AU launches social media initiative to little success

Only three admitted undergraduate students participated in a Twitter initiative launched by AU Admissions.

 The initiative consisted of admitted students tweeting a picture of themselves with their acceptance packets using the hashtag #ThumbsUpAU. Ryan Gregor, the associate director of enrollment marketing in AU Admissions’ Office of Enrollment, initially thought of the idea.

 “Honestly, it was such a one-off thing we did, if it worked it was going to be fantastic, but generally it was just something we were kind of experimenting with,” he said. “It was never a preconceived plan before the admit packets went out.”

Gregor said he never anticipated a very favorable response because he believes students do not react well to initiatives on Twitter.

 “I think the other part of it is that it’s hard to get a codified hashtag going,” Gregor said referring to students’ tendency only to follow the main American University Twitter account or to post photos to Facebook instead of Twitter.

Gregor said in an email that this was not a marketing campaign since it was not built off of preconceived goals and was not launched with the intention to be long-lasting initiative.

  “I wouldn’t use the term campaign as it implies something that is sustained and has specific targets and goals,” he said. “We never intended to sustain this nor did we have specific goals or targets for it.” 

 Gregor said the initiative may be revived in May after admitted students make their final decisions for college. However, he is unsure if AU Admissions will do something similar to “#ThumbsUpAU” next year.

 “Our social media has always been sort of the step-child of our communications program because we’ve never had enough resources in terms of people and time to devote to it,” Gregor said.   

Scott Talan, School of Communication professor and one of the Social Media Club’s faculty coordinators said the idea might have been more successful if AU Admissions offered an incentive for students to participate.

“[They could have offered] T-shirts, a gift card to the Dav cafe, coffee with President Kerwin, [or] some free AU branded items,” he said in an email.

 Brittany Pouliot, who was recently admitted to AU, participated in the “#ThumbsUpAU” initiative.

 “To be completely honest, this is the first acceptance letter I got,” Pouliot said. “I was so excited, because I knew all of my friends had been getting acceptance letters for a while.”  

 Pouliot said she did not feel comfortable joining any Facebook groups online for her incoming class because she has not yet made a decision about AU.

 “To be honest, if it was not my first acceptance, I might not have done it,” Pouliot said.

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