Why Social Media Matters to Student Affairs


Did you know the Division of Student Affairs hosts 35+ Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts, showcasing various departments and services? That’s more than almost any other entity on the Forty Acres. Drew Carls, UT Austin’s Digital Content Coordinator, manages UT Austin’s Facebook and Twittercontent. He explains why Student Affairs should be visible, post engaging content and not sit on the sidelines.

  1. Why is it important for the departments and services in Student Affairs to have Facebook and Twitter accounts?
    You should all definitely have Twitter accounts; next in line is Facebook. The 17- to 18-year-old age group is moving from Facebook to Twitter. It’s a great way to quickly respond for customer service, allowing you to direct students and parents to the correct information. Some good things to post are “tips of the day” and rolling out events in advance.
  2. What are common mistakes we should avoid?
    Don’t get too cute with any message. When you are posting make sure you understand the medium. Don’t post a full URL in a Tweet. Exploit your tools. Use photos in Facebook; they get more real estate and are easily shareable. For the photo description, type in a headline and then the link with a photo. When the UT Austin Facebook page did that, it grew from 200,000 unique visitors to 1.1 million unique visitors seeing our content in a week. Finally, respond with common sense. Some good tips for Twitter are here.
  3. How can we better entice students to engage with our social media?
    Questions can be good. Replying to people is very effective. Focus on “shareable media.” What kinds of content will your users want to re-share? Craft your message around this. Use hashtags, which are used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. They keep the conversation going, especially if others are following (such as #UT16 right now for incoming freshman). Post comments in Facebook. For example, anyone that mentions @UTAustin (UT Austin’s handle) in a Tweet, I respond to them and include other hashtags as appropriate. Tagging various Student Affairs-related pages in Facebook is important to let students know about other pages in the Division.
  4. What can Division staff do?
    Make sure your Student Affairs Twitter and Facebook (and other social media) accounts are part of your emails (signatures and eblasts), printed materials and websites. Consistency across the Division is good. We created consistent email signatures when I worked at the School of Law’s Career Services Office. Our internal and external audiences could then quickly identify us. I use hyperlinks to social accounts in both original and reply/forwarded emails in my email signature. This addition is especially important if you send a high volume of email. It’s an easy way to advertise your social platforms. Think of it as free advertising.

If you have questions about how to better utilize social media in your area, contact Drew Carls,(512) 471-0132. Below is a listing of the Division of Student Affairs social media so you can start getting engaged.