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Oh Snapchat, My Snapchat!

I’m a storyteller. While it took me a solid eighteen months to start walking (don’t worry, I ended up being a varsity athlete, so saving that extra energy paid off eventually), talking wasn’t a problem at all. According to my mom, my first word was “beer”. I guess that’s what happens when you were born and raised in the world’s capital of beer, Munich, Germany. In second grade, I became spelling bee champ and in May I graduated cum laude from Duke University. So things turned out just fine. I think.

To make a long story short: Words have always made more sense to me than numbers. The exciting part about writing – at least to me – is the fact that I never know where my keyboard and fingers are going to take me in the end. Storytelling includes, but is not limited to, writing. It can take on a variety of different forms. Evolving technology and the rise of Web 2.0 applications have allowed us to experiment with new types of storytelling.


As an international student from Germany, I saw an opportunity in Snapchat to let my friends and family back home know what I’m up to on a daily basis. Seeing how Duke and American (college) culture in general is very different from attending school in Germany, I figured taking a couple of pictures a day and adding short captions would help them understand what being a Duke student entails. It also help me stay connected to the people I left behind in Munich. Over time, however, I started to realize that Snapchat not only allowed me to exchange funny snaps with my brother, it enabled me to tell the most important story of all: my own. Being authentic has always been important to me. I’m passionate about a lot of things and I want people to know that, which is why I want my Snapchat stories to reflect that. Now, who is this Bavarian, parsley-loving Duke senior that is really good at spelling? And how would that be reflected on Snapchat?

Well, there are a lot of opportunities, I can tell you that. Examples of past snaps include excitement at multiple Duke Basketball games in Cameron Indoor Stadium, doing a handstand against the wall of Perkins Library while shaking my hips to Fergie’s “G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS” at 11pm, a selfie with Peter Hamby, head of News at Snapchat who visited Duke for a post-election panel, interviewing former Duke Basketball star Grant Hill in West Union, random screenshots of Bayern Munich’s social media posts (they’re hilarious!), and most importantly: a gazillion Chapel pics at 3am after leaving the library.

That being said, there are a lot of really cool things happening at Duke every single day that are worth sharing (in my humble opinion). I have a lot of school pride and love bragging about my amazing classmates, professors, our basketball team, and this absolutely gorgeous campus.


Moreover, my snaps are frequently featured on the official “Duke Students” Snapchat stories. The person who is in charge of the Duke Students social media accounts, Jackson (who is one of the most talented people on this campus! If you don’t believe me, watch this and this), once told me that he loves my snaps and that I’m the biggest contributor. So if you ever watched the Duke Students’ Snapchat stories, chances are pretty high that you saw one of my snaps. Especially if it featured Duke Basketball. In that case, probably half of the content was mine.

Now you have learned quite a bit about my Snapchat consumer habits, however, the best is yet to come. This is where my roommate Eden comes in. You see, Eden and I have the most perfect college roommate relationship anyone could possibly have. We are each other’s therapists and cheerleaders. Some people hope that their roommates are gone when they come back to their room. Not in this case. I tend to desperately call Eden at 2am if she isn’t back from studying yet. There are two reasons: 1) I miss her. 2) We have a bedtime ritual.

Allow me to elaborate on that. It all started about a year and a half ago. Eden and I had similar study and sleeping schedules, so one night we decided to go to the bathroom and brush our teeth together. The next time we added music to our joint bathroom session. At some point I just started recording us on Snapchat because why not? There we were: two sleep-deprived college girls brushing their teeth and removing makeup while jamming to Disney songs in a scruffy dorm bathroom at 3am. To be fair, some people thought we were a little crazy but most people loved it. One of my brother’s childhood friends who was closely following my Duke journey on social media actually reached out to me, telling me that he loved Eden and our bathroom snaps. Now they’re friends on Facebook. See how Snapchat connects people? Over time, we added themes to our late-night Snapchat escapades. I once brought a basketball to the bathroom and pulled a Troy Bolton to the High School Musical soundtrack. Every now and then we ask our hall mates to record us so we could do more sophisticated dance performances.


