’s basketball tickets. The game challenged students and alumni to earn “participation points” (used for prizes) by “liking” a page on Facebook, sharing faculty research with their networks and other tasks to promote the school’s brand.

The three-week campaign last summer marshaled nearly 800 Fuqua alumni and students to take 11,000 actions to volunteer for, learn about or support the school.
“People won’t spend five hours reading your bulletin or brochures, but if you make it a game and give them points, they’ll do it,” said Elizabeth Hogan, Fuqua’s assistant dean for marketing.

Fuqua is now exploring ways to share the platform with other schools and departments at Duke, she said.

“Social media is an experiment. Nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Hogan said. “Some institutions want to control the message and be all buttoned up with what they say. You need to be OK with a different tone and focus not on what you’re telling them but on encouraging them to talk to you and to each other. It requires thinking in a different way.”

For Alumni Affairs, one of the most important social media tools is LinkedIn, where Duke’s group has grown to more than 16,000 members. While Facebook is useful for promoting events or sharing “fun” tidbits, LinkedIn posts often generate intense discussion on sports, jobs, research and other issues, said Jon Goldstein, executive director of marketing and communications.

His approach: let the conversations grow by themselves and sometimes seed the group with topics based on Duke research and news.

“The best way to build community is through content,” Goldstein said. “And where better to be than Duke, where we have really interesting content all the time, from science and art to government, history and the environment. We’re having more conversations now than we were in the past because we have new ways to talk to one another.”

Connecting the workforce

Community building is occurring on social media channels managed by Duke’s employee communications team, too.

Since launching its Facebook account, Working@Duke has grown to more than 2,100 members. Its Twitter stream is also growing steadily. And late last year, Working@Duke created a LinkedIn group to stimulate professional discussion among Duke staff and faculty on topics such as career development and email practices.

“Communicating to a workforce of 34,000 through traditional media can feel impersonal, but social media gives people a face and a voice and allows for a more direct and personal interaction,” said Paul Grantham, assistant vice president for communication services. “This type of exchange fosters an environment of mutual respect, trust and collaboration – the foundation for a strong community.”

Rousseau, Duke’s social media manager, frequently fields inquiries from Duke units interested in learning more about social media.

August Burns and Mary Lindsley recently attended the workshop Rousseau led for event planners. Their group, the Duke Special Event Planners Council, plans to use Twitter and a new blog to interact with vendors and share tips like how to run a “green” event.

“We’re still learning how we can do it so it works best for us, but it’s a must-do as more people join these social networks in order to improve the work they do,” said Lindsley, chair of the council’s social media and web committee and event manager at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Social media also helps Lindsley feel more connected to faculty research at Sanford and more a part of the larger Duke community.

“It helps me learn more about how much we’re engaged in the world and the issues of the day,” she said, “and that helps me be a happier, more fulfilled employee.”

Checking in with foursquare at Duke

Explore. Connect. Discover.

The Class of 2015 are doing many of the same things as Duke students before them. Dropping and adding classes online. Getting to know their roommates. Making new friends. Exploring their community. But this year, new students are using a new resource to help them learn about the campus, a location-based mobile application called foursquare.

Foursquare allows users to “check in” at venues all around campus and to post reviews, images and tips. Users can also see which of their friends are nearby and find new friends who might be using foursquare as well.

It’s the perfect tool for a campus environment.

Duke is doing some fun things with foursquare this year. Student Affairs has added archived black and white images to “venue pages” for places such as Perkins LIbrary and the Bryan Center to show what they looked like more than 50 years ago. It is also working with Duke Dining and Durham eateries to continue to add coupons and specials for their establishments. Also, e-printers across campus are included in Duke’s list of locations, allowing new students to easily find the closest place to print out a paper or homework assignment.

So, as you walk across campus and see “check in here” stickers in building windows, I encourage you to do just that…or, if you don’t see a venue listed, add your location to our DukeU foursquare account!