Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are major drivers when it comes to recruitment, engagement and community outreach. Fairfield is more social than ever.

Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are major drivers when it comes to recruitment, engagement and community outreach. Fairfield is more social than ever.

How many times a day do you check your phone?

Right. Yeah. We know.  The way we communicate in our personal and professional lives is changing all the time — picking up pace — and mobile devices and social media apps are playing a key role in that evolution.

At Fairfield, engaging with students — and getting the Fairfield story out to prospective students — is more important than ever, and it is the new social media platforms that are now the key channels for doing this — connecting in personal, direct and collaborative ways with the entire University community — including new students, but also alumni, parents, friends and the community at large.

According to studies, 1 in 3 colleges now say that social media is more efficient than traditional media in reaching their target audiences, and so 85 percent of colleges use Facebook to recruit students, while 66 percent of colleges use YouTube. That trend is expected to continue, but because of the fast-paced evolution of social, Fairfield doesn’t limit itself to one channel. In fact, the growing popularity of other social channels is increasing dramatically and Fairfield is right there alongside the trend.

Fairfield is active on a broad spectrum of social media; specifically the University has 152 social media accounts across six platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Snapchat.  The University engages thousands of users across platforms keeping its audience informed while sharing the unique elements of the Fairfield voice and experience.  Social media is a great way of giving our communities a peek inside the day-to-day life of what its like to be at Fairfield.

And people share their stories back.  For example, earlier this year, as the Office of Admission informed the class of 2019 Early Action and Early Decision students of their acceptance to Fairfield, a social media wildfire ensued. Using the hashtag #stags19, the University’s Marketing and Communication Division tracked hundreds of tweets, Instagram photo posts and snapchats that celebrated being accepted to Fairfield. The tweets included exclamations such as “Accepted to my #1 school, Fairfield University Class of 2019!” and “First college acceptance into Fairfield University’s School of Nursing.” The Admission Office said that social media is an invaluable communication tool for them and Fairfield’s applicant population.

Another example of an outreach really taking off is the posted photo of the “Once A Stag, Always A Stag” banner. The banner is part of the latest Alumni Relations effort to gather Stags at weddings for photographs and to spread engagement news. Within just a few days the office had over 40 requests for the free banner because it was so widely shared. “It was not only a great new project but we got to share in congratulating 40 new couples on their marriages,” said Colleen McGinn, director of Young Alumni and Student Engagement.

“It’s also great way to stay in the know with what’s going on,” continued McGinn, who leads the social media effort for Alumni Relations.  “Sites like Instagram can really bring people back on campus through our photos. We love re-gramming photos, too, if you tag our account.”
Fairfield also uses social media to share stories about individuals in our community. Each week we post a short story called “#mystagstory” about a student, alumni, or faculty/staff member. Readers enjoy learning about the diversity of each person’s unique connection and involvement. For example, earlier this year we shared a story about a sophomore who is a nationally ranked Irish step dancer, followed by a double-alumn who has served the University for 15 years in IT. Most recently, we shared the story of Danielle Tullo ’15, a student editor and co-creator of HerCampus, an online multimedia magazine, which received over 2,000 views.

The class of 2019 is the most social class we’ve had yet,” said Nicole Pellows, Fairfield’s social media and web content manager, of the students expected to enroll in the fall. “Before students even set foot on campus, they instantly connected and shared the excitement of their acceptance.”

“Our community is interconnected like never before, they are continually sending each other messages about what they are doing, — sometimes just for their friends, and sometimes those messages or photographs ‘go viral’ and are picked up and forwarded by thousands of people,” Pellows continued. “Basically, we want to make sure that our students and alumni are hearing from us on those social media platforms, and that they are also sending positive messages about the University and life on campus to their friends — it’s a way of generating buzz and interest in Fairfield.”

One of the values of social media from the University’s standpoint is that it is measureable — it can monitor how many people “like” a certain story or photograph and the reach of how far that piece of content travels. That way, the University can gather information on topics of greatest interest for students and their peers.

“As I have said before, it’s all about metrics and movement,” offered Jennifer Anderson ’97, MBA’02, Fairfield’s Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications. “Social media is so measurable and we use programs to measure how far our messages go through shares and re-posts/tweets. We can really see what messages resonate with our audience and respond by providing more of what they like to read,” Anderson continued. “Whether its acceptance to college or exciting news, alumni connecting with each other, the conversation is happening instantly now. Students want to talk and share, and we want to talk and share with them, and that means that social media is the place where we want to be — and increasingly — that’s where new students and alumni and friends and parents will find us.”

Make sure to go to Fairfield.edu and check out our new social hub on the homepage. You can follow any or all of our University accounts and always be sure you are up-to-date with what’s happening in our Fairfield community.