Why do we enjoy this so much? Well, being a Duke student can be hard sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware of how incredibly privileged and lucky I am to go here, and I remind myself of that every single day. However, being under constant stress, having a gazillion deadlines every week, meetings, part-time jobs, leadership positions, club involvements, internship applications, volunteering, working on your startup, research, (and having a social life) can be mentally and physically exhausting sometimes. So when we come back from the library after hustling for 18 hours, we want to end the day on a high note. Spending ten minutes in the bathroom with one of my favorite people in the world, dancing and singing to “I just can’t wait to be king” or “Hakuna Matata” to celebrate another day of learning and being productive (or occasionally the lack of the latter) is something I have come to cherish.

Will I remember writing papers about the political realignment of 1964, the emergence and disappearance of female subjectivity in Hitchcock, or the nature vs. nurture debate in sex & gender determination twenty years down the road? Probably not. Will I remember how my roommate and I once put on Panda facial masks and jammed to Desiigner’s song “Panda”? Absolutely. And that’s largely thanks to social media. 
Those are the types of stories we are going to tell our kids one day when we come back for reunions. “Sweetie, do you see that building to the right of that archway? That’s where aunt Eden and I used to have our bathroom parties. Let me show you a video or two!”


The Rise and Fall of Vine: My Story

Vine has changed my life for the better. It has taken me down paths that I could have never expected, given me experiences that I could have never imagined, and helped me get into my dream school. I will forever be grateful for you, Vine. To the creators of Vine and the community that I have come to know and love: I’ll miss you.

Within a few months of the January 2013 Vine launch, I downloaded the application and tried to figure out how I could use it differently than others. At the time, most of the content creators with the biggest followings were producing funny 6-seconds skits. These short videos would then get on Vine’s Popular page, where people would go to watch the funny videos. This helped viewers find the best content while also expanding the audience for the producers. It was a win–win for both the viewer and influencer.

Next, the style of videos began to vary. Some creators were making stop motion videos, a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started to give animated figures the impression of movement.

After the news was released, Vine founder Dom Hofmann (@dhof) tweeted this picture via twitter, with the caption “5/5/12”

After the news was released, Vine founder Dom Hofmann (@dhof) tweeted this picture via twitter, with the caption “5/5/12”

I discovered a new way to take advantage of the interesting recording style of videos on Vine (the tap and hold technique) that was later coined as “Vine Magic.” I would start recording a video and then abruptly stop it, change something in the frame, line up the frames again, and restart the video recording. These videos looked like illusion, like magic.


I created videos like this for nearly six months without recognition. I just liked to make the videos, so I did it. It was a way to showcase a creative side of myself that not many people knew about. Then, suddenly, my videos began to gain traction. A few of them landed on the Popular page, and from there the momentum took me away. I gained followers at an unimaginable pace. I kept posting videos and people kept enjoying them. I quickly had 100,000 followers. I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.

The craziest part is what happened next: I started getting job offers at 15 years old. I was asked to sign a deal with GrapeStory, a mobile-first influencer-marketing agency. At the time, this company had exclusively signed with many of the top influencers on Vine. I was honored, even though I didn’t really know what it meant. I soon found out. GrapeStory finds companies for influencers to work with and promote on their personal accounts. As of today, I have produced Vines with companies and brands including Aquafina, Charmin, Chips Ahoy, Ritz, Virgin Mobile, Milk Bone, Coca Cola, Major League Soccer, Kellogg’s, Chrysler, Silk, Microsoft, NBC Universal, 7UP, Intel, Visa, Nickelodeon, and even Marvel. I went from being your average high-school student, worried about sports and homework, to being a content creator and advertising outlet for Fortune 500 Companies. It was crazy.

Then one Monday, during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I created this video:

After less than an hour, it had more than 20,000 likes. In less than a day, it had reached nearly 300,000 likes. I was getting emails from places like Good Morning America and the Today Show asking to feature it. Good Morning America did a short feature, breaking down the creation process of the video:

This vine was reposted by celebrities all over Twitter and Facebook. A number of my friends told me that they had seen the video before realizing that I was the one who made it. This was by far my most popular video ever. It is currently sitting at 530,000 likes and over 63,000,000 views, just on Vine. I reached 1 million followers on Vine in July of 2016, and I credit my swimming pool post for these numbers. It’s still tough for me to digest the fact that the number of people who follow me on Vine are nearly the same as the amount of people who live in my home state of Rhode Island.

