Go Ahead, ‘Like’ Us

August 23, 2010

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The recent re-launch of NC State’s official Facebook page gives a big boost to the university’s overall Web presence and an opportunity for social media-savvy students, staff, family and fans to connect with NC State on a whole new level.

“There’s no doubt that many of the people who are passionate about NC State are also big fans of Facebook,” said NC State chief communications officer Joe Hice. “Expanding our presence on Facebook is a great way to tap into that passion, and connect more people to the university and each other.”

Some Facebook users might discover that they’re actually already fans of the official page. That’s because the page builds on the work of NC State senior Jared Hocutt, who developed an earlier version of NC State’s Facebook presence and has played a key role in the new page’s focus and perspective.

“I originally started the group when Facebook came out with the idea of having groups based on organizations,” Hocutt said. “I thought it would be nice to have a place that fans, students, and alumni could come to show their support for the Wolfpack.

“I noticed that NC State had become very proficient in developing its presence on Twitter, so I figured, why not Facebook too?”

Jared Hocutt ('10) is a senior computer science major from Knightdale, NC.

Hocutt’s page had attracted a large group of followers, but it held little connection to the university itself, and contained little information from university communicators.

“I’m extremely exciting about the advances that NC State has made in its social media presence, and that the group following I created will finally have a more direct tie to NC State and the family that it represents,” he said. “I hope that it will become a nice stop for our students, fans, and alumni to discover new and exciting things that are happening at NC State.”

NC State’s revitalized Facebook presence will be more than a collective rehash of information found elsewhere within the university’s online offerings. The custom “Welcome Tab” features stories, news and events tailored specifically for the Facebook audience. And that’s just a starting point – over the next few months, University Communications is planning a number of new site tools, features, giveaways and contests.

“Our goal with Facebook is to give people a reason to check out our page regularly, not just click ‘Like’ and never come back,” said Tim Jones, director of Web Communications for NC State. “To that end, we’ve started creating content specifically for our Facebook page through the ‘Welcome’ tab, and we’ll be rolling out a handful of new tools and features very soon.

“Perhaps most importantly, we also plan to give away some free NC State stuff.”

The changes have proven successful – even before its “grand opening,” dozens of new NC State fans had already found the page, swelling its roster of ‘likes’ to more than 13,000.  | JOIN TODAY

Although the majority of our Web sites (including Student Media, Athletics and the Libraries) already offer RSS news feeds, the public’s acceptance of social media has allowed communicators across campus to embrace the opportunity to share information with NC State fans through a number of different avenues.

Last semester, the Web Communications team worked with staff in the Office of Information Technology to create an innovative Twitter aggregator, allowing fans a simple, one-click view of what’s happening across the Wolfpack “Twitterverse.” The site has been a hit, and several universities and organizations across the nation have taken advantage of the chance to download the aggregator’s source code for free – something its developers takes great pride in.

“With nearly 100 official NC State organizations using Twitter, we thought the best approach would be to embrace the chaos and put them all in one place,” Jones said. “It’s a powerful way to use social media to get a sense of the breadth of experiences throughout the university.”

NC State also boasts a robust YouTube presence – a broad array of videos that reaches from athletic highlights to man-on-the-street coverage of campus events. A wide range of user-submitted videos, classroom lectures and historical footage rounds out the site, which already ranks second among Atlantic Coast Conference universities despite its relatively short life.

“People really understand the value of sharable content,” said Mark McLawhorn, multimedia designer and illustrator for University Communications. “These aren’t videos that are on lock-down and hard to get to – this is information that anyone in the world can access, from someone in the Research Triangle Park who might be interested in a particular issue on alternative fuel sources to alumni living in China who want to see what the new Hillsborough roundabout looks like.

Our YouTube visitors can become directly involved in content distribution by posting comments, by linking the video to their own Facebook page or by sharing it in their Twitter feed,” he said. “This creates opportunities to spread NC State’s message and mission to an audience that might not have been initially targeted, but one which is still eager to learn about what’s happening at NC State.

“It’s a great opportunity for the university – as social media evolves, it creates so many unique ways for us to get our story out to the world.”

So what’s next for NC State? Our web teams are hot on the location-based services trail, fine-tuning their approach as a way for students, faculty and staff to connect with one another and interact with those in the community around us.

It goes without saying that all of these applications are works in progress, and we’d like to hear from you. What do you like? What don’t you like? Feel free to e-mail us your thoughts – your input will go a long way in helping spread the word about what’s happening at NC State – your NC State.