Where does the time go?
As 2020 comes into focus, I find myself reflecting on the foundational past decade of social media at Colorado State. Social media was born at Colorado State in 2008 and since then has grown up into a fully functioning entity. It’s been a decade of firsts, growth, successes, viral sensations, tough moments, milestones, and most importantly, a decade filled with remarkable people working together to do incredible work for Colorado State University.
Humor me as I take a walk down memory lane.
The university’s Social Media Committee (formed in 2008) drafted the university’s social media policy. We were among the first in higher education to draft and deploy a campus-wide policy. Proud to say that the policy is still intact today. Colorado State University’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr accounts were a year or two old at this point and increasingly viewed as valuable ways for the university to communicate and interact with key audiences.
CSU entered the Instagram scene in 2012 and quickly became another social media mouth to feed. During this time, it became clear that social media management was a full-time job. There was so much to do from content creation, community management, analytics and strategy.
This year marked the opportunity to grow a social media team of one to a team of three. It was monumental. I am forever grateful to the Division of External Relations leadership team for seeing the value and potential of social media and making moves to invest in it. Team Social was officially born as Ashley Manweiler and Regina (Martel) Welch came on board. In partnership and support from Lindsay Connors in CSU’s Creative Services, we were Team Social.
We launched our student-run Instagram account, ProudToBeACSURam, in January 2014. To this day, a different CSU student has hosted the account each week.
Team Social changed again this year as we said goodbye to Regina (she was off to D.C. to do great things at a non-profit), and Lindsay (she had to opportunity to focus on CSU brand strategy) and hello to Jen Smith and Chase Baker. A new era had begun.
We won a Webby Award! So proud of the team and the work we did with CSU’s Dr. Temple Grandin to earn this prestigious industry honor.
We didn’t know it at that time, but it turns out our team created a tradition in 2015 when we arranged to have CSU’s mascot CAM the Ram give students hugs or high fives in the library while they were studying for finals. For the past five years we’ve filmed CAM giving out hugs and high fives and it continues to be one of my favorite #CSUSocial projects.
We hired our first intern, Kathleen Keaveny. She was wonderful and we’ve been so lucky to have equally wonderful interns since then – Michael Quinn, Wisdom Senolos, Kellen Bakovich, Trout Buesser, Ryan Haynes, Grace Crangle and Jamie Ittershagen.
This year marked the release of two epic #CSUSocial video projects, Dear Ram and BeanBoozled. BeanBoozled put us on the viral content map. What a thrill! Then there was that time CSU was retweeted by the International Space Station, and we hosted our first-ever Facebook Live with CSU alum and astronaut Kjell Lindgren.
Colorado State University opened its brand-new, on-campus stadium and #CSUSocial was there for it all.
Two pieces of content this year went viral reaching millions of people. The first viral post, Kevin’s Walk, was published in May. At that point in time, Kevin’s Walk was CSU’s most popular Facebook post of all time reaching 5.3M people, generating 47,000 reactions and 16,000 shares. Little did we know we would hit the viral jackpot again before the end of the year.
Chase perfectly describes our most viral piece of content in the past decade in his blog post, Gracie the Golden: By the Numbers:
“There are days when we post a video that we’ve spent weeks planning, filming, and editing and it flops. November 7 was one of those days. Sweet Gracie the Golden was just a dog doing dog things when her owner captured her snowflake curiosity on camera. Little did she know she’d become an Internet sensation, spreading joy to the hearts of millions. Now our all-time top post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we’ve learned something important from Gracie the Golden: the Internet is unpredictable.”
The Gracie post on CSU’s Facebook page reached 20M people, generated 126,000 reaction, 51,000 comments and 173,000 shares.
Mark Zuckerberg rang in the new year by changing Facebook’s algorithm which plummeted organic reach. It was rough.
This year, we welcomed Rachael Caldwell to Team Social. Rachael was the social and digital media coordinator for Athletics and was also embedded in my central team. Rachael elevated CSU Rams social media to new heights, and we reached a new level of partnership between central university marketing/communications and Athletics that continues to be rewarding and mutually beneficial.
This was also the year we worked with a student acapella group to create CSU’s Alma Mater Graduation Music Video for Commencement – how cool is that?!
Here we are in 2019. What a year it has been.
The Higher Ed Social Media Engagement Report analyzes 338 Division 1 institutional Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and corresponding fan engagement. In the 2019 report, Colorado State University was recognized in the “Consistently Crushin’ It” category which means CSU is one of 26 universities nationwide that have ranked in the top 50 overall each year since 2017. Sustained success is not easy, and I am enormously proud that my team continues to set the bar at an extremely high-level year after year.
This year marks big changes for Team Social. We welcomed Savannah Waggoner and Arnesh Koul to the team. We said goodbye to Jen (now leading the creative strategy for the CSU System) and Rachael (now leading social for University of Arkansas Razorbacks). Ashley has a new role on our team as assistant director. The final change is saying goodbye to Chase as he transitions into a new role in 2020 as the social and digital media manager for CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
I am deeply grateful for CSU for the opportunity to be part of the #CSUSocial journey. Thank you to my CSU colleagues and friends who have supported me and the team throughout the years.
I cannot say this enough — I am enormously proud of the individuals who have given their time and talents as members of Team Social. They are the ones who make social media engagement happen day in and day out. They keep CSU social. Eternally grateful for Chase Baker, Rachael Caldwell, Lindsay Connors, Arnesh Koul, Ashley Manweiler, Jen Smith, Savannah Waggoner and Regina Welch. Each of their fingerprints are all over the work we have done and the successes (and fun!) we’ve experienced. Thank you, Team Social 💚
Thank you to CSU’s Social Media Committee and its members over the past decade. You have been there since the very beginning and are a critical driver of the success of social media at Colorado State. Special shout-out to committee alums and #CSUSocial supporters Tim Brogdon, Nik Olsen, Natalie McCatty, Evan Moore, Tanida Ruampant and Brent Waugh. You all are the foundation of CSU social media. Thank you for being part of our legacy.
Here’s to the next 10 years.