I would consider 2014 as Vine’s most active year. That is when I saw the highest level of engagement and success in my videos and the videos of my peers. As 2015 came around, I could tell that traction was slowing down a bit for Vine as a whole. Engagement seemed to drop steadily. On top of it, a lot of Viners were moving over to other platforms such as Instagram and YouTube because they saw more opportunities to make money and engage with audiences. Viners were losing interest in the six-second video and posting less, thus the viewers were increasingly losing interest and using the application less frequently.

The decline of Vine was circular in nature. Although I started creating videos because I loved it, I continued making videos because of the audience. But when the audience left, so did my desire to post. As the audience disappeared and engagement slowed on the app, influencers didn’t feel the need to post as much. As influencers were posting less, their followers noticed, and they opened up Vine less.

I can’t say I was surprised when I heard that Vine is dying. For me, it’s the end of an era. While I would have loved to avoid this day, I respect Vine’s decision not to drag out the application’s demise.

As the Vine meets its end, social media is not over for me. Vine has taken me down a particular path and steered my future. I love social media and have now been exposed to the world of marketing and advertising and want to pursue it as a career.

As for the future of short video, I don’t think anyone truly knows what’s next. Will it continue its popularity on Twitter and Instagram, or will a new platform emerge? What does Facebook Live streaming mean for sharing things in real-time? Will Snap and Instagram stories replace television one day? Although I’d like to believe that platforms can adapt to change and stay popular forever, the truth is most probably won’t. There will always be people trying to revolutionize technology, and chances are, the platforms that we know and love will someday all be discontinued, just like Vine.

Managing A Social Media Presence – Weeks 3 & 4

As part of the Duke ProComm professional development program, Cara and I teach a course titled “Managing A Social Media Presence.” We teach staff how to identify the right channels, voice/tone and approach for an integrated social media plan. By the end of the course, participants leave with a finalized social media strategy and a better understanding of tools and online applications. We’ll be sharing course readings here for the next few weeks.


Measuring Return on Investment in Higher Ed Social Media

When talking about social media analytics, questions pertaining to ROI (return on investment) usually come up: How do we measure success and what are the numbers that really matter? I contributed to a conversation on this topic with our peers at other universities.


 Universities To Follow On Snapchat

If you’re curious about how our peers at other universities are using Snapchat, check out these schools:

University of Florida (Account Name: uf1853)

University of Michigan (Account Name: uofmichigan

Princeton University (Account Name: PrincetonU)


Four Things Students Tell Us About Social Media In 2016

We invited Duke students for a great conversation on how they use social media.


Inexpensive Equipment for Social Media Photo & Video

We know that some of you are operating as one-man/woman shops and doing what you can with social media photography and videography based on your available resources. Sonja pulled together a quick shopping list of inexpensive items for your photo and video kit to raise your game without busting your budget.


Sonja Foust’s Essential Guide to Video Marketing at Duke


Managing A Social Media Presence – Week 2

As part of the Duke ProComm professional development program, Cara and I teach a course titled “Managing A Social Media Presence.” We teach staff how to identify the right channels, voice/tone and approach for an integrated social media plan. By the end of the course, participants leave with a finalized social media strategy and a better understanding of tools and online applications. We’ll be sharing course readings here for the next few weeks.



Twitter to Expand Tweet’s 140 Character Limit to 10,000

One of Twitter’s most beloved features is set to change. See CEO Jack Dorsey’s explanation. Then check out what people are saying about the news using #Twitter10K.


Hands On With Twitter Moments: The Human-Curated News Stream

This new(ish) feature helps users find the best of Twitter in an instant. As Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff writes, “Moments is the answer to the question, ‘What would Twitter look like if it started as a news curation site?’”


Twitter’s New Timeline is Here, And It’s All About the Algorithm

The company pushed out an update this week that made its much-talked-about timeline redesign official. The new feature shows tweets that are sorted based on relevancy, rather than only chronology, at the top of your timeline.


Twitter Account to Overly Thirsty Brands: Stop Saying the Word ‘Bae’

We briefly touched on the importance of having a voice on social media that makes sense for your brand. When brands stray too far from their voice on Twitter, the result can be… painful to watch. @BrandsSayingBae shames companies trying way too hard to sound like teenagers.


Instagram’s Newest Feature Is A Bigger Deal Than It Seems

Instagram announced that it’s finally adding a much-desired feature: The ability to switch between multiple accounts without having to log out.


Nerdy Holidays For Higher Education

These holidays, some serious and silly, can be good social media fodder.

Managing A Social Media Presence – Week 1

As part of the Duke ProComm professional development program, Cara and I teach a course titled “Managing A Social Media Presence.” We teach staff how to identify the right channels, voice/tone and approach for an integrated social media plan. By the end of the course, participants leave with a finalized social media strategy and a better understanding of tools and online applications. We’ll be sharing course readings here for the next few weeks.



ICYMI This week, we talked about the giant of social media – Facebook. Here’s some additional reading to look over before next week’s class:


Here’s How Facebook’s News Feed Actually Works

TIME Magazine gives a brief history of how a controversial Facebook feature, the News Feed Algorithm, grew into one of the most influential products on the Internet. Researchers say that, as Facebook’s News Feed gets smarter and we spend more time interacting with it, its impact on the average person will likely come under increasing scrutiny.


Latest Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak: High Ratings and Likely Engagement

With its latest tweak to the News Feed Algorithm, Facebook hopes to understand what types of posts its users find interesting – enough if they’re not liking, commenting or clicking on them.


Facebook Page Messaging

The Facebook Help Center has a FAQ page that might be helpful to those of you who receive private messages on your Facebook pages.


Here’s How To Use Facebook’s Mystifying Privacy Settings

Despite sitting on vast gold mines of users’ personal data, Facebook tries to be transparent in how much of your information it shares. However, Facebook is still in the business of data collection, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.


Facebook Pages Manager App for iOS

This was mentioned in class. Just thought I’d share the download link.


Sharing Video On Facebook

Last Week on Instagram: #DukeSnowDay


As snowstorm Jonas hit the east coast last week, students took to campus and enjoyed their day off. Here were the top #DukeSnowDay posts on the ‘Gram:



Squad does snow ❄️ #dukesnowday

A photo posted by Juliana Carvalho (@jucordelia) on







BREAKING: Duke Chapel construction wraps up ahead of schedule on this #DukeSnowDay (PC: @elizabetsy_jane)

A photo posted by Duke University Students (@dukestudents) on




Last Week on Instagram: #PictureDuke

10K Picture Duke

Duke’s community hashtag on Instagram, #PictureDuke, has surpassed 10K uses! Serving as a meeting place for Blue Devils on the social media platform, the hashtag has allowed us to see the Duke experience through the eyes of those who know it best. Here are my picks for last week’s best #PictureDuke posts:






Home again. #pictureduke #artstigators

A photo posted by Stephanie Joe (@stephanie.joe) on







3 Tips For Good Twitter Karma During a Live Chat


twitter karma

(twit-er-kahr-muh) n.

  1. The principle according to which each Twitter user brings upon him/herself inevitable results, good or bad, either within the Twittersphere or IRL.

Do Your Research

Make sure you’re using the appropriate hashtags and stay on topic! In your effort to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way, it also helps to have prepared ahead of time some links, images or content you’d like to share at appropriate moments.Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 1.46.38 PM


Keep It Snappy

It can be tempting to try to cram as many thoughts as possible within 140 characters. However, concise tweets (think: 120 characters or less) are more shareable and more fitting for the fast-moving world that is the Twittersphere.Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 1.49.11 PM


Engage With The Other Participants

Think of a Twitter chat as a house party; nobody likes party guests who are only there to draw attention to themselves. Avoiding party fouls and following good etiquette will ensure, not only you’ll have a good time, but others will, too. Some easy ways you can accomplish this are:

  • Like, retweet or reply directly to a tweet.
  • Follow other participants to show you’re interested in maintaining a connection with them afterwards.
  • Thank your host before or after the chat.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 1.47.08 PM

#MiltonPalooza: Duke’s First (And Last) 10-Hour Periscope Broadcast


If not for the alternating readers at the lectern, room 328 of the Allen Building would have been dead silent.

In a room that couldn’t have fit more than 15 chairs at one time, the Duke English Department hosted a 10-hour marathon reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost and managed to pack the house with dedicated attendees for nearly the entire day. Even President Richard Brodhead, who was giddy at the chance to read his favorite passage, joined in on the fun.

From our perspective, the event was a good opportunity to test out a theory regarding Periscope, a new live streaming mobile app that is integrated with Twitter.

One of the appeals of the platform is that it allows users to tune in to – and interact with – a live broadcast in real-time. Notably, our videos typically garner many more live viewers than replay viewers. To capitalize on that desire for immediacy, why not open the window of opportunity for people to tune in by making the broadcast as long as possible? To see if doing so increases the number of live viewers, we took the theory to the extreme by live streaming the entire 10-hour reading marathon.

Mind you, this was an event that might typically be a hard sell on social media – particularly because it appealed to such a niche audience. Still, we stuck a phone on a tripod, hooked it up to a charger and kept the camera rolling. Viewers had no prior heads up and were given only the following video title for context: “For 10 straight hours, cheer on Pres. Brodhead and @Duke_English as they read ‘Paradise Lost.’”


The results were better than we could’ve expected:

  • 735 followers at the time of the broadcast
  • 1,199 live viewers
  • 314 hearts
  • At least 4% of viewers watched the entire broadcast
  • Viewers watched for an average of 8 seconds


Some highlights from the live comments:

*Baby crawls into view of the camera.

“That baby needs some attention. He’s the real star here.”

“Just went upstairs to get a phone charger. Paradise Lost is hammering my battery but I don’t want to miss a second of the excitement.”

@TwitterUser1: Who’s the reader at the podium?

@TwitterUser2: Idk, maybe John Milton?

@TwitterUserA: What is this?

@TwitterUserB: They’re reading all of Paradise Lost

@TwitterUserA: Why?

@TwitterUserB: I’ve been here 2 hrs and I’m still not sure

My Welcome to Duke Moment: Countdown to Craziness


My first few months as Duke’s digital and social media specialist have flown by! From covering orientation week to celebrating a Nobel Prize winner, serving as the community manager for Duke’s social media accounts has so far been everything I’d hoped it would be. Certainly though, my “welcome to Duke” moment came when I had a chance to cover Countdown to Craziness, Duke Basketball’s annual pep rally/public practice/celebration of all things Duke (apparently, basketball is a pretty big deal here). It was then that I had a few thoughts on why I’m so excited to be here:

Collaboration Makes This Place Great

It’s during large-scale events like these that teamwork really shines. Although my office (the Office of News & Communications), wasn’t involved in organizing the event, I was really impressed by how many aspects of the Duke experience were represented there – from academics to athletics and everything in between (even the Yo-Yo guy made an appearance). Similarly, my role entails plenty of collaboration and exchanging of ideas. Every now and then, be sure to check out the blog, where my #DukeSocial colleagues and I share best practices and lessons learned.

There Are So Many Stories To Be Told Here

At the heart of all my favorite projects prior to coming to Duke – writing feature news articles, filming short documentaries, managing social media campaigns – has been a desire to tell a great story. What I love most about my job is that there will never be a shortage of newsmakers on campus. When was the last time a university was able to celebrate a Nobel Prize and a NCAA basketball championship on the same day (Not since UC Berkley did it in 1959, evidently)? If you have good news you’d like to spread to Duke’s external audiences, I’d be happy to share it on our university accounts!

Seeing is Believing

As a newcomer, any chance I can get to experience Blue Devil culture first-hand is invaluable. My role requires that I engage with the community, not only online, but also “IRL.” Content strategy and planning are necessary parts of social media marketing, but there is no replacement for authenticity. In my case, crafting an authentic voice for Duke’s social media channels means learning to love the people, places and traditions that matter to Blue Devils. It’s an uphill battle for an outsider like me, but I’m excited to take on the challenge! That said, if you know of any must-see Duke traditions or events that I should experience for myself, please give me a holler!